The Writer's Corner
Chapter 18 - The Story of Johnny Gibbs
Written by Michelle Palmer
“Amen.” Abe finished the prayer, then looked up as his family
started eating. As she held the spoon up to David’s mouth, Julie
motioned with her eyes for Abe to tell Laura the news he had
promised Julie he would tell her. Abe wiped his mouth with the
napkin. “Say Laura…” Abe cleared his throat. “Uh…Peter says
you’re getting pretty darn good riding Star Bright these days.”
“Abe…” Abe stopped and looked up at her. She shook her head.
“Don’t use that word.” She looked down at Laura.
But Laura was already talking. “Mm hm.” Laura nodded her head.
“Peter says I can ride as good as most boys! I’m glad he gave me
a real saddle instead of that side saddle stuff…”
“That’s good.” Abe looked back down at his plate and took
another bite. He felt Julie kick him under the table. Her eyes
sent him a warning, which was read loud and clear by him: He
best get to telling her. Abe cleared his throat. “Uh…Laura, you
know what Tuesday is?”
“Uh…my birthday?” Laura screwed up her face as she looked up at
Abe and Julie’s eyes met. Abe raised an eyebrow. “No, Laura. You
know it’s far from your birthday. And I think if you try really
hard, you can tell me what Tuesday is.”
Laura lowered her head. “Yes sir. I know what Tuesday is. I’ve
seen Julie working on my new dresses that your gonna make me
wear even if I don’t want to.”
Abe cleared his throat. “Laura…”
“I…do have a surprise for you.” Laura straightened up in her
chair. Julie slowly sat down her spoon, wondering what the
‘surprise’ was. She didn’t even know about a surprise. Abe kept
his eyes diverted from Julie as he spoke. “Uh…how would you like
to ride Star Bright to school this year?”
Julie gasped at the surprise announcement. “Abe…” Julie started.
But her voice was drowned out by an excited squeal from Laura.
“Ya mean I can ride Star Bright all the way to school?” Abe
nodded. “All by myself?” Abe nodded again.
“Abe…” Julie started again. This time, her voice was more
Laura jumped up and ran over to her brother. She hugged him.
“Oh, thank you, Abe! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Laura
cried excitedly. “I PROMISE I’ll be careful! And I won’t run her
too hard and I’ll always make sure she has plenty to eat and…”
Abe laughed. “I know you will, Laura.”
“Can I wear pants? I mean…since I’m riding…”
Abe laughed and gave her a hard pat on the backside. “No.”
“Abraham McCain!” Julie suddenly declared as she stood abruptly
from her chair. Abe turned his head around to look up at her.
She had her hands planted firmly on her hips. Her face was
wearing a heavy disapproving frown. “I want to speak to you,”
Julie sputtered out. “…OUTSIDE!”
Abe raised his eyebrows. He didn’t pretend not to know what this
was about. Slowly, he stood from the chair. “Ohhhh….you’re in
trouble, Abe!” Laura declared
“Laura Rose McCain!” Julie warned in that voice that told Laura
now wasn’t the best time to cross her.
“Yes ma’am. I’ll just clean up these dishes.”
Julie turned back to Abe. “Outside!” Her angry voice ordered.
Abe followed Julie out the door. After the door closed, Laura
ran to the window, but Julie was going to the barn. “Oh shucks!”
She shook her head as she turned back to look at the boys. “I
don’t get to see her yell at Abe now!”
Abe heaved a big sigh as he closed the barn door behind him.
“Now Julie, listen…” he started as he held up his hands.
But Julie swung around. “No, Abraham McCain, now you listen to
me!” Julie ordered angrily as she pointed a finger in his face.
“The last time I checked, I was as much a parent to Laura as you
are. Am I correct?” Abe nodded. He was afraid to say anything.
She was mad enough to punch him! “So why, then, did you take
liberties all on your own to make such a big decision as to
letting Laura ride all the way to school ALONE on her HORSE?”
“Julie, I talked to Peter and he said she’s a really good rider.
She’s really careful to follow all the rules and…”
Julie folded her arms. “I don’t CARE how good and careful she
is! She is an eight year old child! She’s too little to be
riding all the way to school on a…a…HORSE!” Julie sputtered out.
Abe put his hands on his hips and glared at her. “She’s a
“She’s a little girl!” Julie declared. “And I forbid it, Abe! I
absolutely forbid it!” Julie stomped her foot as she glared at
Julie turned to go back inside, but Abe’s voice stopped her.
“Just what are you afraid of, Julie?” His voice was accusing.
“What am I….afraid of???” Julie shook her head. “Abe, she could
fall off and get hurt…the horse can stumble…”
“Or some pink elephants could come trample her and Star Bright,”
Abe declared sarcastically.
“I don’t think it’s funny, Abe!” Julie shouted.
“Julie, I’m just saying that…”
“I have to go check on the children.” Julie rushed out of the
barn. Abe stood alone, trying to figure out just what he had
done wrong this time. The rest of the evening was quite between
Julie and Abe.
“NO!” Johnny Gibbs shouted as his brother announced he was going
to school Tuesday morning.
“It’s not open for discussion,” Scott declared. “You ARE going
“I think I’m old enough to make that decision on my own!” Johnny
said. “I want to work on my horse breaking and learning to
Scott stood up and took two steps over to his brother. “Now, you
listen to me, BOY! I…”
“Scott!” Margaret gasped and ran over to her brother’s side.
“Scott, don’t yell at him. Let him explain why…”
“He’s already explained, Margaret.” Scott glared at his little
brother. “You’re going to finish school!” he ordered. “Come
Tuesday morning, you will be sitting in that school room.”
“But there’s a lot of work to do around here!” Johnny declared.
“You let me worry about that. Besides, getting you to do chores
around here is like pulling teeth anyhow.” Scott went back to
the table to sit down. “Now…its final. Sit down and eat.”
“No. I’m going for a walk.” Johnny grabbed his hat and hurried
out the door.
“Scott, you know….your brother isn’t like you and Andy. He’s
footloose and fancy free. He’s always been a bit on the wild
side,” Jennifer tried to calm her son.
“He’s hair-brained!” Scott declared. “Mother, you’ve always
wanted us to finish with our certificates. We all have, except
Johnny.” Scott turned and looked toward the door. “And he’s
going to finish or my name isn’t Scott Gibbs!”
Amanda raised an eyebrow as she met Margaret’s eye.
Julie wiped her hands on her apron after setting the last loaf
of fresh bread on a cooling rack. Abe looked up from his desk to
see her flushed face still frowning. He sat down his pen and
stood up. “Julie, can we talk?”
“I’m busy,” Julie answered as she bent over to get a pan from
the bottom cabinet.
Abe grabbed her elbow, causing her to stop. “I think we need to
talk. Calmly and quietly so we won’t wake the children.” Julie
nodded as he led her over to the table and sat her down. “Would
you like some coffee?” Julie shook her head no. “Alright. He sat
down and folded his hands. “I realize, Julie, that I should have
talked to you about my decision before I told Laura. I’m sorry
for the way I handled things.” Julie merely nodded. “Now Julie,
Laura’s had a rough time and she really DOESN’T like school. I’m
trying to show her that we trust her.”
“Abe, I…” Julie started. But Abe lifted a hand to hush her.
“Now then…this week, I’ll follow Laura at a distance to make
sure she does what she should. If she does anything wrong, she
won’t be able to ride her horse to school anymore and will go
back to walking.”
“Abe, we both know how Laura is…” Julie started again.
“Yes,” Abe nodded. “But we also both know that we have to let
her go sometime. Laura has a very independent spirit. She’s not
one to be smothered with protection or bossed. It just causes
“I don’t know, Abe.” Julie folded her hands and put them to her
mouth as she thought. “Since she’s been living with us the last
couple of months, I’ve grown to love her like a daughter. I’m
very protective of my children…you know that.”
Abe nodded. “It’s a mother’s way, Julie,” he said softly. He
reached up and took her hand. Kissing it, he said, “But the day
comes when a mother has to let go. Laura’s not a baby anymore,
honey. She’s EIGHT years old.” Abe raised his eyebrows. “Well?”
Julie still wasn’t sure this was a good idea. She screwed up her
face as she thought on it. Abe slowly scooted his chair back and
lifted her from her seat. She soon found herself on his lap. Abe
pressed a kiss to her mouth, then traced kisses down her cheek
and onto her throat. “Well?” he asked again.
“I think I need a bit more persuasion,” Julie said breathlessly.
Abe chuckled as he covered her face and neck with kisses. He
slowly moved his hands down to the top button on her dress and
unbuttoned it. His lips kissed the opening. “Well?”
“Abe…” Julie breathed. She pressed her lips to his and gave him
a deep kiss. After their lips parted, she said, “I think we
should continue this conversation in bed.”
“Oh…” Abe lifted his eyebrows. “But first I want your answer.”
He kissed her neck again. “Alright! She can ride the horse!”
Julie giggled as his hands moved down her back. Abe slid his arm
under her knees and stood up. He made his way to the bedroom and
laid her gently on the bed. His legs straddled her as he began
kissing her deeper. Julie drew her arms around his neck and
moaned softly. “I’m sorry I got so angry.”
“Oh?” Abe asked as he lifted and started unbuttoning her dress.
“I’m not. Because now we get to make up.”
And making up was always sweet when Julie and Abe made love.
There was no more tension between them that night, and in time
they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Amanda sighed as she slipped off her dress that evening.
“Scott?” Scott walked up behind her and looked at her in the
mirror. “Don’t you think you were being a bit…hard on your
“No.” Scott slipped off his shirt. “I want him to finish
“Why? Because you and Andy did?” Amanda reached for her gown,
but Scott put his hand on top of hers.
“No.” Scott shook his head as he looked into her eyes. “Because
running a ranch now days requires an education, and I want him
to have these years. I don’t want him running off to join some
stupid wild west show or make a living breaking horses so he can
end up in a wheelchair. I want…”
“I’ve heard what you want,” Amanda said softly as she put her
arms around Scott’s neck. “But maybe you should think about what
HE wants. You can’t make a belle of society into the wife of a
ranch hand if she doesn’t want it.”
“What’s that mean?” Scott asked as he raised his eyebrows at
“It means, my love, that if Johnny doesn’t want to be a rancher,
then he can’t be forced into the occupation. Now…I’m tired.
Let’s go to bed.”
Amanda again turned for her nightgown, and Scott again grabbed
her hand. He laced his fingers through hers and turned her face
toward his. “Not tonight. Tonight I want to feel you against me.
I want to be with you.”
Amanda nodded as she slowly took her undergarments off. Scott’s
eyes grew wide as he studied the beauty of his wife. He put his
hands on her soft skin and leaned in to kiss her. Soon, they
were under the covers kissing and caressing. It was quite awhile
before he sensed she was ready. When that moment came, they
groaned softly as they made love. Each enjoyed very much being
in the other’s arms. In time, they laid still in each other’s
arms peering into each other’s eyes. “All I’m saying, Scott, is
that you may have to give up your dream of making Johnny a
partner in the ranch. He may simply want to leave here. You know
he’s not happy.”
Scott laid a finger against her lips and softly kissed them.
“Hush,” he whispered softly. “Because tonight I just want to
hold you.” As silence settled around them, they fell asleep.
That Tuesday morning had started early for Abe and Julie. They
had awaken long before the sun, both suddenly desiring the
other. Now, as they lay in bed holding each other, Julie sighed
contentedly against her husband’s bare chest. “What?” Abe
whispered as he nudged her to speak.
“Today is the first day of school for Laura,” Julie mumbled.
“It’s going to be a piece of work getting that child off to
“Oh, I don’t think it’ll be too much trouble. I…” Abe started.
But suddenly, there was a knock on the door. “Julie? Abe?” Laura
understood Abe’s strict rule about never coming into their
bedroom without permission. He’s glad that she had chosen to
obey that rule.
Julie reached on the floor for her nightgown and quickly slid it
over her head. “Just a minute!” she called. She turned to Abe
and said, “Boy, that was…”
“I know,” Abe whispered as he winked at her. “I told you there
wouldn’t be much trouble getting her out of bed!”
Julie hurriedly slipped her robe on then hurried toward the
door. “What is it, Laura?” she asked as she yawned and tightened
“Can I go gather the eggs now so you can fix breakfast?”
Julie walked toward the kitchen. “Land sakes, child, it’s only
5:30 in the morning!”
“I know, but today’s the first day of school and I sure don’t
want to be late!” Laura declared. “Should I go get dressed?”
“Oh…no!” Julie answered. “I think you should just go put on your
old dress for now. You can go gather the eggs and milk the cow
at 6:00 like you always do.” Laura stuck out her bottom lip.
“You have to keep to their schedule!”
“Laura…” Abe yawned as he came out of the bedroom buckling his
belt. “What gets you up at the crack of dawn? Usually takes some
threats before you actually get out of bed…especially on a
“I know!” Laura nodded. “But Abe, I…”
“…get to ride Star Bright to school by yourself.” Abe threw some
wood in the stove and lit it for Julie. Julie pushed the coffee
pot onto the burner as Abe sat down at the table. “I think we
need to talk, Laura.”
“Yes sir?” Laura asked as she sat down at the table.
“Now, Julie finally agreed to let you ride to school, but there
are going to be some strict rules. No running the horse. No
horseplay…er….acting out…remember, your horse has a job to do.
And if you get into any trouble – horse-related or not – you
will lose the privilege of riding Star Bright to school for a
time. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir,” Laura answered. “I promise, Abe, I’ll be good! I’ll
do everything right from here on out!”
“Uh huh…” Abe grinned as he stood up. “If I know you, Laura,
you’ll do something to rile me before the days over!”
Laura went into the bedroom to get dressed. She did her chores
and even helped Julie with the boys while Julie fixed breakfast.
They were soon sitting down eating breakfast. Julie had gathered
up all Laura’s new school books the day before. Some she had
gotten from Emily, and others she had to borrow from the Gibbs’.
After breakfast, Laura hurried into her bedroom and got ready.
She even washed behind her ears without being told!
“I’m all ready!” Laura announced as she came out of the bedroom.
“Well now…” Julie bent in front of her and smoothed her dress
out. “You look beautiful!”
“Makes me itch!” Laura complained.
Julie smiled. “Laura…You know, I don’t really like the idea of
you riding your horse to school.” Julie smoothed Laura’s hair
down. “I’m really nervous and will worry about you but…Abe
convinced me to allow you to do this. I only have one request.”
“Will you please…be careful?”
“Ya know…” Laura smiled at her. “I wish I could call ya Ma,
cause your just like my Ma…”
Julie’s eyes filled with tears. She hugged Laura close to her.
“Oh Laura…” Tears slipped from her eyes. “You just made me
so…happy!” She pushed Laura away and looked her up and down.
“But I’m your sister.”
“You’re more like my Ma then my sister.” Laura shook her head.
The door opened and Abe came in. He paused when he saw the scene
in front of him. “Uh….is something wrong?”
“No.” Julie smiled as she hugged Laura to her again. “Now…you be
“I will, Mama Julie!” Laura declared as she hurried out the
Abe raised an eyebrow. “Mama…Julie?”
Julie smiled. “It’ll take some getting used to but…” She nodded
as she kissed her husband. “I think I’ll like it just fine!”
“Mmmm…” Abe turned to walk out onto the porch. Laura waved as
she hurried out of the yard, waving as she left. “Our little
girl’s growing up!”
“Too fast…” Julie sniffed. Abe laughed as he bent down and
“Well…I best follow…” he started.
“No.” Julie grabbed his hand. “No. Just let her go.” Julie
shrugged. “After all, she says I’m like her mother. I think she
deserves my trust.” Julie smiled at him. “Only, maybe in thirty
minutes or so…you could go into town and get me some
uh…uh…baking powder? I think I’m almost out.”
“Alright.” Abe chuckled as he kissed her. “And I’ll make sure to
‘glance’ at the school to make sure Star Bright’s there.”
“If you insist,” Julie answered with a nod before turning and
hurrying back inside.
Abe watched her go. He shook his head. “You are quite a woman,
Laura was almost to school when she saw Johnny Gibbs from the
corner of her eye quickly slip off the road and into the woods.
There, she saw a small shack. As she slowed, she watched him
slip inside. She held her horse at bay, wondering what was going
on. “No horseplay,” Abe’s words echoed in her head again. She
knew her behavior was important to Julie, so she decided to go
on to school. She’d investigate what was going on with her
cousin, Johnny, later.
The day dragged by. Laura did not enjoy school in the least and
heaved a couple giant sighs, but when the teacher warned he’d
send a note home if he heard it again, she made sure to stay on
her best behavior.
That afternoon, when Laura rode home, she again stopped beside
the road and looked down at the shack. She was tempted to go
investigate right that instant, but she knew Abe would do some
hollering if she caused Julie any worrying by being late, so she
continued on to the farm.
Julie hurried out onto the porch when Laura rode in. She waved
at the girl, then went back inside, satisfied Laura’s first day
had been peaceful. Abe lifted her from the saddle and started
into the barn with her horse. “Abe?” Abe paused and turned
around. “Can I go to Jessie’s house for just a bit? Please?”
“What about your chores?” Abe asked. “Julie will need your help
inside; and I’m sure you have homework.”
“Oh Abe…I’ve been good all day and I PROMISE I’ll be back in
time to help Mama Julie with supper! I just…have something I
have to take care of!” Abe put his hands on his hips and studied
her suspiciously. “I don’t have any homework today. He said
he’ll start assigning homework tomorrow! And I’ll do my chores
after supper! I PROMISE! Please???”
“Well…” Abe sighed. “Alright.” Laura started to run out of the
yard. Abe hurried forward and caught her by the arm. “Hold up
there, little lady!” He pointed to her dress. “First, you change
out of your new dress.”
“Yes sir! Thanks Abe!”
Laura hurried into the house. “Hi, Mama Julie!” she shouted
excitedly as she hurried to her room and closed the door.
“Where are your…” Julie shook her head, knowing she was wasting
her breath. Abe walked in with her book and lunch pail. “What’s
gotten into her?”
“She wants to go over to Jessie’s house for a bit. Said she has
something VERY important to take care of.”
“What?” Julie asked.
“Beats me.” Abe took one of the pieces of peaches Julie was
cutting up. She smacked his hand. “Ouch!”
“Don’t you think you should question Laura? She may…”
“Now honey, you were just saying this morning that we need to
show her a little trust. After all, she thinks of us like her
“Mm mm,” Julie held up a finger to correct him. “She thinks of
me as her mother!”
“Oh. Well, I guess I’m still her mean ol’ brother then…” Abe
reached down to grab another piece of peach and was rewarded
with another sharp slap. “Ouch!”
“Bye!” Laura hurried toward the front door.
“Now remember!” Abe declared. “You be back by 4:30 to help with
“Yes sir!” Laura ran from the yard toward Jessie’s house. She
ran into the yard and found Jessie gathering up firewood. “I had
to stop by here. I told Abe I was coming to your house. Bye!”
Laura turned and hurried from the yard, feeling satisfied that
she indeed hadn’t lied to her brother after all.
Laura ran toward the shack. When she got in the yard, she paused
and looked around. She saw a low window and quietly made her way
over to it. Inside, it was empty. She was certain there was
nobody there. So she went to the front door and started to open
it. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you!”
Laura turned to see Johnny Gibbs standing behind her. “You
weren’t at school today,” she accused. “Thought your Ma and
brother were gonna make you go.”
“Ah shucks, Laura!” Johnny scooted his hat way back on his head.
“My folks can’t MAKE me go to school! I’m 14 years old!”
“So, I’m a man!” Laura snickered. “What’s so funny?”
“Nothing.” Laura followed Johnny inside the shack. “So you don’t
mind if I tell your brother you weren’t at school?”
“Don’t you dare!” Johnny ordered. “You can’t tell him. I don’t
want him yelling at me or hitting me!”
“Hit you?” Laura cocked her head to one side. “Abe said that
when he spanks me, it’s out of love. It’s not like hittin’.”
“Yeah, I know…but I still don’t like it!” Johnny lit the lantern
on the table. “So, you promise not to tell?”
“Well…” Laura looked around the shack. “I’ll keep quiet if you
tell me just what you’re doing here!”
“What?” Johnny shook his head. “Oh Laura Rose, you always were a
spit fire! You’re just a little girl and…”
Laura stomped her foot. “Johnny Gibbs, don’t you DARE call me a
little girl! I’m eight years old!”
“Okay, okay…” Johnny held his hands up in surrender. “I’ll tell
ya.” He sat down at the small table in the room. “This is where
my Pa stays when he’s not too drunk. My Pa’s been helping me
learn how ta shoot an’ stuff. A man I know comes over here and
teaches me trick shooting.”
Laura’s eyes grew wide. “I thought your brother was teaching you
how to shoot!”
“With a rifle,” Johnny answered. “Pa started teaching me that
when I was 11 years old. But Scott won’t let me practice with
handguns. Pa does.”
“Ya gonna be an outlaw?” Laura asked as her eyes grew wide.
“Of course not!” Johnny answered. “But I also spend a lot of
time with the Youngers’, the horse breakers. They’ve been
learning me on horse breaking.”
“And yer gonna do that?” Johnny nodded. “Wow…”
“AND…I’m even thinking about taking up with rodeoing. You
know…roping calves and riding wild bulles…stuff like that.”
“Ain’t that dangerous?” Laura asked.
“Of course!” Johnny laughed. “So that’s why I can’t go to school
anymore. Got my own learning to do. I’m gonna make lots and lots
of money and be rich someday! Why, I may even have a great big
house right here in Enid…or maybe in New York!” Laura’s mouth
popped open as she listened to Johnny. “Laura Rose, I may even
get on one of those big boats and sail all the way to Paris,
France or something!”
“Maybe I’ll go with ya!” Laura declared.
“Oh no…I travel alone.” Johnny stood up and smiled. “So that’s
what I’m doing. Now…you can’t breathe a word of this to
“Alright. But you have to start being nicer to me, Johnny!”
“Nice?” Johnny shook his head. “What are you talking about?”
“That means you don’t call me a little girl anymore!” Laura
declared. “And you start treating me like a person instead of
like your cousin!”
“Oh. I don’t know if I can do that!” Johnny argued. “What would
the family think if…”
“You can if you want me to keep your secret!”
Johnny shook his head. “I never thought I’d see the day when a
McCain was so…so…conniving!” Johnny sighed. “Alright, I’ll do
it.” He grabbed his books and slung them over his shoulder. “I
gotta get home before I get it.”
They stepped out of the shack. “Say Johnny…” Johnny looked down
at her. “You getting pretty good at breaking horses, huh?”
Johnny nodded. “I got to break my first one the other day. But
my friend gave me a pretty easy colt to break.”
“Ya think sometime I could watch ya?”
“Now, how are you gonna manage that?” Johnny asked with the
shake of his head. “Abe ain’t gonna let ya…”
“I can go play out of the yard on Saturday afternoons! I can
come watch ya on a Saturday.”
“We’ll see.” Johnny slung his books over his shoulder. “Only, I
may go watch a rodeo next Saturday. Don’t you dare tell Scott
Laura nodded and turned to hurry home.
“Now Scott, you just calm down,“ Jennifer demanded again as
Scott paced back and forth. “I’m sure that boy has a very good…”
The door opened and Johnny stepped inside. “Howdy.” Scott
crossed his arms and stared down at his brother. Johnny looked
up at Scott. “Is…something wrong?”
“Damn right, something’s wrong!” Scott answered.
“Scott!” Margaret and Amanda exclaimed at the same time.
“Sorry.” He turned back to his little brother. “You were
supposed to help me round up those steers right after school. If
you remember, we had some branding to do.”
“Oh. I forgot,” Johnny groaned.
“Where did you go after school?”
Johnny looked around at his family. “I…I just went exploring a
bit. You know how I like to do that.”
“Mm hm.” Scott nodded. “Well, for the rest of the week, you will
come home right after school and help me with the ranching!”
“Mother!” Johnny complained.
Jennifer stood up. “I’m sorry, Johnny, but I’ll agree with your
brother. You have responsibilities here.”
“I’m 14 years old!” Johnny argued. “Don’t ya think I’m old
enough to know what I want to do? Can’t you let me live my own
“You still have a lot of growing to do, boy! I…”
“Supper’s ready,” Amanda announced as she put a hand on her
husband’s arm to calm him.
“I’m not hungry,” Johnny grumbled as he turned to leave.
“Well you will sit and-“ Johnny raced out the door. Scott
started to go after him.
“Scott!” Jennifer spoke gruffly. Scott turned and looked at her.
“Let him go. You are both too angry to talk.”
Scott sat down, but fumed the entire time. He uttered out the
blessing. As they started eating, there was an uncomfortable
silence around the table. Finally, Margaret cleared her throat.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t ride him so hard.”
“Ride him so…” Scott banged his fist on the table. “Margaret, I
can hardly get him to do anything around here!”
“I know! But what I mean is…” Margaret was always the calm one
in the family, and now she had to control her voice. “…Scott,
Johnny doesn’t want to be a rancher. He’s like an eagle and…”
“Now, don’t go getting all poetic on me, Margaret!” Scott
“Scott, we’ve listened to you speak long enough. Now just stop
talking and listen to what your sister has to say!” Jennifer
Scott breathed. “Yes ma’am.”
“Scott, he wants to break horses and ride in the rodeo. You
can’t force a fish to fly anymore than you can force a bird to
swim. He is what God’s made him.”
“So you support this?” Scott asked.
“Yes.” Margaret pushed the food around on her plate. “I think he
should continue school…but then when he gets his certificate in
a couple years, I think you should allow him to go where he
wants…The only thing that worries me is how hair-brained he is.
He seems to act before he thinks so I think we should…”
“But Pa always wanted Andy to run this ranch someday!” Beth
argued. “And now that Andy’s gone, Johnny’s the only Gibbs who
is physically able to do so!”
“I don’t know.” Margaret looked at her brother. “I think Scott’s
doing a right fine job.”
“Oh!” Beth shook her head. “I’m NOT saying that he’s not…I’m
just saying that…”
“Look…” Scott held up his hand. “I know what you’re both saying.
But the truth is that Johnny’s only 14 years old.” Scott turned
to his mother. “Mother? What do you say?”
“Well, at his age he needs to learn responsibility. That’s
something he hasn’t learned yet, and until he learns that he
can’t do anything well on his own. I think he should stay in
school and put in his part here at the ranch.” Jennifer turned
and looked at Margaret. “And I understand what Margaret is
saying. And I agree. You will never make a rancher out of him.
“Adventurous,” Margaret answered with a firm nod.
“Yes.” Jennifer nodded her head. “He’s 14, and that’s a rough
age. Think back to when you were 14, Scott.”
“My punishment sticks,” Scott declared. “That boy has got to
learn responsibility!” Scott looked down at his plate. “I’m no
longer hungry. Think I’ll…go for a walk.”
Scott walked to the barn where he saw a light glowing. He opened
the door and peered inside. Johnny was brushing down his horse.
Scott turned to leave, but Johnny spoke without turning around.
“Come to yell at me some more?”
“No.” Scott quietly walked in and watched his brother brush his
horse out. “I want you here right after school tomorrow so we
can round up the steers for branding.”
“Alright,” Johnny answered. “What about hiring Pa to help with
“Yeah. He’s been pretty sober lately. I think he could use the
“When did you see him?” Scott grunted.
“I see him…from time to time.”
“I see.” Scott decided not to ask where or why, but to leave it
alone for now. “But after the last time he worked here, I don’t
cotton much to….”
“He’s our father, Scott! He owns this land!”
“No, Johnny.” Scott sat down on a bench and folded his arms.
“Just after Pa started drinking, he sobered and signed the land
over to me. All the money was signed over to me as well.”
“What? You mean…you own this place?” Johnny asked suddenly.
“What about the money?”
“What about it?”
“How much of it is mine?”
Scott lowered his head and sighed. “You’ll get your share when
you turn 18.”
“18?????” Johnny threw down the brush. “I’m ready to start
living now! There’s things I want to do!”
“We had a talk…inside while ago. You’ll continue school until
you get your certificate. After that, you are free to do what
you want and to…go where you want. I’ll give you your share of
the money then. Until then, you are to help out on the ranch, go
to school, and do as you are told, which includes respecting me
and the rest of the family.”
“What if I don’t get my certificate?” Johnny asked.
“Well then…” Scott folded his arms. “I guess you don’t get the
“You can’t do that!” Johnny declared. “You can’t keep from me
what is rightfully mine!”
“Johnny, you are 14 years old. You are just a kid! Rather you
like it or not, that’s the way it’s going to be.” Johnny turned
and walked out of the barn.
Abraham cleared his throat as he sat at the table. “So, did you
and Jessie have a good time this afternoon?”
“Sure, I had a good time…after school!” Laura answered. “You
know what that ol’ teacher made me do today, Abe? He told me I
have to learn all my addition and subtraction fact this year!”
“Well then…you should get started,” Abe stated. “Did you talk to
“Johnny? Yep. I talked to Johnny today.” Laura quickly took a
drink of her milk. “Can I be excused now? I want to get my
Abe raised an eyebrow at his little sister as he watched her.
“Uh…sure.” He and Julie watched Laura hurry out the door. Abe
turned and looked at Julie. “She didn’t even ask for dessert.”
“Dessert!” Charlie declared soundly. “Charlie want dessert!”
“Yes! I’m sure you do,” Abe chuckled as he ruffled his son’s
Laura had trouble falling asleep that night. She stayed awake
thinking about Johnny and the adventures he was going to go on.
She knew he would someday get to travel around the world like he
wanted. Then, she found herself wondering what it would be like
to travel around the world.
The next morning, she had to rush around to do her morning
chores and get breakfast eaten. Abe had a hand on his hip as she
came out to mount her horse. “Young lady, you’ll go to bed a
half hour early tonight!” he ordered. And she knew she would.
She met Johnny on the way to school. Johnny was just leaving the
path. She stopped her horse. “Whatcha doin’ today, Johnny?”
“I’m going to go watch some horses getting broke. May even get
to break one myself,” Johnny answered excitedly.
“Aren’t ya ever gonna go back to school, Johnny?” Laura asked.
“Nah…school’s not for me, Laura Rose.” Johnny turned and looked
toward the shack. “Gonna get some target practice in this
“Can ya shoot good, Johnny?” Laura asked then.
“Well, I don’t know that I’m the best, but I sure am working on
it,” Johnny answered. “You best go now.”
But school was so boring. Laura couldn’t concentrate, what with
all her thinking about Johnny. As she sat listening to a boring
lesson, she wondered where Johnny was right now.
Keith Younger clapped his hands as his brother successfully
calmed the mean horse. “How about now, Keith?” Johnny asked.
“Can I break the next one?”
“You sure this is okay with your folks?” Keith asked.
“Of course! My folks don’t care what I do. They figure that
since I’m 14, I can make my own decisions.” Johnny nodded toward
the horses. ‘Sides, I’m good at horse breaking, ain’t I?”
‘Yes.” Keith nodded his head and stepped into the corral. “You
are pretty good. Did a right fine job with that one the other
day.” He scratched his chin. “I tell you what, I have a pretty
gentle colt back here that you can take a ride on.”
“Oh, I don’t need a pretty gentle colt!” Johnny declared. “I
want a hard one that can buck!”
“No, no.” Keith shook his head. “I don’t let my own brother take
risks, much less a 14 year old kid.” Keith pointed to the colt.
“You will have to work up to that.”
“I’m thinking on rodeoing. There’s one coming around here soon,
from what I hear.”
“Yes,” Keith nodded. “Next Saturday. But they won’t let a kid
get on a wild bull!”
“I’m nearly 14 ½!” Johnny protested. “Besides, I bet I can charm
my way on one of the critters.”
“You are a wild one,” Keith declared. “The rodeo’s on the other
side of town. You have to go through the pass outlaws frequent.
I don’t reckon your folks will cotton to that much.”
Johnny put on his saddle gloves and nodded. “I’m pretty
independent. I can do it.” He put his foot into the stirrup and
ordered Keith to let go. Johnny loved the feeling of bouncing
around on a wild horse. He rode with the jumps and allowed
himself to bounce, but held on tight to the reins. The horse
grew madder the longer he stayed on, but within just a few
minutes the horse had tamed quite a bit. After a few more snorts
and bucks, the horse gave up his fight and calmed down. Everyone
clapped at his success.
“You know little brother,” Larry Younger said to his brother.
“That boy is going to make it big someday.”
“If he doesn’t break his neck first,” Keith said. “Say…doesn’t
his folks live on a ranch outside town?”
“Yeah.” Larry watched Johnny take a prideful bow after stepping
down from his horse. “They own the Gibbs’ ranch about three
miles from here. Oh, actually I believe his brother owns the
place now after his father…Well now…the way I heard the story
told, his brother Andy was killed in the war last November. His
father flipped out and is now a booze-drinking bum. Scott Gibbs
recently married and took over the ranch and the bank.”
“Really?” Keith scratched his chin. “Hm…I wonder if his brother
is really aware of what Johnny’s doing.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Larry answered.
“You know he’s thinking of showing up at that rodeo next
Saturday? He said he wants to ride a wild bull.”
“A boy his age?” Larry shook his head. “Nobody over there would
let a 14 year old kid get on a wild bull!”
“No.” Keith folded his arms. “But I think Johnny is stubborn
enough and determined enough to make it happen.
“Ya mean you got to break another one?” Laura asked as she shook
her head. Johnny had met her on the way home and stopped to tell
Laura the good news. “What’s it like?”
“Oh, I can’t explain it, Laura! It’s like…like being a bird high
in the sky just soaring and…feeling so free! Then when that
horse calms and rides soft, why…you feel like a bird who’s
successfully found it’s roost. I’m so happy when I’m up there on
that horse. I…I just can’t explain it!”
“How long are you gonna keep this from your brother?” Laura
asked. “I mean…I understand about what you’re doing, but I
don’t like keeping things from my folks.”
“But you will…for me?” Johnny asked.
“Sure,” Laura answered. She mounted her horse. “I hafta get
Johnny slowly made his way into the yard Thursday evening. He
knew he was about to get yelled at now. The sun was going down.
Scott had ordered him to come home right after school, and
Johnny had failed to obey. He just had so many adventures.
Johnny stopped when the door opened. Scott angrily came out the
door and started limping toward his brother. Amanda hurried up
behind him. “Scott, you shouldn’t be on your leg!” she begged.
But Scott held up his hand as he made his way toward Johnny.
“Scott…” Amanda tried again.
Johnny saw Margaret, Beth, and Jennifer hurry out right behind
Scott. “Alright, it’s past 8:00. Where the blazes have you
“I…I…I…went to talk to some people!” Johnny stuttered out.
“What people?” Scott asked angrily.
Johnny shrugged. “Just some people!” He looked from Scott to his
sisters and mother. “What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me?” Scott tried to take some deep breaths.
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with me! I sent the ranch hands into
town to have the night off. I told them YOU would help me check
the cattle. YOU didn’t show up. So I went out on the range and
discovered a cow birthing. I had to help her along, but I
couldn’t save the cow…” Scott balled his hand into a fist and
pressed his lips together as he tried to control his rage. “If
you had been there…”
Amanda laid a hand on her husband’s shoulder. “Johnny, you know
how hard it is for Scott with his leg. He put too much strain on
it. It’s hurting him awfully bad.”
Johnny hung his head. “I’m sorry, Scott. I…”
“Don’t…” Scott narrowed his eyes at Johnny. “Don’t you DARE
apologize to me!”
“I’m not a rancher!” Johnny shouted. “You know I’m not a
“You’re a member of this family!” Scott shouted back. “If you’re
going to make it out there alone…you MUST learn responsibility
and…” Scott groaned as he took a step forward.
Amanda and Beth hurried forward and grabbed Scott by the arms.
“Let’s get him inside. I need to get him on the bed and give his
leg a good rubbing.”
Margaret stepped forward. Her eyes held tears as she watched the
suffering her brother was going through. “Scott’s right, Johnny.
I want to support you in…in…whatever you want to do.” Margaret
shook her head. “But I can’t…not when…when you can’t own up to
your responsibilities.” Margaret looked him up and down. “Where
are your books?”
“My…” Johnny looked down. “Oh…my books…” He lifted his head and
looked his sister in the eye.
Margaret nodded. “I think you should go to your room. We’ll
discuss this as a family tomorrow.”
Johnny looked past Margaret to his mother. He saw the
disappointment in her eyes too. “Horse breaking is what I want
to do…Horse breaking and working the rodeo.”
“I know.” Margaret allowed tears to fall down her face. She
lifted a hand up and rested it on her brother’s cheek. “And it
breaks my heart to do this, Johnny. But what you’re doing is…is
“Right.” Johnny slowly walked toward the door. He paused as he
turned back and looked at his sister. “I wonder what I have to
do to get your faith back, sis…” He turned back around and
walked into the house and into his bedroom.
On Friday afternoon, Laura had stopped by the shack, but Johnny
wasn’t there. Samuel Gibbs had opened the door and waved. Laura
waved back, smiling, then rode for home. The evening passed
slowly for Laura. She had talked to Johnny every evening that
week except for today. She wondered where Johnny was and what he
After Julie sent her to bed, Laura laid awake in the darkness.
She hadn’t been lying in bed too long when she heard something
hit her window. She sat up in bed, but started to lay down when
she decided she was only hearing things. But suddenly, she heard
it again. Laura quietly got out of bed and hurried toward the
window. She slowly lifted the window and peered out. “Johnny?”
Laura gasped in a whisper.
“I just wanted to say goodbye. Thanks for keeping my secret,
Laura noticed the bag over his shoulder. “Where ya goin’,
“I’m going to that rodeo tomorrow, and I’m gonna ask ‘em if
they’ll take a 14 year old boy. I could ride with them and learn
the trade at first.”
“But your family, Johnny! I….”
“No!” Johnny shook his head. “They…they don’t understand me at
home! I have to do this!” Johnny lowered his head. When he
lifted it back up, he asked, “Laura, will you promise not to
tell anybody until next week? By then the rodeo will be gone
“But Johnny! How do you know they’ll even take ya?” Laura asked
as she shook her head.
Johnny sighed. “I talked to one of the men earlier today. He
said he’s pretty sure they’ll take me and let me learn the
trade. Then they’ll train me and when I’m old enough I can start
“I gotta go! Remember, Laura…not a WORD until next week!” Johnny
turned and ran from the yard. Laura just stared out the window,
not quite believing what had happened.
Suddenly, the door to her bedroom opened. “Laura Rose McCain!”
Abe exclaimed from across the room.
Laura gasped and quickly closed the window and started for her
bed. “What do you think you’re doing, young lady?”
Abe stepped into the room and crossed his arms. “Come here,
Laura Rose.” She didn’t like the tone of his voice. She slowly
walked over to stand in front of Abe. “Laura?” Laura lifted her
head up…up…up…until she saw the shadow of her brother’s face.
“What were you doing at the window?”
“I…I was looking at the…the…moon,” Laura stuttered out. “It’s
Abe bent over picked her up. He carried her to her bed and laid
her back under the covers. “They’ll be no more gazing at the
moon tonight, young lady!” Abe ordered. “Now…you get to sleep!”
“Yes sir.” Abe bent down and kissed her.
“If I have to come in here again, you will get a firm hand on
the backside. Understood?” Laura nodded. She watched Abe walk
out the door.
Laura turned over and stared at the wall. But she couldn’t
sleep. She wondered and fretted about Johnny. Why did he
suddenly want to run away from home? Was keeping his secret
really the right thing to do? Was he in danger? Would they ever
see him again? Laura wondered these things as she slowly went to
Laura took another bite of her scrambled eggs the next morning.
“Honey, are you sick?” Julie asked worriedly as she studied her.
“No,” Laura answered.
“Well…” But Julie’s words were stopped by a fierce knock on the
door. The door opened and Scott hurried in. “Have you seen
Laura lowered her head and stared at her plate. Abe stood up and
walked toward Scott. “No. I haven’t seen him all week!”
“He never came home from school last night…at least that we know
of, but he did at some point because some of his clothes and our
left over’s from supper are missing.”
“M…may I be excused?” Laura asked in a quiet voice.
“Not until you finish your breakfast,” Julie answered her. Then
she turned to Scott. “You say he never came home from school?”
Scott nodded. “Well. Why didn’t you go looking for him last
“Julie…” Abe warned.
“No, it’s okay.” Scott came inside. “I’m afraid Johnny and I had
a big fight Thursday night. He’s been really acting up this
week. I’m not sure what’s gotten into him. So, when he didn’t
come home I just figured…”
“I understand. I’m sorry.” Julie turned to feed Adam another
spoon full of scrambled eggs.
Abe turned and looked at Laura. “Laura, was Johnny in school
Laura suddenly felt her heart beating really hard. She stared
down into her plate, not sure what to answer. She couldn’t think
up a way to keep from lying, yet keeping her secret. So she
closed her eyes and said, “I don’t remember.”
Abe turned and looked at Scott. Then he walked over to Laura and
bent down in front of her. “Laura, it’s important you tell me.
Was he at school?”
Laura looked down at her plate and pushed the eggs around.
Quietly, she answered, “No sir.”
“Have you seen Johnny?” Abe asked then.
“Sure! I saw him Thursday,” Laura answered.
“But not yesterday?” Abe asked then.
“Yesterday?” Laura sighed. “No sir, I told you he wasn’t at
school yesterday.” Laura sat down her fork. “Abe…I’m not feeling
too good. Can I please be excused?”
“Laura…” Abe started. But then he stopped. He nodded his head.
“Alright. Go on to your room and lay down.”
Abe stood and waited for Laura to go into her room. “She’s
hiding something,” Abe mumbled. He turned to Scott. “But I don’t
think pressuring her will get the answers we need.”
Abe hurried to the door and strapped on his gun belt. “Julie,
I’m going to go help Scott look for Johnny. You have Laura do
the dishes and help you out around the house and..” Abe laid a
hand on hers. “See if you can find out what she’s hiding.”
Scott and Abe left. They stopped by the main house to tell Peter
what was going on. Peter agreed to go look for Johnny as well.
“Did he give any indication at all as to where he was going?”
Abe asked Scott.
“Margaret says he wants to make a living at cattle breaking,”
Scott answered. “I think it’s loco…he could end up paralyzed
before he’s thirty…”
“Somebody’s gotta do it,” Peter pointed out.
“Yes. Somebody!” Scott shook his head. “But not my kid brother!”
“Well, we can go out to the Youngers’ ranch. That’s all they do
– break cattle. They’ve broken a few ornery ones for me from
time to time,” Abe stated. “But first…perhaps we should find Mr.
Richards and find out if he knows anything.”
The three men hurried toward town. Mr. Richards stayed in a
small house not far from the school. He answered on their third
knock. “Mr. McCain…Mr. Gibbs…Fancy seeing you here.”
“Yes uh…” Abe cleared his throat. “I was wondering if we could
have a moment of your time, sir.” Mr. Richards moved over to
allow the men to enter his home. After they were settled, Scott
cleared his throat. “It’s about my brother, Johnny.”
“Yes. I was disappointed he couldn’t come back this year,” Mr.
“Couldn’t come…” Scott stared at him. “Are you telling me Johnny
hasn’t been to school?”
“Well no. I haven’t seen him since school started Tuesday.” Mr.
Richards looked from man to man. “Is there…a problem?”
Abe slowly stood up. “Yes. I’m afraid there is.” He walked
toward the door. “And I’m afraid my sister is right in the thick
of it as usual.” He hurried from the house. Scott thanked him
for his time as they hurried after Abe.
“What do you mean Laura’s in the thick of it?” Peter asked.
“I could tell she was hiding something this morning,” Abe
answered. “I questioned her about Johnny and she merely stated
she saw him Thursday.”
“You know…” Scott pointed out. “She never DID say she didn’t see
Johnny yesterday. She just said she saw him Thursday.”
“She saw him Tuesday as well,” Abe stated. “At least, that’s
what she told me that night at supper.”
“Do you suppose that our dear little sister is taking liberty
with the facts?”
Abe nodded. “I think that’s EXACTLY what our little sister is
doing.” Abe scratched his beard. “Well, we’re closer to the
Younger ranch. Let’s go there and see if they know anything.
Then we’ll go have a talk with our sister!”
Julie watched Laura as she hung another dress on the clothes
line. Julie worked at scrubbing a stain from Abe’s shirt. “I
just may have to dye it,” she mumbled. But Laura merely sighed
beside her. “Is there something you want to get off your mind?”
She looked up to see the boys running around the yard chasing
each other. They loved their fenced in yard and the freedom it
Laura continued to stare at the dress. “Laura Rose?” Laura
snapped her head around and looked at Julie. “I said is there
something you want to tell me?”
“No.” Laura took the shirt from Julie and went to hang it on the
line. She paused and slowly turned around. Walking up to Julie
she said, “Mama Julie?” Julie paused in her scrubbing and turned
to look at Laura. “Um…if…if a person tells you something and you
promise to keep it a secret…you should keep it a secret, right?”
“Not if keeping it secret could hurt a person,” Julie answered
as she went back to scrubbing the dress.
“Well…how do you know if it would hurt them?”
“If what they are doing is wrong, Laura Rose, then it could hurt
them.” Julie paused in her task again and bent down in front of
Laura. “Do you want to tell me something?” Laura didn’t answer.
“No. I don’t know nothing!” Laura declared quickly.
“Anything,” Julie corrected her. She raised her eyebrows as she
looked into the little girl’s eyes. She could tell Laura was as
guilty as sin. “Laura…” Laura returned to her task. Julie stood
up and turned back to the tub. “Alright. I can get the rest of
this. Suppose you go entertain the children for awhile.”
Julie wiped her brow with her arm and shook her head. She was
perplexed at the secret Laura was hiding.
Abe, Peter, and Scott walked up to the corral and watched as
Keith and Larry Younger worked on breaking a mean horse. “It’s
amazing what they can do with horses,” Scott declared.
“Yes it is.” Abe saw Keith Younger coming over to greet them.
“Hello. Abe McCain,” he introduced himself.
“Oh yes…I’ve done some work for you before.” Keith shook his
hand. “After that last horse, Abe, I don’t know if…”
“Now, don’t you worry about that! I’m here on a more personal
matter.” Abe pointed to Scott. “This is Scott Gibbs. He…”
“Oh yes! Johnny’s brother,” Keith declared. “You usually do your
business with Larry.” Keith turned just as Larry was getting up
from the dirt. “Larry, come on over here!”
Larry rubbed his back side as he groaned. He stepped up to the
corral gate and shook Scott’s hand. “I don’t know if I want to
do anymore business with you, Scott. Not after the last…”
“You know, your brother hit Abe with the same joke.” Scott
sobered. “Actually, I’m here about my brother.”
“Johnny? Oh yes, he’s gonna be pretty good horse breaker soon,
the rate he’s going!”
“So he HAS been here!” Abe declared
“Yes. Several times. In fact, he’s broken two horses for me
already. He’s a regular spit-fire, that brother of yours!”
“Oh. I had no idea. All this time I thought he was in school.”
Keith and Larry looked at each other. “Oh…He told us his folks
said he didn’t have to go to school anymore. He said he was all
“What?” Scott shouted.
Abe held up a hand to quiet him. “He apparently ran away from
home yesterday. We’re trying to find him.”
“Oh yes!” Larry rubbed the back of his neck. “We were going to
stop by your place, Scott, and tell you about that. Uh…he said
something about going to the Rodeo today. It’s meeting on the
other side of town later this afternoon.”
“The…” Scott put his hands on his hips. “Now why would he go to
a blasted thing like that???”
“He said something about wanting to ride a bull.”
“What the…” Scott banged his fist on the fence. “Just wait until
I get my hands on that boy!”
“First,” Abe said as he grabbed Scott’s arm. “I think we need to
go visit Laura to see just what it is she knows!”
“What if she doesn’t tell us?” Peter asked.
Abe paused his foot in the stirrup. “Oh, I think I can persuade
her to talk,” he answered.
Julie heard the men coming back and wiped her hands on her
apron. “Laura, they’re back…” Julie turned to see Laura running
to her room. She shook her head as she opened the door and
stepped out onto the porch. “Did you find him?”
“Not yet,” Abe answered as he crossed his arms and stood in
front of her. “Did she tell you anything?”
“No. But she did ask me about breaking promises. She was trying
to decide something.”
“Where is she?” Abe asked as he hurried inside.
“She ran to her room when she heard you coming,” Julie answered
as she followed Abe into the bedroom. Peter and Scott poured
themselves a cup of coffee and sat down at the table to wait.
Abe found Laura standing at the window peering out. “Were you
looking at the moon last night, Laura?”
“I saw the moon last night,” Laura answered without turning
Abe sighed and slapped his hat on his thigh. “I’ve had enough of
half-truths!” Abe declared as he sat down on her bed. “Laura,
come here.” His voice was gruff and stern. Laura knew there was
no other choice. She softly walked across the floor to where he
was sitting. “We’ve had a few talks about lying in the past,
“Yes sir,” Laura answered meekly.
“And YOU know the difference between a truth and a lie.” Laura
nodded. Abe crossed his arms. “Laura!” Laura lifted her face to
look into his. “I think a little girl around here has been lying
to us all week.”
“I haven’t lied, Abe! Not one single time!” Laura assured him.
“You don’t really believe that…do you, Laura Rose?” Abe put a
hand under her chin and lifted her head to peer into his eyes.
“Because if you do, let me tell you something…the sort of lies
you have been telling this week are much, much worse than
bold-faced lies. If you said yes when I asked you if Johnny was
in school yesterday, then that’s a flat-out lie. But to answer
my questions by rewording my statements to benefit your…guilt…is
much worse because it holds a lot of deception on your part.”
Abe let go of her chin. It fell towards the floor. “So have you
been lying to us?”
“Yes sir,” Laura answered with a sniff.
“Johnny is only 14 years old. If he’s going to go to that rodeo
and try to ride a bull, he can get into a whole lot of trouble.”
Abe raised his eyebrows. “Well?”
“I promised not to tell!” Laura cried. “He came here last night
to tell me he was gonna go with the rodeo. He was gonna work and
learn how to ride bulls! I promised not to tell until next week
when it was too late…I…”
Abe stood up and looked at Julie. He motioned for her to go on
out. “You knew about this since Tuesday?”
“Only that he was ditching school and never going back,” Laura
answered with a sniff.
“Laura Rose, you have deceived Julie and I all week and the
entire Gibbs family by withholding this information! Not only
that, but you’ve also sent us searching for answers…wasting
precious time when you could have told us the truth right away!
I…” Abe found himself yelling. Laura’s eyes filled with tears.
Abe walked toward the door. “You are to stay in this room until
I get back, Laura. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes sir,” Laura whispered.
“Yes sir.” Laura sat down on her bed. She listened to the door
slam shut, then she threw herself on the bed and cried.
Abe’s jaw was clinching as he stepped out of the bedroom. “He’s
planning on joining the rodeo…to go away with them,” Abe
announced. “We gotta go.”
The men jumped up and hurried toward the door. Abe turned and
looked at Julie. “She’s not to come out of that room! I’ll deal
with her when I get back!” Julie didn’t only see anger in his
eyes. She also saw hurt. Julie watched Abe rush out. She bit her
lip and turned and looked towards Laura’s bedroom door. Laura
had really hurt her this time. She knew the trust she and Abe
had put in her had quickly died.
“What time does the rodeo start?” Abe asked the others.
“I don’t know.” Scott looked up at the sky. “It’s probably 1:30
now.” He turned and looked at Abe as they rode. “You don’t think
Jonny would do anything…stupid like…you know…do you?”
“We know he’s a risk taker,” Abe answered bluntly. “So I
wouldn’t put anything past him.”
“Let’s go by the house and tell my family.” They quickly tied
their horses and hurried inside. Scott reported to his family
what he knew.
“I’m going with you,” Margaret declared as she untied her apron.
“Saddle my horse.”
“No!” Scott stated. “You’re staying here!”
“I’m going, Scott!” Margaret declared. “I seem to understand him
better than you do right now!” Scott sucked in his breath.
Margaret shook her head. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said
“No…You’re right, Margaret. All I know is he’s getting himself
into trouble!” Scott hurried to the barn and saddled Andy’s
horse for Margaret to ride. Soon, all four of them were on their
There was quiet a crowd there already. They dismounted and tied
their horses to a hitching post, then made their way to the
corral. “Do you see him?” Peter asked as they scanned the crowd.
“No. Not yet,” Scott answered as he climbed up on the corral
fence and peered into the corral.
They looked through the crowd for a half hour, but they had no
luck. “How could he do this?” Scott asked as he shook his head.
“Scott…forgive me, but you drove him to this,” Margaret
answered. Scott turned and glared at her. “I always speak my
mind, you know that.” Scott nodded. “Johnny isn’t like you. He’s
so different! You have to try to understand him…to embrace who
he is! Going against him is going to be like a bull…” Margaret
suddenly shot a hand to her mouth. Her eyes grew wide. “Scott!”
She pointed a shaky finger toward a gated stall.
“He’s gone loco!” Scott shouted as he climbed over the corral
fence and jumped inside. “Johnny!”
But it was too late. The gate opened and Johnny came out riding
a bull. The bull was mad and bounced Johnny up and down like a
rubber ball. Margaret screamed as the bull flung him high in the
air. Johnny landed on the ground with a loud thud, but didn’t
stay there long. He stood up and hurried toward the corral
fence. Nobody missed the pain on his face. The bull turned and
ran toward him. Margaret let out another horrific scream as she
shot a hand to her mouth.
Johnny managed to get over the fence before it was too late.
Margaret’s hand slid to her chest. “Oh, thank you, Lord…”
Margaret breathed as her eyes closed in relief.
Johnny grabbed his middle and groaned as he leaned against the
“Thank God he wasn’t hurt any worse!” Peter breathed.
“No he wasn’t,” Scott said through clinched teeth. “But I’m
gonna kill him!” He started around the corral.
Margaret grabbed him. “Now please…stay calm! Don’t do anything
in haste!” she begged Scott. But Scott was mad. He reached the
other side of the corral and saw Johnny laughing with some of
the other men. Scott reached out and grabbed Johnny by his neck.
“Scott!” Margaret warned.
Johnny groaned in pain as Scott dragged him away from there
without saying a word. When they were in a clearing, Scott let
go of his neck and grabbed the front of his shirt. “What do you
think you are doing, boy?”
“She told you?” Johnny griped. “She told you after she promised
Abe leapt forward. He wanted to bend the boy over his knee. “No!
She lied for you! Are you happy with yourself???” Abe asked.
“You want to be a man – to make your own decisions and do your
own thing but you are CERTINLLY going about it the WRONG
WAY!!!!!!” Abe shook his head. “Laura is in a whole mess of
“I didn’t mean to get her into trouble!” Johnny cried. “She saw
me sneaking into the shack on her way to school Tuesday, so
Tuesday afternoon she came snooping around! I had to tell her!”
Johnny declared. “She said she’d snitch on me if I didn’t!”
“What?” Abe exclaimed. “She told me she was going to Jessica’s…”
Abe closed his eyes and shook his head. That was yet another
“Nevermind!” Scott felt his sister’s hand on his shoulder. He
took a few deep breaths. “Just be glad our sister’s here! Let’s
Where?” Johnny asked.
“Home!” Scott declared.
“But they’re giving me a job!” Johnny protested as Scott grabbed
“A fourteen year old boy???” Abe questioned. “What sort of story
did you tell them? That your parents are dead and you have no
Johnny frowned. “Something like that. But I want to…”
Abe grabbed his other arm. “Let’s go!” Abe ordered. “I think you
should havel a family meeting tonight and get to the bottom of
“You best call my Pa then,” Johnny declared.
Scott stopped walking and turned around to glare at his brother.
“What’s Pa got to do with this?”
Abe, Peter, and Margaret looked at each other. “Alright. Let’s
get him home. Then I think we need to all sit down and
straighten this whole thing out.”
Johnny groaned. Scott paused, realizing that he was in a great
deal of pain. “What’s wrong?”
“I think I might have busted a couple ribs,” Johnny declared.
Scott and Abe looked at each other. “I’ll go for the doctor,”
Peter announced as he hurried toward his horse. Abe and Scott
helped Johnny to his horse. It took some doing, but they got him
in the saddle. Then they started for home.
Julie couldn’t stand it anymore. She went to Laura’s bedroom
door and opened it a crack. Laura was sitting on the bed staring
at the wall. Her eyes shifted when she saw Julie open the door.
“Can I come in?”
Laura nodded as she wiped her eyes. “Abe’s mad.”
“Yes.” Julie sat down on the bed. “The boys are napping so I
thought I’d talk to you a little. Do you mind?”
“Are you mad?”
Julie raised her eyebrows. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s really hard being a kid!” Laura sighed. “I don’t
mean to get myself into these messes…but I always seem to end up
“Well…I remember getting into plenty of trouble when I was a
child too, Laura.” She laughed. “My Pa made me visit the
woodshed on some occasions. Except he used a razor strap on me.”
“I’m gonna get a whipping…ain’t I?” Laura sniffed.
Julie shrugged. “I don’t know, Laura…but it doesn’t look good.”
Julie rested a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Laura, can you tell
me why you didn’t come to us on Tuesday?”
“I don’t know…”
“Laura…” Julie stared.
“Well, I guess I do.” Laura told Julie everything. She told
Julie about making Johnny tell her everything to stay quiet all
the way up to that Friday night when Johnny came by the house
and announced he was leaving to join the rodeo.
The sound of horses sounded. Julie stood up and hurried to the
window. “It’s your brothers,” Julie said as she allowed the
curtain to fall in its place. Julie walked to the bed and sat
down beside her. “Let’s hope they found him.”
“Julie!” Abe’s voice sounded as he entered the house. Julie
called out that she was in Laura’s room. They heard Abe’s feet
walk across the floor. His tall figure was soon taking up the
“Well?” Julie asked hopefully.
“We found him.” Abe nodded slightly. Then he focused his eyes on
Laura. “We got him home and will be going over there for a
family meeting tonight. He may have broken a couple ribs when he
was bucked off the bull.” Abe took a few more steps into the
bedroom. “But I reckon that’s okay since he could have easily
“Bucked off the bull?” Julie’s eyes grew wide. “You mean they
actually allowed him to…”
“No. They didn’t allow him to anything. Turns out he snuck into
the corral and got on a bull all by himself. He wanted to prove
something.” Abe sighed. “I was hoping this taught him a lesson,
but he’s more determined than ever to do it now.”
Julie turned and looked at Laura. “Laura?” Laura lifted her head
and looked at Julie. Julie raised her eyebrows.
“I’m…sorry,” she said quietly.
“Seems Laura’s been busy this week, Julie. Seems she saw Johnny
sneaking down into some shack on her way to school Tuesday
morning. Then when she told us she was going to Jessie’s, she
was really going down to the shack to see Johnny.”
Laura lowered her head. “But I DID go to Jessie’s! I went by and
said hello.” Laura shook her head. “I can’t flat-out lie to ya,
“Then you threatened Johnny you’d snitch unless he told you what
he was doing. All week, you’ve been visiting with him haven’t
you?” Laura nodded. “Haven’t you????”
“Then when you saw Scott come over here…you had to know he was
worried, yet you stayed quiet. Why?”
“Because Johnny asked me to. He didn’t want anybody to know….He
asked me just to be quiet until next week cause he was going to
work for the rodeo and learn about it.”
“And you saw nothing wrong with the deception and sneaking
around you and he were doing?” Abe asked.
Julie put an arm around Laura. “Abe, she’s just a child!”
“Yes. She’s just a child,” Abe nodded. “But you did know it was
wrong. Didn’t you, Laura Rose?”
“Laura, we love you. We love you very much,” Julie said softly.
“But when you behave like this it’s hard for us to trust you.
I’m afraid, Laura, that you’ve lost our trust for a time. Trust
is something that’s easily lost and difficult to get back. It’s
going to take some time before your brother or I can trust you
again. And there’s going to have to be some punishments for what
you did.” Julie smoothed Laura’s hair back as Laura’s eyes
filled with tears. “Johnny could have been killed. And if he had
been successful on leaving, your brothers and Scott would have
had to leave town to find him.”
“You gonna give me a whipping?” Laura asked Abe.
“Oh yeah,” Abe answered. He bent down in front of her as Laura
started sniffing. “That’s something I hoped we were past, but I
CANNOT stand by and allow you to get away with such deception,
Laura! I can hardly believe you are capable of such a thing!”
“I promised Johnny I wouldn’t tell! He made it all sound like so
much fun and okay…He said that he was going to travel all around
the world, have a big house, and everything because he was going
to make lots and lots of money in the rodeo!” Laura’s bottom lip
started to quiver.
“And Johnny’s going to be severly punished as well.” Abe sighed.
“Laura, Scott knows this is partly his fault for not listening
to his brother more. He was trying to force Johnny to be
something he isn’t; but regardless, Johnny was wrong in what he
did. And he should have NEVER gotten you involved in it!”
“But I was at the shack his Pa lives in! He didn’t know I was
there. What could he do?”
“He could have sent you away instead of…” Abe stopped. “What do
you mean the shack his Pa lives in.”
Laura nodded. “Johnny said that his Pa stays there when he
ain’t…uh…I mean when he’s…”
Abe nodded. “I know what you meant. Now then, you know you will
lose your horse for a time. I’m going to let you ride him on
weekends with someone else with you, but not by yourself. You
will walk to school.”
“Yes sir,” Laura sniffed.
“Laura, I know you thought you were doing something good for
Johnny by staying quiet, but you were wrong.” Abe stood up and
looked to Julie. “Julie, why don’t you go check on the boys
Julie looked down at Laura. “Laura, you know your brother and I
love you very much.”
Laura nodded. “Can I…still call you Mama Julie?”
Julie smiled as her eyes filled with tears. “Of course!”
Laura tugged on Abe’s shirt. Abe bent down in front of her. “Can
I…call you Papa Abe?”
“But I’m your brother!” Abe declared.
“I know, but your like my Papa too. Least…” Laura lowered her
head. “I hope you are.”
“You know I still have to whip you, Laura.” Laura nodded. “And
you still want to call me Papa Abe?” Laura nodded. “Well
then…I’d be very, very honored.” He hugged Laura.
Julie stood up and walked to the door. She knew it would break
Abe’s heart to spank Laura as it was breaking hers; but she also
understood it would have to be.
Julie hurried from the room and went to check on Charlie.
Charlie was sitting on the floor in his room playing quietly
with his blocks. Julie smiled as she sat down with him, hoping
she wouldn’t hear the noise from the other room as she spoke.
But tears filled her eyes when she heard Abe deliver his
punishment. The sound was soon followed by Laura’s cries.
A tear slipped down Julie’s eyes. Charlie stood up and walked
over to his mother. He gave her a kiss. “Mama sad?”
“Just a little, Charlie. But Charlie’s kiss will help me get
happy a lot faster.”
“Lala’s sad?” Charlie asked then.
Julie nodded. “Yes. She got a spanking.”
Charlie gasped as he put his hands to his backside. “Papa hurts!
Ouch!” he declared.
“Yes.” Julie laughed as she picked Charlie up and stood up. “And
Papa’s in just the mood to deliver one to you today, so you be
on your best behavior!”
Julie opened the door to Charlie’s room. She saw Abe bent over
the fireplace hearth with his shoulder’s shaking. She walked
over to him and touched his cheek with her hand. “What’s wrong,
“It ain’t like before,” Abe said. “I used to be able to spank
her without too much trouble but now it…”
Julie nodded. “It breaks your heart. That’s because she owns a
bigger chunk of your heart now. You, Abe, are like her Papa.
It’s hard, but something that has to be done.”
“Papa spank Charlie? Ouch!” Charlie shouted suddenly.
Abe smiled as he wiped the tears from his cheeks. He took
Charlie in his arms. “No, son. Papa won’t spank Charlie as long
as Charlie’s good.”
“Oh.” Charlie scratched Abe’s beard. “Then Charlie be good for
ever an’ ever!”
Abe laid Charlie over his arm and started tickling him. Charlie
giggled and started begging for mercy. Abe hugged Charlie to
himself again. Then he turned to Julie. “Go to her, Julie. I’ll
go wake the boys up. We need to go to the Gibbs’ soon.”
Julie nodded as she started for the bedroom. But she paused and
turned. “Abe…I’m not saying that Laura’s bad by nature, but the
time may come when you have to do this again. And I want you to
know…you will have my support.”
“Thanks. Tell her I love her.”
Julie slipped into the bedroom and took Laura into her arms,
allowing her to cry. Laura kept telling Julie how sorry she was.
“This is why parents punish their children,” Julie said.
“Because we have to teach you.”
Laura nodded and wiped her tears as she stood up. She walked
toward the door. “Abe cried,” Laura said as she stood at the
door. “He cried this time.”
Laura opened the door. She saw Abe working on washing the sleep
out of David’s eyes. “Abe?” Abe sat David on the floor and
turned toward Laura. “Abe, I know I said I was sorry before
but…” Laura swallowed as she looked down at the ground. “But…I
don’t think I meant it.” Laura turned to look at Julie. “But
now…I think I understand and I know how much I hurt you and
Abe slowly bent down in front of her. He looked into her moist
eyes. “You did hurt us…very much.”
“I’m sorry, Abe! I’m so sorry!” Laura fell into his arms and
wept. “Will you please forgive me?”
Abe kissed her softly. “Of course I will, Rosebud.”
“And…and will ya trust me again?” Laura begged. “I want ya to
“We will…in time.” Abe stood up. “Right now, we need to get to
The doctor stepped out of Johnny’s bedroom. “Doctor?” Jennifer
asked anxiously as she stood from her chair.
Dr. Stevens smiled. “Just one cracked rib. The others are
bruised. He’ll be hurting for a few days, I’m afraid.” Scott
stood and walked the doctor to the door. He thanked him for
coming so quickly, then watched his buggy as he drove out of the
“Thank God he’s going to be alright,” Scott said. He slowly sat
down at the table as Amanda handed him a cup of coffee. “Where
did I go wrong, Mother?”
Jennifer stretched out her hand and took his. “You just want
what you think is best for your brother. It’s hard to accept who
Johnny is. He’s so different from any of you Gibbs’ or McCains.”
“I know. I…” There was a knock on the door. Abe came in with his
family right behind him. Beth agreed to tend to the children,
including little Ruthie, while the other adults talked.
“I want him to finish school,” Scott said. “I don’t see any
reason why he can’t at least give us that much.”
“And then?” Abe asked.
“And then…” Scott sighed.
“Scott…” Margaret cleared her throat. “There is nothing wrong
with horse breaking. Wouldn’t you rather see our brother happy
doing what he enjoys then miserable doing what he doesn’t?”
Scott sighed as he stared into his cup. “We’ll fret and worry
about him, but we have to allow Johnny to be his own person.”
Abe sat back in his chair as Julie helped Jennifer and Amanda
set the food on the tables. “Do you remember the evening we were
here at your house when Luke made his famous announcement,
Scott? Ma and Pa…” Abe sighed, remembering that was the last
time they were all together. “Ma and Pa, Your folks, Andy,
and…Do you remember my reaction to Luke’s announcement?” Scott
nodded. “Did my going off on him have any real effect? Did it
change anything?” Abe sighed as Julie sat down next to him.
“Scott, Johnny’s going to do what he wants to do rather you like
it or not.”
“I know, but…”
Margaret cleared her throat. “I think we’re all in agreement
that Scott needs to finish school.”
“Yes.” Abe nodded. “And if you remember, our fathers were on
their own at sixteen. They had two mighty find families and
turned out okay. I…” Lucas paused when Scott lifted an eyebrow.
“My point is…maybe if you give Scott permission to go out on his
own at sixteen…”
“Sixteen…” Beth mumbled from her place. “I can’t believe we’re
even considering it!”
Jennifer cleared her throat. “As Johnny’s mother, I will say
that I want to hold onto him for as long as I can. Because I…”
Jennifer’s voice broke. She put a hand to her chest and took in
a deep breath. “…because I know that when he leaves…” She shook
her head. “I may never see my baby again.”
“There’s something else,” Scott spoke quietly. He looked up at
his family surrounding him. “Most of you know that my father
signed over the ranch to me and I now control the money.”
Several nodded. “But Johnny didn’t know it…until Tuesday.”
“What?” Abe asked, shocked. “You didn’t tell him?”
Scott shook his head. “I suppose…I was just trying to avoid a
confrontation. Johnny’s a bit upset. He wants his money now and
I told him he’d have to wait until he’s eighteen, then he’d only
get it if he got his school certificate.”
Peter cleared his throat. “If you remember, I quit school when I
was fifteen. But the teacher was able to give me a special test
early, and Pa locked me in my room for a week and made me study
for it. I was able to get my certificate.”
“Scott…I can’t tell you what to do with your money,” Abe stated.
“But…I think making him wait until he’s eighteen is a good idea.
But…” Abe leaned forward on the table. “Maybe promising him half
the money at 16 will encourage him to stay in school and earn
Jeremiah cleared his throat. “I’m thinking on the story of the
Prodigal Son. He was given his inheritance, went away and spent
it all. He came home when the money was gone.” Jeremiah nodded.
“I think you should make sure he understands that story when you
talk to him. The money will be his, but when it’s gone…it’s
gone. You’ll welcome him back home but there will be no more
money for him.”
Scott nodded. “Well…you all have been a tremendous help. I…think
I’m ready to talk to him. After supper, I’ll visit with him.”
The McCain family decided to leave right after supper so the
Gibbs family could visit with Johnny. Laura thought she should
apologize, but “Papa Abe” assured her she could wait until she
saw him on Monday. Abe gave Scott a firm handshake as he carried
a sleeping little boy in his arms. “Hang in there, Scott. It’s
good practice for your own children.” Julie elbowed her husband
as they walked out the door.
With four sleeping little boys, Abe put his hand on top of
Julie’s, then rode their wagon towards home.
Johnny heard a knock on his door and lowered the Wild West
magazine he had been reading. Scott entered his room, followed
by his mother and the rest of his family. Scott turned and
looked at his mother. She knew how hard it was for him to
swallow his pride and apologize for the part he had played in
Scott’s transgressions. Scott swallowed his pride. “I want to…to
apologize for not…not understanding or…or listening to you.”
Jennifer sat down on the bed. “Johnny, you have always been wild
and wanted to do things your own way but…you have just GOT to
understand that you are still growing. School is really very
important to us.”
“So…here’s the deal.” Scott cleared his throat. “If you will
agree to stay in school for two more years and work your butt
off…you can try for your certificate. Then when you receive your
certificate, you…” Scott stopped.
Margaret kneeled down beside the bed and took Johnny’s hand.
“Scott’s going to give you his blessing to go wherever you
want…and do whatever you want when you’re sixteen.”
“And…the money?” Johnny asked.
Scott turned and looked at his mother. “Jennifer nodded. “You
can have your inheritance when you turn 18. That’s the deal.
Take it or leave it.” Scott raised his eyebrows as Johnny began
to sulk. “Perhaps I should tell you the story of the Prodigal
Johnny held up his hand. “No, no…I understand your reason.”
Scott sighed heavily as he leaned his head back. “I know I was
wrong…and getting Laura involved was the worst part of the whole
“No,” Margaret shook her head. “Getting on that bull was the
worst thing! I think I lost ten years of my life watching that!”
Johnny tried to straighten up, but groaned. Scott helped him sit
up, pushing pillows low to make him comfortable. “Two more years
of school?” Scott nodded. “Can I keep taking lessons on horse
Scott nodded again. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with the
ranch or school,” Scott answered.
“That will have to wait until you’re on your own,” Jennifer
“What about the shooting?”
“With Pa?” Scott shot out. Johnny nodded silently. “Scott, I
don’t think that…” Margaret put a hand on his shoulder.
“Alright. Shooting with Pa…as long as he’s completely sober!”
“Agreed.” Johnny looked at his mother. “I’m…assuming I’m going
to be punished.”
“Punished?” Jennifer shook her head. “You’ll be in bed for a
couple weeks with those ribs. I think you’ll have plenty of time
to think about all you’ve done wrong. I’d say that’s punishment
enough.” She shrugged as Scott turned and looked at her. “He’s
14 ½, Scott. He has to learn the true consequences of his
crimes; and I think this is the best way.”
“Alright.” Scott nodded. “And uh…I’ll agree to your terms. To
tell you the truth, I don’t think I want to try to ride another
bull for quite awhile!”
“Alright, that’s enough!” Jennifer declared as she started
shooing everyone out. “I want my baby to get some rest. Beth,
get his tray, will you?” Beth went to obey.
Margaret started to leave, but turned and sat down beside
Johnny. She put her hands on his cheeks and smiled. “You don’t
know how frightened I was today…I…” She sighed and shook her
head. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
Margaret stood and walked out of the bedroom. She joined Amanda
in the kitchen. “You think he’s learned his lesson about bull
riding?” Amanda asked as she started scraping the plates.
Margaret laughed painfully. “I’m afraid to say that I believe
someday Johnny will announce he’s joined a rodeo or wild west
show. I can assure you I’ll spend a lot of time on my knees when
There was a knock at the Gibbs’ front door Monday afternoon.
Amanda hurried to answer the knock. Laura stood there with some
papers and books in her hands. “Mama Julie said I could stop by
on my way home from school and see Johnny.”
Amanda nodded and invited Laura inside. “I think he would love
to see you. Get’s mighty lonely in that bed all day.”
“Is he…mad at me?”
Amanda bent down to look into Laura’s face. “No, honey. He
understands.” She led Laura to Johnny’s bedroom. After knocking,
she opened the door. “Johnny, you have a visitor.”
Johnny sat up straighter and smiled when he saw Laura walk in.
“Hey there, cousin!” Johnny smiled.
Laura walked over to the bed and carefully sat down. “Does it
Johnny put his hand on the wrapping around his middle. “Oh,
Laura’s eyes filled with tears. “It’s my fault you got hurt.”
Her lips started quivering. “If I had told…”
Johnny reached out and wiped a tear from her cheek with his
finger. “No, no, Laura Rose. This isn’t your fault. This was all
my fault.” Johnny smiled and waited for Laura to smile. She
nodded. “Did you get a whipping?”
Laura nodded. “Abe and Julie were really sore,” she said. “I had
to tell a bunch of lies to keep my promise to ya. I knew I was
wrong all along.”
“The whipping wasn’t the worst part,” Laura shook her head. “The
worst was…I lost my horse.”
“You lost it? How do you mean?” Johnny asked.
“I can’t ride her to school for awhile ‘cause I disobeyed. Abe
said I was dec…dec…”
“Deceptive?” Laura nodded. “So was I. Abe’s pretty mad at me for
getting you involved in this.” Laura looked down at her lap.
“Oh, Mr. Richards gave me your assignments for last week and the
next two weeks. He said you best have everything done when you
get back to school.”
“Homework?” Johnny groaned. “Don’t he know I’m in bed sick?”
“In the head, maybe!” Amanda declared from the doorway. She
folded her arms and shook her head.
“I ain’t doing homework in bed!”
“You will too!” Amanda declared. She held an arm out for Laura.
“I think you should get going now, Laura. Maybe you can come
visit Johnny tomorrow.”
Laura nodded and stood up. She waved to Johnny then walked out
the door. Johnny couldn’t help but smile. “You know, Amanda…That
girl’s going to be just like me! She’s going to explore too!”
Amanda raised her eyebrows as she picked up the tablet and
started looking at the assignments. “She’ll probably own her own
“Mm…I don’t know about that,” Amanda mumbled. “But what I do
know is that you should get started on your homework.” Johnny
groaned. “Scott and your mother will be home from town soon. I
think you’ll earn some of their forgiveness if they see you
studying.” Amanda turned and walked out of the room. “I’ll be
right out here if you need help.” She smiled as she saw Johnny
pick up his books and start working.
For the moment, peace was restored in Enid, Oklahoma.
The Years Before — Worry
This is a story based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch