Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The Virginian is sent by his employer, the owner of the Sunk Creek Ranch, to meet an Eastern guest at Medicine Bow and escort him 260 miles from the town to the ranch. While the Virginian and the guest await the arrival of the Easterner’s trunk on the next train, the cowboy enters into a poker game. One of the players, a cowboy named Trampas, accuses the Virginian of cheating. The man backs down before the Virginian’s gun, but it is clear to everyone that the Virginian has made an implacable enemy.
A few months later, in the fall, a schoolmistress comes West from Vermont to teach in the new school at Bear Creek, Wyoming. All the single men—and there are many of them in the territory—eagerly await the arrival of the new teacher, Molly Wood. The Virginian is fortunate in his first meeting with her. A drunken stage driver tries to ford a creek in high water and maroons his coach and passenger. The Virginian, who is just passing, lifts the young woman out of the stage and deposits her safely on the bank of the stream. After he rides away, Molly misses her handkerchief and realizes that the young cowboy somehow contrived to take it.
The next time the Virginian sees Molly, she is a guest at a barbecue. He rides his horse for two days for the opportunity to see her, but she coquettishly refuses to notice him. Piqued, the Virginian and another cowboy get drunk and play a prank on all the people who brought babies to the barbecue; they switch...
(The entire section is 1115 words.)
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