Joshua reached the north pastures along with Rachael to find Sam watering the troughs and Jacob not to be seen anywhere.
“Lad where is Jacob?” asked Joshua
Lifting a bucket of water Sam replied “He said he needed to go to the other side of fence for some work.”
“But you both were told to complete the branding of cows” Said Rachael jumping off her horse and tying the reins to the picket fence on one side of pasture.
“Mam there are no cows to be branded. All the cows you see here are already branded” Said Sam nervously.
Rachael folded her hands across her chest and stood to her full height of five feet 8 inches dwarfing the boy staring straight into his eyes.
Fearing what he might have to face he replied hurriedly “Jacod took all the unbranded cows to other side of fence into O’Cauly’s ranch.”
“I do not know. He has done that before too and has told me that Mr. McGrover knew about it.”
“For how long?”
“I do not know mam. I started working just few months ago.”
“He is telling truth Ms. Burns. Lad started working for past three months only.”
“John hired new ranch hand when the ranch needed major funds for repair.” Rachael asked Joshua
“Sam is son of Barbara’s sister and their family needs all the support they can get with their father dying of cancer” Explained Joshua.
Feeling sorry for the kid Rachael asked him to finish his chores here and meet her in the office at the end of the day. She and Joshua moved further north to check the fence bordering along O’Cauly’s ranch only to find the fence removed and trampled. Joshua showed her the markers which belonged to O’Cauly placed on her ranch. Making a note of all and collecting photographic evidence they made it back to the ranch.
Telling Joshua to have all men gathered in the morning outside the stable tomorrow, Rachael walked into her office to find Sam waiting for her and John sitting on a sofa looking at a file. Greeting both of them Rachael sat down in her chair and looked at Sam thinking how to handle it.
“Sam, how old are you?”
“I will be sixteen in two months mam.”
“What about high school? Did you discontinue?”
“Who else is there in your family Sam?”
“My mother, an elder sister and a younger brother mam.”
“What does your sister do?”
“She helps my mom around the house and does babysitting. She bakes and sells them at the bakery but she can’t do it all the time as we cannot afford to buy the flour needed. Madam please don’t remove me from the job. I need to help my family.”
Rachael thought for few minutes and asked “Sam what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Sam remained silent, and then John encouraged him to reply Rachael.
“I wish to become a lawyer madam.”
“Then you should not give up on that. Go back to school and Sam tell your sister to meet me tomorrow morning at eight here. I have an offer for her in your place.”
“Can my sister work here on ranch?”
“Of course she can, but it depends on if she is ready to work for me.”
“Ok I will ask her to come.”
“Sam you better go back to school immediately and I want you to visit me as often as you can and tell how you are doing at your school.”
“Good. Now run along and get something to eat from kitchen before you go home.”
Smiling Sam took off running. John looked out the window at the retreating figure of Sam and said “You are still the kind hearted Rach I remember. It was very nice of you to tell him to follow his dream. I just wish I could have done that when he came to me instead of giving him a job.”
“Uncle John, you did what you thought was right. Taking a new hire when the ranch couldn’t afford is a brave thing to do.”
John walked back to sofa he was sitting in and picked up the folder giving it to Rachael. “This is the deed we signed on this being temporary arrangement. But I have decided to name everything to you to see and do as you see fit.”
“But Uncle John, we had talked it over to be an temporary arrangement.”
“Rach you are like a daughter to me and I trust you but O’Cauly is very cunning. We cannot have this loop hole for him to find, by any means.”
“Uncle what about Christopher and Sean?”
“I told Sean that the ranch is under your name now. Chris I haven’t had a chance to explain yet. Once he is back from his trip I will do that.”
“Uncle John I promise I will take good care of this ranch. I lived all my childhood here and I know how much it means to you.”
“I know you will dear. I know. Rach I am planning to leave for California tomorrow. Your aunt always wanted us to go their together but I couldn’t do it but I wish to see it before I see her again.”
“Uncle, don’t talk like that. You can go to California and have good time that’s what Aunt Jenny would have wanted. That is what I want for you. Take few days off and come back. In the mean time I promise to get this ranch up and running.”
Smiling he closed the office door. Rachael opened the folder and went through the details about the ranch. Pulling out the ledgers she went through the number of cattle and the other farm animals. She found O’Cauly had been doing a lot of damage by stealing the cattle and placing false claims on the land. And it was time to put an end to this.
Calling a car rental Rachael hired a limousine. Dressing in black slacks and printed lavender shirt paired with black blazer looking every bit a business woman she left to meet Mr. Ted O’Cauly. Her father who abandoned her once her mother died.