Word Count 658
Murdoch stepped out on the veranda as Jelly walked over to him. Both watched a wagon approaching.
“Hi Boss. Wagon is comin’ in. Looks like your two boys driving it. I wonder what they are up to.”
“I don’t know Jelly. I guess we will find out when they get here.” Murdoch was trying to hide a smile.
Scott was driving the wagon he and Johnny were on. The bed of the wagon was covered in a tarp. Johnny jumped down as Scott was bringing the wagon to a stop. Johnny smiling brightly called to his friend, “Hey Jelly, we brung you a surprise.”
Scratching his whiskers, he got closer. “What are you two up to? Is this another one of your pranks you play on me all the time, Johnny Lancer?”
Johnny called to his friend. “No Jelly, it ain’t a trick, but you gotta close your eyes. Don’t peek til we tell ya to open your eyes. “With eyes closed, Jelly waited as the boys pulled the tarp off the wagon. “Okay Jelly. Open your eyes.” As he did, eight young boys jumped up, all yelling “Surprise Jelly.”
As the boys exited the wagon, and headed to hug Jelly, the old wrangler’s face was beaming with joy.
“Boys, stand back. Let me get a look at cha. The whole lot of ya’ is sprouting like weeds. I guess everybody’s settling in with your new families, gettin’ fat and sassy?”
Willy, the oldest, spoke for the group. “Johnny asked all our new folks if we could come out to Lancer and spend Sunday here with you.”
Heading back to the wagon, Toogie was pulling on Willy’s sleeve. “Can’t we show Jelly now? I wanna show him, please? You said I could.”
Sawdust, who was adopted into the same family as Toogie, told Jelly “Ma calls Toogie a little magpie.”
Willy told Toogie it was time to give Jelly his gift, as he lifted from the wagon, a large flat package wrapped in paper. He let Toogie carry it as he told Jelly “This is from all of us.”
You boys did not need to bring me anything. Just seeing you together like this is all the gift I need.”
Jelly opened the gift, and staring at it, with tears in his eyes. There in a frame was a picture of all eight boys together. At a loss for anything else to say, he kept repeating “My boys.”
The three Lancers who were standing apart from the reunion saw how touched Jelly was with the gift. Murdoch answered before Jelly could ask the question.
“Mr. Hansen, my friend who owns the new photography studio in town came to Sunday school a few weeks back, and we rounded up all the boys in their Sunday best to take their picture. My boys and I thought this would be a nice way of keeping your boys with you”
Toogie was tugging on Willy’s arm again. “Can I give Jelly my gift now? I been waiting forever.” Smiling, and shaking his head Willy told Toogie to go ahead.
Toogie walked over to Jelly smiling as he reached in his pocket. He brought out a gold cats eye marble and handed it to Jelly. “This is for you. Now you can play marbles with Johnny.”
“This darn dust is getting’ in my eyes again” remarked Jelly as he wiped his eyes. ]
Boomer ran waving a card in his hand. “We forgot to give you your card.”
Jelly opened the card and read it aloud. “TO JELLY. WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU. From Willy, Pokey, Sawdust, Boomer, Chief, Juanito, Soso, and Toogie too!
Teresa came out and announced that she and Maria have made several types of cookies, and gallons of lemonade. Johnny grabbed Toogie’s hand as they ran to the house.
Jelly and his boys spend a wonderful day together, making the old wrangler a happy man.
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