The Hundredth Meridian

The Man in the Black Hat

From where the boy’s wagon was parked, Laramie Peak, which from every other perspective appeared in some degree or another triangular, had a rounded aspect suggesting the crown of a tall, black hat.  The wagon stood braced on the summit of a low hill rising from a rolling plain dotted with pale stones and dark clumps of dwarf pine stunted by the thin soil and twisted by the unobstructed wind, with a view extending fully 360 degrees around the distant horizon within whose circle Old Man Redmond’s cattle grazed with their heads pointing all in the same direction.  On one side of the bunk wagon was a buckboard filled with hay to which a trailing snub rope was tied by one end, on the other, a stack of split pine and cedar wood with a bright-edged ax leaning against it and surrounded by a ring of fresh yellow woodchips.  A path, scarcely more than a scratch on the unimpressionable ground, wound out of nowhere from the direction of Laramie Peak, uphill between the rocks to the door of the wagon and past it, headed down again into a green swale where a scattering of the brilliant tiny prairie flowers was already fading.

Iron hooves rang out in the trail as the boy rode up to the buckboard where he dismounted, attached the snap end of the rope to the halter, pulled down the
saddle and double blankets, and threw them into the wagon box with the hay.  Then he went on to the bunkwagon and pushed in the...

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