Well, it’s been a whirlwind of a day! Riley and I got up this morning, and Felicity joined me in making breakfast. And I was grateful for her help too. She’s by far a better cook than I am (though I’m still holding out for the old saying that “practice makes perfect.” Maybe by the time I’m a grandmother I will be able to bake and cook as well as . . . well, as well as almost anybody I know.
While Felicity and I prepared the meal, we talked about what had been going during the past six years since we had seen one another last.
Apparently, soon after the incident at her ranch (the one where she bossed me, whipped me, and pretty much stole Taffy from me), Felicity was forced into some changes. They were not to her liking, but for the first time in her entire life, her father put his foot down.
“No crying or begging or fit throwing helped me this time,” she said in a hushed tone. “It was right then I realized how close I’d come to really hurting somebody—you. And it scared me.”
I guess it had scared her father too. The first thing he did was pack her off to a strict ladies’ finishing school—one that would make her toe the mark with no shenanigans allowed. Mr. Livingston had also told the entire truth about his daughter’s need to reform—pronto.
I smiled when I heard she’d been sent to school. “Was it Miss Whitaker’s in San Francisco?” I couldn’t help asking. That place was pretty strict.
Felicity shook her head. “Nothing so close as the City.” She sighed. “I think Papa knew if I was too close by, he would weaken in his resolved to set me on the right path and allow me to return home.”
She shook her head. “It hurt him so much to do what he had to do. He sent me back east to Boston. I hated that place.”
Boy, howdy, did I cringe at that! Boston was almost on the other side of the world if you asked me. Mr. Livingston meant business, and it made me kind of glad. After all, she could have grown up spoiled and selfish into her adult years and caused no end of suffering to people around her.
Instead, because of treatment of me, Felicity was caught in time and her character allowed to be turned around.
But it had been a good change, she told. The experience showed her just how serious her father was taking things, and it helped her straighten out. “And the headmistress at the school was a kind, godly woman. Coming to know Christ really made a difference.”
My eyes popped open at that. Felicity, a Christian? Well, God has changed worse characters in His grand plan for the world. I was doubly glad that God had taken something very evil (in my eyes) and turned it into something good.
Felicity was full of chatter. When she graduated from the finishing school, she went right to Berkeley. She’s been there the past two years. “No normal school for me. I’m not cut out to be a teacher.” She laughed.
“Me either,” I confessed. “All I ever wanted to do was help my brother run the ranch.” A thrill shot through me. “And now I have my own ranch.”
“I’m hoping to return to the Lazy L and run the household for Papa,” she confessed. “But a good foundation in agriculture will do me no harm.”
My eyes opened wide at that. Did one need a degree in agriculture to run a ranch house? If so, I am sorely unqualified to run Memory Creek Ranch.
Berkeley was where she met Mitch.
As Felicity talked about the classes, it surprised me just how passionate she was about her studies. All the while as she told me about her classes and what she was learning, her eyes lit up and her face flushed.
She was so different from the Felicity I remembered.
I also did the math, may God forgive me. Mitch is only six years older than Felicity. Is it possible that . . . No, as much as I’ve forgiven her, I do not think I would like Felicity as a sister-in-law.
After breakfast was finished, we went out to the barn. Her eyes lit on Shasta, and she smiled. “This isn’t Taffy, is it?”
Felicity’s memory had definitely failed her. But I didn’t elaborate on the differences between a golden palomino and a chocolate palomino.
I shook my head, reminded of how cruel she had been to my beloved horse. “No, this is her colt, Shasta.”
She must have sense my hesitancy. She placed a hand on my arm. “Andi, I’m really sorry for how I treated your horse.” She glanced down and shook her head. “I don’t know what possessed me to make me treat an animal that way.”
I assured her all was forgiven and found one of our spare horses for her to ride. It took us no time at all to saddle up, and I took her on a tour of our range.
It was nearly lunchtime when we finished. I knew Riley would most likely eat out on the range today, I took Felicity over to the big house. It had been a while since I’d eaten with Mother and Ellie, and I was looking forward to one of Nila’s amazing meals.
We tied up in front, dismounted, and started up the steps. We ran into Chad, who was coming in from a morning in the saddle.
I introduced him to Felicity. As soon as he heard her name, his brow darkened.
I was quick to point out that Mitch had sent her to see us, and that she had come asking forgiveness. That seemed to quiet him down a bit.
We went inside and saw Mother and Ellie. Ellie and Felicity struck up a conversation as we made our way to the table, and the chatter kept going as we ate.
Still, the big dining room was quieter than it had been when I was younger. I sure do miss the arguing and jesting that always went on between Chad, Mitch, and Justin. And teasing Melinda and me.
Sometime soon, we need to get together for supper.
Felicity spent the rest of the afternoon at the big house, spending time with Mother and Ellie.
As the afternoon wore on, Mother invited Felicity to spend the night there. She could head for town in the morning.
She agreed, which meant it was time for me to be starting home. Goodness, it was late, and I hadn’t given any thought to supper. As usual.
Thankfully, Mother sensed my predicament and had Nila wrap enough of their supper for Riley and me, and pack it in my saddlebags.
I bid everyone farewell and started out for home.
Thankfully, I made it back before the sun set, which meant Riley didn’t have to worry about me. He had just arrived home himself.
We had supper, and then he went out to work on some tack while I cleaned up.
Now I’m sitting in the settee, waiting for him to return. Nila sent along some cookies, and I poured some glasses of milk for us to have them with.
It’s a nice, quiet ending to a wonderful day!