This is the fourth of a four-part fan fiction story based on the characters of author Susan K. Marlow’s Circle C Adventures. This story also won first place in the 14-17 age category of Mrs. Marlow’s annual short story contest. ‘Proper Andi’ is meant to fill the gap between Mrs. Marlow’s ‘Andrea Carter and the San Francisco Smugglers’, and ‘Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure’, dealing specifically with Andi’s struggle with growing up, and still doing the things she loves…which don’t happen to be considered ‘proper’.
After supper they adjourned to the sitting room. Mitch and Justin buried themselves in their respective dime novels and newspaper, Chad picked up a harness he was mending, and Elizabeth and Melinda sat down to sew.
Andi avoided sewing. Her stitches didn’t lie, no matter what kind of manners she put on for the moment. She hoped Jenny would do the same, but the cheerful tomboy from Washington state plopped down in a chair and brought out an embroidery hoop.
Mother glanced over, then furrowed her brow at the tangled stitches.
Andi began to turn away, but her mother looked up and caught her eye. Andi didn’t know where to look. Obviously, Jenny was no lady. Andi shrugged and picked up a well-worn copy of Little Women.
Suddenly, Mitch looked up from his dime novel. “Say, Andi, I’m heading up into the mountains in a few days. Going to the Sugar Pine logging camp. Too bad you and Jenny can’t come.”
Andi’s heart leapt up then crashed down. “Why can’t we come?” she asked carefully, even though she knew the reason all too well. Young ladies didn’t ride into the mountains to visit a logging camp.
“We-l-l,” Mitch drawled. “I thought maybe you’d like to, but it’s a long ride, two weeks, and we’d be roughing it . . .” He trailed off and let her think out the rest, clearly expecting her to beg to be allowed to go.
Andi swallowed hard. Jenny’s plan was backfiring big time. Two whole weeks? Just her and Jenny and Mitch, riding into the mountains and visiting a logging camp? She’d always wanted to go, but the boys never let her. Now, a golden opportunity was staring her in the face, and she couldn’t jump at it.
Jenny looked up. “You’ve never seen a logging camp, Andi?”
Andi shook her head. Tomorrow I’m going to beg to go on that trip, she fiercely promised herself with a glare at Jenny.
“It’s pretty exciting.” Jenny went on, oblivious to Andi’s glare. “The loggers chop down a tree and then drag it to a flume. The logs float down the flume and go to the sawmill, where they’re cut up for timber. Papa took me to a sawmill once. It was real noisy, but it was fun to watch those huge logs whittled down into useable pieces.”
She chuckled. “Nearly got myself killed though. That’s why I only went once. Papa wouldn’t ever take me again.”
Justin looked up from his newspaper. Chad raised an eyebrow, and Mother and Melinda looked from Jenny to each other and back again.
Mitch cleared his throat. “Well, I guess you know all about it then, and it wouldn’t interest you.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t mind seeing the logging camp. That’s my favorite part. A bunch of fellas working hard, with no folks to criticize their manners.” She punched her needle through the fabric and yanked at her tangled thread. “Drat,” she muttered. “Anyway, I wanted to be a logger like Papa and my brothers until Mama told me girls couldn’t be loggers. But maybe one of these days . . .”
Andi slipped out of the room. Jenny had blown any pretense of being a young lady. Best to lie low for a while. She went up to her room and got ready for bed.
Jenny came in a few minutes later. Finally, she broke the silence. “Sorry, Andi.”
Andi grunted. “I’m not any good at it either. I nearly exploded when Mitch offered to let us go with him. I’ve always wanted to see the logging camp.”
Jenny shot up out of bed. “And why shouldn’t you? I tell you what, Andi. Let’s go down and explain what we’ve been doing and ask to go.”
“No,” Andi said sourly.
Jenny ripped the covers off Andi and yanked her out of bed. “Come on. I convinced you to do this, and I’m going to get you out of it.”
Before she realized it, Andi was in her dressing gown and Jenny was pulling her downstairs. They paused for a moment at the door to the sitting room. One voice was raised inside.
“Well, I think we all know Miss Grant isn’t a sissified young lady.” Chad snorted. “I’ve never seen anybody so clearly not one of Miss Whitaker’s prize pupils.”
Jenny giggled, and even Andi smothered a smile.
“Chad, that’s enough,” Mother said firmly. “Remember that she’s your sister’s friend.”
“Correct,” Justin broke in. “Which leads me to wonder why my very ladylike little sister”—Andi winced at his voice dripping with sarcasm—“is friends with her. The only reason I can think of is they have something in common.”
“Which might just happen to be the fact that neither of them are fashionable young ladies.” Mitch finished.
“Right.” Justin warmed to his topic. “In which case, Andi must be putting on some kind of act. Why?” He questioned his listeners as if he were in court.
“Because we wanted to show you that Miss Whitaker’s pattern for young ladies is not what you really want Andi to be.” Jenny had pushed open the door before Andi could stop her and answered Justin’s question.
The surprised looks on the faces of Andi’s family intimidated Jenny for just a second, but she put up a bold front and stood ready to make her case.
Justin sat down. “So, would you mind explaining what exactly you wanted to do?”
Jenny started from the beginning and told the whole story of their fateful two terms at Miss Whitaker’s, finishing with, “You see, Miss Whitaker thinks that young ladies should stick to needlepoint, French, and beaux, but Andi and I just can’t do that. If we’d have done what Miss Whitaker wanted, we never would have helped Lin Mei and Kum Ju. We thought if we showed you how Miss Whitakers prize pupils really act, you’d change your minds.”
Mother’s eyes were red at the conclusion. “Andrea, you should know that being a young lady is about character and integrity, not about fashion and suitors. What I want most is for you to be a godly young woman who serves Christ in every area of her life.”
She held out her arms, and Andi humbly sat down on her mother’s lap. “Growing up is about learning to put aside childish things and pick up responsibility.”
“Yes, Mother. I’m sorry.”
Jenny nodded uncomfortably. “That sounds like something my mama would say.” She shifted. “There is one more thing I’d like to ask.”
Justin nodded for her to continue.
Jenny looked down at her hands. “Can Andi and I go on that trip to the logging camp?”
Andi shot off her mother’s lap. “Please, Mitch?” she begged.
Mitch’s mouth slowly curved into a smile. “Oh, I guess, if—” He didn’t get a chance to finish.
Jenny caught Andi’s hands and swung her around the room in a crazy dance. “Yahoo!”