“What are you doing here, Brad?” Barbie wanted to know.
“I came to take you somewhere that I know you’ll enjoy, but first, you need to change into this. I’ll be back to get you in fifteen minutes.”
“Wait, Brad…I have no desire to go anywhere. I’m happy staying in my room, but thank you, anyway.”
“No one can be happy spending all their time holed-up in a bedroom. Please don’t argue with me, Barbie. I know this outing will be good for you,”
“Okay,” she sighed. “Come back in fifteen minutes.”
“Where are we?” Barbie asked. “And why am I wearing riding boots? Have you forgotten that I’m blind? There is no way I can get on a horse.”
“Sure you can. We are at an equestrian day camp. I’m told that you will be riding like a champ in no time.” Brad saw the frown on Barbie’s face. “Don’t scowl little sister. It’ll be fun. I promise. The fresh air will do you good. Come on. I want you to meet the instructor.”
Grandpa John didn’t want to stay at the ranch for even one night. It’s a good thing Dina and Jamie got the house all furnished and decorated. It was ready for him and Biff to move right into.
“Thanks for bringing me over here right away,” Grandpa John said. “I was nervous about moving out of the cabin and I know I wouldn’t have slept a wink not knowing where Biff and I will be living.”
“Not a problem,” Mark said. “I can understand wanting to get settled in as quickly as possible. I’m going to stay here with you until Clark can get here, and then he and Arf will spend the night with you. Arf will be staying here and working with you until you’re comfortable getting around on your own. I also want you to know you have two telephones that should be pretty easy to get to.”
Back at the ranch, Clark was loading Katie, Annie and Biff into the truck Brad had given him. They were headed over to Grandpa John’s house. Mark would bring Annie and Katie back to the ranch, but Katie wanted to see where she used to live.
Annie: This really is a super duper family. I love everyone and everyone seems to love Arf and me. I’m sure they’ll all get used to Biff, too. The only human I’m having a hard time getting used to is Jamie’s dad, Mr. Langford. He says things in a funny way. Like, “Don’t beat around the bush,” and “bite the bullet.” He’s always saying someone has a chip on their shoulder. (I think he’s seeing things.) Jamie said people like him are why aliens won’t speak to us. She said it in a loving way, though.
Jamie says she’s happy her mother, Mrs. Langford, is getting to be friends with Miss Bessie. Since Grandma Helen moved to the farm, Miss Bessie has a lot of people to cook for, especially since they’ll be bringing food to Grandpa John, too. Mr. Langford says they’ve got a big plate to say grace over, but I’ve never seen it.
That night, after supper, Brad and Jamie were sitting on the porch having coffee.
“Did Barbie enjoy her day at the equestrian camp?” Jamie asked.
“She did fine. I think she was a little surprised that her instructor was twelve years old. Nancy has been blind from birth and she has never known any other kind of life. Barbie was sixteen when she lost her sight. I’m not sure which would present more challenges.”
Jamie pondered that for a minute. “And now we have Grandpa John who lost his sight at the age of eighty. Does Barbie know about Grandpa, yet?”
“I don’t think so, she hasn’t shown much interest in anything that’s going on around here.”
“I know.” Jamie laughed. “Dad said she’s a hard dog to get off the porch.”
“He’s right. I’m hoping learning to ride will give her a little more self confidence. Speaking of dogs, Arf and Annie are spread a little thin. Annie is watching over Katie while Arf is working with Grandpa John plus she has really been Clark’s dog. What about our little Jake? He needs his own dog to love. We don’t have a shortage of people around here, but maybe we need more dogs.”
“I don’t think Arf and Annie would like that,” Jamie said. “It’s bad enough they have to deal with old Biff. What about a kitten? I can’t believe this ranch doesn’t have any cats.”
Annie: I had been taking a little nap by Brad’s chair when I heard them talking about cats. I decided I’d rather go watch squirrels out the window.
Brad looked down to where Annie had been sleeping. “Where did Annie go? She was just right here.”
“I think she misses Arf,” Jamie said. “Those two are best buds.”
All is calm and all is bright at the Humboldt ranch. At least for the moment…