By Patty Wilber
This is the last chapter! If you missed any of the past Chapters, the links are all here. Thanks for reading!
CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20.
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE-CALLIE’S STAR
“I couldn’t raise Mom on the radio,” Jeff said.
“What if she went to town and doesn’t return until late?” asked Callie. A touch of panic made her voice squeak.
“It’s already pretty late,” Uncle Bob reminded her. The shadows were getting long. “But don’t worry, Callie,” he added. “We’ll think of something.”
“We can’t put her back! She might get kicked again!” said Callie.
“You sound like a mother hen,” said Uncle Bob, patting her shoulder.
Callie looked at the filly who was standing quietly with her head hanging low, still feeling the effects of the tranquilizer, and ran the lead line back and forth through her hands.
“Why are you so worried?” asked Jeff.
Uncle Bob winked at Callie. “She’s got a new filly, and she wants to protect her.”
“You mean…?” said Luis.
Callie looked up and a smile stretched across her sun-browned face. She stood very straight and squared her shoulders.
“Wow,” said Jeff. “Is the filly going to be all right?”
“She may have a scar,” said Uncle Bob, “But that’s probably all. I do want the vet to have a look at it as soon as possible, though.”
“What are you going to name her?” asked Luis.
Callie opened her mouth to answer, but Luis broke in again before she had a chance. “What was Annie Oakley’s horse called?”
“Trigger?” said Jeff.
“No. That was Roy Rogers.”
“I don’t know,” said Callie, “But, her name is Gray Star.”
“Star?” said Luis, wrinkling his nose. “That’s boring.”
Callie looked him right in the eye and shrugged. “That’s her name,” she said.
“O.K.,” said Luis, holding up his hands as if to defend himself from attack. “O.K.”
The filly reached out and pushed her nose softly against Callie.
“She already knows her name,” said Jeff.
Callie tried to rub Star’s face, but the horse pulled away, rolling her eyes a little.
“Well,” said Uncle Bob, “I’m heading to the radio, to try Martha again. Be back in a minute.”
He was halfway there when he met Jo McCabe. “That’s a pretty filly, Bob. Sorry she’s been hurt.”
“Me too,” agreed Bob, “But she ought to be fine so long as we keep it cleaned up, and have it stitched. I was just heading to the radio to try and call Martha.”
“I’ve got my stock trailer down here to haul some of the mustangs out. Why don’t I take your filly out along with my horses tonight? I’ll haul back in tomorrow.” She paused a minute, looking past Uncle Bob at the filly. “I sure like that filly,” she said. “I love a blue roan. Plus, she is balanced and has a nice looking head on her. How about if just I haul her to my place and take care of her.”
“Well, Jo,” said Uncle Bob, “Callie sort of fell for her and I told her we’d go ahead and adopt her. That was kind of jumping the gun, but it sure made Callie light up,”
“A filly couldn’t go wrong at your place, with Callie” said Jo, with a smile. ” Let’s go load her up.”
“That’ll work!” said Uncle Bob. “Thanks, Jo!”
After Jo’s riding horses had been loaded, Uncle Bob said “Star will probably be hard to load. Why don’t you let me give her a go?” He held out his hand for the lead rope.
“Be careful, Uncle Bob,” Callie said, and then winced at those words.
The filly, despite the effects of the tranquilizer, did not lead well. Fortunately, she was not big. Uncle Bob had Jeff thread a rope behind Star, just below the curve of her quarters. Uncle Bob tugged on Star’s head, and the rope also pulled at her hind end. Star shook her head, flapping her feathery mane, and Callie thought she was going to rear, but Uncle Bob kept a tight grip on the ropes. Star tried to back up, but the butt-rope stopped her, and after a few minutes of standing, her nostrils flared and crimson rimmed, she took a step forward. Callie let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding, and said, “Atta girl, Star.”
Uncle Bob moved Star step by step toward the trailer, and Callie clenched and unclenched her fists as she watched. Finally, Star placed one foot into the trailer, but when she heard the hollow sound, she removed it as fast as if she had placed it in hot water. She stood at the trailer opening, quivering.
“She’s not going in!” Callie said. Her voice was quivering and her clenched fists were white knuckled.
“Don’t worry,” said Jeff. He sounded very matter of fact.
Uncle Bob lessened the pressure on the ropes and talked in his calmest voice for what seemed like forever to Callie. Star’s body lost the look of a coiled spring, and she stretched to sniff at the trailer. Then she raised her head high in the air, and curled back her upper lip, announcing a strange smell. When she lowered her head, Uncle Bob tightened up on the ropes, and talked with a calm voice. Although it was still soothing, it held a note which was meant to be obeyed.
Star put two feet in and because she was just a baby, when Jeff and Jo, lifted and pushed her hind end, suddenly, she was all in.
Callie closed the door almost all the way and Jeff and Jo, stepped out. Uncle Bob backed to the door, and squeezed out. He let the lead rope drop. She would be easier to manage at home with a halter on, but she could not be tied because she did not know how and would panic.
Callie fastened the trailer door and leaned her forehead against the cool metal.
“That wasn’t too bad, considering it was all new to her,” said Uncle Bob.
“Did you hear that?” Callie asked Star.
“How will you get the others in?” Callie asked, motioning to the herd of mares.
“The hard part is separating the ones we need to take out from the ones that will stay”, said Uncle Bob, “But we can back trailers up to the chute and run the horses in. It is not too bad.”
Callie walked toward her Uncle, running her hand along the trailer until she reached him. She looked at the toes of her new brown boots, and then at the toes of his old sweat-stained ones. When she looked up, she found his face was out of focus. She took her hand off the trailer and reached out, putting it in his rough palm. Then she hugged him. “I love you,” she said. Her voice was muffled by his shirt, but he tangled her dark hair.
“Jo’s waiting,” he said after a minute. “Tell Martha we’ll be back in a few days, and give her a big hug for me.” He winked at Callie and she swallowed hard, forcing down the lump that was lodged in her throat. Then she turned to Jeff and Luis and said,”See you back at the ranch.” Jake wagged his tail and looked up at her. “You too, you vicious dog you!”
Jo started the motor in the truck and the exhaust pipe blew dust off the ground and into the air. Callie opened her door and got in. As they started to roll slowly away, Callie rolled down her window and leaned out. She waved at Jeff, and said, “You’ll help me train her, won’t you?”
“You bet!” shouted Jeff.
A smile settled on Callie’s face, like a rainbow after a storm, and she waved at them until the truck turned a corner, and they were out of sight.