Ranchero is a story of ranch and empire, involving Spencer Stanton, the owner of the Corona Grant ranch in New Mexico, near the Santa Fe Trail. The novel takes place around the time of the United States government's annexation of Texas and New Mexico. Stanton must contend with threats from outlaws and a cattle baron. The outlaws threaten Stanton's pregnant wife, and then later join forces with Heggie Duncan, the cattle baron, but Stanton kills the outlaws in a gunfight. Stanton convinces the Mexican governor to surrender peacefully, and both he and Heggie Duncan finally agree to do business together. At the novel's end, Stanton decides to help General Stephen Kearney set up a provisional government under the flag of the United States.
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Abelardo adobes aguardiente ain't Amelio Armijo arms bastards beef body brothers bunkhouse Cagle's camp cattle Chato Comanche Corona corrals crossed damned Don Felipe Don Felipe's door eyes face feet Felipe Peralta Fergy fire girl going grass greasers grinned hand hard Heggie Duncan Helga hell herd horse Indian Jaime Jaime's jerked Josefina kitchen Lardo llanos llanos estacados longhorns looked malpais mamasita Mana's Manuel Armijo Matt Cagle Mexican Mexico Mexico City miles Missourian Mora mountains move protested pulled ranch realized ride rifle rode saddle Santa Fe Santa Fe Trail senor sheep shot smiled Spanish Spence Spencer Stanton Stan Stanton knew Stanton nodded Stanton saw Stanton thought Stephen Kearney sure swung Taos Taylor Springs tell Texas thing told took tracks Trail turned Utes vaqueros veranda wagon waiting Washington-on-the-Brazos Wetzel wounded Yankee yanqui yard Zeke