On the ride back across the gray plains, the young cowboy – he was just twenty – looked rather despondent. Goodnight ignored his despondence for a while, then got tired of it. What did a healthy sprout of twenty have to be despondent about?
“What’s made you look so peaked, J.D.?” Goodnight inquired.
“Why, it’s Captain Call, I guess,” the young cowboy said.
He was glad to talk about it, to get his dark feelings out. “What about Captain Call?” Goodnight asked.
“Why, wasn’t he a great Ranger?” the boy asked. “I’ve always heard he was the greatest Ranger of all.”
“Yes, he had exceptional determination,” Goodnight told him.
“Well, but now look… what’s he doing? Sharpening sickles in a dern barn!” J.D. exclaimed.
Goodnight was silent for a bit. He wished his young cowboys would keep their minds on the stock, and not be worrying so about things they couldn’t change.
“Woodrow Call had his time,” he said, finally. “It was a long time, too. Life’s but a knife edge, anyway. Sooner or later people slip and get cut.”
“Well, you ain’t slipped,” J.D. Brown said.
“How would you know, son?” Goodnight said.

– From “Streets of Laredo,” by Larry McMurtry

 

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