Riley Jared Prescott is 8 years old when he comes to the Circle C ranch. His father, Captain Robert Prescott, is in the U.S. Army and stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco. His mother, Carrie, contracted a bad case of influenza (or so they thought), which led to other ongoing lung problems. She weakened, and they decided it was consumption (what is called tuberculosis today). His mother must lie still and quiet, and since Captain Prescott was out on patrol a lot, he could not care for their son. Enter Uncle Sid McCoy, Carrie’s much older brother. After talking it over with the Carters, Riley came to the Circle C ranch until his mother recovered.
To soften the blow, his father gave him a large black horse to take along as a companion and friend–Midnight.
I had so much fun playing with Riley Prescott when I was little. I remember the day he arrived. Father was still alive. He picked me up and plunked me down right in front of that strange little boy.
“This is Riley,” Father said. “He’s come to live on the ranch and play with you until his mother is feeling better. He’ll stay in the bunkhouse with Sid, and he’ll eat with the hands in the cookhouse.”
“Riley will earn his keep by helping Cook.” Sid ruffled his nephew’s dark hair and grinned.
Sleeping in the bunkhouse with the cowboys and eating in the cook shack sounded like fun, but helping grouchy Cook did not sound fun at all. It sounded terrible. Our ranch cook is a big Mexican fellow, with dark eyes that glare at you if you cross him. Riley had no idea what he was in for.
Father prodded me in the back, so I said, “Howdy.” So far, my only playmates were a few of the Mexican ranch hands’ children.
Riley smiled at me then and said “howdy” back.
“Do you like horses?” I asked, twirling one of my braids around my finger.
“I love ’em!”
Right then I knew we would be friends.
“I rode the army horses back at the fort,” he explained. “And some of those jug heads were meaner than all get-out.”
From then on, Riley and I were best friends.
The next spring, a few months before I turned six, Father was killed in a roundup accident. That was terrible, but it helped me understand how sad Riley was sometimes to not be with his mother and father. Riley lived on the Circle C ranch for a little over two years, until he was ten. I cried when he left.
To my surprise, Riley Prescott returned to the Circle C eight years later. Trouble is, I’d forgotten all about Riley. That seems almost impossible to imagine now, but I really did put him out of my mind after a year or two. First Sadie then Cory took Riley’s place, especially when Cory was old enough to ride out to the ranch. And life went on.
So it was no wonder I was shocked to my toes when Riley showed up as Chad’s new horse wrangler. I think Riley was hurt that I didn’t remember him much (I didn’t even remember the name of his horse Midnight). But that man is patience itself, if nothing else! He gently and persistently reminded me about himself in all of the littlest ways. And honestly, that little boy-turned man weaved his way into my heart. Took awhile, but all’s well that ends well. Riley and I married on June 12, 1886. We now have our own ranch–a huge slice cut out of the Circle C–called Memory Creek ranch. I’m very glad Riley never gave up on me.
Return to the “family” page and click on my (Andi’s) page to see our new little son, Jared.