One day Luther Martin rode up to the wagon and started carrying on about the new critter he discovered over west of the Divide. Now, you would have thought that it would not have made much difference to the rest of us: punching cows our entire lives across the high plains the way most of us have done, what would one more strange new animal mean to a crew like us. Eagles and jacks, lions and cats, bears and antelope; we had seen and pondered pretty near every iteration of Gods matriculating creation across the prairie. Shaky Bob even had a thing or bugs for crying out loud; he even kept a bunch of mashed and dried ones between the leaves of a tally book in his bedroll. For fun once in a while he would take out the book and tell bug stories about them during slow evenings around the fire.
So you see it is not an overly strange thing for a fellow to come into camp and give us the latest on something new: and that is just what happened that August evening when ol’ Lute loped up to our camp and stepped down to the fire. Luther rode for our outfit in years past, until one spring when a bad horse wreck laid him up in town for several months. We were all surprised to see him show up, and more so since he said he was repping for an outfit on past China Reef. I asked why he was gathering strays for the MacNeill when he could have come back to us for work- after all Lute was a pretty decent hand, and we were short that summer. Oh my! Wrong question—for right then Luther Martin got as fired up as an Old Testament Prophet! It seems he took a ride on a train to see his sister over the Divide during his convalescence- and what a story he spun for us about the new wonder he found in that hilly damp, brooding place.
His life was forever changed he swore. For this new animal he had run across over west was, “One for the Ages!”, and he would never be the same. It was covered with feathers from head to foot– the prettiest feathers you had ever seen. It could fly like an eagle. Its taste was gastronomic Salvation, and to top it off, she was as pretty as a dance hall girl in her painted up prime. In fact, the riding job for the MacNeill was temporary; Lute signed on to pick up their strays so they could finish closing out. The powers that be on the MacNeill were wanting to gather all their branded stock for market so the shareholders could get their money- then Lute was hitting the high points at a dead lope for the west slope to indulge in his Great Adventure; one that would set the rest of the world agog. He was going in for this new critter in a big way: Lute was going to be what he called a “peacock” rancher.
“This bird”, he proclaimed, “is going to take the world by storm and I am fixing to be right in the eye of it! I will be supplying all of Christendom with who knows how many jillions of them! For they taste great… and the feathers!! You have never seen anything like them!! Nor will you again on this side off Gloryland!”. Goodness, we about had to tie ol’ Lute down for all the ruckus he was making…and about a bird for crying out loud!