The cowboys

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We always watched the killing with horror and curiosity, although we were never permitted to participate at that age. It seemed so sad and so irrevocable to see the gushing blood when throats were cut, the desperate gasps for breath through severed windpipes, the struggle for and the rapid ebbing of life, the dimming and glazing of wide terrified eyes. We realized and accepted the fact that this was one of the procedures that were a part of our life on the range and that other lives had to be sacrificed to feed us. Throat-cutting, however, became a symbol of immediate death in our young minds, the ultimate horror, so zakelijke energie dreadful that we tried not to use the word “throat.”
He has written a recollection of the cowboys, no less frank in its bequested fact, and quite evidently the work of the son of his mother.
The cowboys and horse runners who drifted in to the ranch in everincreasing numbers as the spring advanced were lean, very strong, hard
muscled, taciturn bachelors, nearly all in their twenties and early thirties. They had been born poor,· had only rudimentary education, and accepted their lot without resentment. They worked days that knew no hour limitations but only daylight and dark, and weeks that had no holidays. . . . Most were homely, with prematurely lined faces but with lively eyes that missed little. None wore glasses; people with glasses went into other kinds of work. Many were already stooped from chronic saddle-weariness, bowlegged, hip-sprung, with unrepaired hernias that required trusses, and spinal injuries that zakelijke energie vergelijken required a “hanging pole” in the bunkhouse. This was a horizontal bar from which the cowboys would hang by their hands for 5-10 minutes to relieve pressure on ruptured spinal disks that came from too much bronc-fighting. Some wore eight-inch-wide heavy leather belts to keep their kidneys in place during prolonged hard rides.
When in a sense it was truly church time-when cowboys were badly injured and in need of help-they had long since learned where to go. David vividly remembers a moment in his education which was truncated when a cowboy rode up holding a bleeding hand. He had been roping a wild horse, and one of his fingers had become caught between the lariat and the saddle horn. The finger was still a part of his hand but was hanging by two tendons. His mother boiled water, sterilized a pair of surgical scissors, and scrubbed her hands and arms. With magisterial nonchalance, she “snipped the tendons, dropped the finger into the hot coals of the fire box, sewed a flap of skin over the stump, smiled sweetly, and said: ‘Joe, in a month you’ll never lmow the difference.'”

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