It was late Christmas Eve, when the boss, looking grieved, knocked on the bunkhouse door.
"Boys," he said sadly, "young Tim's doing badly, and is asking to see you once more.
We pulled on our coats, our hearts in our throats, and walked out into snow flurries.
It was windy and cold, and without being told, we knew there was reason to hurry.
The outlook was grim, for the boss's son, Tim, was losing his fight with the Flu.
Tho the doctor had tried, staying close by his side, there was no more he could do.
We uncovered our heads at the foot of his bed. Young Tim sure looked like a goner.
His fevered face red, his eyes burned in his head, he won't be with us much longer.
"Hi, Smitty. Hi, there, Buck. Seems I've had no luck in shaking this awful Flu.
It's the last Christmas for me, and I sure wanted to see Santa's reindeer as they flew.
But, with my dizzy head, I can't get out of bed, so, I'm asking a favor of you.
If I could hear a reindeer hoof, when he lands on our roof, I guess that's the best I could do.
I know it'll be hard for you to stand guard, but please wake me up to hear.
If I hear a reindeer hoof pawing up on our roof, it'll be like I see him from here."
Buck sobbed and turned, to hide tears that burned, the poor kid was out of his head.
It was the fever talking. Buck started walking, "I've got the first watch," he said.
"Don't you worry, Tim. I'll be helping him. We'll sure tell you when Santa arrives."
I ducked out on him then, feeling less than a friend. I couldn't tell any more lies.
I found Buck just outside, thru tears smiling wide. I could hardly see thru my tears.
Buck said, "I have a plan, so get with it, Old Man, Tim's gonna hear some reindeers!"
Buck harnessed the team, much better he seemed, but he hadn't yet clued me in.
We hitched up the sleigh, which we used to haul hay. Buck was still wearing a grin.
"Old Juan, that sells us oats, has a big bunch of goats, and I'll bet he'll loan us a few.
We'll put 'em on the roof; Timmy will hear his hoof, making his last wish come true!"
With the help of Old Juan, we got the goats loaded on, tho they didn't like the sleigh.
We kept them together, thru that awful weather, then we boosted them upon their way.
The goats liked to climb, and in almost no time, the rooftop had hoofbeats galore.
Buck then slipped in to awaken young Tim, so he'd hear his reindeer for sure.
He was not prepared for what he found there. Little Timmy was not in his bed.
He was asleep and still at the open window sill. He was ice cold and almost dead.
Christmas morning dawned clear. We expected to hear Timmy had died in the night.
But the boss came in, with a lop-sided grin, and said, "Tim's now doing all right!"
A greater power had spoken. His high fever had broken. He'd asked his mom for food!
The goats went unheeded; seems they weren't needed. Things had worked out pretty good!
But then Tim told a story, of an Angel from Glory, who stopped by his window to say
That he would recover, and he would discover the real reason for Christmas Day!
Buck looked out the window for tracks in the new snow. Not a single print did he spy.
Tim's mom started singing, soon the cabin was ringing with "Angels We Have Heard on High."
Neal Torrey is a cowboy poet from Bolivar. He moved to Missouri after spending the majority of his life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he raised horses. He is a member of the Missouri Cowboy Poets Association.