Carson looked wide eyed at his only rope. “You used my rope?” he screeched.
He then grabbed the rope to get it away from the flames, but in lifting the rope, he also lifted the peach crate. The flaming skunk ran, terrified, to the only place of protection he could – under the line shack.
The tinder dry kindling that had been collected by a packrat immediately caught fire and in just a few seconds the flames were licking at the floor boards. Within minutes the shack was completely afire. The men rushed through the smoke trying to save what they could. It wasn’t much.
The four men stood at the barn, watching the flames leap skyward. No one said a word. Less than a mile away, approaching at a quick half-trot, was Freddy, the ranch owner. He had gotten an early start to come help the hands. He noticed the smoke and wondered what it might be. He rode into the clearing and stopped behind the men as they watched the burning building. The men, unaware he had ridden up, were startled when he spoke. “What happened?”
Three of the cowboys stood with heads down, waiting for Caleb to speak. Finally, the older cowboy said, “We was just trying to get rid of a skunk.”
Freddy shook his head, sitting silently, watching the flames. At length, he said, “Remind me never to let you dig a sliver out of my foot.”