A Story By Ned B. Johnson
Smashwords Edition Copyright 2011 Ned B. Johnson
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The snow will be completely gone soon, thought Joseph Longeyes as he sat, icy still, his legs following the curve of Mirriah’s girth as she stood silently beneath him. He had already decided to head back to the ranch in the morning. The horses, though still in their winter feeding grounds, were safe and sound. It would soon be time for the spring roundup. His boys would be glad to hear his report. They always pretended to worry about the stock, but he knew that he was the true object of their concern.
For some reason he had never quite fathomed, they just didn’t seem to understand why he, a man of 101 summers, insisted on working every day, year round, when he didn’t really have to. But that was just it: he did have to. He had lived his whole, long life in these mountains—except for those first few years when the Nez Pierce were on the run and later forced to live on the reservation. He’d sneaked back to Oregon as soon as he was old enough and had remained there ever since. When was that? He tried to remember. Must have been in the summer of ’85. Yes, it was in his sixteenth summer that he had made the long and difficult trek across a continent to his ancestral home in the Wallowa Mountains.