JEANNIE OF THE 2-BAR-A
What happens when a nine-year-old girl moves from her comfortable city home to an isolated ranch in Wyoming?
Jeannie doesn't want to move, but she discovers that, as frightening as the change seems, it can be an adventure. And the most exciting change that happens to her takes place in a little country church.
® Copyright 1976 by Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, ISBN: 0-8024-3443-6, Used by permission
Jeannie was thinking so hard as she walked toward home that she almost stumbled over the shaggy little brown dog.
"Oh, Muffin!" she exclaimed, as she gathered him up in her arms. "What are you doing so far from home?" Then she noticed that he was shivering. She wiped his feet with her handkerchief and snuggled him under her coat. Protected from the chilly January wind with only his head sticking out, he tried to lick her face.
Jeannie rested her chin on the dog's silky head. "Muffin," she said, "I can talk to you, and you won't tell! There isn't anyone I can talk to, and talking to a dog is better than nothing! Muffin, I'm so worried about Daddy. He has to go to the doctor every week. When he comes home from work, he's so tired he just lies down. Sometimes he doesn't even go to work!"
The dog had stopped trembling now, and Jeannie went on, "Jan lost her daddy last year, and Myrna's father died when she was just a baby. Oh, I couldn't stand it if anything happened to Daddy! I'd better hurry home and see if he's all right!"
She started to run, then slowed down. "But maybe he isn't all right!" she said. "Maybe when I get home, Mother will tell me that Daddy is in the hospital and that he won't ever come back. I don't know if I'm in a hurry to get home or not!"
But all this time she had been walking, and now she had reached her neighbor's gate. She went up the walk and rang the doorbell. "Here's Muffin," she said. "I found him just a couple of blocks this side of the schoolhouse. I'm afraid he'll get lost if he keeps running off like that."
Mrs. King took the little dog from Jeannie's arms. "I fixed the place under the fence where he's been getting out," she said. "He won't have a chance to run off again."
Jeannie went home. She almost hated to open the front door. Then she heard Daddy call, "Hi, J. J!"
"Hi J. J. yourself!" said Jeannie, relieved that he felt like teasing her. She could remember a time when he had been too sick even to talk.
Daddy and Mom were in the living room, and they made room for her between them on the divan.
"I guess we'd better tell the General what we've been talking about," said Daddy, mussing up her blond hair. Then he added, "Why don't you ever comb your hair, Susie Cute?"
"Tell me what?" asked Jeannie. She knew it was something serious, even if Daddy did keep on teasing her.
"Daddy isn't well," Mom explained, "and the doctor says he must move to a drier climate and do some kind of work that will keep him out of doors, that is, when he is well enough to work."
"You mean--go away from here?" gasped Jeannie.
"Yes," said Daddy, "we'll have to move. Your mother has a cousin who lives on a ranch in Wyoming. We thought we would write to him and see if he knows of a ranch for sale near him. Then you and I can both learn to be cowboys. Mom's half one already, I think."
The corners of Jeannie's mouth had started to turn down when Mom said to Daddy, "You'd better rest, dear, while Jeannie helps me get dinner." Jeannie understood. It was too early to start dinner, but she'd have a chance to talk things over with Mom without letting Daddy see how unhappy she was.
"It's going to be hard for you to give up all your friends and the kind of life you've been used to," said Mom, when they were both perched on the stools at the snack bar in the kitchen. "But you would do just anything to help Daddy get well and strong again, wouldn't you?"
Jeannie thought again of Myrna and Jan. "Of course I would!" she answered. "It will be hard to leave the house I've lived in all my life and go somewhere where I've never been before. But I'll try not to let Daddy see that it's hard for me."
"Good girl!" said Mom. "It's going to be harder for Daddy than for you, because he's lived in the city all his life, too. And it isn't as easy to make changes like that when you aren't well. It won't be so hard for me. I lived on a ranch in Wyoming when I was a girl. I know how inconvenient it is to live like that, especially when you're used to a home like ours. But I've done it before, so I can do it again easily, I think. And you'll find that there are some things about living on a ranch that are better than city life."
"Will you tell me about it?" begged Jeannie.
"Not now. Since Daddy hasn't been there either, I think it would be better if we all three talk about it together. We haven't had any real adventures as a family. This will be our big adventure. And now, I'd like for you to go to the store for me. Daddy is a bit discouraged. So I'd like to bake a chocolate cake and fix things he likes best for tonight's dinner. Then after dinner we'll write the letter to my cousin in Wyoming."
"Don't forget that you said I could have Barbara over to play Ping-Pong after dinner!" reminded Jeannie.
"You can play Ping-Pong, and Daddy and I will write the letter," Mom said. "Now, will you run to the store? I need some chocolate and some fresh string beans."
As Jeannie hurried to the store, she looked curiously around her. Those were the same houses that she had passed hundreds of times before, but somehow they looked different now. She was so used to them it seemed she had never really seen them, until today. But pretty soon she wouldn't see them at all anymore, not ever!
Barbara, her best friend, was at the store, so they walked home together.
"What's the matter, Jeannie?" Barbara asked. "You look sort of--well--funny!"
"I guess you'd look funny too, Barbara Ware, if you had to leave Atlanta, Georgia and move way out to Wyoming!"
"Wyoming?" gasped Barbara. "I didn't think anybody lived there but Indians and cowboys!" Jeannie almost laughed at the way Barbara looked.
"My mother lived there when she was a little girl," she said, "and she wasn't an Indian, or a cowboy either!"
"Will you go to school out there?" asked Barbara. "Are you sure they have schools?"
This time Jeannie did laugh. "My mother went to school in Wyoming. She even went to college there one year. They didn't have enough money for her to finish, but the college was there. She's told me lots of things about it. Of course, living on a ranch will be a lot different from living here. I don't know very much about it yet, but she's going to tell Daddy and me. Maybe you can hear about it when you come over to play Ping-Pong."
"Oh, that reminds me," said Barbara, "I can come, but I probably won't get to stay very long. My grandmother and grandfather are coming to visit us. We think they'll get here around seven-thirty, but we don't know for sure. Mother said I could come over; and then, when they come, she'll call up and tell me to come home."
Jeannie turned in at her own gate, and Barbara went on to the third house down the street.
"Oh, Mom!" said Jeannie, half laughing, "Barbara and I walked home from the store together, and I told her that we're going to move to Wyoming. She didn't think anyone lived there but Indians and cowboys. She didn't think there would be any school for me to go to, either!"
"Lots of people have wrong ideas about places they've never been," said Mom. "Usually it's because they've never talked to anyone who has lived there, and they haven't bothered to read about it. I expect you'll be able to tell your friends a lot about the West before we leave. But we're not sure yet that we'll go to Wyoming. It may be Montana or some other state. We'll not decide until we hear from my cousin Will."
At dinner Daddy started singing, "My name is Yean Yonson, I come from Visconsin, I vork on a monkey farm there. I valk on the street, and the people I meet, they ask how I come to be there. And I tell them, my name is Yean Yonson."
"We had a boy in school named Ron Thoeming, and he had a different version of that," said Mom. "He'd sing, 'My name is Ron Thoeming, I come from Wyoming, I work for a sheepherder there'."
"Oh, is that really a song?" asked Jeannie. "I thought it was just something Daddy made up to tease me!"
"Sing the song right for her," said Mother.
So Daddy sang, "'My name is Yon Yonson, I come from Visconsin, I vork in a lumber mill there; I valk down the street, and the people I meet, they ask how I come to be there. And I tell them, my name is Yon Yonson, I come from Visconsin.' "
"Why is there a song like that?" asked Jeannie.
"Well, there were a lot of Swedes and Norwegians in Wisconsin and Minnesota," her father told her, "and they couldn't pronounce the 'juh' sound. They would say 'yuh' every time. They would make their w's sound like v's, too. So that song sort of makes fun of them in a friendly kind of way."
"I had an aunt who came from Sweden," said Mom. "We had some red Jell-O one day, and she asked, 'Why do you call it yellow when it's red?"'
Jeannie began singing, "My name is Yim Yonson, I come from Visconsin, I vork on a turnip farm there," knowing how Daddy hated turnips.
Mom laughed, so Daddy sang, "My name is Yane Yonson, I come from Visconsin, I vork as a dishvasher there."
"Sh!" said Mom. "If our neighbors hear us carrying on like this, they'll start calling us the J. J.'s instead of the Johnsons!"
"Maybe you'd better tell us about life in the West, Mother," said Daddy. "Sort of get us used to the idea of what it's really like out there. Jeannie and I are city folks, you know, and it will be easier for us to make the change if we know what to expect."
"We probably won't have electricity, for one thing," said Mother. "Now stop and think of all the things we do with electricity and then begin to get used to the idea of doing those things without it!"
"What about lights?" asked Daddy.
"You never used an oil lamp, did you?" asked Mother. "I suppose you've seen them, though. We'll have to find a picture and show Jeannie what they look like."
"Your washer uses electricity, doesn't it?" asked Jeannie. "And the iron, and the fan, and the refrigerator. How do people get along without electricity?"
"There's an answer to all that," said Mom, "but if I try to tell you all about everything right now, I won't have time to eat my dinner. So let's eat now. Jeannie, maybe you can find some stories in your books about how the pioneers lived. That will give you some idea of how people get along, although we'll have more conveniences than they had."
Mother and Jeannie had just finished the dishes when Barbara came. The two girls went downstairs to the basement rumpus room to play Ping-Pong, while Jeannie's parents wrote the letter to Cousin Will.
Soon the door to the basement opened, and Daddy stuck his head in. "Telephone for Barb Wire!" he called. Barbara laughed and went to answer it.
If the boys at school called her that it would make her mad, thought Jeannie. But when Dandy does it, she thinks it's funny!
"Good-bye, Jeannie," Barbara called in a minute. "I have to go now."
Jeannie came upstairs, and she and her parents read pioneer stories until bedtime. As Jeannie started to her room, Daddy sang, "I dream of Jeannie in a cowboy hat!"
"In case you don't know, that's a real song too," said Mom. "Only it's supposed to be, 'I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair.' "
Daddy started singing again, "I dream of Jeannie with the dark brown eyes."
The next week seemed a month long to Jeannie. Would Mom's Cousin Will ever write? It would be nice to know just where they were going, and when. Over and over, at school, Jeannie answered the same questions about Wyoming. Even her teacher seemed to think it was wild and uncivilized.
And then, more than a week later, the answer came. Jeannie knew it when she came into the house and saw Mother's dark head and Daddy's blond one bent over a map of Wyoming. Mother was pointing and saying, "2-Bar-A Ranch is just about there."
"What did he say?" Jeannie asked breathlessly.
Mom laughed. "He said he's been wanting to sell his place and move to town," she said. "His older girl is almost ready for high school, and he doesn't want her to board in town to go to school, as so many country girls do. So he wants to know if we can arrange a trade, take over his ranch and let him have our home here in the city. All we have to do now is figure out what everything we both have is worth and work out a deal.
"How soon will we go?" asked Jeannie.
"As soon as we decide how many 2-Bar-A cows they want to trade for this house," said Daddy.
"Why do they call it 2-Bar-A ranch?" asked Jeannie.
"Because that's the brand," her mother told her. "Years ago cattlemen didn't have their cattle fenced in, and they all ran together on the open range. So each cattle owner had his own brand, which was burned on each animal's hide; and they could tell by the brand which cattle and horses belonged to them. Brands are still useful in case livestock stray away from home. It's easy to tell where they belong. The brand 2-Bar-A means a 2 with a line under it and a capital A under that."
Jeannie was glad that she didn't have to help with the figuring that followed. There was the house, the furniture, the money in the bank, and the car; so many acres of land, so many horses, cattle, plows, stacks of hay. She kept hearing about it in the daytime and dreaming about it at night. But at last the deal was made. She heard her mother say that they would have enough money left to get along for a year, if they were careful. And if some emergency came up, they could sell some of the cattle.
Then it was time for more figuring, and Jeannie was in on that. What would they take? What would they leave? Mother and Cousin Will's wife decided by letter that they would leave the kitchen things, dishes, pots and pans and food, except for a few especially nice things that each would want to keep. That saved a good deal of packing. But each family would keep its own sheets and blankets, except for what was on the beds when they left. And Jeannie had so many things! She couldn't possibly take them all. But Cousin Will had an eight-year-old daughter, and she would like the doll things and other playthings that Jeannie could not take. And the boys would enjoy the Ping-Pong set and other games.
They would take the piano and Daddy's violin. They would take all their books, except some of Jeannie's that she had outgrown.
"We'll have to go through all your clothes," Mom said one Saturday morning as Jeannie was getting up. "Virginia may be able to wear the things that you've outgrown."
So Jeannie tried on clothes for what seemed like hours. She had been growing fast, and most of them were either too small already or almost outgrown. She took down the pink dress that had been her favorite last fall. "I hope I can still wear this!" she said.
But when she put it on, her mother said, "Why, that waistline is much too high!" Even Jeannie had to admit that it was.
Finally everything was packed and shipped off, except the things they would need the last few days, which would be carried in their suitcases.
There was a farewell party for Jeannie at school the last day. Afterward, as she walked toward home with her pencils and notebook, she took one long last look at everything. It was late February, and the grass was like green velvet. Flowers were blooming everywhere. The trees were dressed in new pale green leaves. The sun was warm and bright.
"I sure hate to leave this pretty place," thought Jeannie. "I'll bet Wyoming's all bare and ugly!"
Jeannie and her parents ate an early dinner. Then, when the dishes were washed, Jeannie wrote in her diary, "February 27, 1939. This is the last happy day of my life. At midnight we start for Wyoming." Then she locked the diary, put it in her suitcase, and went to bed. They had only a few hours to sleep.
It seemed that Jeannie had just gone to sleep when the light was turned on and Mom was telling her to hurry and dress. While she was putting her pajamas and slippers in her suitcase, Daddy called a taxi to take them to the train station. Then they made sure all the lights were turned off and the doors locked. They would give the keys to Cousin Will in Wyoming.
The coach was not crowded, so each took a seat and stretched out as best he could. Jeannie slept well the rest of the night, but the next day seemed long and tiresome. She read and worked word puzzles when she got tired of watching the scenery. Daddy seemed too tired to talk much. When night came, it was hard to settle down to sleep.
When Jeannie woke up next morning, Daddy was studying a timetable and a map and reading the names of the towns on the stations they passed.
"Where are we, Daddy? Are we in Wyoming?" asked Jeannie.
"No, not yet," said Daddy. "We are just in Nebraska. After we cross a little corner of South Dakota, we will be in Wyoming."
Jeannie sat up and looked out the window too. "Is that snow?" she asked. "That white stuff there between the hills?"
"Yes," said Mom. "Spring doesn't come as early in this country. We may see a lot of snow before warm weather."
After a while they ate the last of the lunch that Mom had packed before they left home. This trip was different from the one they took to California two years before. On that trip they had traveled in a Pullman car and eaten in the diner. But they were trying to save all the money they could on this trip.
Mom kept looking out the window, and Jeannie could tell that she was remembering things about he places they passed through.
It's sort of like she's coming back home, thought Jeannie.
It was a long way between towns, and most of them were very small. But at last Mom said, "We're almost there!"
As they pulled into the station, Jeannie looked around. She knew at once that the man in overalls, a blue denim jacket, and a big felt cowboy hat was Cousin Will. He looked just like Mom had described him.
"Did our things come through?" asked Mom, when they had greeted Cousin Will.
"Yes, your piano came in last week, and the trunks and things got here yesterday. They are all out at the ranch."
Jeannie looked around for a car to ride in, but Cousin Will was leading the way toward a battered old pickup truck. They piled the luggage they had brought with them into the back. Then they' all crowded into the cab. Jeannie had to sit on Mom's lap. They drove over what seemed a hundred miles of rough, rutty, frozen dirt road. All Jeannie could see was bluish gray sagebrush, light green cactus, and patches of snow. There were few buildings.
"So this is Wyoming!" she thought unhappily. "Bare and ugly, just as I thought!"
In about an hour they came to the ranch. Jeannie looked for the house. She almost overlooked it because it was so low and so near the color of the ground around it.
"I'm glad it's a sod house," Mom was saying. "They're so much warmer in winter and cooler in summer than a frame house. But I didn't know anyone still lived in a soddy."
"This is probably the last one where people live," said Cousin Will, "though I know some ranchers who have them and use them for chicken coops. We talked about building a frame house but decided against it. It doesn't take much fuel to heat these in the winter, and that's a big item in this country. I've got a little coal mine over in the next gulch. It's not very good coal, but it will keep you warm. All the wood around here is cottonwood, and it doesn't amount to much."
Cousin Emily and the children came out to welcome them. Kay was almost fourteen, Bill twelve, Jim ten, and Virginia eight. They all had blond hair and freckles. Jeannie wondered how long it would take this country family to fit into life in the city. Then she began to wonder if she, a city girl, would ever fit into country life!
Inside, the house was pleasant but different. Jeannie noticed the wide windowsills, and realized how thick the walls must be. She had never seen such wide floorboards. The braided and crocheted rugs on them were rather pretty. She wondered if Cousin Emily had made them. One end of the long room was the kitchen, and this part had linoleum on the floor.
Daddy was tired after the long trip and decided to lie down. So Cousin Will suggested that he show Mom and Jeannie around the place, while Cousin Emily got dinner. Dinner! It was not yet even noon! Then Jeannie remembered that Mom had told her about the meals on a ranch. They were called breakfast, dinner, and supper; instead of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as Jeannie was used to.
Bill and Jim went out to catch chickens for dinner, Kay stayed in the house to help her mother, and Virginia decided to keep Jeannie company while they looked over the ranch. But Virginia was so bashful that she wasn't much company. And Jeannie was so homesick that she didn't have much to say to Virginia either.
"Better say 'good-bye' to Bud, Virginia," said Cousin Will, as a brown-and-white pony trotted up to them. "He'll be carrying Jeannie after today."
Jeannie noticed the brand mark on the pony: a 2 with a line under it, and a capital A under that, just as Mom had told her. Later she was to see the same brand on all the ranch livestock.
Virginia threw her arms around the pony's neck and buried her face in his mane. Jeannie knew that she was crying. Then suddenly the little girl crawled up on the pony's back, and he galloped around the pasture. Jeannie gasped. She had never seen anyone ride before without a saddle and bridle. When they came back, the wind had dried the tears from Virginia's eyes. She slid off, gave the pony one more pat, then turned away from him.
She feels just as bad about leaving her home as I do, thought Jeannie. I wish we didn't have to change places!
Jeannie wasn't interested in barns and sheds and cattle and machinery. They wandered off to a hayfield where Virginia climbed up on a haystack and slid off. Jeannie decided to try it, also. It was fun, but she wondered what Mom would say when she saw how her clothes looked.
Jeannie looked around. Mom and Cousin Will had gone on. For a minute she thought Virginia was gone, too. The house and barns were out of sight. Close by was a little creek, and on either side were high dirt banks. Jeannie was lost, and she hadn't been on the ranch more than an hour! But then Virginia came out from behind the haystack. "Race you to the house!" she said.
Jeannie could have run faster, but she had to follow Virginia at first to know which way to go. When they came in sight of the house, she ran as fast as she could; and they reached the kitchen door together. What good smells there were inside! Jeannie suddenly realized that she was hungry. She hadn't had a cooked meal since the day before yesterday. Daddy must have smelled the dinner too, for he came out of the bedroom looking more rested and sat down on the old sofa by the little round heating stove.
Jeannie knew that she would just get hungrier if she stayed around those tantalizing smells, so she asked Virginia, "Will you show me the house?" There really wasn't much to see. The combined kitchen and living room was the biggest room. There were three bedrooms. Mom's piano had been rolled into the largest one.
"Mamma thought you might like to make a living room out of this room, since you don't need as many bedrooms as we do," explained Virginia. "And it didn't seem right to put that nice piano in the kitchen!"
There was a little room at the back of the house, piled high with odds and ends. "Mamma wanted to get this all cleaned out before you came," said Virginia. .'But she didn't have time. But I think if I didn't know what's in here, it would be fun to dig around and see. We put your trunks and suitcases here at this side, so you can get at them when you want them."
"It will be fun to see what's in here," agreed Jeannie. "We left a lot of stuff, too. We thought you might want some of the things, so we just left it like it was. Mom said whatever you didn't want you could get rid of. I left some dolls and things in my room too. Mom said you'd probably like to have them."
When the two families gathered around the big table, Jeannie thought she had never tasted better food. She was afraid Mom and Daddy wouldn't be able to enjoy it, because they were so busy talking things over with Cousin Will and Cousin Emily.
"I don't suppose I'll know how to use half the electrical appliances in the house," Cousin Emily said.
"Oh, Jane took out all the instructions and put them with the different appliances," said Daddy.
"And if there's anything you still don't understand, ask the woman in the big white house next door," said Mom. "She moved in from the country two or three years ago, and her husband bought her a number of electrical appliances right away. She wasn't too sure how to use some of them, so I showed her. I told her about you, and she'll be more than glad to help you in any way she can."
"And if you run up against something you can't handle here on the ranch," said Cousin Will, "ask Fred Bergstrom on the ranch east of here. They're always willing to help out whenever they can. He's going to drive us to town this afternoon to catch our train."
"I wondered if you wanted me to drive you in," Mom said. "I knew if I took you in the pick-up, the children would have to ride in the back."
After the last bite of mince pie was gone, Kay and Virginia did the dishes. Cousin Emily showed Mom around the house. Then as they started for the cellar outside where the vegetables and canned goods were stored, Mom said, "You'd better come along too, Jeannie. You'll need to know where things are. You're going to have to help with the housework, because I'll have to take care of things outside until Daddy gets stronger."
"I left a lot of old clothes in the storeroom," explained Cousin Emily, when they came back from the cellar. "You probably won't want to wear your good things out in the barnyard, so they may come in handy."
Then the Peterson family changed their clothes, and Cousin Will put the dog in a crate. Cousin Emily packed some things in a suitcase, and then Mr. Bergstrom came for them. He was a giant of a man with a friendly smile, and the Johnsons liked him at once.
Jeannie was sure that even Mom had a sinking feeling as Cousin Will, Cousin Emily, and the four children crowded into the big car and rode away. Here they were, just the three of them, on their own on a strange ranch. Daddy was not well, Jeannie was just a homesick little girl, and Mom had not been on a ranch for fifteen years. How would they get along?
|3||A New Kind of Life|
"Well, we can't stand here all day!" said Mom, giving herself a little shake. "There's work to be done. And we're going to have to figure out what we had better do first. Daddy, you'd better rest. Jeannie and I will unpack what we'll need for tonight. Then we'll feed the chickens and get the milk cows in. Then perhaps we'd better eat supper before I milk and separate the skim milk from the cream. Jeannie can wash the dishes and maybe help me feed the calves."
It didn't take long to unpack nightclothes and toothbrushes, because they had all been put in the suitcases they carried on the train. Daddy and Mom decided to use the middle-sized bedroom. Jeannie had the little one. Perhaps they would use the largest one for a living room, when they had time to fix it up.
Neither Mom nor Jeannie had clothes suitable for taking care of cows and chickens, so they explored the clothes hanging on the wall in the storeroom. Jeannie put on a pair of Jim's old overalls, a jacket of Bill's, and a pair of rubber boots that must have belonged to Virginia. Then she added a stocking cap and went to look at herself in the mirror. Mom put on an old skirt and a three-quarter-length coat, high boots and a stocking cap. Then they went to show Daddy how his family dressed on the ranch.
Jeannie decided that it was fun to feed the chickens and hunt for eggs. Mom helped her, since this was the first time, but after this it would be Jeannie's job. Then they both went after the cows.
"I think this will be your job too, after a few days," said Mom. "Then I can be getting supper, and we can eat as soon as you get in. When you learn to ride, it will be easier.
Jeannie was afraid of the cows. They seemed good-natured, but they were so big! She had heard Mom tell of walking on crutches for a week after one had stepped on her foot. Jeannie wasn't letting any cow get close enough to step on her!
When the last cow was tied in her place and given a forkful of hay, Mom and Jeannie dragged themselves to the house.
"I'm so tired I'd like to go to bed!" moaned Jeannie.
"Please don't talk about it!" begged Mom. "I'd like to eat supper and go to bed. But I have to get supper and then milk the cows, separate the milk, and feed the calves yet."
When they reached the kitchen, they found a surprise. Daddy had set the table and warmed some of the leftovers from dinner. He was trying to cut a loaf of bread when they came in, but most of his slices were very thick on one end and very thin on the other.
"I wish I could watch Mom milk," said Jeannie after supper. "I've never seen anyone milk a cow."
"You run along," said Daddy. "I think I can take care of these dishes."
Jeannie watched as Mom got a milking stool and a pail and prepared to milk the first cow. But the cow kept switching her tail around Mom's neck. "Will you hold her tail for me?" she asked Jeannie.
Jeannie was afraid, but she decided to try it. She found that holding a cow's tail was not easy. Every now and then the tail would be pulled out of her hands and wrapped around Mom's neck again. Finally Mom took a rope and tied the tail to the cow's hind leg.
The tiger cat came into the barn and sat near Mom with her mouth open. Mom laughed as she squirted milk into her open mouth. But her aim wasn't very good, and the cat had to wash her whole face.
Jeannie noticed that Mom stopped milking every now and then and opened and closed her fingers as if to rest them.
"Milking is hard work when you haven't done it for fifteen years," said Mom. "I expect Cousin Will, Kay, and the boys made short work of the milking. But I'm slow and just one person, and it takes me a long time."
When the cows were finally milked and turned out, Mom left Jeannie to guard the rest of the milk while she took two big pails to the house. The tiger cat and the gray kitten crowded in toward the milk pails, and Jeannie pushed them away with her foot. She heard a rustling sound under one of the mangers. She turned to see two little beady eyes and a little pointed nose. The cats heard or smelled it too, and dashed for the manger. But the mouse disappeared, and the cats came back to beg for milk.
When the milk had all been carried into the kitchen, Mom fastened a cloth over the separator bowl and poured milk through it until the bowl was full. Then she turned the handle at a steady rate of speed. Jeannie wanted to try, but it was hard to turn it just so. Mom let her turn it while she poured in more milk. It was fun to watch the little trickle of cream come out of one spout, and the stream of skim milk come out of the other. When a pail was full, Mom had Jeannie hold an empty pail above it to catch the milk. Then Mom turned the separator handle with one hand and moved the full pail away with the other. The skim milk pails had a high, white frosting of foam on them.
When the milk was all separated, Mom put the cream into the pantry and carried the skim milk to the calves. Jeannie brought a little pail of skim milk for the cats. Both cats tried to crowd into the dish and Jeannie had a hard time pouring the milk without getting it on their heads. Mom had a hard time with the calves. Two or three little heads would try to crowd into one pail. Finally, six calf noses were each poked into a separate pail. One calf finished his milk and raised the pail on his nose to lick the last drop. There was no more so he threw the pail away, disgusted. Three more calves threw their pails. Then they tried to get some of the milk that belonged to the other two. After they had all finished, Jeannie helped her mother stack the calf pails outside their pen and carry the milk pails back to the house.
"Now can we go to bed?" asked Jeannie.
"After we wash the separator and the milk pails," Mom told her wearily.
When Jeannie finally got to bed, she was so tired that she went to sleep at once. She dreamed about cats throwing milk pails into the air and calves sliding down haystacks. But it all seemed perfectly natural. Anything could happen in a place like this!
Daylight was just beginning to creep through the windows when a strange noise awoke Jeannie. For a moment she did not remember where she was. Then she hurried out of bed and into her parents' room. She was still half-asleep, and it was quite dark yet. She was not yet familiar with the house, so she had a hard time finding their room. When she reached it she was quite upset.
"Oh, Mom, what is that noise?" she asked, almost in tears.
Mom turned over sleepily and listened. "Do you mean that yipping sound?" she asked. "That's just coyotes. They're at least half a mile away. They won't hurt you. Go on back to sleep. We don't have to get up for an hour yet."
But Jeannie didn't go back to sleep. She lay and watched the daylight creep in until her room got light. She longed for her own room back in the city. It was much prettier than this. She wondered if she would ever have time to read her books, or play with her dolls, or play the piano. Perhaps she would just have to work all the time, at least until Daddy got well again. She had thought so many unhappy thoughts that she was almost crying when Mom called her for breakfast.
Daddy had had a good night's sleep and was feeling better. After breakfast they left the dishes until the separator was ready to wash too. Daddy came out to watch the milking. Jeannie laughed when she saw the old clothes he put on. He was almost as nervous around the cows as she was, but he patiently held tails while Mom milked. She got through quicker when she didn't have to stop and tie each tail.
Then Jeannie fed the chickens, and looked for eggs, and Daddy came along to see how it was done. Jeannie felt very wise because she knew more about the ranch than Daddy. They all drove the cows out to the pasture. Then Mom separated the milk, and they all went together to feed the calves and cats. It was nicer when the whole family did things together. Then Jeannie and Daddy washed the dishes while Mom made the beds and tidied up the house.
"Where will Jeannie go to school?" asked Daddy.
"The schoolhouse is about three miles down the road," said Mom. "Jeannie will have to start to school on Monday."
Suddenly Jeannie was homesick again. She wished she were back in her own school. She thought of all the special things they did on Fridays, her friends, and the good times she'd had. But now she was going to a new school, and she wouldn't know anyone.
"Come, Jeannie, we'd better unpack all we can today and tomorrow," called Mom. "You won't have so much time to help me after you start to school."
Unpacking suitcases was easy, but finding a place to put everything wasn't. They finished most of the unpacking before it was time to get dinner. After dinner, Jeannie and Mom finished the suitcases and started on the trunks. Daddy rested and played his violin, and joked with Jeannie about her dolls needing new cowboy outfits.
Daddy said he felt so much better that he could help Jeannie drive the cows home and feed the chickens while Mom got supper. They finished the chores sooner and got to bed earlier. But Jeannie couldn't see how Mom could get along without her on Monday.
On Saturday they unpacked the trunks and put everything away. Then they put the empty suitcases inside the empty trunks to save room in the overcrowded storeroom. Mom baked a cake for Sunday.
Supper was early Saturday night, and chores were done quickly. Daddy joked about the Saturday night ordinance of the great American home. Jeannie wondered what he was talking about. Then Mom reminded her that there was no bathroom in their new home, and a washtub would have to take the place of a bathtub.
Daddy decided that the end of the kitchen near the cook stove had been used for a bathroom before. A wire was fastened across the room and a sheet hung on it with safety pins, serving as a partition. So Mom set the biggest washtub in that corner, poured in the hot water from the teakettle and added enough cold water to make it just right. Jeannie had her first bath without running water. After she had gone to bed, she heard her parents arguing jokingly about whose turn was next. Finally Mom decided that since she was so tired and would like to go to bed, she would take the next bath. Then Jeannie drifted off to sleep but woke up later when Daddy yelled, "Jane!"
"What is it, Tarzan?" Mom called sleepily.
"This tub's too small! I can't keep the water in it!"
"Mop it up with the towel Jeannie used. It can't hurt the linoleum unless you spill so much that it runs under the edges!"
Jeannie knew nothing else until time to get up.
Sunday morning they decided to do chores before eating breakfast. Since there was no church to go to, no one was in a hurry to leave the breakfast table. They just sat around it and talked. Jeannie and Daddy told what things seemed most strange to them, and Mom told how much nicer their home was than the one where she had lived as a girl.
"Why, we even have a sink here," she said. "There's a well beside the house, and a pump at the sink. And Cousin Will has fixed a drainpipe from the sink so the used water drains down the creek bank. When I was a girl, we had to carry our drinking water from a spring. We caught rainwater from the roofs of the house and barns and used that for washing, cleaning, and bathing. We had to carry it in from big tanks, and we had to carry all the dirty water out.
"We didn't have a nice house like this, either. We had one small room, and I slept in a loft overhead. One night I heard little squeaks all night long, and in the morning I discovered that I had a nest full of baby mice for neighbors.
"Mother washed all our clothes on a washboard. But I see Cousin Emily had a washer with a gasoline motor. If I can learn to work the thing, it will be a big help.
"We didn't have good lights, just the regular little kerosene lamps. We have an aladdin lamp here, which gives a much better light. I see there is a gasoline lantern, too. They make a very bright light. I'm not sure how to use it, so I'll have to ask someone to show me about it."
"I tried to take the ashes out of the stove this morning," said Daddy. "They flew all over the place. I wonder if I'll ever learn to take out ashes and get them all into the pail. I forgot to put more coal in the stove, too, when you folks were out doing chores."
"I can't get used to the wind blowing all the time," said Jeannie.
"I'm afraid it's blowing up a storm," said Mom. "This is only the beginning of March, and we could have a lot of snow yet."
In the afternoon Jeannie tried to read. Then she tried to play the piano, but she wasn't much interested in either. Tomorrow she would start school. What would school be like in a place such as this?
|4||School on the Prairie|
Jeannie woke up in the night and pulled up the folded quilt that Mom had laid on the foot of her bed. In the morning her face felt so cold that she dreaded to get out from under the warm covers.
"Come out into the kitchen and dress by the stove," suggested Mom. "Put on your work clothes now, because you'll have to help me with chores before you go to school."
It was still dark, and the cold wind stung their faces as they stepped out of the door. Jeannie could see bits of white blowing about in the light from the lantern. Snowflakes!
After breakfast Daddy decided that he wanted to see the schoolhouse too. He drove the pickup, Jeannie sat in the middle, and Mom sat on the other side so she could open the gates. There were three gates before they came to the main road. After two miles of bumping along over the rutty, frozen road, they reached the schoolhouse.
Daddy would have driven right on past if Mom hadn't said, "Here it is!" Jeannie looked, and blinked, and looked again. That's the schoolhouse? Why, it looked just like a small white house, with lots of windows in an even row along the side. There was a fenced-in yard but no playground equipment. There was a low barn and other outbuildings.
"The Prairieville Academy!" exclaimed Daddy.
"Most of the children ride horses to school," explained Mom. "They keep their horses in the barn in cold weather."
Daddy stopped the pickup, and they all walked through the gate and into the schoolyard. Jeannie noticed that the other side of the building looked just the same as the side she had seen first, except that the windows were boarded up. They went through an entrance in which was a huge stack of chunks of wood and on into the schoolhouse.
It was early, and the teacher had been there only long enough to get the fire started. She was standing with her coat and overshoes on, holding her cold hands over the barely-warm stove. She was rather stout and very friendly looking. Mom stepped forward.
"We're Mr. and Mrs. Jim Johnson," she said, "who have just taken over the Will Peterson ranch, and this is our daughter, Jeannie. She's ready her first day in a country school."
"I'm Ruth Williams," said the teacher. "We missed the Peterson children the last few days. I' glad we'll have a new girl to help take their places.
Jeannie didn't listen to what they said after that. She was too busy looking around the room. There were two rows of different-sized desks. The teacher's desk stood at the front of the room. Behind it was a blackboard, the full length of the front wall. Bookcases were built in front of the boarded-up windows. On the wall between them hung maps and charts and pictures. At the back of the room was a low table on which stood a water pail and a long-handled dipper, a washpan, and a row of cups and glasses. At the front of the room, standing against the wall between the blackboard, and the nearest bookcase was a piece of furniture that didn't look like anything Jeannie had ever seen before. The long, low stove, the box of wood, and buckets of coal looked like nothing she had ever seen in a schoolhouse.
Jeannie thought of the school from which she had come: the many rooms, the comfortable temperature, the drinking fountains, the washbowls, and other conveniences; and she wished desperately that she were back there.
Then Mom and Daddy left, and Miss Williams suggested, "Shall we take our coats off now? It's warming up in here."
While Jeannie was hanging up her coat, the other children began to come in; and Miss Williams introduced her to them. First were Jack and Betty Bergstrom from the next ranch. Jack was fourteen and in the eighth grade. He had missed so much school the year before, because his father was ill, that he had felt it best to repeat the eighth grade. Betty had just passed her tenth birthday and was in the fourth grade, like Jeannie. They were both red-haired and freckle-faced. Jack must be as tall as Daddy, thought Jeannie.
Bob Pittman came in next. He was big and fat and jolly looking. He was eleven, but it had been too hard work to pass to the next grade every year, so he was still in the fourth.
The Owens children came in last of all. Alice was in the sixth grade. She was dark-haired and big for her age. Sidney, small and wiry, was in the fifth grade. Joanne was in the second grade and rather large for a seven-year-old. Billy Bob, a first grader, looked like a little doll with his curly blond hair and big blue eyes.
Each one set down a shiny pail on the long, low table at the back of the room. Suddenly Jeannie realized that they were lunches, and Mom had forgotten to pack one for her! The very thought of not eating until supper time made her hungry. But it was time for school to begin. It was rather interesting to see what would go on in such a place.
Miss Williams gave Jeannie the seat that Jim Peterson had used. Then they all stood and saluted the American flag and sang a verse of "America." After that they repeated the Lord's Prayer together and sat down. Miss Williams took out a book. She explained to Jeannie that she always read a story for a few minutes after school started, and told her briefly what had happened in the first few chapters of the book. Jeannie enjoyed the story of a huge Saint Bernard dog and wondered impatiently what would happen next. It was an old book, one of the Little Colonel series, and Miss Williams saw several of the children smiling whenever she read what the heroine said.
"What is it, Alice?" she asked, as she closed the book.
"Jeannie talks like the Little Colonel," said Alice with a grin.
"Why, so she does," said Miss Williams. "The Little Colonel was a southerner, and Jeannie is too. Wouldn't it be a dull sort of world if we all talked and did everything just alike?"
Jeannie wondered how they could have so many grades of school in one room with just one teacher. She soon discovered that the classes took turns and that those who were not reciting were supposed to be studying. But it was hard to study with so much going on. She wondered if she would ever learn anything in this school.
The fourth graders were to study the life of Israel Putnam for their history lesson. Jeannie found it a fascinating story. When class time came, Miss Williams suggested that they take turns telling the brave acts of this man. Jeannie told how he crawled alone into a wolf's den and captured the wolves. Betty told of his bravery in battle during the Revolutionary War. Bob scratched his head, sighed a little, and said, "Well, then he got married!" Miss Williams and the girls laughed.
At recess time it was so cold that no one wanted to play outside. So Miss Williams and the big boys opened the windows and they all did exercises for a few minutes. Then they closed the windows again and played earth-air-sea until time to get back to work.
The morning dragged on. Once or twice Jeannie caught herself enjoying school, but then she remembered how homesick she was and determined not to like anything at all.
At last the clock showed that it was time for lunch. Jeannie wished that she could hide somewhere so no one would know that she didn't have any. Just then there was a knock at the door. When Miss Williams opened it, Jeannie heard Daddy say, "Mom thought Jeannie would like a hot lunch today. Tell her not to try to eat all those doughnuts herself but to pass them around."
As the other boys and girls took their lunches to their desks, Jeannie opened the two sacks her father had brought. One was full of fresh doughnuts. In the other were two pieces of fried chicken, two fresh biscuits with butter and jelly, and a big apple. The chicken and biscuits were delicious. As Jeannie passed the doughnuts, she caught herself almost having a good time. Only her resolution to stay miserable kept her from enjoying herself thoroughly.
At one o'clock everyone settled down again, and Miss Williams read for ten minutes. The fourth grade had their language lesson afterward. Miss Williams told them to pretend that they were writing letters to the authors of their favorite stories or poems. Jeannie thought hard for a minute. Then she began a letter to Lewis Carroll. It would be fun to pretend that she could tell him why she liked Alice in Wonderland.
Bob, who sat in front of Jeannie, looked at his reading book for a minute, then began to write. Miss Williams, passing by to see how they were getting along, smiled as she glanced at Bob's paper. Jeannie's curiosity got the best of her. She got up to sharpen her pencil and walked slowly past Bob's desk so she could see his paper. Then she knew why Miss Williams had smiled. The first story in the reader was about William Tell, and no author's name was given. Instead there were the words, Swiss Tradition. Bob had begun his letter, "Dear Swiss Tradition"!
Fine snow had been sifting down all morning, but in the afternoon the weather turned warmer and the snow came thick and fast. By four o'clock it was hardly possible to see out of the windows because the soft, wet snow stuck to the glass. Miss Williams opened the door to see how deep it was. Then she suggested that Jack and Bob saddle all the horses and bring them to the door.
Jeannie wondered how she was to get home. Surely Daddy couldn't drive the pick-up in all that snow! Miss Williams offered to take her home behind the saddle on the horse she rode, but Jeannie was afraid of that big, black horse. While they were talking about it, another big black horse came in sight. Mom was in a big wooden box with runners under it and a high seat behind the horse. A sled! Mom had a warm fur robe over her lap.
"Oh, Mom, thank you for that good lunch!" said Jeannie, when she was settled beside Mom, sharing the lap robe.
"I hope you didn't worry about not having any, said Mom. "I decided last night that I'd have a hot lunch for you today, but I forgot to tell you. Then I worried because I was afraid you'd worry about it. Today is mail day, and someone needed to go to the mailbox. So I just had Daddy come on over here too." Then she asked, "How did you like school today?"
Jeannie had been dreading that question. She knew that she would have had a good time, some of the time anyway, if she had let herself. And she didn't really want Mom to feel bad because she was unhappy.
"It was lots different from my school back home," she said and then hurried to change the subject. "Mom, Jack Bergstrom is in the eighth grade! Doesn't he belong in junior high?"
"I know you're used to having six grades in elementary school, and then junior high for the next three grades and senior high for the three after that," said Mom. "But when I went to school, the elementary schools always included the first eight grades, and then high school was the next four. Later some schools, especially in the cities, started putting a junior high in between for the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades. Then senior high was for tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. But many country schools still follow the old plan. These country children have to go to high school in town, if they go at all, so some of them wouldn't get much education if the country schools ended at the sixth grade!"
There was no time for anything but work when they got home. Jeannie was tired when she went to bed but too unhappy to sleep for a while.
I don't want to live here the rest of my life and do nothing but work! she thought. I know what I'll do! I'll write to Barbara and tell her how horrible it is here, and how I miss my old school. Maybe her folks will write and ask me to come and stay with them the rest of this school year at least. I'm sure they will, when they find out how much I hate Wyoming! Jeannie fell asleep planning what she would say in the letter.
But when she woke up the next morning, she knew that she wouldn't go away, even if she had a chance. Mom needed her. She couldn't do all that work by herself. And she wanted Daddy to get well. It was worth working all the time if only he could be well and strong again. She'd stay, but she didn't expect to enjoy it!
|5||Jeannie Fits In|
It had gotten colder in the night; and when Mom and Jeannie opened the door, they found a wall of snow. "And all the shovels are in the shed!" lamented Mom.
"Except the fire shovel," said Daddy, coming up behind them with the little shovel they used to take ashes out of the stove. He swung it at the wall of snow. The shovel and his arm went through, making a hole.
"Oh, it's just drifted over the door," said Mom. "It's not really that deep. Maybe we can push out and get the shovels."
Mom wouldn't let Daddy shovel snow, so Jeannie did what she could while Mom milked and Daddy got breakfast. It was hard work, and she couldn't make much of a path, but Mom did manage to get through with the milk pails. Then they ate breakfast. While Mom separated milk and fed the calves, and Jeannie got ready for school, Daddy packed a lunch for her.
"I'll be glad when you learn to ride Bud," said Mom, as they rode along in the sled. "I'll have to feed the stock that's out on the range. They can't get food from under this snow. This would be a good time for you to learn to ride. The pony couldn't go very fast in this snow; and if you fell off, you'd land in a snowdrift and wouldn't get hurt."
But Jeannie didn't want to ride the pony. She didn't want to do any of the things that had to be done when one lived on a ranch on the prairie. All she wanted was to go back to Atlanta.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday dragged by. Jeannie was getting used to being in the same schoolroom with five other grades. She was glad that she was in the fourth grade because there were two other fourth graders. All the others were alone in their grades.
She hurried to finish her lessons while the other classes were doing something that did not interest her. Then she could listen to the stories they read in their reading periods.
Sometimes the weather was very cold, and sometimes it warmed up a little, but always it snowed. When it was warm, the snow on the ground settled down into a solid mass, and more big, moist snowflakes packed down on top. When it was cold, the snow that fell was light and powdery. The horses had a hard time getting through the snow to the schoolhouse. Mom looked a little more tired each evening when she came after Jeannie. Jeannie knew that she had to work her way through the snow to the haystacks to feed the range cattle.
Betty tried to be friendly, but Jeannie didn't give her much chance. Little Joanne admired Jeannie's city clothes and city ways and tried to be like her. Alice thought Jeannie was stuck up and didn't want anything to do with her. Little Billy Bob adored her. "I wike you, Deannie!" he said. Ten-year-old Sid started calling her Little Colonel, and kept it up when he saw she didn't like it. Quite often Bob called her that too. Jeannie felt very lonesome and out of place, and longed for summer vacation.
Friday started out much as usual, except that it had warmed up in the night and a warm wind was blowing from the south. The sky was clear and blue, and the sun shone brightly. Even on the way to school Jeannie and Mom could tell that the snow was getting softer.
After lunch, Jeannie came in from out of doors to find the rest gathered at the front of the room around the strange piece of furniture. Miss Williams had raised its cover; and there were black and white keys, just like those on the piano, except there were not as many of them. Jeannie hadn't thought that that funny-looking thing might be a musical instrument.
"What a funny piano!" she said, without stopping to think.
The boys and girls laughed, but Miss Williams explained, "It's a pump organ, Jeannie. You play it like a regular organ, but you have to pump those pedals at the bottom all the time to make it play. Kay always played it for us. We have a music period on Friday afternoon, but it's hard to sing without an instrument. The girls wanted to have it open even though we can't use it."
"Can Jeannie play it?" asked Jack.
"I don't know," said Jeannie. "I can play the piano some, but I don't think I'd know how to work my feet on those pedals."
"Come on, Jack! Let's pump for her," said Betty.
So Betty stood on one side and Jack on the other, and each worked a pedal with one foot. At first they had a little trouble making their feet move just right, but soon the sound came out smoothly as Jeannie played. She sat on a big dictionary on Miss Williams' chair and felt like a queen on a throne. They kept her playing until time for school to begin again, then they took their places while Miss Williams read to them. After that they had a half-hour music period, with the whole school gathered around the organ. Jeannie decided that she must learn to pump it herself. It was hard for Betty and Jack to pump the pedals properly and sing at the same time.
At recess time even Alice begged Jeannie to play again. Kay had just played the songs in the book. Jeannie knew pieces that they had never heard, and they liked them.
Jeannie was so busy thinking of music they would like that she forgot to be homesick. Here was something she could do to make the others happy, and she was having the time of her life. Miss Williams purposely turned her back on the clock and did not call them back to their desks until a half-hour had passed.
Before it seemed possible that it could be four o'clock, Miss Williams was telling them to put their work away. Jeannie looked at the clock. It was only three-thirty. Miss Williams saw her puzzled look and explained, "We get out a half hour early on Fridays."
"Does Mom know that?" asked Jeannie. "She won't come after me until four."
After they were dismissed, Jack asked, "Why don't you let us take you home? It's no farther for us to go by your house. Betty's pony will carry double. You could ride with her."
Jeannie thought it would be fun to get home early and surprise Mom. And it would save Mom the trouble of coming after her. Somehow she wasn't as afraid to ride now as she had been before.
Jack boosted Jeannie behind Betty, and she held on tight around Betty's waist. The sun shone brightly, and the snow was soft and sloppy. The horses picked their way through it slowly. Jeannie was glad they couldn't hurry. She felt high in the air, almost as high as the top of a house. She looked up at Jack's big sorrel. How would it feel to be on a horse like that? she wondered.
Betty was excited about Jeannie's playing. She wanted very much to learn to play. They had an organ at home, but no one could play it. She wondered why Jeannie hadn't been playing Kay's organ.
"Mom has a piano," said Jeannie, "but there isn't any pump organ in our house that I know of. I've never seen one besides that one at school. That's why I didn't know what it was."
"Don't you remember?" asked Jack. "Kay and Bill were talking about the piano coming. They said they pushed the organ off in the storeroom, because they didn't think anyone would want an old organ around when they had a nice piano."
"We haven't had time to look in the storeroom much yet," said Jeannie. "We've been too busy. But things are piled so high in there that I guess an organ could be in there, too."
They had reached the road that led to the 2-Bar-A. Jack vaulted off his horse and opened the gate. The girls rode through. Jack followed them, leading his horse and pulling the gate closed. Jeannie wondered how she would ever manage those gates if she did learn to ride Bud to school. She had never seen such gates until she came to Wyoming. Each gate was just three or four upright poles, with barbed wire nailed to them. The gate looked like another section of the fence. One end was fastened to the fence, but the other end was free and had a longer pole on it. The gatepost had two loops of wire sticking out, one at the top and the other at the bottom. The bottom of the pole had to be slipped into the bottom loop, then the top loop was slid over the top of the pole. She knew that the middle gate was especially hard to open. She had seen her mother tugging at it.
When they reached the ranch, Mom had just ridden in on the big black horse. She looked relieved when she saw Jeannie. She looked tired, too. Jack explained that school was dismissed early on Fridays and that it was not out of their way to bring Jeannie home.
"I'm glad you did!" Mom said. "I didn't really have time to go after her. In fact I didn't even know it was time to. The creek is rising from all the melting snow, and I'm afraid we're going to have a flood. I've driven all the cattle out of the creek bed, but there's a stack of hay down there that I'd like to move to higher ground. I don't know whether I'll have time to get it all moved or not."
"I'll help you!" said Jack, jumping off his horse. "Where is it?"
"But won't your folks need you at home?" Mom asked.
"No, they don't need me. The creek doesn't run through our place. And Dad's only milking a few cows now. Betty can ride on home and tell them where I am."
"Why couldn't Betty stay and play with Jeannie?" suggested Mom. "She could telephone your folks and see if it's all right."
"Oh, goody!" shouted Betty and Jeannie together as they slid off the pony. They started for the house, leaving the pony for Jack to tie up in the barn.
"Ask your mother if you may stay for supper, Betty" Mother shouted after them.
As Jeannie raced Betty to the house through the path Mom had cleared from house to barn, she felt that at last she was beginning to fit into life in Wyoming.