Where Could Lucy Be?

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Andi’s Journal

May 5, 1887

What an exciting day! I am so tired I can barely write, but I simply must record today’s occurrences. It all started right after lunch, when Lucy’s buggy drove up. She’d brought along Sammy and Gracie and a basket of food. “For your supper,” she told me, setting the basket on the counter. “I know how tiring it is to be an expectant mother.”            

Good ol’ Lucy! I thanked her and invited her to have a little snack of cookies and lemonade with me before heading back to town. She agreed, and we had a lovely chat while we ate.            

Afterwards, Lucy asked me about baby clothes. As in . . . sewing baby clothes. I didn’t want to show her, since sewing is a skill I have only slightly mastered over cooking. The only difference is stitches can be taken out and redone, but a ruined cake or loaf of bread cannot.I think Lucy knew I didn’t want to show her my terrible attempts, but she cajoled and teased until I laid them out on the bed. She oohed and ahhed and gave me some hints, like . . . why agonize over button holes when hooks and eyes work just as well? Or better yet . . . ribbon ties for the backs of the gowns.

Whoosh! Now, why didn’t I think of that? Riley has done a much better job with making all kinds of baby things, which little girl Prescott or little boy Prescott will not need for ages! Blocks and pull-string horses and the like. His cradle is lovely, as is a highchair. Yes, like we need a highchair so soon?            

“Riley has done a lot in preparation for the baby,” I told Lucy. “Why, then, won’t he do the sewing, too? Instead, he leaves that hideous task to me.”            

Lucy laughed and shook her head. “Men aren’t cut out for women’s work, Andi.”           

“Same as I’m not cut out for sewing. I tell you, Riley could most likely do just as well as I’m doing with the sewing, if not better. I am not good with sewing at all.”            

“Oh, I’m not so sure about that.” She held up a bib. “Honestly, your sewing has improved dramatically. You might think about entering some of these items in the fair this next summer.”            

My eyebrows lifted. I took the compliment and didn’t tell her how many times that bib’s stitches had been taken out and redone. But the Sacramento State Fair? Nothin’ doin’. I would enter Shasta in a heartbeat, but not anything I cooked or sewed. That’s too much shame even for me.            

She laughed again and switched the subject. All too soon, it was time for Lucy and the children to leave. “I don’t want Justin to get worried. He’d no doubt send out a search party.”            

Little did she know how true that was. Justin didn’t fool around when somebody was late getting back. I helped settle her two lively little kids in the buggy and waved until they were out of sight. Then I headed back inside for a nap. Visiting sapped me of all energy these days. Believe it or not, I didn’t even ride Shasta more than a few times around the yard. Riley always eyed me like a hawk ready to swoop. Like he thinks I’ll tumble off or something. I admit, though, I’m awfully careful these days.            

A couple of hours later, I awoke to the sound of the door opening. “Andi?” Riley called.         

“In here!” I rose from the bed and hurried into the kitchen.            

“Howdy.” Riley pressed a kiss to my forehead and smiled. “Napping again?”

“Always.” I smiled. “This baby never gives up making me tired.” I yawned and smoothed back my hair. “But Lucy dropped by and brought us some supper, so my nap didn’t affect your meal in any way.”            

The words “Lucy” and “supper” made his eyes light up. I’m getting better, but still . . .“Mm, good. I’m starved. I’ll just go wash up. Be right back.”  

I grabbed some plates and took Lucy’s food out of the icebox. I shared Riley’s hunger pangs, but my stomach roiled at the smell of the bowl of chili. Chili certainly tastes better than it smells after it’s been sitting in the icebox for hours! I wasted no time dumping it into a pot to warm up on the stove. Luckily the fire hadn’t gone out. I shoved some sticks in and got the flame going stronger.            

I sliced the loaf of cornbread Lucy brought and soon ladled the warmed chili into bowls. Lucy’s supper, as always, was delicious. Riley and I stuffed ourselves. I washed the dishes and Riley dried them.            

Just as he was wiping down the last dish, a knock came at the door. “I’ll get it.” I ran for the door and flung it open.  “Justin! Chad!” I exclaimed. “What brings you here?” 

“It’s Lucy.” Justin’s face was twisted with anxiety. 

I sucked in a breath. “What about Lucy?”

Riley stepped up beside me. “What’s this about?”

“She’s gone missing,” Justin explained. “I knew she was visiting you this afternoon.” He craned his neck and peeked inside. “Is it possible she’s still here?” 

My heart raced. “No, she left about four.” 

“Could you help us search?” Chad asked Riley. “Mitch has gone into town to find some others. He’ll stay in case Lucy shows up at home.” 

Riley nodded. “Of course.” 

I turned to Justin. “It’ll be all right, big brother. I’m sure Lucy is fine—” 

“She is not fine,” Justin argued. “When she didn’t come home at suppertime, I couldn’t find a note. Melinda hasn’t seen her either, so I knew something has happened. I checked the whole road out to the ranch. So far as I could tell, she was nowhere in sight.” He let out a long, slow breath. “I can’t shake that event with Tomaso Procopio Rodendo from my mind,” he went on. “I am scared something similar has happened to my wife and children.” 

Deep down, I agreed with Justin. But I didn’t want to believe it. Lucy is fine. She has to be

Riley’s arm wrapping around me drew me from my thoughts. “I’ll be back soon,” he whispered. 

I stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. “Be careful.” 

 “I will.”            

I watched as he went out to the barn and saddled Dakota. Then he and my brothers galloped off. Oh, Lord, I prayed. Please show Riley and the boys were to find Lucy and the children.            

Two hours dawdled by. Too nervous to do much of anything, I paced the floors or sat on the settee and stared out the window. The sun was sinking lower in the west. I prayed.            

Finally, I heard the sounds of hoofbeats. I raced outside and was delighted to see Riley smile as he dismounted from Dakota. “Did you find Lucy?” I blurted. “And the children? Are they fine? Where are they? I—” 

Riley hugged me. “Take it easy, Andi. Let me put Dakota away, and I’ll come up to the house and tell you the whole story.”            

I waited impatiently for him to return. As soon as he’d washed up, I begged, “Tell me now, Riley! Please?” 

“All right, all right.” Riley laughed. “Give a man some time, will you?” 

I clenched my fists. Ooooh!

“Chad, Justin, and I never reached town. We found the buggy in that oak forest not too—”

“The forest!” I exclaimed. “What was Lucy doing there?”

“If you’ll be patient for half a second, I’ll tell you.”

I plopped down on the settee and kept my mouth shut.

“We found the buggy in the woods. Lucy told us she’d noticed the wheel was loose, so she pulled off the road. Then wheel broke off. The buggy tilted and dumped Lucy and the kids on the ground. Neither Lucy nor her children were hurt. Just hungry and startled.”

“How could Justin have missed the buggy on his way to the Circle C and our ranch?” I exploded, then clapped my hand over my mouth. Oops. I’d forgotten I was supposed to be quiet.

Riley’s smile assured me he was not upset. He sat down beside me. “Justin galloped right by the oak grove. The horse had dragged the empty wrecked buggy deeper into the forest. Lucy ducked into the woods too to keep the children out of the sun.” He started laughing. “Lucy was waving and shouting, but Justin just kept ploughing past them.” He shrugged. “I reckon his eyes were fixed on the road and he didn’t even consider she might have gone off the road.”

Poor Justin! He must have been horribly worried to let his emotions overtake his good sense and careful checking. “Chad will never let him live this one down.”

“We left the buggy in the trees—couldn’t repair it with no tools—and took Lucy and the kids home. They’re safe and none the worse for wear.”

I leaned against Riley and breathed a silent prayer, Thanks, Lord. As Mother would say, “All’s well that ends well!”

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

4 thoughts on “Where Could Lucy Be?

  1. Wow! That must have been terrifying! (For Justin and Lucy!) I can’t believe being Lucy out there. With two kids, too. She’s so brave! But being Justin must have been worse! Could you believe it if you saw your husband/wife was missing? Especially with the event with Tomaso Procopio Rodendo. After that, I wouldn’t have gone out of the house for months! :O

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love this story! My name is Andrea Grace Horst! just like Gracie!!! it’s fun reading books when the characters have the same name as you!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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