Here's the challenge. Each week I'll post a new "lost scene" from this story. I stole lots of things from this original story to create different books. Can you figure out where the different parts of these scenes ended up in other books?
Hint: Most of this first scene has never been seen before (I don't think so, anyway, so bear with me). Variations, however, have found their way into another book. Have fun! Leave your guesses in the comments. A new scene every Monday until I run out of story.
THE LOST STORIES: ANDREA CARTER AND TROUBLE AT THE LINESHACK
Lost Scene #1
A blast of hot summer air struck Andrea Carter directly in the face as she left the relative coolness of the house. She had been looking forward to a nice afternoon ride, but immediately the very thought of climbing onto a horse and galloping around under the fierce California sun made her reconsider.
“It’s too hot to ride,” she muttered to herself in disappointment. “I should’ve ridden early this morning before I got saddled with all those chores Mother found for me.” She pulled the strings of her hat forward, bringing the black felt riding hat onto her head. It afforded some protection from the glaring sun, but none from the heat.
The yard seemed deserted. A few ranch hands were lounging around, repairing their equipment, lazily brushing their horses, and in general trying to find a cool spot to rest. They gave her a half-hearted wave.
“Hot, ain’t it, Miss Andi?” one of the more energetic of the men remarked.
Andi smiled and returned the wave. She nodded, too drained to speak.
“Betcha it’s a hundred and ten in the shade,” came another comment. The young cowhand removed his hat and swiped a bandana across his sweaty brow.
Andi watched with interest as the man left his spot on the bunkhouse porch, made his way to the pump and trough, and plunged the bandana into the water. He squeezed out a generous portion of water, then tied the wet cloth around his neck.
“That’s a mite better.” He grinned. “That should last at least two minutes.” He returned to the porch.
“Why don’t you dunk your whole head in, Josh?” Andi wandered over to the trough and gazed into the now-still water. It was mighty tempting.
Andi looked up. “You serious, Josh?”
One never knew when this youngest cowboy was teasing or in earnest. He was the only one of Chad’s hands nearest her own age, and it was refreshing to be called ‘gal’ or ‘kid’ or just plain ‘Andi’ rather than the ‘Miss Andi’, or worse—‘Miss Andrea’—that the rest of the ranch hands called her.
Even old Sid McCoy, the foreman, who had known Andi since she was a little girl, was always careful to call her ‘Miss.’ It made her feel old and prissy.
“Ain’t never been more serious in my life, kid,” Josh insisted. “How ’bout it?”
Andi removed her hat. She dropped it to the dusty ground, then placed both hands on the sides of the watering trough. “I’m ready whenever you are.”
“Josh,” Evan Leavitt warned from the porch, “you’re forgettin’ yourself. This ain’t the time to be foolin’ around.”
“It’ll only take a second.” Josh placed his own hands on the opposite side of the trough. “I’m so hot, you could fry eggs on my head.” He glanced at Andi. “We’ll see who can stay under the longest, okay? One, two, three—”
At exactly the same moment, Andi and Josh plunged their heads deep into the tepid water of the Carter water trough. The shock of the cool water on her burning head coursed through Andi’s whole body like lightning, and she shivered. It felt so good!
She wondered how long Josh would be able to stay under. She knew it would be only a matter of seconds before she would be forced to come up for air. Ten seconds more, she encouraged herself. Maybe fifteen. I can do this! Her lungs felt like bursting.
A rude jerk yanked Andi from the water and thrust her back into the heat of the afternoon. She whirled in surprise to see Josh’s wet head also drying in the sun. He looked sheepish.
And no wonder. The Carter’s foreman, Sid McCoy, stood glaring his disapproval. He let Andi go and turned to the young ranch hand. “Well, Josh,” he remarked. “You appear to have plenty of energy for tom-foolery this afternoon. There’s some miles of fence that need checking in the northeast section. Gather up your gear and head out.”
Josh’s jaw dropped. “Now?”
Sid nodded. “Now.” There was a subtle warning in the foreman’s voice.
Josh took the hint. He slicked back his wet hair and replaced his hat. “Sure thing, boss.” He turned to Andi. “It was a tie, I reckon.”
Andi wiped a drippy tangle of hair from her face. “I reckon.” She didn’t smile. Riding a fence line in this heat was the worst possible job on the ranch. The look on Josh’s face showed he was of the same mind. She watched him shuffle slowly towards the corral to get his horse.
“Well, Miss Carter,” Sid confronted her. “How would you like me to explain this to your brother?”
“Any way you like,” Andi answered carelessly. “What’s the harm? It’s hot, and I’ve seen Chad do it countless times.” She glanced at the corral. “And that was awful mean, making Josh ride the fence line on a day like this, just ’cause he dunked his head.”
Sid folded his arms across his chest. “It’s no concern of yours how I deal with the men, young lady.” Then his expression softened. “You know, Miss Andi, you’re getting a bit too old to be playing these games. One of these days you’re—”
“You sound like my mother.” Andi pulled on one of her long, dark braids. Water streamed down in rivers.
Sid took Andi by her shoulders and forced her to look at him. “Your family’s been good to me. Your pa hired me when my wife died—and me with a three-year-old little girl too. I do believe that was the year you was born.” He scratched his chin. “For fifteen years I’ve worked on your ranch.”
This was an old story. Andi wished with all her heart that Sid had allowed his little girl to grow up on the ranch. She would have been only a few years older than Andi. But no, Sid had sent her away to school as soon as she was old enough to leave her father. A rough cabin is no way to raise a girl-child, he’d insisted.
Ellen returned to visit every summer, but by the time Andi was old enough to look at the girl as a potential playmate, Ellen had attached herself to Melinda instead. She sighed. Young ladies, both of them!
“I mourned when your pa lost his life in that terrible accident at round-up time those eight years back. I’ve watched your brothers grow up into fine young men. Why! Justin’s a first-rate lawyer and Chad and Mitch have made this ranch prosper into one of the best spreads in this part of California. Your sister Melinda is one of this valley’s nicest and prettiest girls, and your mother is one of the most respected women around.”
Andi shrugged. She knew all this. “So?”
Sid sighed. “Miss Andi, you’ve got a family reputation to uphold. I’ve never once seen Melinda challenge your brother’s hired hands to roping contests or”—he indicated the trough—“head-ducking contests, or any of the crazy notions that get into your head.
“And another thing. You’re too pretty to go around lookin’ like one of them no-account Hollisters. Your family’s got more money than anybody else in these parts. You could dress up occasionally. You ain’t a little girl anymore. Why! You’re gettin’ t’ be nigh on a young lady, and a young lady has got to start actin’ like one.”
Andi frowned. “How much did my mother pay you to tell me this?”
Sid burst out laughing. “Nothin’! Honest!” He waved his hand at her. “Jus’ look at yourself. The boss’s old overalls—”
“That ragged old shirt.” He picked up one Andi’s drenched braids. “Look at this. Young ladies do not wear their hair in pigtails.”
Sid took a deep breath. “You’re like my own daughter, Miss Andi, and I’d tell her the same thing if she was here right now instead of finishing her last year at school in St. Louis. Girls goin’ on fourteen need t’ start lookin’ and actin’ like young ladies. They need to brush and comb their hair all purty to catch a beau.”
“I’m not interested in catching a beau.”
“Maybe not. But it don’t hurt none to practice occasionally. Why! If my Ellen was here, I’d be hard-pressed to tell who’s the cowhand’s daughter and who’s the landowner’s daughter. Ellen’s learned herself all kinds of things at that fancy school of hers. She writes me all the time. I read her letters, then look at you, trying to imagine my Ellen.”
“Oh, Sid! Stop it!” Andi burst out. “You talk worse than old Mrs. Evans and the other busybodies in town.”
Sid scowled. “Don’t you insult me by comparing me to those peahens!”
“Then quit nagging me about growing up.”
“Is that what I was doing? I was only saying you maybe need to spend less time around this crude bunch of cowboys and more time at tea parties and other proper activities for ladies. Like Melinda does.”
“But how else am I going to learn how to rope and brand calves and flush out strays and—”
“I’m sorry, Miss Andi.” He tipped his hat politely. “I forgot myself for a minute. It ain’t my place to be telling you these things. That’s your ma’s job, or maybe Mr. Justin’s. I’m just an old cowhand who misses his only child more than he cares to admit.” He backed up a few steps. “Sometimes I slip and treat you like you was my Ellen. Forgive me, Miss Carter.”
Andi’s heart softened. “It’s all right, Sid. I’m just a little touchy with this particular subject lately. And really. I didn’t mean anything at the water trough. I’m sorry if I was bothering the men.” She pointed towards the barn. “I was on my way to the barn to see Taffy. I reckon I’d best get going.”
Sid gave Andi an affectionate pinch on her cheek. “Go along with you now. Ellen will be coming out for her usual two-week visit in a couple of weeks. She always likes visitin’ with the Family.”
Andi smiled. She was glad Sid had changed the subject. If he started bringing complaints to Chad about her hanging around with the cowhands, her days were numbered.
Mother had already spoken with Andi about the very same thing. She tried to make her daughter understand that it wasn’t possible to hang around and be considered ‘one of the hands’ anymore. If they treated her like one of their own, she would eventually get hurt. If they remembered she was not only a girl, but one of the Family, the men would get hurt trying to keep her out of danger.
No, Mother insisted, tagging along behind the ranch hands most definitely had to stop.
Andi sighed as she turned back to the barn. She was as hot as ever and in a rotten mood. Nothing was simple anymore. The summer was dragging by. Worse, there was only one more month of freedom before school started again.