This "lost scene" is not as lost as some of the others. You will recognize it as a scene from Trouble with Treasure, but with some obvious omissions. This story (I might as well tell you) was originally intended to be a Mitch and Andi story. They are not headed to a lumber camp, but Mitch lets Andi tag along with him for two weeks, while he makes his way up to the high country to resupply the lineshacks. (A lineshack being a small cabin far away from the "home" ranch for use in case a cowhand needs to seek shelter.) It's a yearly task for the Carters. What's missing are the extra characters of Cory and Jenny. Trivia fact: I added the young characters so Andi would have somebody to interact with, etc., and to add more dimensions to the story. But originally, Mitch and Andi were the only players for most of the story.
ANDREA CARTER AND TROUBLE AT THE LINESHACK
Lost Scene #6
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Chad leaned over the corral fence and watched his brother tie up the rest of the supplies on the backs of two heavily laden pack horses.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Mitch answered good-naturedly. “Listen here. I’d much rather be on a two-week trip re-suppling a string of line shacks than at Russ’s beck-and-call if he gets it into his head to put together another posse to go after the Dylans again.” He shook his head. “You should have volunteered for this job. Too bad for you.”
“Checking up on a bunch of isolated line shacks in the middle of nowhere isn’t my idea of a vacation. Half of them have probably been vandalized. Or worse, a bunch of squatters have taken them over.” Chad scratched at his chin. “Though I reckon it does beat chasing down outlaws.”
“Don’t worry about me, big brother.” Mitch jerked his thumb in the direction of the pack-horse. “I’ve got my fishing pole. There are some mighty nice lakes up around there.” He rolled his eyes skyward. “I just have to find a shack in good time, check the supplies, then spend the rest of the day leisurely fishing in the cool breeze of the hills. Fresh fish every night. What could be better?”
“Well, little brother, you do make it sound mighty tempting.” Chad pushed back his hat and regarded his brother thoughtfully. Then he shook his head. “I can see you’re ready for the trip, but my real question was are you ready for the company you’ll be keeping for two weeks—day in and day out?” Chad cocked his head in the direction of the barn as a small figure emerged, leading a golden palomino horse.
“Ah, Chad.” Mitch waved it off. “Andi and I’ll have a great time. She’ll be company. It’s the truth you can’t spare any of the men right now. She’s so excited to be allowed to go. Don’t give her a hard time.”
“Better you than me,” Chad said.
“Better you than me,” Chad said.
Andi was beside herself with joy at the prospect of going off on an adventure into the hills with Mitch. The ranch continued to swelter in the heat wave, and she was bored and restless. Her escapade in town earlier that week had put a damper on any further exploits. She hadn’t been allowed back into Fresno since.
Not that she cared about going to town, but it was too hot to do anything on the ranch either. Her favorite creek had dried to a muddy trickle.
But up in the high country? The thought of riding Taffy all day in the cool shade of the pine trees, fishing in a cold mountain lake, and eating fresh fish made Andi’s mouth water. She was confident that wherever Mitch rode, she could ride too.
Andi was surprised when her mother consented to let her go off into the wilderness for two weeks, especially since she’d had to listen to no less than three conversations on the subject of “growing up” during the past week—two from her mother and one from Justin. She was so confused! Did it meant that it was okay for young ladies to go on two-week wilderness adventures, but they couldn’t have a water fight in town?
Andi shook her head as she and Taffy joined the rest of her family near the corral. She was grateful to Mitch for inviting her along, and she wasn’t about to ask her mother why it was okay to go, but not do other unladylike things.
This whole growing up idea was way more complicated than Andi ever imagined. Why can’t I be ten years old again?
“I hope you know what you’re doing, Mother,” Chad teased. “Letting Andi out of your sight for more than a day could prove to be a disaster. Who knows what predicament she’ll find herself in.”
“Mitch will watch out for her,” Justin said. “Won’t you?”
“On my life,” Mitch assured them. “And I’ll bring her back in plenty of time for her birthday.”
Mother nodded. “Ten days? Two weeks at the most.” She took one final look at her daughter perched happily on the back of her mare. The overalls, plaid shirt, and two dark braids made Andi look very young. “Have a good time, Andrea. I’m going to miss you.”
“Mother, I’m only going into the hills. It’s not like I’m going to Europe or anything, like Melinda wants to do this fall.”
“I know.” Mother smiled. “Forgive me. Just go on, you two.”
“Don’t worry, Family.” Mitch swung up onto his horse, Chase’s, back. “I’ll keep Andi out of trouble.” He winked at her. “You ready?”
“You bet!” Andi dug her heels into Taffy’s flank and took off toward the east, yelling her good-byes. Mitch accepted the tether for Charley, the lead pack horse, and waved good-bye.
The weather was perfect, sunny during the day, but not too hot up in the foothills, cool at night. The sky was so clear that Andi and Mitch sometimes stayed up way into the night, watching for shooting stars.
“There!” Andi announced the second night as the campfire died down and the meteors began an hourly display, “I saw the first one!”
“So, what’s your wish?” Mitch asked, taking another sip of coffee as he leaned against a log.
“I . . . wish I didn’t have to grow up,” she whispered softly. She allowed herself a heartfelt sigh and lowered her head to stare into the embers.
Mitch scratched the back of his head, then took another sip of coffee. “I see. Hmm, what brought this on?”
Andi rolled her eyes. “Let’s see. Sid telling me I need to be a young lady like his daughter and start looking for a beau; Melinda giving me a hard time about ruining my new summer dress; Mother saying I need to steer clear of the ranch hands and not get in their way. And to top it off, Justin just acting frustrated all the time.” She sighed.
“Growing up might not be so bad for you. But it’s different for me.” Andi picked up a small branch and tossed it into the fire. Sparks rose up into the night, and she watched them fly away on a breeze. “I don’t want to do boring things like Melinda. Sewing circles and Ladies’ Aid, or projects that keep her cooped up inside all day.”
“Maybe she likes to do those things.”
Andi snorted. “Yeah, but she can’t expect me to like them just because I’m a girl. I want to be outdoors, doing things with the horses and cattle. But girls can’t be cowboys. I know it. You know it. And mostly . . . Mother knows it.”
“Well, I’ve heard tell of a gal . . . what’s her name? Annie Oakley? She does something no one ever thought a girl should do. She shoots. She travels all over the country doing trick shooting.” He shook his head. “I reckon lots of folks told her she couldn’t do it, either. But look at her.”
“Sure enough.” He stood up. “I don’t know if Mother or Justin has mentioned this to you, Sis, but growing up has more to do with putting aside childish behavior and facing new and more difficult responsibilities rather than turning into some kind of proper lady with fine airs.”
“I suppose she’s mentioned it once or twice.”
“Well, I’d rather have a sensible young woman around, one who can think clearly and do what’s got to be done, than an addle-headed lady who knows nothing except how to put on a formal tea and dance the latest dances from the east.”
He reached for Andi’s hand. “If you concentrate on being the first, you’ll find out that growing up isn’t so bad, after all. Come on, now. It’s time to turn in. Big day tomorrow.”