My big brother Chad has one ambition: to run the Circle C ranch. He loves horses and is the best horseman in the entire Valley. He’s a year younger than Justin, but he’s the one who’s definitely in charge of the ranch (Justin likes to do his lawyer stuff more than rope cattle). Chad was really upset when Father died, because he looked up to him. He wanted to have many more years working alongside him before having to shoulder all the responsibility. Luckily, our long-time foreman, Sid McCoy, has helped Chad through the transition from a son to being in charge.
Chad has black hair and blue eyes, and he’s pretty tall–about six feet. He thinks he knows everything, and he tries to tell me what to do all the time. That makes him bossy, and I don’t like it at all. He’s got himself a temper, and I’ve been on the receiving end of it more than once. I sometimes feel like I can’t do anything right. He has no patience for work sloppily done or not done at all, and a cowhand caught mistreating a horse is sent packing, along with a few scorching words from the boss.
From an early age, everybody on the Circle C could tell that Chad was a born horseman. He could rope and ride and cut cattle as well as any cowhand. Father was proud of all of his children, and he encouraged Justin, Chad, and Mitch to pursue what they were good at. But he knew Chad would someday take over the ranch.
Behind his quick temper, Chad has a tender heart. After all, he went out of his way to give me Taffy, and he was mighty patient when we were raising her. I’ve seen him carry a newborn calf just as tenderly as a mother would hold her baby. He’s is funny, too. He knows how to make me laugh when I’m feeling down. He can make me roll with laughter at some of his stories.
All in all, I wouldn’t trade Chad for any other brother in the world. I know it’s partly my fault for getting him riled up on occasion. I guess we’re too much alike. I think he yells at me sometimes because he’s just downright worried about me getting into another fix. I love him a lot!
I always thought Chad would be so caught up in ranching that he would never have time to find himself a wife. By the time he turned 30, I was sure he was married to his ranch the same way those sea captains are married to their ships. But our whole family was sure in for a surprise! It’s a little bit of a story, so hang on.
Years ago, when Chad was a boy, he and Father visited Goldtown, a gold-mining camp up by Mariposa. He met Jem, a boy his own age. Jem’s sister, Ellie, tagged along behind the boys on their adventures. The boys and Ellie got trapped in a mine. Chad dislocated his shoulder and was in a lot of pain. Jem put Ellie in charge of keeping Chad occupied and his mind off the pain while they tried to figure out how they were going to get out of this fix.
The kids were eventually rescued, and Chad and Father went home. After Father died, Chad didn’t venture to Goldtown anymore. He left the mining business to Justin and sometimes to Mitch and focused all his attention to running the Circle C.
Fast forward 20 years from the first time Chad visited Goldtown. Ellianna (Ellie) Coulter is 30, and Chad is 32. Ellie has resigned herself that she is a spinster schoolmarm (like my old teacher Miss Hall). But wonder of wonders, Chad and Ellie reconnect after she accepts a teaching job for the Fresno grammar school, and not even a year later, what do you think? I’m attending my brother and Ellie’s engagement party! (Courageous Love)
Chad and Ellie marry a month after Lucy, Sammy, and I return from the Mexican outlaws’ camp up near the Kings River. I’m not quite sure what to think of all this. Ellie has certainly had a softening influence on Chad. He is still a tease, but he doesn’t try to boss me any longer. I guess he lets Riley do that now . . . if he can.
Chad and Ellie welcomed Susianna Mae to their family in January 1887. Here is Susie at two and a half. Later, in April 1890, Thomas was born.