Jamie didn’t know if it was a good idea to stay for dinner. She had no idea if Miss Bessie had been able to give Brad the Will and if she did had he read it? If he had read it, how did he feel about it? She hadn’t even read it. Maybe she should have.
“I guess the chores can wait for a couple of hours,” she said. “The days are getting longer, now, so the animals should be okay.”
“That’s wonderful,” Dina said. “I’ll go tell Alice and Helen.”
As Dina got up to leave, Jamie couldn’t help noticing how at peace she looked. She had the chance to be with and care for the daughter she hadn’t seen for six long years.
Jamie was also grateful that she had a few minutes to be alone with Miss B.
“I’ve been waiting all day to find out what happened this morning,” she said as she sat down in the chair Dina had occupied.
“Well, I gave Brad the envelope, but he didn’t open it in front of me. He left a short time later, and I haven’t seen him since.”
I’ve been on pins and needles, Miss Bessie. I’ve been alternating between wishing I had read it, and wishing you had thrown it away like you threatened to. Who knows when we’ll know what was is it.”
“I said he didn’t open it in front of me. I didn’t say I didn’t know what was in it. Brad left it lying around, so if he didn’t want others to see it, it’s his own fault,” Miss B. said as she tried to hide the smug look on her face.
“We might not have much time, Miss Bessie. Tell me what it said.
“I can’t,” she said.
“What! you have to. I have to know how much trouble I’m in for getting Tom involved.”
“I can’t because Brad just pulled up. It probably won’t be long now before we know if he’s upset with you.”
Jamie didn’t say anything more to Miss B. because Brad got out of his truck and was heading toward them.
“Hello Ladies,” Brad said as he approached them. “Jamie…what brings you down from the attic?”
“She’s staying for dinner, “Miss B. said. “Isn’t that nice?”
Miss Bessie gave no indication that she intended to leave the two of them alone, which Jamie was grateful for. She might need her support.
“Would you mind going to see how much longer it will be, Miss Bessie? I need a couple of minutes to talk with Jamie.”
“Okay,” Miss Bessie said. “But it won’t be until Lassie’s over. Arf’s favorite episode is on.” With that said, she reluctantly left.
“So what did you make of the Will?” Brad asked.
“I didn’t read it. I put it in the envelope with the note and gave it to Miss B. to give to you. I’m happy to see you don’t seem very upset by what it said.”
“I haven’t read it yet.”
“Really? Miss Bessie found it lying around somewhere and she quite innocently read it. In her defense, she wouldn’t tell me what it said.”
“Well then, can you stay for a while after dinner? I assume you haven’t done your chores yet, so I’ll see if Mark will drive over and do them. We’ll go to my office and catch up with Miss Bessie. Here comes Arf to tell us dinner is ready.”
***After dinner, I followed Jamie and Brad into his office. Katie’s mom was helping her take a bath and there is a window in Brad’s office that I like to look out of. There are always lots of squirrels in the trees. I love this house. I hope I get to live here for a long time.
“Here it is on my desk. Right where I left it.” Brad said as he picked up the Will and sat down behind his desk. “Before we read it, I think I should tell you what I did today.”
Jamie sat down in the chair on the other side of the desk.
“I was pretty sure that no matter what the will said, I wouldn’t lose the ranch. It’s a much bigger operation now. The house is three times as big as it was, and thousands of acres have been added not to mention the the set-up for the horses. Even so, I went to see my lawyer who told me that most courts won’t look at a Will that shows up more than three years after probate has been settled.”
“That’s good news,” Jamie said.
“I suppose so, but Jamie, if that Will says my grandparents intended to give the original property to my mother’s sister or Tom, then I can’t keep it. At least not the house and the original acre that came with it.”
“I can’t say that I agree with your thought process, but don’t you think we should start by reading the Will?”
***I saw a car drive-up so I barked at Brad to let him know. It was the guy who was here the other night. He wasn’t very nice to Jamie and Brad. This time he had a lady with him.
“I asked Tom and Aunt Mildred to join us. I see that they’re here. We’re going to have an old fashioned “Reading of the Will.”
“Hello Tom, Mildred. Please have a seat. Can I get you anything…coffee, tea?”
“I told you there was a Will, Tom,” Mildred said. “Go on…read it,” she said to Brad.
As Brad read the Will a couple of things came to light that answered some questions they all had. Brad and Tom’s grandparents had indeed left the property to their mother’s sister. Sitting there, Aunt Mildred could hardly contain her excitement.
“Hold on a minute, Mildred, Tom should be interested in what follows. Here Tom, you read it.” Brad handed the Will to his brother who looked rather surprised at what it said next.
“I says here that in order to obtain ownership, you would have to pay off the lien against the property that was held by First Cypress Bank. Apparently the bank gave your parents, our grandparents, a loan. You would’ve also had to pay the amount equal to the taxes the bank had paid until they were able to foreclose.
Aunt Mildred was beginning to look rather uncomfortable.
“It looks like you knew all about the loan, Aunt Mildred,” Tom continued. “The explanation goes on to say that the loan was to pay for my expenses including private schooling.” Tom handed the Will to Mildred, and then got up and walked over to the window.
“I don’t recall going to a private school, Aunt Mildred. Was it nice?”
***I was beginning to wish I hadn’t come in here. It was getting too dark to see squirrels and I was tired. Steve has the day off tomorrow and he’s going to take us to where Dina used to work. She wants me to see all of the sick people. Katie is coming, too. I hope these people leave soon. They don’t seem to be happy in their hearts.
“I owe you an apology, Brad,” Tom said. “Everything you said was the truth and this ranch is yours fair and square. Come on Aunt Mildred, we’ve got an hour’s drive to your place and it will take me another hour to get home. I’m on duty for the next few days, too.”
Brad stood up and handed Aunt Mildred an envelope. “I want you to have this,” He said. “It might help the pain you feel because what existed way back then slipped through your fingers. Tom, when you get back from wherever your going, I would like very much to get together. I don’t know what you do for a living or anything, and I really want to know what your life has been like.”
“Tom,” Jamie said. “I haven’t had a chance to tell Brad about your career.”
“I’m a fire rescue pilot and it sounds like the fire I’m flying to tomorrow is deadly. Now if you’ll excuse us, We’ll get going…and Brad, I’d really like to get together with you when things settle down.”
Brad nodded his head and shook Tom’s outreached hand.
“Goodbye Aunt Mildred,” Brad said. “I want you to know you are welcome here, anytime. You and Tom are all that’s left of my original family and I’d like to get to know you both better.”
Jamie was so proud of Brad, and she was so emotional, she could barely say goodbye to Tom and Mildred. Who would have believed the finding of the Will would finally prove that all the blood, sweat, and tears Brad had put into this beautiful ranch had not been in vain.