Monday, September 24, 2018

Andi's Journal - June 30, 1887


June 30, 1877

The promise I made to Riley has blared loudly in my head over the past few days: “If anything goes wrong, anything at all, you’re giving this whole thing up.” Truth be told, I wanted nothing more than to follow through with that promise.
Jasper has turned out to be more trouble than he was worth. Before I knew it, I was sick and tired of sheep. I was so sick of them that I was almost ready to apologize to Chad for all the times I’d hollered at him for not letting me keep the bothersome creatures.
I can’t believe I wanted to keep Jasper, I continually berated myself.
But I never mentioned my sheep problems to Riley. Not a chance!
My husband had become more attached to Jasper than I ever would have thought possible. They were like two peas in a pod. Jasper followed Riley everywhere, right there alongside Tucker. I could tell Riley enjoyed the attention. Often, he told me so.
How, then, can I tell Riley that Jasper has to go?
Hard question. Simple answer: I can’t.  

I did my best to keep my complaints inside, but Riley didn’t miss anything. He knew something was up, but I always answered his questions with, “It’s the baby.”
Yeah, I added silently, the baby lamb.
Then, a couple of days ago, my problems were solved … but not in the way I’d ever dreamed or wanted or . . . well, it shook me up.
It was late afternoon. By that time, Jasper was usually by the barn, ready to curl up for a nap in the stall or have a little treat if he’d been good that day.
But when I went out to care for him, he wasn’t there.
I felt flustered. Already tired and hungry, I didn’t feel like chasing down a lamb. He could be anywhere, I thought disgustedly.
I sighed and began the search. I wandered about—behind trees, around the barn, near the creek. Jasper didn’t appear, bleating and nudging.
By now, I was starting to get worried. Even with Jasper as mischievous and curious as he was, he was always nearby. He never went far.
“Jasper!” I called. “Jas-per!”
“What’re you looking for, Mrs. Prescott?” a ranch hand called.
I turned around. “My lamb,” I hollered back. “Have you seen him?”
The hand, Billy, scratched his head. “I dunno. I remember seeing him a couple of hours ago, calmly grazing over where you’re standing. Haven’t seen him since, though.”
“Thanks, Billy.”
Now what?
I decided to wait until after supper; then Riley could help me look for Jasper. As I began to walk towards the house, my eye caught on some animal tracks on the ground. 
I knelt and studied it closely. I knew these tracks. Coyote!
I swallowed and looked around. Where was it now? I hate pesky coyotes. They're nothing but trouble. For sure I had to find Jasper . . . before the coyote found him.     
I wasted no time in hurrying back to the house. Right after supper we'd expand our search. Probably Jasper was caught in a thicket.
During supper, I told Riley about Jasper’s strange disappearance and the coyote tracks. 
His brow furrowed. “Do you think the two are connected?”
"Of course not. That coyote was prowling around the chicken pen, but it's secure." I waved his words away. "A coyote wouldn't go after a big lamb like Jasper."
But a little bug of worry pinched my thoughts. Or would it?
After supper Riley took down the shotgun and went outside to continue the search for Jasper. "I'll find him," he assured me with a smile.
An hour later, he came back. I was sitting on the porch, trying to concentrate on sewing a particularly difficult seam in a baby’s gown. I looked up when Riley climbed the steps. "You didn't find Jasper." My voice was a whisper. 
"Actually," Riley said softly. "I did."
I gasped at the look on his face. My throat went dry. “Do you mean—”
Riley nodded and sat down beside me. “The coyote dragged Jasper off and most likely had himself a fine feast. All I found were a few tufts of wool." 
My heart broke. I'm a rancher's daughter and now a rancher's wife. I've had my share of heartbreak. Wolves sometimes killed a newborn calf or a foal. I'd seen it. I should have been used to it. 
"It's the way the world is," Chad always told me when he caught me sobbing over some little creature. I figured I'd grown used to it by now. 
I hadn't. 
I looked down at my lap. Jasper had worn my patience out to the point where I wanted him gone. But not . . . this way!
“Are you all right?” Riley asked.
I nodded. It hurt, but I was able to control my tears this time.
Riley picked up my hand. “I’m sorry he’s gone. I know he was the lamb you always wanted.”
Not really. 
“He was proving to be too much work and trouble for me,” I whispered before I could bite the words back. "I wanted him to go. But I didn’t want him to die.”
“You? You wanted to let Jasper go?” Riley’s hazel gaze bored into mine.
“He wasn’t all that I thought he’d be.” I let out a breath. “He was more trouble than he was fun. And with just a couple of weeks left until the baby arrives, I was getting too worn out to put up with that lamb.” I swallowed. "I was getting to resent that creature."
How awful did that sound?
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
I shrugged. Why didn't I tell him? Pride? Admitting I'd been wrong to beg for that lamb in the first place? Or . . . had I seen how much Riley was getting attached? 
I shrugged. "I saw how close you and Jasper have become.”
Riley groaned. “You mean more to me than a thousand lambs. You know that.”
“I know. But—”
“’But nothing,” Riley snorted. “If keeping Jasper meant worry and distress for you, I'm"--he pulled me into a tight hug--"I’m glad he’s gone.”
I sat still in Riley’s arms, pondering.  
I should have told him sooner. Riley would have returned the lamb to Sadie, and I would be blissfully ignorant of its fate. 
For sure he wouldn't have become coyote food. I winced. A tear leaked out and I brushed it away.
Riley kissed the top of my head. "Jasper is gone, but I think it would be best to keep all of this to ourselves." He chuckled. "Chad would never let you live it down if you admitted he was right about that pesky little lamb."
I cringed. That's for sure!
Baby Prescott let out a sudden kick that jerked me from my thoughts and took my breath away.
Riley noticed. He squeezed me. “Soon enough, we’ll have our little lamb, Andi—right in our arms.”
I smiled. "And I’ll take good care of this lamb," I promised Riley. "Or my name isn’t Andrea Rose Carter Prescott."
 
           
           

18 comments:

  1. Finally a happy ending:)

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  2. Awww, I like how it all worked out. (Even tho the lamb is gone) Now I cant wait for Andi’s baby to come!!! 😀

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    1. yes i want Andi to have her baby

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  3. Such a cute ending! Love these, thank you Mrs. Marlow.
    Emily

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  4. You wrote, " 'I'll find him' he assumed me with a smile."
    Shouldn't it be 'assured'?

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  5. awww poor Andi! i bet shes ready for baby Prescott to come!

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  6. Aw, I love it!

    ~Leah

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  7. Not a happy ending . . . but life on a ranch has its sad moments. Realistic.

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  8. I really enjoyed this "lamb" series.

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  9. I can't wait for baby Prescott‼

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  10. Where is that one courting story you wrote abt Andi and Riley???

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    1. Oh, dear. I don't remember writing a "courting" story about Andi and Riley. I intend to, someday, and use it as a Journal Entry, but I haven't had time, what with everybody wanting to know about the baby. :-)

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    2. Molly, if you're referring to Andi and Riley's trip to the meadow during their courting year, here's the link to that:
      https://circlecadventures.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-slice-of-life-10.html
      It's a fantastic Journal Entry!
      Hope this helps!

      ~Ellen

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    3. It’s the one where he made her the flower chain thing. It had a picture of a meadow: it’s the only one you ever did. :) :)

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  11. Hmmm...it’s the one where he makes her a flower chain crown thingy. It’s the only one I ever read abt their courting... :)

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Let Andi know what you think!