The cowboy had stayed out too long on the winter range, chasing strays for extra cash. For several years he had dodged the misfortunes of the trail, but now his luck was running thin. He was tired to the bone and a deep cough had settled in his chest.
He should have spent the night in town when he'd stopped to buy the burnished silver bridle that hung on his saddle horn. Instead, he's pressed on toward the ranch where the boy and widow were waiting. He tried to stay alert, but his head nodded as he drifted in and out of a feverish sleep.