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Harnett always preferred to rise early with the morning sun, opting not to stay in bed like the rest of the crew at Buckshot Ranch. He stretched and yawned, looking forward to the start of a new day.
He was careful not to rouse anyone else around him in the bunkhouse. They had an hour before they had to be up, and most men relished every minute of rest that was bestowed upon them.
"Hush," he muttered, his voice just a whisper to the mixed border collie standing beside him. Hank looked up at him, wagging his tail in a hearty response. reached down to smooth the dog’s head. He motioned with his head to the door. "Outside."
On the veranda, he stopped, taking a moment to adjust his suspenders, then with hat firm in hand, he made his way to the mess hall, looking forward to a hot cup of black coffee with Hank following close behind.
"Morning, Tuck," he said to the cook, with an added nod once inside. "Looks like it’s going to be another nice one."
"Seems to be. The sun is hardly up and already it’s sweltering in that dang kitchen. And as usual, there isn’t a breeze to be found."
grinned and accepted a cup of coffee from Tuck. It was their usual morning exchange, a routine that offered him a sense of both security and comfort. "It’ll be cool soon enough, give or take a few months, once autumn rolls around."
Tuck nodded. "True enough, but that is of little use to me right now. How goes things in the upper pasture? Have you completed the fencing yet?"
"Just about. Another week and it should be finished. The terrain is rough as hell. But a least we will be able to sleep at night knowing that part of the ranch is secure, especially with the recent theft of cattle all over." Lately, Buckshot ranch, along with a few others nearby, had become the target of thieving bandits who had chosen to strike at night under the cover of darkness.
"The world’s gone crazy." Tuck shook his head in disgust. "First the cattle, and now The Mercantile in town. It’s never-ending."
"Yes, sir. It was broken into two nights back. They suffered no big loss, just some money and a few things stolen. Still, who would have thought it in this area?"
"I wish I could say the same for the ranch. We have had to put a few men on each night to stand guard. It’s a sad day indeed when a man would steal what belongs to another man."
"It’s a sign of the times. Our town has become just like every other place. Perhaps the law will step up and do their duty. One can always hope."
snickered at the thought. "You mean Travers and his band of cronies? I doubt it. They’re probably in on all of it. They’re just as crooked as the crooks themselves."
Tuck flashed him a look. "Mind what you say. I’d hush about that. You don’t want to get on the bad side of the law. They run things around here, like it or not."
"Hiding behind a badge doesn’t make it right. Now, heap me up a plate of breakfast. I’m darned near starved to death."