Herschel watched the new kid buck a green-broke mare, the little blue roan stiff in the legs and arched in the back. The new kid looked loose and easy, though, making him think he'd done a good thing in the hiring.
Sometimes you just didn't know when a cowboy showed up at your corral, carrying all he owned on his back and begging a job. Herschel knew he could do background checks and call the IRS and all, but he liked to think he was carrying on a cowboy tradition. You hired a man on the basis of his handshake and the way he looked you in the eye, and you kept him on based on his work.
So, here he was, watching the kid work, and so far it all looked good.
The mare finally stopped bucking and stood, shivering and blowing, until another hand came running out and grabbed her halter. Slowly, easily, belly to the saddle and feet kicking loose first, the new kid slid to the ground, letting the mare feel him all the way. She didn't balk, just let him get off her back, turning her head to nose him cautiously when he patted her neck.
Herschel was pretty damned impressed.
"So, what'd you think?" the kid asked, coming over and grinning at him, spreading out a face full of freckles.
"I think you did good. You wasn't grandstanding, like some roughstock rider, and you let her have her space once she did what you asked. Decent day's work."
"Thanks." The summer straw hat came off, the kid's red curls shining in the sun. Then that head tilted, the grin going even wider. "You cain't remember my name, can you?"
"Sure I can." Dustin. Devon. D-something.
"Right. That." Winking, Herschel clapped the kid on the back. "Grub's at six. Then you're on your own."
"Hey, you have a big old TV in the front room of the bunkhouse. Satellite. I saw it when I stowed my gear. That's all I need."
"Then we're set. I like your style, son."
"Cool." Dalton gave him a shrewd look from a pair of bright green eyes. "I ain't a kid. I'm twenty-eight."
Herschel nodded. "I know. I saw your application." He shrugged, thinking how his buddy Tate and him would go to the local rodeos and sneer at anyone under thirty-five. "That makes you a kid to me."