The Princess and the Puma

by O. Henry

The Princess and the Puma

I GREW UP on the edge of the West. Fort Worth, Texas. They call it “where the West begins.” Visiting friends and family, our travels often took us farther out into the Texas of wind-blown bleached-out towns, arroyas, and the cap-rock. The West-Texas twang and the tall tales were part of the soundtrack of my life.

So when I married a man who’d never been there, I knew he’d someday have to experience those flat, open miles … and especially the people.

That’s why a little over twenty years ago we jumped at the chance for our family to spend a week on the S-K Ranch near Crosbyton. My cousin’s husband, Tom, was the ranch manager and we got to see firsthand a sure-’nuff Western spring roundup—complete with horses and ornery steers and cowboy gear and a real bunkhouse and branding irons and … um, calf fries. Getting to know the cowhands that were working the roundup, it was easy to see why cowboy stereotypes exist—tough, weather-worn, and no-nonsense. Except for a big dose of clown. Robert wrote about it later and maybe I’ll prevail on him to read that story some time for posting here. It was the real deal. This story by O. Henry reminds me of that.

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