Sep 212018
 

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.

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Sep 092018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 THE FILLY

It was late afternoon when the other groups began to ride in. They were trail worn and weary until they saw the corralled herd. Then the tiredness melted away like dirt removed with soap and water.

“Well, look at that!” said Mr. Sanchez, trotting his horse up to the fence. “There are some nice mares and babies in there.” He nodded with pleasure. The orphan filly rushed to the fence. “Looking for your mama?” he asked her gently. She sniffed his gelding’s nose and walking dejectedly away, crying out in disappointment.

“Her mother wasn’t captured,” explained Callie. She noticed that the filly’s patchy coat was beginning to darken with sweat.

Jo McCabe rode up to join them. “We thought they’d headed for greener pastures, and they’ve been here all the long!”

Callie, Luis and Jeff beamed like proud parents, but when the filly, hearing the new horse, spun around and whickered hopefully, Callie’s face fell.

Jo saw the distress in the girl’s eyes and said, “That’s a pretty little filly, Callie. Don’t worry about her. She’ll be fine.”

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Aug 312018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 NINETEEN-CORRALLED

After the hard charge out of the little draw into the meadow, the band of mares and colts settled into a fast and somewhat skittish walk.  They didn’t care all that much for the people, but the confident demeanor of the rider’s horses gave them some comfort.  And some of them had been corralled in previous round-ups.

By the time they had neared the corral, things were going along pretty nicely and Callie said, “The others will be out all day and not find much more than prints,” She was feeling both extremely lucky and a teeny bit smug.

“They might find The Outlaw!” said Jeff, “But you can bet they never expected us to come back with the herd!”

“Don’t count your horses before they are corralled,” said Uncle Bob, sternly. “They will get nervous as we get closer to the corral, so stay alert. Rick, you take the left side as that is the way they will break.  Jeff, you go with him.  Luis, watch the right side, but be smooth and quiet. I will push from behind with Callie,” and he nodded at her.  “If any horses break out of the bunch, Rick and I will go after them, and Callie, you will keep working the herd forward.”

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Aug 242018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 EIGHTEEN-STAMPEDE

Everyone was mounted and gathered around Uncle Bob as he unfolded a piece of paper and read off  names.  He broke them into four parties. Mr. Sanchez, one of the storytellers from last night, headed up one group. Mr.Romero, Luis’s dad, had another and Ms. McCabe led the third.

“Where’s she from?” Callie whispered to Luis.

“She runs the Triple A Quarter Horse ranch,” he replied and Callie nodded. She knew of the Triple A because Uncle Bob sometimes did business there.

Uncle Bob’s voice broke into their conversation, “And I’ll take the fourth group. Jeff, Callie, Luis, and Roberto Sanchez’s son Rick, will go with me.”

“Where are we headed?” Callie asked.

“See that hill over there?” Rick said, pointing westward. “We’ll start near there.”

Callie felt her heart thump, and the butterflies in her stomach batted their wings wildly. That was near where Luis had seen the Outlaw and his mares yesterday.

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Aug 082018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 SEVENTEEN–BASE  CAMP

“It sure took you guys long enough to get here,” said Luis.

Jeff shrugged. “We had a little trouble,” he said, making his voice sound important.

“Oh” said Luis, not really listening because he was bursting to say, “We saw the Outlaw!”

“You did?” said Callie and Jeff with almost the same voice. “Where?”

Luis pointed toward a low hill west of camp. “Right over there,” he said. “There were about fifteen mares and ten colts with him.”

“I can’t wait to see them,” said Callie, picturing them in her mind as a copper, black and orangish blur of sleek coats shimmering in the sun.

“It’ll be a couple of days, probably,” said Jeff, “‘Cause we’ve got to repair the corrals and then you never know how long it’ll take to find the herd, again.”

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Jul 202018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 SIXTEEN- TROUBLE ON THE WAY DOWN

They left the barn with Uncle Bob in the lead, followed by Jeff. Each of them led a mule and Callie rode third, marveling at the long ears of the mules. They were as alert and responsive as Flower’s dainty ears, although Callie couldn’t quite see how they managed that. As they rode by the front porch, Jake bounded up to Aunt Martha, and wagging his tail furiously, barked at her. Martha reached down to scratch his head, and said, “Go on, Jake!” She smiled at the riders.

They took the trail that led toward the lookout, and Callie turned one last time to wave at Aunt Martha, and at Cloud, even though he couldn’t see her. Callie had saddled all the horses this morning while Uncle Bob and Jeff had packed the mules. She was thrilled to tack up Pitch, but when she threw the saddle on to his strong back, she found that she would rather have been saddling Cloud.

Just before the lookout, Uncle Bob turned down a faint trail that led into the Outlaw’s valley. The path was steep and rocky.  The horse’s stepped carefully but surely and Callie, even though she was not riding Cloud, also felt confident. The slope on her right was covered with yellow whispering grass and dotted with dark basalt boulders that were left over from an ancient lava flow. On her left, there was a rock strewn drop. Below lay a creek that flashed and glittered in the sun.

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Jul 112018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 FIFTEEN–THE EVE OF THE ROUND-UP

“I’ll get the canteens, if you get the sleeping bags out of the closet,” Callie said.

“In a minute,” said Jeff, his voice floating down from upstairs. “I’m packing my clothes.”

“Oh!” said Callie, setting down the canteens and running upstairs. She stopped at Jeff’s room. “I think I’ll pack my clothes, too. How many long sleeved shirts again?”

“Two cotton, ‘to keep from getting sunburned”‘ said Jeff, imitating Aunt Martha. “One flannel and one sweater,” he said in his normal voice,  “Plus, don’t forget a windbreaker. It’s cool at night even though it’s boiling during the day.”

Callie finished stuffing clothes into a duffle bag in 15 minutes.  Then she hurried to gather up the canteens she had abandoned and find a few more.  She checked the list of other equipment Uncle Bob had given them. Finally, she had a pile of things in the living room, and she handed the list and an old headlamp to Jeff. “I’ve got everything on here, except a headlamp that works.”

“Cool,” said Jeff. “Trade you the sleeping bags for the headlamp.”

Callie sifted through the pile once more and pulled her new hat off the top.  She put it on her head, and pulled it down low and snug, and smiled.  Then she went into the kitchen. She leaned against the refrigerator and rambled happily to Aunt Martha about Cloud and Flower and the round-up. Aunt Martha listened with a tiny smile at the corners of her mouth. She didn’t need to reply.  Callie was talking for three.

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Jul 072018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 FOURTEEN-CALLIE’S PARTY

The sweet, warm smell of strawberry waffles wafted into Callie’s room and seeped into her sleep. She dreamt she heard her mother’s cheerful voice calling her to breakfast.

Every birthday since she could remember Callie had awakened to this delicious smell. Callie followed the sweetness down a very long hallway, with lots of doors.  The hallway wasn’t straight and Callie wondered if she would ever reach the kitchen.

Suddenly, she was there.

The bright blue candle, surrounded by the red of the strawberries, was burning brightly from the center of the stacked waffles and a cloud of whipped cream graced the edges. Her mother stood at the end of the table, near a flat package wrapped in gold paper and tied with a deep green ribbon.  Callie sat down at the table, but before she could eat, her mother moved her plate and made her open the package.  Callie carefully untied the ribbon and put it on her head.  Her mother laughed.  Callie untaped the gold paper and before her lay a beautiful wooden picture frame, but inside, instead of a painting or photograph, there was a wide sheet of clean white paper.

Callie stared at it for a minute and then her mother said, “I hope you like it. I have to go now.”  She walked to the doorway and she began to fade at the edges like a watercolor painting.  She paused on the threshold and said,  “I love you, Callie,” and then she simply vanished.

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Jul 012018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 THIRTEEN-FLOWER

Callie approached the chestnut mare, walking in what she hoped appeared to be a confident manner while speaking in a low, even voice. The mare walked away and tossed her head, but Callie kept coming, steady and persistent.  In a few minutes the coppery horse faced her and stood still. Callie half expected Flower to leap away as she approached to slip the halter on, but the mare stood quietly.  Callie patted her neck and told Flower, “At least I will not put this halter on you upside down!”

Callie tugged on the lead rope, encouraging the horse and herself in the same quiet voice. The mare followed Callie, willingly, but her amber colored eyes were ringed with the white of mischief.  Callie stopped at the gate to scratch Cloud’s neck and explain that she would certainly brush him later, and probably ride him, too. Cloud nudged Callie’s arm with his whiskery nose and blinked his big eyes. Callie knew he understood, and patted him again.

The girl reached for the gate and was about to unlatch it when a sharp jerk nearly tore the lead line from her grasp. Callie half turned and saw the mare with her ears flat against her head. Her lips were pulled back to expose her hard white teeth. She lunged at Cloud, and he tried to swing his rump out of her reach, but her teeth touched his back,  just above the tail. They left a damp rumpled mark. Cloud squealed and humped his back, ready to kick the mare, but he’d been too well trained to strike out when a person was near. Instead, he whipped his wiry tail into Flower’s face, and trotted across the corral.

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Jun 272018
 

By Patty Wilber

To get every chapter as soon as they post, you can subscribe to the site!  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 TWELVE–CHANGE IN PLANS

Callie didn’t know how long she lay there with visions of herself lying low over Cloud’s neck as they pounded after the shiny black shadow that danced ahead of them. The two of them were about to capture the elusive stallion for the first time in history. Callie could see Jeff and Luis standing near the corral trap with their mouths drooping in the dust, and she could hear the amazed comments of the other ranchers. “A girl,” they were saying, “That learned to ride just this summer, and she caught him all alone!”

Callie hugged her pillow tightly until she could feel the goose down feather shafts poking her cheek. “If only I could GO!” she said to the pillow, punching it once. She mashed her eyelids together, wishing she would fall asleep, so everything would fade away. Then when she awoke, perhaps she would find that it had all been a bad dream.

“Or not,” she muttered.

There was a tap on the door, and Callie tried to ignore it, but it came again, louder. “It’s me, Jeff,” said a low voice. “Can I come in?”

Callie rolled over and sat up, rubbing her eyes. “Yeah,” she said, with out much enthusiasm.

The door eased open and Jeff stepped in. His blue eyes were sparkling, and a grin hovered around the edges of his mouth, but his voice was solemn. “Dad wants you downstairs.”

“What for?”

Jeff shrugged and looked at the floor. The shadow of a grin threatened to break into reality.

Callie didn’t notice. Her thoughts were whirling like a dust devil, throwing ideas against the inside of her skull. “Do I get to go??? Don’t be stupid… But what does he want???”

Her thoughts tumbled over each other all the way to the kitchen door. She paused there and ordered her brain to be quiet. When she walked in, she wanted to at least appear calm.

Aunt Martha, sounding quite pleased with herself, said, “Have a seat.”

Nervousness made her legs feel like overcooked noodles and they could barely hold her up. Callie got to the nearest chair and sank onto its hard surface. Jeff stood in the doorway.

Nobody said a word for a full minute, and Callie nearly died right there, waiting. Finally, Uncle Bob spoke, and Callie heard his voice as if from a distance. “I know you really want to go on the round-up, Callie.” Callie swallowed and blinked hard, determined not to cry. “So I’ve talked it over with Jeff and Martha, and changed my mind. You can go.”

Callie looked back at Jeff. His smile was so wide that he looked like the Cheshire Cat. Then Callie looked at Aunt Martha, still unable to believe her ears. When Aunt Martha nodded ever so slightly, Callie sprang from the straight-backed chair, and hugged her uncle with the grip of a grizzly bear. “Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!” she cried.

“Whoa, young lady,” said Uncle Bob, peeling her arms from around him. “There’s still a catch.”

Callie barely heard his words. She was floating on happiness.

“I meant what I said about lack of experience, Callie,” Uncle Bob continued, and the serious note in his voice made Callie come down to earth and listen. “You have to be ground crew, which means feeding and watering the horses, and maybe even helping the cook a little. You’ll ride there and back, but that is all.”

“That’s it?” said Callie, beginning to float again. So she didn’t get to actually round-up. She’d be there, part of the dust, the sweat, and the excitement. “Fine. Great. SUPERB!” she said, engulfing Uncle Bob in another tremendous squeeze.

Then she turned to her aunt and said, “Thank-you.” Their eyes met for a moment, and Aunt Martha reached across the table to touch Callie’s arm. Aunt Martha squeezed gently.

Inside Callie an ember of warmth she’d left untended ever since her last day in Chicago, rekindled itself.

Callie jumped up and looked for Jeff and his grin. He was leaning against the doorway smiling at the tips of his boots, and Callie started toward him.

“One more thing, Callie.” Uncle Bob’s voice halted her, and she turned to face him. “You won’t be able to take Cloud.”

Callie looked back at him, frozen in place. “He did make it to the ridge and back,” she said.

“We may need a spare horse, and Cloud just doesn’t have the speed of younger animal.”

Callie had to agree with Uncle Bob, remembering how quickly Jeff and Punkin had caught Cloud the day they raced from the pond, so, she gathered her disappointment into a knot, and held it in her clenched fist. She willed her voice to be even, and asked, “Which horse will I ride, then?” There were only two to choose from.

Aunt Martha said, “I am going to stay home this year and write. In peace and quiet, for once.”

Callie looked open-mouthed at her aunt who said, “Well, I would have been here if you’d stayed, anyway. So, you can ride Flower.”

“I thought she was spooky!” Callie blurted and her voice held a trembling note.  She kicked herself mentally. “But, I think I can manage,” she said quickly.

“Well, O.K., then!” said Uncle Bob. ”Now why don’t you two go down and check on your tired horses.”

“And drop off the lettuce scraps with the rabbits, O.K.?”, added Aunt Martha.

Chapter 13