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September 8, 1889
Errands in town are not my favorite way to spend a day (and believe me, it’s a full day!) But Riley was kind enough to hitch Ranger up to our buggy when he found out there were a few things I really needed to do. So, I dressed Jared in his coolest outfit (the sun was a scorcher) and climbed into the buggy. Riley made sure the top was pulled all the way up for shade.
“You have fun,” Riley said with a grin. He rubbed his hand over the shiny-black front wheel. “This buggy is the smoothest-riding rig in all Fresno County. I made sure of it before I dropped my fifty dollars down.”
Top-of-the-line, indeed! Buggies cost anywhere from twenty-five to fifty dollars. Riley always bought the best. He had purchased this beauty a year ago, just before we married. It was so easy to hitch up, I could have done it. I knew how to hitch up a buckboard wagon. But Riley was a gentleman and hitched that rig up in no time.
“Take good care of this beauty,” he called as he waved me down the driveway.
No worries. I know how to drive, and the buggy was a breeze. Ranger acted like he was pulling nothing heavier than a two-wheeled cart. The springs were well-made and gave the baby and me a pleasant ride. “I like this buggy,” I told Jared, who sat like a little gentleman beside me.
Going to town from the Circle C is an hour’s trip. From Memory Creek? Ha! An hour and a half on a fast horse. And I wouldn’t race to town with my baby in the buggy. Even if Jared had not been here, I would not race our new buggy over the rough road. No, sirree!
I was looking at a two-hour trip there, and another two hours back. Sigh. I got an early start. I wonder sometimes why I’m recording such a dull day. Well, gather round, all you future generations who might read Grandma’s journal fifty years from now. No trip ever seems to end up dull or routine. *another sigh*
The trip into town was routine, thankfully. No wheels fell off. The baby slept the entire way. Rocking buggies do that to two-year-old toddlers. I stopped at Goodwins and picked up more thread and other notions, and I couldn’t help but grab a new pie pan. Pies are the only thing I seem to make well. There’s plenty of fruit, and a pie helps Riley make it through the rest of my suppers. I didn’t bother picking up the main dry goods—flour, sugar, and the like. Riley takes care of that.
Once the shopping was finished, I stopped by to see Melinda. Jared was fussy and needed something to eat. I had not thought about that before taking off this morning. I was in a hurry to get out of the sun, the dust, and the streets and into Melinda’s cozy little house off Mariposa Street.
By now, Jared had set up an insistent wail. I looped the reins over the hitching post on the run and was knocking on my sister’s door ten seconds after climbing down from the buggy. I looked at the sun between knocks. A little past noon. Plenty of time for a visit and I could still get home to have Riley’s supper on the table before sunset.
“Andi!” Melinda was thrilled to see me. She looked tired and pale. With only a few weeks left until her baby’s birth, she was in the same place I was only a short two years ago.
“Believe me, Melinda, the moment you hold your baby in your arms, it’s all worth it. Every single moment of the pain, effort, and trouble.“
“You would know.” She shuddered. “You’ve been through more than I will be. I live in town, and I don’t intend to let anybody near me during my time—except Dr. Weaver and maybe Mother.”
“Not even Peter?” I teased.
She shook her head. “He’ll swoon. I know he will. His face turned a sickly gray when I related that it was just you and Riley out on the ranch—”
I sucked in my breath. “Melinda! You didn’t tell—”
“Heavens, no, Andi. Just the bare facts that you and Riley were on your own.” She chewed on her lip. “Peter said Dr. Weaver would be here even days ahead to avoid such a similar event.”
I muffled my laughter behind a cough and bent low over Jared so my sister wouldn’t see my face. Now that it was over, it was a good story. But even two years later, if anyone had told me Riley would be my midwife during, I would have bolted, screaming, out the door. I didn’t want Melinda to be afraid.
We finished our girl-talk. I handed Jared one of Melinda’s sugar cookies then glanced at the mantle clock above Melinda’s fireplace. “Good grief! Three o’ clock! I’ve got to run.” I did the arithmetic in my head. By the time I got out of town and on the road, and then back to the ranch, it would be well past five o’ clock. The September sun would be going down not too long after that. Uh-oh!
“It is getting late,” Melinda agreed in alarm. “Are you sure you’ll make it home before dusk?”
I would get home before dusk, but Riley would be worried sick if he happened to quit early and find I wasn’t home. Sometimes, Riley worries too much, but I reckon he’s got his reasons. I hefted Jared in my arms and headed outside. “Horsey ride!” He giggled and laid his silky blond head against my shoulder.
“We’ll get you home in a jiffy, little man,” I murmured.
Melinda peeked over my shoulder. “He’s really a handsome boy, little sister. And so good.“ She rested a hand over her belly. “I should be so blessed.”
“I hope you have a girl,” I encouraged. “She’ll be as sweet as you are.” No boys, I said quietly. A boy might turn out like Peter’s brother, Johnny.
“I know what you’re thinking, Andi.” Melinda laughed. “Johnny hasn’t turned out too badly, after all. He grew up. He drops by at least once a week. He grows on you.”
I laughed. “Fine. I’m just glad he’s your brother-in-law and not mine.” We were still laughing when Melinda accompanied me outside and down the porch steps. I pulled my wide-brimmed hat forward by the stampede strings and took a step toward the buggy. Then I stopped. And stared.
The buggy was gone.
Even now, a few days later, I can remember my shock. I can’t write any more tonight. I’ll pick this scary tale up tomorrow. Read Part 2 >>