When the call for breakfast sounded for the soldiers, Cody had just finished his chapter and prayer time, so joined them. He sat with the Captain and told him of the morning’s event.
“Well, it’s not just the ranchers who don’t want times to change,” he commented, “so we need to talk with the hands, too. We are going to meet with Mr. Dodge today, and we’ll also include the cowhands in some of that after our initial talk.”
Cody nodded. “Here is where we have to encourage them to be approachable and submissive to what is best, the fourth quality of Heavenly Wisdom. And at the same time, we still have to have good motives and be peace loving as well as sweetly reasonable.”
“You sure do think about that a lot,” said the Captain.
“That’s right. If we follow God’s wisdom, a lot of things work out well and many negative things can be avoided. If our basic motivation is to please and obey God, we can be protected from making many destructive mistakes.”
After breakfast the Captain and Cody walked to the ranch house and knocked on the door. Dodge’s Mexican maid answered, then turned to take their message to her master.
When he came to the door, Dodge did not look happy. Amy was right behind him and came out, too. Cody tipped his hat to her and she smiled.
“Good morning, Mr. Dodge, Miss Dodge,” said the Captain, “I hope you slept well.”
“Nothing of the kind,” snapped Dodge, “with you camped out here, threatening my existence, how could I sleep well?”
“Actually, Mr. Dodge, we are not threating your way of life. Instead we’re seeking to help you keep your existence and way of life in the face of the great changes coming, changes none can hold back. We want to see you able to keep on ranching, to have enough land to graze your cattle, and for you to be successful in your business.”
“Then why are you siding with the sod busters?”
“We are siding with both you and them. We believe there is room for all of you in the future, if you will take the right steps to protect your land properly.
Cody spoke up, “I did some figuring last night. If you are correct about having a range fifty by fifty miles, that’s two thousand five hundred square miles. In acres that’s one million six hundred thousand acres! That’s a huge spread.
“If you could legally claim one third of that, you would have five hundred thousand acres and a dozen watering places. That is far more than enough for 6,000 cattle. You could expand beyond what you are doing now, and your men would have more time to care for the cattle since they wouldn’t have to cover such a large area.”
“I just don’t want to give any of it up!” declared Dodge.
‘That’s natural,” replied the Captain, “but it is not possible. If you don’t move to legally claim a portion of your land, you will eventually lose all of it. And we don’t want to see that.”
“You don’t? I find that hard to believe!” Dodge spat out.
“Father,” said Amy, “Think of what mama would have said, that you should listen to them. They are not against you!”
“We want to see you prosper, Mr. Dodge,” said Cody, “but you must move with the times and thereby protect yourself legally, not with guns to kill others and end up getting hung.”
Dodge lowered his head, then said, “Alright, how do I go about doing this land claiming business?” Amy, standing behind her father, patted him on the shoulder.
Cody explained how he would have to go to the fort and work with the land office there. He couldn’t claim such a large tract of land for himself, they didn’t allow that. But he could divide the land up and have some of his trusted men claim portions of it; they could then sign it over to him.
“Let each one claim a watering hole and a good portion of land around it. Plan carefully so you will end up with half a million acres. Think carefully, set your boundaries, act soon. Give yourself a good buffer around your ranch buildings, and make sure John’s three hundred acres are outside of what you will claim.”
Dodge nodded; they could see his mind at work, thinking of who he could trust to work with him. Amy looked pleased and relieved.
“Now, one more thing, Mr. Dodge. I’d like to talk to your men about this situation, so they understand fully what’s happening.”
“No, I can tell them.”
“You could, but I believe a neutral outsider may be able to give a more unbiased account and help them to join you in this venture.”
He then told Dodge about Cody’s predawn visitor. “Your men are loyal to you, Dodge, use that loyalty well and you will prosper.
Dodge rose from his chair, went to the door and called his foreman. “Get all the boys together and bring them over here.”
The Captain smiled and winked at Cody. “Heavenly Wisdom,” he said. Amy smiled, too. When the hands came, the Captain sat with them and explained the situation and the solution.