Romany Roundup - part 1 —
Jason rode into a town one day and stopped a
stranger for directions to the Jimmy View Ranch.
“I work at the Jimmy View Ranch. What’s on your
mind?” Jason told him he had some business with the
owner, Aaron Shields. “Oh, he’s in there,” the
cowboy declared, pointing behind him. “Bad time to
bother him though.” Jason asked him why. “We just
finished with roundup. He’s got some serious
drinking to do.” Jason laughed.
It was pretty wild in there. The men were getting
drunk. They were fighting and had women everywhere.
Aaron Shields was offering fifty dollars to anyone
who could lick his man. One of the men bet a dollar
he could lick the man, and he lost. I bought a beer.
Shields looked at me. “Well, you look like a fellow
who can make it interesting. You wanta lose a dollar
“No,” Jason answered. “I want to earn one the slow
way.” Jason asked him if he was Aaron Shields. He
told him he wanted to discuss a business matter with
“I never saw you. I never discuss business with
anybody I don’t know,” Shields answered. Jason then
introduced himself and told him the territorial
governor had sent him there to make a survey of his
land. That news didn’t make him too happy. He
thought the governor was out to get him.
“I don’t think anybody’s out to get you, Mr.
Shields,” Jason assured him. “It’s just that you
were giving away certain land grants years ago
and…well, it seems you outgrew them.”
“So what? Maybe I did take ten times what the
government gave me. Well, that’s the same thing the
government did to the Indians only they didn’t do a
blasted thing about it. I took that land and made
something good out of it. I took that alkaline
cactus land and turned it into rich horse and cattle
country! These other ranchers are collecting profit
now, when all the collected before was a handful of
decent dirt.” Jason again reminded him that he’d
only been asked to map his boundaries, not take them
away from him.
He didn’t believe Jason. He started calling the
governor names. Something about “Muck-raking
self-righteous, crusading politician.” He said that
the governor thought he was getting too big for his
britches. “He wants to jot me down to a size he can
handle, only it’s too late now. I’m big enough that
I can kick him out of his office and put my own man
Jason assured him he was getting all upset over
nothing. He was just there to do a quick survey.
He’d be gone in a week. Shields said that the
governor’s office was up in a couple months. He just
wanted some powerful ammunition to keep his job.
“Well, go ahead and make the survey,” he told me.
He’d smash Sorley his own way.
Shields’attitude suddenly changed. He told Jason it
was nothing personal, and even invited me to stay at
his ranch while I was making the survey. He told his
hand, Jud, to go back to the ranch.
He told Jason that there was
bunch of gypsies who came around every year, and he
hired them to help him round up horses. “They’re a
dirty, no-good breed who would slash your throat if
you don’t watch out.”
“Then why deal with them?” Jason asked.
“Because they bust broncs better than anybody!” He
had a fat contract with the army to deliver horses
in five days. “I’d hire the devil himself if he
could do it faster.”
Another ranch hand rode up to them and said he’d
seen Shields’ daughter just ride over to one of the
gypsies. “What makes you think she was riding out to
“Well, he was standing down there at the Oak Groves
to meet somebody,” the cowboy announced. That news
didn’t make Shields too happy. He told Jason that he
was going to do some gipsy breaking.
The gypsy was telling a story. “Once upon a time
there was this prince who fell in love with this
beautiful princess. They were very much in love, but
their families were enemies. So the young prince
made a bargain with the devil. And that night…the
devil changed this father into a box, and this
mother into a bowl. And his four young brothers into
strings. When the young prince woke up, he picked up
the magical instrument and said ‘Play’ and then all
of a sudden, the girls’ parents changed and they
became kind and nice and loving people. And the
young prince was forever lost into his spell.”
The woman, Robin, smiled. She told the young man
that she thought it was a true story. “Oh, it’s not
true. It’s just a fable.” He became angry. “Because
it’s done nothing for your father. Like all the rest
of the people, he believes gypsies are nothing but a
dog and must be treated as such! Not to be touched,
for fear it might bite.” She argued that his
did the same to her. They called her a pig and an
He took her in his arms and they kissed.
Just then, Shields showed up with Jason and his
ranch hand. “Get away from that animal,” he ordered
his daughter angrily.
“Your father wishes to teach this dog a lesson,”
Everyone watched in horror as Shields stepped off
his horse and took out a whip. He began using it on
Kolyan while Robin watched on in horror. Jason
whipped out his sword and leaned forward. He cut the
whip apart. “If that’s the way you feel, McCord,
stay here with him. Shields took a couple steps
toward Kolyan. “I’m warning you for the last time.
Stay away from my ranch, my town, and my daughter.
When you deliver the horses, take the filthy pack
and make a yourself scarce, or I’ll see to it
myself.” He ordered his daughter to get her horse.
She didn’t want to comply, but did anyway.
Then Shields turned to me. “The same advice goes to
you, McCord. Make your survey and get out fast. Take
your report back to Surey and tell him to eat it!”
After Shields left, Kolyan and Jason introduced
themselves. He told Jason he was very brave. He
invited Jason to stay with him in his camp. Jason
told him he’d just stay in the hotel in town, but he
warned Jason that he wouldn’t get in. Shields owned
the town and would make sure Jason didn’t get to
stay there. “Oh, well then I’d be honored to stay
with you…and breathe some fresh air.”
“I’ll never forget what you’ve done. You’ll have a
home with my tribe forever.”
But that’s not the way Lisa felt. She was mad. She
said Jason would never have a home there – he should
go back to his own kind. She said Jason was a
gaucho. She called her brother stupid for bringing
him here. “If he did not help me, I’d be with the
angels playing a harp instead of my violin.”
At that comment, she turned to Jason. “My brother is
king of this tribe! We do not need him! Who asked
you to help?” She walked to the people and told them
Jason would be nothing but trouble. “And I tell you,
he WILL be TROUBLE!”
“Well, as king, I order you to make him welcome at
this camp,” Kolyan answered calmly.
me. “Welcome,” she muttered, then walked away from
“See, your welcome,” Kolyan said. I stared at him.
Kolyan laughed, and I laughed back a bit nervously.
The next day, Jason watched the gypsies breaking
horses. It was entertaining watching them. Suddenly,
Lisa spoke from behind him. “You can do better,
“Some men are better at one thing, some at another,”
Jason answered her.
“And what is your specialty?” Lisa asked. “Breaking
“Now…there’s a man of great strength and courage…he
knows how to handle women!” she declared
“Uh uh uh…” Jason warned her. “I said goats.” Then
she started yelling at her brother all over again
about how stupid he was. He told her to keep her
“Let us see how good he is with the seat of his
pants before he laughs.” Jason stared at her face,
which was only inches from his.
“Get the bronc ready, Kolyan,” Jason said as he
stared into her eyes, accepting her challenge.
Kolyan tried to stop him, but Jason wouldn’t hear of
it. Jason told him to get him ready.
Jason had a good ride. Jason was able to stay on the
bronc until he settled. Everyone cheered. Kolyan was
proud of Jason, but Lisa was not. She was angry.
Kolyan called Jason a gypsy.
“He’s a gaucho,” Lisa sneered at me. “And foolish
like you. And even a small, stubborn goat can make
him lose his head.”
Jason just stared at her retreating figure. Kolyan
noticed Jason was upset and tried to assure him that
women were like wild horses. “It takes a strong hand
to break them.”
Jason needed to get back to his surveying job.
Kolyan offered to let him use Lazar as an assistant,
but Jason explained he couldn’t afford an assistant
on this job. “You broke a very bad horse for me.
It’s an even trade,” Kolyan explained. “Lazar is
very bad and very broken.” He told Jason he could
even write his name and count up to one-hundred.
“Well, that’s fair enough,” Jason smiled. “I’ll take
care of everything over one-hundred.”
Jason started to leave. “McCord…” Kolyan stopped
him. “Who’s going to take care of Shields and his
men when they come looking for trouble?”
“I don’t expect trouble.”
“It’s his land…it’s his people…it’s his law…And
you’ve crossed him. You’re going to have trouble, my
Jason went out to do his surveying. While working,
Shields showed up. He guessed Jason and the gypsies
had hit it off just fine. “You got one working for
you.” Jason told him it oughta be glad since it
means the job would be done quicker. “Since the
government’s checking on me, I’m going to do a
little checking on the government,” Shields
announced then. Jason asked him what that was
supposed to mean. “I’m going to leave my foreman
here to go over every one of your figures.”
“That’ll slow me down, Shields. I’ve only got a
week,” Jason answered.
“I just want to make sure everything’s done fair and
Shields left. Jason went to explain the concept of
“a half” to Lazar when he heard a noise behind him.
Jason turned to see the cowboy standing there. He
had ‘accidently’ stepped on some of the equipment.
So, Jason’s fist ‘accidently’ punched him.
Lisa came riding up. She had brought food. Jason
thanked her and held out his hand to take the food,
but she threw it and stated it was for Lazar. If
there was any food left, Jason could have it. The
cowboy mounted his horse and started to ride away.
“I guess you’ll be busy all afternoon fixing the
pole,” he explained. Jason glared at him. “I’ll be
Jason started to go after the cowboy, knowing he was
going to follow Lisa. Lazar stopped him. “Lisa can
take care of herself. But Jason wasn’t so sure.
The cowboy followed her all the way back to camp.
She jumped off her horse and cursed the gauchos
again. The cowboy cursed her back and said he wasn’t
in any hurry.
That night, Jason apologized to Lisa for cramping
her work space. All the other wagons were full of
families with children. Lisa climbed up on a step
ladder to reach something high when Jason pushed his
chair back and stood up. She slipped and fell…right
into Jason’s arms. He didn’t let her go right away,
but stared into her eyes. “I said there would be
trouble when you came,” she said softly just before
their lips met in a passion-filled kiss.
“McCord!” Kolyan interrupted them. “Shields is here
with the Sheriff to take you.”
Jason went to see what was going on. Shields told
the sheriff to arrest him. The sheriff ordered Jason
to give him his gun. “On what charge?” Jason asked.
“I can name a hundred,” Shields answered. He said
Jason had polluted his creek that morning.
“I did what???” Jason demanded.
“That’ll do for
When the sheriff checks that one out, I’ll start
naming the others.”
“Now, do you call this justice?” Kolyan asked. “This
is the law of one gaucho and his gun” Shields told
the ‘gypsy’ to stay out of it, then he ordered the
sheriff to arrest Jason. Jason started to stop it,
but the sheriff pulled a gun on him and cocked it.
Jason had no other choice but to do as he was told.
As he passed Shields, Shields laughed at him.
The next day, Kolyan came to the jail to see Jason.
He told the sheriff he had no right to keep Jason
there. The sheriff smiled, pointed to his badge and
said, “This give me the right.” Kolyan then
announced that he came to take Jason with him. The
sheriff told him it would take money. Kolyan said he
had money. “Keep your money, Kolyan. He’ll just
think of another lame excuse to put me back in,”
Jason told him.
Kolyan laid down all the money he had. The sheriff
told him that wasn’t even close. It would take
almost as much as they were getting for breaking
Shield’s horses – Three hundred dollars!
*Thanks to Michelle Palmer for writing this episode!
around The McCain Ranch