by Brenton Bauer
"Oh, Pretty Boy! Isn't this the most beautiful spot in the whole wide world?" Gladys asked her sandy colored pony, as if he were able to answer. They had spent the last few hours riding up the old dirt road that ran passed Anderson's Ranch toward Toquerville.
Sitting astride her pony, Gladys was filled with the exhilaration of that mornings ride and the splendor of the panorama that lay before her. Vistas of fiery red mountains, flat-top mesas, rolling hills capped with black volcanic stone and extinct volcanoes that are so prevalent in the area of Southern Utah were thrilling to behold.
From this sand dune ridge she quickly glanced southeast toward the small pioneer village of Toquerville where she attended school in the winter. This view was almost too much for her young mind to comprehend. Oh how she loved this wild country with its changing rainbow of colors and wide open spaces. It gave her such a feeling of peace and freedom.
She nudged Pretty Boy. They started back down the dirt road toward Bellevue where her family lives. She knew that by now her older sister Maude would be worried as it was well into the afternoon. She had eaten a piece of Maude's new homemade bread and had drunk a glass of warm goat's milk before leaving home that morning, but now it was about time for supper.
Maude had been going to school in Kanarraville during the winter and was home for the summer. It had been lonesome without her.
After traveling several miles through the juniper trees and sagebrush Gladys came around the crest of a hill where, up ahead, she spotted a large dust cloud coming down the Browse trail. As she got closer, she could make out movements of sheep and goats along with several men on horseback. She recognized Papa Joe sitting atop his black and white spotted pinto horse. He was holding something in his arms.
As she got closer she heard him say, "Gladys! Ah, Gladys! Come see what I have for you!"
Kicking her heels lightly into Pretty Boy's ribs, they took off toward the dusty herd and were soon there.
Pulling the reins up tight, they stopped suddenly by the side of Papa Joe.
"This kid is for you. Its ma is all dried up and it'll die if someone doesn't soon take care of it." boomed the loud familiar voice of her father.
Gladys carefully took the baby goat from her father's arms and held it close to her. Slowly they trotted down the hot dusty trail towards home.
"Maude! Maude! Come and help!" cried Gladys as she pushed through the broken back door. "Maude, have you seen the old nursing nipples? Get some milk. Where's the old feeding bottle?"
"Calm down, Gladys." exclaimed Maude as she handed the empty bottle and nipple to her.
Gladys promptly filled it with warm milk and placed the nipple on the top. "Here, little one," she tenderly whispered to the goat, who by now was sucking as fast as he could. "I think I'll call you Billy Boy."
When the baby goat was full Gladys picked it up. Holding the soft cuddly ball in her arms she sat down in the old rocking chair Grandpa Hanks had made for her mother, and started to rock.
During the next week Billy Boy wanted to be fed every few hours as he was always starving. Gladys would faithfully feed him no matter what time of day or night.
The summer progressed rapidly with the baby kid growing like a weed in a flower garden. Billy Boy followed Gladys everywhere she went. When she gathered the eggs, milked the goats or slopped the pigs, Billy Boy became her shadow.
With each passing day, the bond between them grew stronger. Billy Boy became an intricate part of Gladys' life. Even when Gladys went riding her pony up into the foothills, Billy Boy went with her. He would stretch on his stomach across Pretty Boy's back in front of Gladys and off they would go. When they jumped the irrigation ditches Billy Boy would fall. He would get up, shake the dirt and dust off, and bah to be picked up again.
As a young growing goat, Billy Boy would eat everything in sight and some things out of sight. He ate Papa Joe's suspenders and Frank's old shoes and socks that were under the bed. He especially liked Maude's homemade bread spread with fresh made butter and honey or Himalaya berry jam. Life was a real joy that summer for both of them.
Early one morning in late August, Gladys decided to ride toward the Black Ridge. She went out into the coral and roped Pretty Boy. She slipped the bridle into his mouth and put the old red riding blanket on his back. All the while she kept looking for Billy Boy. She called, "Billy Boy. Where are you this morning." He never came.
After a few minutes looking for him in all the usual places, Gladys ran back into the house. "Maude, have you seen Billy Boy this morning?"
"Yes." she replied. "He was here earlier when father was getting ready to take the herd to Grapevine Springs. You know they're going to be sold today."
Gladys' heart did a flip-flop when she heard the words "to be sold." She grabbed her hat and flew out the door. Gladys jumped on Pretty Boy and let out a big scream as they galloped down the lane.
Gladys' heart was beating faster and faster as they rode. Pretty Boy's hoof-beats thundered through the morning air. Pounding! Pounding! Pounding at the dry, hard dirt.
Tears were flowing freely down Gladys' cheeks as she kept saying, "Billy Boy! Billy Boy! Where are you?"
Through the dry creek bed, around Rattlesnake Rock and along the old Black Ridge Road they went in a cloud of dust.
Pretty Boy was just about to give out when through her tear filled eyes, Gladys saw the small herd up ahead on the trail. Papa Joe was talking to one of the men.
With dust and rocks flying, Pretty Boy came to a complete stop. Jumping from her horse in a non-stop motion she hurried toward her father yelling, "Papa Joe! Papa Joe. Is Billy Boy here?"
"Yes." replied Papa Joe. "I just sold the lot of 'em. Billy Boy must have followed the herd. Sorry Gladys, I've sold all of them. We'll need the extra money this winter."
The expression on Gladys' face fell with concern as she went to look for her friend. "Billy Boy. Billy Boy." she called.
"Bah! Bah!" came a muffled reply.
She turned just in time to see Billy Boy being loaded on to a wagon with the other goats. Wiping the tears from her eyes she rushed to the wagon grabbing Billy Boy by the neck. Holding his head she patted him tenderly and said, "Billy Boy! You know I'll miss you something awful." Opening her pocket knife, she carefully cut a lock of Billy Boy's hair. Waving good-by, she whispered softly, "Billy Boy, I love you," as she slipped the lock of hair into her pocket.
I found a note about this incident on the back of one of mother's papers. She stated that grandma had given Aunt Dick a lock of Billy Boy's hair. Aunt Dick still had the lock of hair after fifty years. I later found a letter that Aunt Dick (Vinnie Sylvester Leeds) wrote to Grandpa Olds (Charles Andrew Olds) after Grandma died, dated July 20, 1960. "Fifty years ago, Gladys had a Billy Goat. He was sold in a herd that went to Grapevine Springs. She rode on her pony to see him and she sent me a lock of his hair. I still have it."
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It is not to be reprinted or used for commercial purposes without written permission.
Copyright ©2000 by Brenton Bauer
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