mother had paddled him and talked to him about controlling his temper, but Red
couldn't understand why he needed to since the other boy was being mean and
deserved it. Uncle Orrin had often told Red that he got angry too easily, that
it would get him into trouble and one day he wouldn't be around to fix things.
Red was sure that he never got angry without being provoked, so why would it
get him in trouble. He had decided that Uncle Orrin just worried too much.
Later that morning Red spotted a rabbit.
He pulled out his rifle and shot it. The rifle had been a gift from Frank. Frank
had been an old ranch hand who had worked on the Dawson ranch. When Red had
run out of money in San Antonio, he got himself a job working as a cook's assistant
at the Dawson ranch. He worked hard and put up with all the teasing about being
a soft city boy from the ranch hands.
Frank took a liking to Red and started teaching
him to be a cowboy. He taught Red to ride a horse. Red quickly picked up other
skills, like roping, read trail signs and finally to shoot a rifle. When the
other ranch hands teased him into trying to break a horse, Red had gotten angry
and agreed to do it. He was so angry that against Frank's advice he let them
pick a horse that had already thrown several of them.
Red mounted up and held held on as the horse
tried everything it could to throw him. Finally, it gave up and Red had broken
it. Frank called the horse Blaze after he still threw a couple of the others
who tried to ride him. The other hands had stopped teasing Red that day. Old
Man Dawson himself had been watching. Since Blaze refused to be ridden by anyone
but Red, Old Man Dawson gave him to Red and allowed Red to start riding the
range with the other hands. A couple weeks later Frank had given him the rifle
for his twenty-second birthday.
Red had enjoyed it there. Red was learning
to be a cowboy. Old Man Dawson had even told him that with just more experience
he could become a foreman one day. Red was making good money and listened to
Frank, who told him to save it up rather than go to town with the other boys
and drink and gamble it away. Red already knew how to survive in the city and
now he was learning to not just survive, but make it in the backcountry. Old
Man Dawson had decided to not only keep him on for the next season, but Red
would even ride north on the trail drive to Kansas.