Eighteen-year-old Ellen McCoy leaned against the train seat. She pulled the last letter she had got from her father from her bag. She silently read,
I am so glad ya are comin to see me. I will be sure to be there to pick ya up. I have some news for you, your cousin Riley came here to work. He is working with the colts. By golly it sure seemed as if Chad thinks I can't hardly work any more. He's always giving the other hands my usual jobs. He thinks I'm getting old, and can't hardly work. Well I gotta go now. I can't wait to see you.
Ellen thought over the letter. Realizing she was finally going to be with her father after being gone for 10 years, other then a few brief visits. She was thinking of all that had changed in those years, when the train conductor called out that they were coming to Fresno.
That's my stop! She realized.
A few minutes later she was stepping down from the train. She looked around, trying to see if her father was there to meet her. All of a sudden someone touched her arm.
“Ellen, Ellen McCoy?” A young man asked.
“Yes, I'm Ellen McCoy. Who am I speaking too?” She asked hesitantly, turning to him.
“I'm Riley Prescott, your cousin.” The young man said. “Uncle Sid sent me to meet you, he didn't feel up to coming to town. Can I take your bag?”
Ellen handed him the bag, “You’re Riley? How is Pa doing? Please tell me truthfully.” She questioned.
“Woah, slow down. Yes, I'm Riley. Uncle Sid's doing fairly well, just doesn't like having not as much work to do. He sure is excited about you coming though.” Riley said as he led her to a buggy.
“Do you have a trunk?” He asked.
“Yes,” Ellen said. “It should be over there.”
Soon Riley had all the luggage loaded up and they were on their way.
“Well here we are, this is the Circle C ranch. Riley said as they pulled up to the ranch.
Then Ellen saw him, she saw her loving father, Sid McCoy on the bunkhouse porch, waiting for her. As soon as the buggy stopped she forgot that she had been taught to never to jump out of a buggy and not to run. She didn't care if she broke all the rules of etiquette, she couldn't wait a second longer. She ran to her father. He met her with tears in his eyes, giving her a big hug.
“Oh let me see you.” He said pushing her away so he could see her. Then giving her another hug said, “Oh my, you look just like you mother. You've grown so much. I missed you.”
“I missed you too, Pa.” She mumbled, crying into his shirt.
“Oh, what's the matter?” Sid asked concerned.
“Nothing, Pa, I'm just so glad to be here with you. I've missed you so much.” She said.
A few minutes later, Ellen stood up. “I'm sorry if I embarrassed you in front of the other hands, I just missed you so, much and was so worried about you.”
“Aw you didn't embarrasse me, no one is even in the yard. But why were you worried about me? Nothing's the matter with me.” Sid said.
Ellen smiled. “Am I going to be staying with you here in the bunkhouse?” She asked mischievously.
“Land, no, whatever put an idea like that in your mind? Don't you remember me writing you about my getting my own little cabin? You'll stay there and I will stay in the bunkhouse.” Sid said.
“Can't you stay in the cabin too?” She asked.
“No, there ain't hardly enough room for one, not even close enough for two.” He said. “Why it looks like Riley drove the buggy down there so we don't have to worry about the trunk.”
Father and daughter hand in hand, reunited after a nearly 10 years absence, walked across the yard to the small cabin, talking about all the things that had happened.
“Pa, can we go riding? You know how I love to ride.” Ellen asked the next day at breakfast.
“I thought you would want to rest today. But if you are set on going riding, we can. But remember the Carters invited us to supper tonight.” Sid said.
“I know.” Ellen said, just happy to be with her father. “I'll go put my split skirt on, then we can go.”
A few minutes later she was at the barn. She saw a young man standing by a stall with a horse in it. She shyly walked up to him. “Do you know where my father is?”
“Hi, Ellen! Sure been a while sense I saw you last. I think Sid went in the tack room.” The young man said turning to her, whom Ellen then recognized as Mitch Carter.
“Yes, It has been awhile, Mr Carter.” She said awkwardly, not knowing whether to call him Mitch as she always had or Mr. Carter. “Could you point me to the tack room?”
“Its just Mitch, no need for formality. I can show you the way if you want.” He said.
“I don't want to trouble you.” Ellen said.
“No, trouble at all.” He said. He led her down the hall to the tack room. “There you go.” He said.
“Thank you.” She said as she went in the tack room where she found her father.
“Oh Pa, I haven't had so much fun riding since before I went back east. I always had to ride in a park there, now I can ride as fast as I can all out in the open.” Ellen exclaimed.
Sid laughed, “It sure seems like you’re getting a kick out it. Here's a spot that would work great for that picnic lunch you brought.”
Soon they were sitting on a blanket eating and telling stories. Sid was in the middle of a story when they heard hoofbeats going fast. “Ellen, gather the things fast.” He said as he jumped up.
Ellen did as Sid told her, “What is it, Pa?”
“I don't know but it don't sound good.”
Ellen had all the picnic things gathered when Sid yelled, “Stampede! Get on your house and ride.”
Ellen needed no second warning. She jumped on her horse and rode the way Sid pointed her to go. She looked back, she saw her father's horse running with the cattle, but where was her father?
Oh Lord, please don't let anything happen to him. Please. She rode but after looking back again, she stopped. She could see that cows were going a different way and that she was safe now.
But where was her father?
She slowly rode up the back the way she came. She could see the cows had went by. But she didn't see her father, all she saw was a black hump. Oh please, Lord, please let that not be Pa. She rode down the hill calling for her father.
When she got to the bottom of the hill. She could see the hump better. It looked a lot like her Pa. She didn't want to believe it was him, but she was afraid it was. She got off her horse and ran to the hump.
It was her father.
Oh Lord, please let him be alive, please. She carefully rolled him over. She saw that his face was banged up and bleeding and his arm looked broken. She knew that there could be more then that though. She grabbed his wrist and tried to find a pulse.
Just when she thought there wasn't going to be one, she felt one just slightly. Oh, thank you, Jesus!
She was carefully wiping his face when he groaned. “Pa, I'm here.” She said softly.
“Ellen, are you ok?” He slowly said.
“Yes, I'm fine, oh a, I thought I lost you.” Ellen said.
“Ell, can you get me home?”
“I can. But I need to splint your arm and stop the bleeding on your head. After that can you help?”
Ellen took a stick and a piece of her skirt and used them to make a splint for her father's arm. Then she bandaged his head.
She then led her horse to where her father lay. “Pa, you gotta help me get you on my horse.”
Ellen helped Sid to his feet. When he got to his feet he almost fell again. But Ellen held him up. She somehow managed to get him on the horse then she tied his legs under the saddle and his arms to the saddle so he wouldn't fall off. She then slowly led the house in the direction of home.
“Pa, we are almost there. You doing ok?” Ellen asked.
Sid grunted, “I'm fine.”
Though Ellen knew that was far from true, she let him be.
Soon they were at the ranch. Luckily someone was in the yard and saw them. It was Mitch and Chad. They rushed over. “What happened?” They asked.
“There was a stampede and Pa didn't get out of the way fast enough. Can you help me get him down?”
They helped her get Sid down, who had fainted again. They carried him in the cabin. After laying him on the bed, Mitch said he would go get the Dr.
In the hour it took the Dr to get there, Ellen staid by the bedside of her father.
Elizabeth Carter came. When she came she saw that there was nothing they could do till the Dr came. She tried to convince Ellen to eat but she couldn't. She tried to tell her the Sid would be fine, but Ellen wouldn't believe her.
Finally the Dr got there. After examining him, he said that he had a broken arm, a broken rib, and looked like he had hit his head on a rock when he fell. He didn't think that he had got run over just dumped off his horse. He said he should be fine, but it might take awhile for him to heal. He wouldn't be doing much work for a least a month maybe two.
Ellen felt relieved, but at the same time she was worried. Why didn't he wake up? What if he dies? That question pierced her soul. She prayed, Lord, please heal him. Please I need him so. Please.
She was in the middle of her prayer when Sid opened his eyes. “Ell, you got me home.” He said softly but proudly.
Ellen smiled, “How do you feel?”
“My head's pounding and my chest hurts. But I'm mostly hunger. Do ya have any grub?”
“I can get some ready in a moment.” Ellen said as she stood up and went to the little kitchen. She quickly heated up some leftover stew from the night before. She brought him a bowl.
After eating it he laid back down. “Well, what did Doc say?”
“He said you broke your arm, as well as a rib and hit your head on a rock. He said you won't be able to work for a least a month maybe two.” Ellen said softly. “I'll take care of you, Pa.”
“I thought as much.” Sid said sadly.
“Pa, what's the matter?”
“Nothing, I just don't like being hurt. Or getting older.”
Sid slowly got better. Ellen nursed him through it all, even when he least wanted nursing. Finally the Dr said he could ride again. That had been one of Sid's greatest worry, that he wouldn’t be able to ride, or worse that he would be too afraid to ride again. His other worry was that Ellen would get wore out nursing him.
When that day came, Ellen got horses saddled for her and her father. He slowly walked to the horse. He tried not to let it on that he was scared he would fall off. He almost didn't get on.
But he did. He later said it was cuz when he looked over at Ellen with her eyes full of hope, encouraging him that he could do it. Believing that he could do it. That made him want to do it. He wanted to prove to her that she was right. That he could do it.
“I gotta get in the saddle and ride or I never will.” He mumbled.
After fighting that inner battle, he got on his horse. He didn't fall off. His confidence was back again.
“C’mon, Ell! Lets go!” He called as he rode off.
Ellen smiled, her Pa was back. The last few weeks had been tough on him as well as her, she knew that. But she also knew that in those 8 weeks she and her father had grown closer together then they had ever been. It kinda made up for the 10 years she had been gone.
Thank you, Jesus for bringing Pa back! She laughed, “I'm coming!” Then rode off following him.