Andi Will Always Be Andi
by, Carrie S.
“So, I can help you on the ranch?” Andi Prescott asked for the fifteenth time. She looked at her husband, Riley, who sat beside her in the buggy as they headed towards home. They had just arrived from their adventuresome honeymoon in the Yosemite Valley.
“Yes, Andi,” Riley answered calmly. “I wouldn’t stop you from doing what you love to do, you know that.”
Andi did know, and she said so. “I do, yet, it seems like now Mother is going to convince me to be a lady and not ride around the ranch all the time.” Andi slouched in the seat.
Riley shifted the reins in his hand and put his arm around her comfortingly. He sat quietly for a while. The sun beat down on Andi as she slouched.
“We won’t pay any mind to any busybodies, like Mrs. Evans or Mrs. King.” Riley reminded Andi. “Plus, we’re even farther from town than your family’s ranch, and I could use your help. It would be one less person to pay.”
Riley was always the one to see the positives in those types of situations. But he was right, the less people to pay, the better. They needed workers on the ranch, especially hard workers that they could easily trust.
Reining the bay horses in, the buggy came to a halt in front of the new house. It was made of sawed wood and a window stood near the door. Riley jumped out and helped Andi out of the buggy.
“Why don’t you head inside while I tie the horses?” Riley offered, moving the horses towards the barn.
“I can certainly wait, but if you insist.” Andi bounded up the steps and swung the door open. Inside, next to the sofa, lay a rug from Aunt Rebecca and a few lace curtains from Ellie, Lucy and Mother hung over the new shining windowpanes. But, none of these things excited Andi as much as she knew the barn would.
Ahh, looks nice, Andi thought to herself as she scanned the room. She heard Riley step up the stairs, and as soon as Riley stepped into the house, Andi turned towards him.
“Let’s go see the barn!” Andi said excitedly and hurried towards the door of their new house. Riley caught her arm as she tried to hurry out of the house.
“Don’t you want to see the rest of the house first?” Riley asked in a teasing voice.
“You know what I’d rather see any day, Riley Prescott!” Andi shoved past him and moved towards the steps, keeping a quick pace she started down the stairs.
“Careful Andi! It’s quite muddy at the bottom!” Riley called behind her. Too late, the second Andi’s flying feet touched the ground, she flew. Straight down, headfirst into the mud with a splat.
“Aha!” Andi grumbled, sitting back and brushing the mud off her face. She looked up to a laughing Riley standing in front of her.
“Here,” Riley offered a rag from the kitchen that he had grabbed.
“Not funny,” Andi glared at him and wiped her face and arms off. When she stood up though, her dress was a sorry mess. It would take several good washings to get all that mud out. Sighing, she threw the rag down and started towards the house for a new dress. This time, she came out in a simple split skirt and a blouse.
“Careful!” Riley said again as they neared the barn, he gripped Andi’s arm as they stepped around the sinking mud puddles.
Inside the barn there were dozens of stalls. The first two were Shasta and Dakota, who nickered eagerly to see them.
Andi ran her hand along the top of her horse’s stall. It was smooth wood with a silvery latch attached towards the top of the stall door. There were shavings inside the stall, and a water bucket filled to the brim. Shasta, her horse, seemed to be taking to his new environment very well. He nickered and bobbed his head up and down vigorously as Andi rubbed his forehead.
“This is a really nice barn.” Andi commented, moving away from Shasta’s stall. Dakota, Riley’s horse, nickered from the other side of the barn, where Riley stood rubbing his mount’s neck.
“Yep,” Riley tossed his saddle up onto Dakota and led him to the buggy that they had rented to get out to the ranch. “We’ll surprise your family for supper, alright? You can relax and put our few things away and I’ll return the buggy. By the time I get back, we can make it over for supper at your family’s place.”
Riley left Andi standing in the barn. Instead of heading into the house, she was determined to go for a quick romp with Shasta. Lifting the saddle carefully to his back, she tightened the cinch and led him out of the barn. Swinging onto Shasta’s back she urged him into a quick lope down the hills and around the pastures. He broke into a gallop and stretched his legs.
They raced as one, galloping across pasture after pasture. Andi loved the feel of the wind blowing her hair away from her face as she went strongly head on into the wind that tried to whisk her and Shasta to a halt. Forgetting all about her mother criticizing her for acting like a silly girl, she galloped as fast as she could.
Andi slowed Shasta only to let him catch his breath, then they were off again. Andi knew the land well; some of it used to be Circle C land. When Riley and Andi got married, they got some of the Circle C land, which was now named, Memory Creek Ranch.
Andi and Shasta arrived back at the ranch out of breath and tired, but Andi felt fresh and ready to deal with whatever her mother said at dinner tonight. Standing next to the house, was an alarmed Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King. They stared at Andi as she loped Shasta into the barnyard. Andi was shocked. How would they know she had come home today? She felt terrible for not expecting this and making a fool of herself.
“Mrs. Evans, Mrs. King, I didn’t expect either of you today.” Andi said calmly, dismounting Shasta, who threw his head up in protest of her dismounting. He was certainly happy she had come home to ride him, since she had been gone for two weeks.
“Well, we thought we would pay you a visit now that you had arrived home, but I hadn’t expected to see the same girl I would have seen two weeks ago.” Mrs. Evans scolded, shaking her head dearly.
“What? You thought after one day I’d change completely from a ranch girl to a sophisticated, young, married lady?” Andi pushed Shasta’s mouthy nose back from reaching out at Mrs. Evans.
“Where is Riley? I expected to see the both of you quietly in your new house, yet you haven’t even seemed to explore it yet!” Mrs. King clucked her tongue unapprovingly, “Tsk, tsk.”
Andi loosened Shasta’s cinch and hauled the saddle off without answering to Mrs. King. She set it on the ground and turned to face Mrs. King.
“Riley had to drive the buggy back to town. I suppose he’ll be here soon. We’re heading to my family’s for dinner.” Andi watched Mrs. King nod.
“Then maybe your mother can cure your wild ways. And, teach you to be much more ladylike.” Mrs. Evans shook her head sadly as she and Mrs. King made their way to the buggy and climbed in.
“Remember Andrea, young ladies ride in carriages.” With that, Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King disappeared around the corner without another word.
Andi was furious! As soon as they disappeared out of sight, she picked up the saddle and led Shasta slowly to the barn. All her excitement and fun was gone; vanished! Just like that. Soon, Riley would get back and they would have to head to her family’s house for dinner. Hopefully, Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King wouldn’t stop by the Circle C today.
As expected, Riley showed up the minute after Andi finished brushing down Shasta. Slipping out of Shasta’s stall, Andi dropped the brush into the bucket and headed over to put it in the tack room.
“Hey Andi, how are you doing?” Riley asked, slipping the saddle off his horse, Dakota.
“I’d be better if Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King hadn’t stopped by.” Andi grumbled, not intending for Riley to hear, but he did.
“Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King stopped by? I didn’t see them on my way back from town.” Riley said while locking his appaloosa’s stall door.
“Yes, they think I shouldn’t ride Shasta around the place. They think I should be in the house all the time doing ladylike things! Oh Riley, do I have to?” Andi exasperatingly leaned up against the door to the tack room as Riley hung his saddle.
“I told you, we wouldn’t listen to those busybodies . . .” Riley began.
“But you also said that we were farther from town! But that doesn’t stop the busybodies from coming out to the ranch. The whole town will soon be laughing all about me.” Andi slouched as she and Riley made their way out of the barn.
“Well, then I guess they can have a good laugh. Mrs. King and Mrs. Evans are like your Aunt Rebecca. Since she passed, just pretend they’re your Aunt Rebecca. You have to be nice and ladylike when they’re here, and you can be your old self when they’re gone.” Riley smiled at Andi. “It isn’t all that bad.”
Riley headed for the house and Andi reluctantly followed. “I know you aren’t interested in the house, but I think for your mother’s sake we should at least know what’s in it.” Riley grinned at her as they hurried up the steps.
They explored the house a little. Andi grabbed her soiled dress and moved it out of the way.
I’ll wash it later, Andi thought. She headed back out and was surprised to see Riley was already plopping his hat on and heading out the door.
“Did you get that bored with the house?” Andi asked, laughing hard.
“Ha, no. It’s time to head over to the Circle C for dinner.” Riley opened the door and stepped out, but quickly turned back around. “I’ll hitch the buggy for you, Mrs. Prescott.”
“No!” Andi exploded running after him. “Don’t hitch the buggy please! Let’s just take the horses.” When Andi caught up with Riley, she saw he was joking. He laughed aloud, as he continued to the barn.
“It’s not funny.” Andi mumbled, following Riley to the barn.
Andi headed back into the house to change out of her old split skirt and blouse. I sure hope Mother doesn’t think (like Mrs. Evans and Mrs. King do) that I should quit riding around even though I’m married now. Maybe I should dress a little better than I usually do.
Andi smiled to herself as she pulled her hair into a better braid than her sloppy one, that she had worn all day. Andi also put on her best split skirt and blouse. When she hurried back out, Dakota and Shasta stood next to the house. They were completely tacked up.
Loping up to the ranch, Andi saw ranch hands glance up from their work. Smiles lit their faces; they were surprised to see Andi and Riley back. Sid hurried down the stairs towards Andi and Riley.
“Howdy,” Sid held the horses’ bridles. “You head on into the ranch house, I’ll take care of these horses.”
“Thanks Sid.” Andi called as she and Riley headed to the house. “Mother! We’re back!” She and Riley found their family sitting in the dining room for dinner.
“Andrea! You’re back!” Mother gave her a hug and guided her and Riley into the dining room. Everyone was already in the dining room and already eating. Andi realized she and Riley were late.
“Well, you never do change, do you Andi? Even though you only live an hour away, you’re still late for supper!” Chad called teasingly.
“And that doesn’t matter,” Mother quickly put in, smiling at Andi. “Andrea will always be herself, and she’ll never change.”
Andi smiled happily. Her mother understood her, even with her urge to ride Shasta round the ranch. Andi couldn’t have been happier.
“Yea, she’ll still be late and still riding Shasta around 24-7.” Mitch said, laughing.