Sam Egland didn't have much on his mind as he rode into Julesburg that day. He was just glad to escape the homestead and the continual nagging from his father to "make something of himself" by starting his own homestead. There was no question that, at 18 years of age and 6 feet tall, he was too old and too big to be living on his parents farm. His black hair, last cut poorly by his mother, and his short, black beard made him look like the proverbial "wild man." He was covered with the dust and dirt from the trail and he knew that he had to get himself cleaned up before he started looking for a job.
He had enough change in his pocket either for a meal or for a trim and bath at the barbershop. He decided on the barbershop, since he could eat later, but he had to find a job, now! He pulled a clean shirt (his only other shirt) from his saddlebag and went into the barbershop, where he had a haircut, shave, and bath. He put on his clean shirt and brushed the dirt from his pants. He had been talking to the barber and learned that they were hiring at the nearby York ranch, so he headed for there.
He asked the first person he saw when he arrived where he could find the foreman. He was directed to Bill Hudson, who was working at corral number 2. As he rode in that direction, his attention was grabbed by a young woman he saw walking by. He was so struck by her, that this had to be the "love at first sight" that his mother had talked so much about. Now he knew that he had to have a job at this ranch, no matter what it might be! He never even considered the possibility that the woman might be attached to someone else, he just knew that he was the one!
He rode up to Bill and introduced himself, but, as was polite, he did not dismount until invited to do so. Sam asked Bill about a possible job and Bill invited him to dismount so that they could discuss the matter. Bill said that he had three jobs to offer, at the moment. He most needed a horse wrangler, but there were positions available in the guard troops and as a farm hand. Sam jumped at the horse wrangler job, but admitted that he had little experience. Bill told him not to worry; they would teach him what he needed to know. Sam gratefully accepted the job and was told that he could find a place in the bunk house; supper would be served in 40 minutes.
About this time, that beautiful woman "happened" to walk up and Bill introduced Sam to Ann. Bill couldn't help chuckling to himself; he could see the attraction sparkle between the two. He also knew that Ann normally had no reason to come to this corral, so she must be here to find out more about the new hand. Therefore, Bill asked Ann to show Sam the way to the bunkhouse and the communal dining room.
She showed Sam to the bunkhouse and waited while he found an available bed and stowed his few possessions. She then took him by the barn where he was to keep his personal horse and tack and, again, waited while Sam took care of his horse. By now, it was past the usual supper time, so she used this as an excuse to invite Sam to have supper with her. The significance of this made no impression on Sam—he was just glad to spend more time with her.
They went into the dining room of the main house and Ann introduced Sam to all who were there. Carmelita, the housekeeper, ordered a place set for Sam next to Ann and a knowing smile was passed around the table; the couple never noticed! After an excellent meal (if the truth be known, the best Sam ever had!), Ann offered to show Sam around the ranch house complex. He readily accepted; any excuse to spend more time with Ann was never to be ignored.
Ann took Sam to see the school where she taught the ranch children and completed the tour by going to the roof of the "fort" to look around the ranch. They climbed to the lookout tower platform and Sam was impressed by panoramic view of the busy and successful ranch. He could even see the dam site and the concrete plant from here. They stayed on the tower platform for nearly two hours, just talking and getting to know each other. Before they left the tower, they were holding hands and spending a lot of time staring into each other's eyes.
By the time they returned to the main house, Sam had a standing invitation to take all his meals with Ann in the main dining room. It was only the later teasing by the other ranch hands that Sam found out how unusual this was.
The next morning when Sam showed up for breakfast with Ann, Carmelita was expecting him and had a regular place set for him beside Ann's. Sam and Ann were the only ones on the ranch who were not amused by this sudden romance—they were too busy enjoying it! Carmelita could see it coming, she was already tentatively planning the wedding.
Sam was a quick learner and rapidly rose in responsibility. He never turned down extra duty and was well on his way to being Bill's chief assistant by the end of the first year. Sam had such a pleasant personality that the other hands never resented his quick rise, in fact, they encouraged it.
Sam spent all of his free time with Ann and they rode all over the far reaches of the ranch, but always with an escort. There was still danger from the Brotherhood, and Bill and Arturo, the guard captain, were not willing to take any chances with Ann's safety. Whenever they went riding, Sam was armed with one of the dragoon's shotguns; he was quite competent with the weapon since he had used one for years hunting on the family homestead.
One day, they were riding on the far side of the dam and had stopped for a picnic lunch. By this time both Bill and Arturo had enough confidence in Sam that they thought that only one escort guard was sufficient. This guard, having something of a romantic soul, announced after lunch that he would take a swing around the area and would be back in about an hour. Sam thanked him, and the guard rode off.
Sam and Ann had reached the heavy kissing stage of their romance and were delighted to catch up on all the kisses they had missed in the last few days. They were engaged in a mighty kissing bout when they heard a series of gunshots in the distance. They grabbed their horses and raced off in the direction of the shooting. They halted when they caught sight of the guard shooting at some men from behind a rock.
Sam insisted that Ann immediately ride to the ranch for help; meanwhile he would assist the guard. Ann reluctantly agreed to the request, though she wanted to stay with Sam. Ann rode off for help and Sam dismounted in preparation for creeping up to the guard's position.
He reached the guard and found that the man had been seriously wounded in the lower leg. The bullet had hit the bone and broken it. The bleeding had been stopped by a tourniquet and the guard was able to shoot, though it was painful.
The two men agreed that the best thing for them to do was for Sam to sneak around behind the intruders and attack them from behind while the wounded guard kept them occupied from his current position. As far as Sam could tell, the attackers had not yet noticed his presence, so he would have an advantage.
Sam crept away from the wounded guard and made a wide swing around the attackers. Once he found a good position about 20 yards behind the enemy, Sam opened up on them, firing as rapidly as he could. His idea was to make them think that there were many more than just the one man behind them. Perhaps they would panic and do something stupid.