With the finish of Panduro’s fantastic tale Red realized he had his work cut out just to compete let alone win Rosalinda’s challenge. Fortunately he had time to contemplate what adventure he would use. Red, Rosalinda and The Legend agreed that tomorrow afternoon they would sit down to hear his story. But what story? Red’s usually glib tongue became dry and swollen at the mere thought of tomorrow afternoon. He decided he would sleep on it and make the decision in the morning. Run over the details while he did morning chores and be ready with a winning tale by the afternoon.
Red didn’t exactly get a chance to sleep on anything. He tossed and turned so much that Rosalinda shooed him to the couch, where he continued to toss with disconnected pieces of stories tumbling through his head.
You’ve got to have some sympathy for Red. After all, this was going to be a delicate decision. There were many events that came to mind, none of which he could be able to relate to Rosalinda and still expect to be married. Then there were the times he rode on the, how should we say, more convenient side of the law. These were not times he was anxious to have Rosalinda know about either.
Then there was the problem of Arturo Panduro’s story. It was good. Not just good but, very good. Red wanted to win the challenge of course, but he also wanted to be the best in Rosalinda’s eyes.
“That damned Legend.” He mumbled to himself as he tossed again trying to cover himself with the small lap blanket he was using in a futile attempt to keep warm.
“How about…no. Or maybe…no that won’t do. I know! No she would hate that. Ok, Ok, that’s a good one, no Panduro would not like it. Why can’t I think of something!”
And that is how it went for Red until the sun streamed in the windows and the padding of Rosalinda’s feet across the floor on her way to the kitchen roused him from the couch.
“What is wrong with you Red?” Rosalinda asked looking at the bleary eyed, wrinkled and disheveled Red who had moved to the kitchen table where he sat with his head in hands.
“Just a bad night, I guess darlin’” Red said covering the reason he knew too well.
Then it hit him all at once. Of course, he had the perfect story. It would please Rosalinda, it was something that Panduro could relate to and above all it was a good one. Red stood up and headed to the wash basin. His sudden lively step and the happy whistle on his lips causing Rosalinda to shake her head at the mystery of men.
Red cheerfully worked through his chores all morning long. At lunch he chatted with Panduro without the slightest jab or sarcastic remark. Afterward he made a final round of the barn and corrals before making a large pitcher of lemonade and taking up his favorite chair on the veranda.
Red could hardly wait until the others were settled in their chairs around the table. The grin on his face causing Rosalinda and The Legend to look at each other and just shake their heads.
“Your beautiful wife tells me you were up all night inventing this story you are about to share with us.” Panduro kid with a gleam of sweet revenge in his eye.
Rosalinda not wanting to waste a good chance played along, “He was having such a difficult time with it Señor that I had to let him sleep on the couch!” And the two laughed at Red’s expense.
“Fine, say what you will but I have the winning story as you both shall soon realize.”
Turning to Rosalinda, who was still smiling from the rare event of getting one over on her husband, said, “I will tell you how it came to be that I know the Don de la Vera Cruz, the former owner of this fine rancho, and why he offered it first to me when the time came that the old boy could no longer run the place.”
Red looked too pleased with himself for Panduro’s liking and he could not resist saying, “But, Señor Red I thought you stole this fine rancho?”
“No, Señor Panduro, as you shall see I prevented it from being stolen.”
“I am intrigued Señor Red by any story you may tell that does not involve you being the bandit! Please start!”