Courage
© Vickey Stamps

Half wolf and some other mixture, mangy and nearly dead, the cattle drive boss had found him. He was hungry, half out of his head.
He’d taken him home on his saddle. He’d figured the pup wouldn’t
live through the night; but he’d rescued a real good scrapper who
had the know how to fight.

Ben gave him the name of ‘Courage.’ He still didn’t think he’d stay long.
A trail herds no place for a wolf dog, but this one would prove him
wrong. Courage padded behind the cattle and wouldn’t let a single one stray. At night he’d lay down by the master, standing guard till the break of day. They grew mighty close as the years rolled along, a pair pretty special to see. It was plain the love Ben had for Courage.
It was obvious as could be.

His double-shot rifle in scabbard, Ben rode out seeking food for his crew. Courage went running behind him, for where the master went
he’d go too. Ben drew a bead on a hefty deer, large enough to feed
many men. His shot rang out alerting a bear that began stalking this Ramrod Ben. The bear was a rogue and a grizzly, taller then him by a head. It was likely that were there a battle, the victim would wind
up dead.

It had been a beautiful morning ‘neath tall trees still green and damp,
as Ben packed the deer on his Sorrel and headed on back toward the camp. Suddenly from a clearing came a growl from the savage beast.
It had Ben pictured a victim and the deer as a double feast. He
charged at his foe and Ben fell back, rifle gone when his horse shied away. He knew that he’d be a goner for he’d met his match this day.

Courage came racing from where he’d been, off seeking food of his own. He squarely faced off with the Grizzly putting his life out on loan. When Ben reached the horse and the rifle and ran back to kill the bear, there wasn’t much left of old Courage, but a mass of bones and hair. Ben had been given the gift of life he’d once given this old wolf dog. Surely as there is a heaven Courage’s name was placed in its log.

On day old Ben would ride on, having reached the end of the road.
Riding his Sorrel to a heavenly place, he would throw off earth’s heavy load. For now when the night is quiet and fog lays light on the air,
Ben thinks he sees old Courage with his body of grayish wolf hair. Courage keeps riding tag on the cattle, looking up as if seeking old Ben, and stirring up old memories of what life had been back then. Someday they’d again be together riding herd on an angel crew. Courage will lie down with his master and rest till the night is through.

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