Justin is my oldest (and favorite) brother. He’s strong and smart, and he can do anything. Mostly he’s real good at helping me out of fixes. While Chad delights in running the ranch, Justin would rather use his head than do routine ranch work, so he decided to become a lawyer. And he’s the best lawyer in the state . . . well . . . in our part of the state, at least. He left home to go to law school back east when he was 18, and I was not even 2 years old, so I didn’t remember him very well when he came home for the holidays. But he finished his studies and was on the ranch when our father had his fatal accident.
Just because Justin would rather be off helping the governor of California than branding calves doesn’t mean he can’t round up cattle as good as the next man. Like I said, he can do anything he sets his mind to. Some folks say he can even talk a fence post out of the ground, but I’ve never seen that for myself.
For awhile, Justin spent way too much time in Sacramento, but after about six months he decided to stick around and build up his law practice in town, so he’s home much more these days. I’m really glad about that, because since Father died, Justin has stepped in and taken me under his wing. If Chad tells me to do something, I think he’s bossing me. But if Justin tells me to do the same thing, I just go and do it. Like I said, he can talk anybody into doing just about anything.
I was pretty shocked (and not very happy) when Justin invited a certain Lucinda Hawkins home for dinner one evening. He clearly keeps his courting to himself! Before I knew it, I learned that he and Lucy were getting married. A city girl from San Francisco? Uh-uh. But I found out she is the perfect wife for Justin. So I stopped my internal muttering that I was losing a brother and decided I was gaining another sister. Justin met his future wife when she moved to Fresno to keep house for her up-and-coming lawyer brother, Robert. He eventually took his law practice to Visalia, but Lucy stayed on and became Justin’s wife. They married in San Francisco in September 1882. We didn’t have to stay with Aunt Rebecca. Instead, our whole family stayed at the Palace Hotel (where the fancy reception was).
Now Justin and Lucy have their own sweet home in town, but they come out for Sunday dinner almost every Sunday. And, best of all, they have a sweet baby named Samuel James. (The Last Ride). Later, a pregnant Lucy, Sammy, and I are kidnapped by a Mexican outlaw by the name of Procopio the Red-handed. He plans to keep Sammy for his own and haul us to Mexico, where we’ll never be found. All in the name of revenge against our family.
Luckily, we make it through that ordeal none the worst for wear, but worn out from anxiety. Six months later, Lucy has a baby girl. She and Justin name the baby after me, I think because I stood by Lucy and rescued Sammy from his new foster mother. The new baby’s name is Andrea Grace. We call her “Gracie.”
Samuel and Gracie are growing up. Here they are in 1889. Sammy is 5 and a half. Gracie is three and a half.