This next "missing" scene is a huge jump to a relatively minor character--the drifter who stole Andi's horse. Andi has just agreed to translate for the Gardunos in exchange for food and clothes and for help in finding Taffy. She's on an "up" right now, but after this next "lost" scene, Andi finds herself way over her head in the migrant culture. That chapter ends, and the poor reader--instead of seeing what happens next to Andi and the Gardunos--is taken to "meanwhile, back with the drifter," instead of learning it when Andi does, from her point of view. Ah, well! Maybe you'll like it. Then again, maybe you'll be happy that the book did cut out unnecessary point of view changes. This scene eventually morphed into the one when Andi and Rosa find Taffy's saddlebags in the livery stable, and ANDI finds the picture and the thirty cents. My, what changes editing can do!
Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene #7
The drifter urged his new horse forward. The palomino was an exceptional mount---quality horseflesh at its best. A man would have to travel far and wide to find another like it. He wanted nothing more than to keep the mare, but he knew the harsh penalty for horse-thieves. He wasn’t ready for a "necktie" party quite yet. That young boy on the road had gotten this horse from somewhere, and it wouldn't be long before the search was on. No one would let a horse like this golden beauty disappear for long.
The drifter avoided Fresno after he acquired the horse. There was a chance someone in that town might recognize the animal, so he turned south, returning from where he had come a few days before. If he could make it as far as Bakersfield, he could get a good price for the mare, and it would be much safer.
Riding into a small, nondescript town two days later, the drifter tied his new horse to the hitching post in front of a saloon and went inside. It wasn't long before he was drunk and heavily involved in a poker game.
With his mind dulled by the whiskey, the local gamblers soon won the man's one hundred dollars, leaving him with nothing more to wager but the horse he had stolen and its expensive saddle. Upon losing the horse and saddle, the drifter decided he had been cheated and started busting up the saloon. This brought the sheriff, who promptly arrested him and hauled him off to spend the night in the town jail.
Taffy's new owner was a slick-looking young dandy in new clothes and carrying a bright, well-oiled gun. He looked the palomino horse over carefully, then whistled.
"That drifter wasn't just a kidding when he bragged you up, horse." The man rubbed his hand firmly around the mare, checking for flaws. He found none. He felt along her rear, and his hand stopped as he came across the brand. "Interesting," he murmured, not recognizing it. He hailed a bystander along the boardwalk. "Excuse me, mister. My name's Ethan Woods. I just won this horse in a fair card game. Could you be so kind as to tell me whose brand this is?"
The cowboy wandered over and inspected the brand. He glanced at the rest of the horse and nodded. "That's a Circle C brand, mister. You've got yourself one fine animal."
"They raise horses?"
The cowboy grinned. "And everything else. You must be new around here if you've never heard of 'em. They own a good chunk of the valley east of Fresno. You won't see finer horseflesh anywhere in the state." He indicated the saloon. "If you won that animal from some cowhand of theirs, it certainly is his loss and your gain."
"Thank you, mister." Woods tipped his hat and walked around his new horse once more. As he passed the saddlebags, he opened them up out of curiosity. He pulled out some stale bread and jerky, a change of clothing for a boy much smaller than the drifter, and---of all things---a comb and brush! How very odd, Woods thought to himself. Checking the other saddle bag, he came across a small leather pouch containing a few silver coins, and one gold coin. Twelve dollars, he mused quietly.
As he examined the items, a small photograph slipped out of the saddlebag and onto the dusty street. Woods reached down curiously and retrieved it. He glance at it before shoving it back into the bag.
What a handsome family this is, Woods mused. Not at all what I'd expect from that drifter. In fact, there's no resemblance whatsoever to that fellow.
Some very unpleasant thoughts began to enter Wood's mind. He untied the horse and led her down the street toward the town's only livery. A horse like this could easily be sold for a couple hundred dollars. It might be best to wash his hands of the situation and not wonder who those people in the photograph were or what the drifter was doing with it.
Woods gave the lead rope a jerk. Yep, selling the horse is the best choice. I try to stay out of other people’s business as much as I can. It's a good way to avoid trouble.
Go here for scene #8