Sam Webber, a sheep rancher, lived with his wife Marthy and their young son Randy in a remote area between the Nueces and Frio rivers. One day, Sam decided to ride to the nearby Chapman ranch to inquire about buying some improved merino rams. Before leaving, he had a heated argument with Marthy about her love for reading fiction, which he considered a waste of time.
Oh, shet up and ride along, you always fussin' 'bout my readin'. I do a-plenty; and I'll read when I wanter.
Sam set off on his journey, but soon realized he was lost in the vast wilderness. As the hours passed, he became increasingly worried about Marthy and Randy being alone at night, and regretted his harsh words towards his wife. He vowed to make amends by buying her a large box of novels and even considered getting her a piano.
Ef I ever speaks another hard word to ther little gal, or fails in the love and affection that's coming to her in the deal, I hopes a wildcat'll t'ar me to pieces.
Despite his best efforts, Sam could not find his way out of the wilderness. He began to despair, fearing that he would never see his family again. However, as he continued to ride, his horse, Mexico, suddenly slowed down and stopped in front of a familiar sight - Sam's own house.
Marthy was sitting in her rocking chair, reading a book, while Randy played nearby. Sam, feeling a mix of relief and embarrassment, dismounted and approached his wife. Instead of apologizing for his earlier outburst, he reverted to his old ways and criticized her once again for reading "those billy-by-dam yellow-back novels."