The Many Mini-Adventures of Truman Lancer #1 by Boonie

Word Count 9,206

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Disclaimer: I don’t own them, I just play with them. Truman and some minor characters (you know who they are) belong to me and are in my control.

I’m using two songs from the 21st century for True to “write.” The lyrics are appropriate for the messages True wants to convey to Murdoch and his family. One is a song that Billy Gilman sings. The other is one by Brad Paisley.

Muchas Gracias, Mamacita Lacy! My awesome beta.

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Story 1: A Song for Father’s Day, Part A

The Lancers fell back into a normal routine when they returned from their vacation in San Diego.

One afternoon, during True’s daily quiet time, the boy was sorting out the papers he had brought home from school. He found the flyer about the song writing contest and decided to give it a try.

‘Maybe I can write a song for Papa for Father’s Day,’ the boy thought to himself. ‘He seems to really like things I make myself for him, instead of stuff in the store.’

Truman sat down at his desk and pulled out his tablet and a pencil. He paused to think about what he wanted to say in his song. The boy thought about his past year with the Lancers, as a Lancer, and smiled. He thought about his parents and bowed his head, but then smiled, remembering that they were in his heart and that they had wanted him to find Murdoch Lancer. 

True heard his Papa talking to the ranch hands outside his window. He went over and looked outside, and watched his Papa speak to a crew about the bridge in the south pasture. True noticed how Murdoch communicated with the crew and that the men gave his Papa their full attention and were respectful to him.

The boy looked around his room, and noticed the framed certificates now adorning one wall and his pictures he drew at the beach on the other wall. Johnny had drawn a picture of him and Papa standing at the water’s edge and had given it to him. Johnny had drawn another picture to give to Murdoch for Father’s Day. True gazed at the picture and smiled. Suddenly, he found the words to express his feelings.

The boy sat down and began to write. About an hour later, there was a knock at his door. He put his tablet away and granted permission to the person knocking to enter.

“Come in.”

Murdoch came in and strode over to his boy, who was still sitting at his desk. The patriarch rubbed the child’s head gently and smiled as he, too, peered at the pictures on the wall.

“Hey, son. You’ve been up here a long time. Do you feel alright?”

“I’m fine, Papa. I was just looking at my school papers and stuff.”

“Okay. Are you ready to come out, or do you need more time?”

“I’m ready. Where are the big guys?”

“Johnny and Scott are on the south mesa, working on the bridge that collapsed while we were gone.”

“Oh. I’ll go see to my animals. Do you think we could go for a ride after supper?”

“Sure. Go on and play with Trevor and check on your rabbits. I’ll be out soon. “

“Thanks, Papa.”

True put his boots on and left the room with Murdoch. He fed Trevor and the rabbits and spent some time holding Miracle. After the rabbit went to sleep in his arms, True put her back in the hutch and spent some time working with Trevor on his shepherding skills. They visited with Mickey and True braided a few strands of Mickey’s mane and brushed the horse’s tail. He fed Mickey, refreshed the water, and added fresh hay to the manger and stall floor. The older bedding was not soiled, and the stall had been cleaned that morning, so it was not necessary to clean it again.

True heard his brothers returning from the range and went out to greet them.

“Hey, guys!”

“Hey, True! Hey, lil cowboy!” they replied.

They dismounted and started walking their horses to the barn. True walked with them and helped take care of their horses.

“Whatcha been doing?” Johnny asked the boy.

“I had quiet time and then fed my animals,” True answered.

“Did you sleep?” Scott asked.

“Nope.”

“Not sleepy?” Johnny asked.

“Nope.”

“What do you want to do after supper?” Scott asked.

“Ride.”

“You mad at us?” Johnny asked.

“No, why?” True asked.

“You’re only saying one word in reply. I thought you might be mad.”

“I’m not mad at anyone.”

“Okay. Good. We’ll ride after supper.”

“Good. Tomorrow’s Saturday. Could we go swimming’?” the child asked.

“Sure, after lunch,” Scott answered.

“You guys goin’ to town tomorrow night?” True asked.

“Not sure, yet,” Johnny answered.

“Okay.”

The dinner bell rang and the boys went in to wash and joined Murdoch and Teresa at the dining room table.

During supper, the family made plans for the next day.

“Truman, I am putting you with Scott and Johnny tomorrow. You’re going to help them and their crew rebuild the bridge,” Murdoch stated.

“Okay, Papa.”

“True wants to go swimming tomorrow,” Johnny said.

“Well, we’ll see how the day goes,” Murdoch replied.

“Papa, if Johnny and Scott go to town tomorrow night, may I ask Simon to come over?”

“Sure. You and your brothers could ride over there tonight and ask him to come over tomorrow afternoon. We’ll try to go swimming, okay?” Murdoch replied.

“Thanks, Papa. Do you guys mind going to Simon’s with me after supper?” True asked his brothers.

“Sure, True. No problem, lil cowboy.”

“Thanks, guys.”

Once they had finished their supper, True and his brothers saddled up and rode to the Carter homestead. When they arrived, the boy dismounted, secured Mickey, and bounded up the steps to the front door and knocked. Mrs. Carter answered the door.

“Good evening, Mrs. Carter,” True began.

“Hi, Truman. You didn’t ride out here by yourself, did you?”

“No, ma’am. Johnny and Scott came with me. I was wondering if Simon could come over tomorrow afternoon and swim and play and spend the night?”

“I’m sorry, Truman. I know he would like to come, but he and Lucas went fishing instead of doing their chores and have been punished. They will be on restriction for at least a week.”

“Oh. Well, please tell Simon I hope he behaves so we can play next week.”

Mrs. Carter chuckled and hugged Truman. “I will, dear. Have a safe ride home.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

True turned and started down the stairs. Mrs. Carter walked down with him to say hello to Johnny and Scott.

“Hello. Simon can’t come tomorrow. I’m sorry you rode all the way out here,” she said.

“It’s okay, Mrs. Carter. We were out for a ride, anyway,” Scott replied.

“Simon and Lucas are on restriction. I’ll let you know when he’s free to play,” Mrs. Carter promised.

“Thank you, Miz Carter,” Johnny replied.

He dismounted and helped True reach the stirrup. Once True was in his saddle, Johnny mounted Barranca and the Lancer brothers left.

When they arrived at the hacienda, they walked their horses to the barn and bedded them down. Johnny and Scott helped True take the tack off of Mickey. The boy brushed his horse as his brothers brushed theirs.

True was very quiet. He was disappointed that Simon couldn’t come over to play, but he would be able to find something to do.

The next morning, the family gathered for breakfast. Murdoch gave his sons more detailed instructions and accompanied them outside so he could give the other crews their instructions.

While True was with the crew rebuilding the bridge, Curtis, a new ranch hand, told him to bring a hammer over. When the boy complied and held the hammer out to the ranch hand, Curtis yanked it from Truman’s hand, thus throwing the child off balance and causing him to fall into the deep, cold water.

Curtis was a drifter, finding work, then losing jobs for playing mean pranks on the people with whom he worked.

The water in this river was colder than the swimming holes the Lancers used because the source of the river was from the mountains. The watering holes were in the west and south pastures. They were fed by natural hot springs, thus the water was warm and pleasant to swim in.

The weather on this summer Saturday had taken a turn towards cooler temperatures. A cold front was moving in from the mountains and a moderate breeze was blowing.

Even though True was a pretty good swimmer, the fall caught him by surprise and he swallowed some water. He came up sputtering and flailing his arms. Walt was closest to the boy and pulled him over to the bank where Johnny was waiting to lift the soaking wet child out and set him on the grass. True was still gasping and trying to breathe, so Johnny turned the boy onto his side and firmly patted True’s back to help him expel the water.

Scott had witnessed the act and ran over to see that his little brother was okay. Once True had expelled the water and was breathing better, yet fast and raspy, Scott went to where Curtis was working and ordered him out of the water.

“What? Why? He held onto the hammer. It’s his own fault he fell in,” Curtis protested.

“I believe Scott gave you an order,” Johnny Madrid said, cool and calm.

He had made sure that True was okay and turned his care over to Frank, then went to back up Scott.

“I suggest you follow it,” Madrid continued.

Curtis scowled, then climbed out of the water, where he was met with a solid punch to his jaw by an irate Walt. Curtis landed hard on his backside, dazed, and holding his sore jaw.

Walt, a loyal employee of Murdoch’s, had climbed out of the river and stalked over to where Johnny and Scott waited for Curtis to comply with Scott’s order.

Johnny and Scott exchanged somewhat surprised glances. They knew that Walt was fond of Truman and took his job seriously, as an employee of the Lancer ranch, to help protect the family, especially the youngest Lancer. The other crew members were also angry with Curtis, but saw that the Lancers had the situation under control with Walt and Frank’s help, so they watched the altercation with interest and were ready to take action if the need arose.

“You had no right to make that boy fall into the water! What did he ever do to you?” Walt yelled.

Curtis got up, unsteadily, then charged Walt, but never made contact because Johnny tripped Curtis and Scott pushed Walt out of the way.

“We got it, Walt. Thanks for your help,” Scott said, appeasing his friend.

Walt hesitated, registered the warning in Scott’s eyes, then nodded and walked over to where Frank had True sitting up and drinking some water from his canteen. Walt knelt next to True and asked him how he was feeling.

“I’m a little cold, but I’m ok, thanks,” the boy replied rasply.

“Ok. I’ll see if I can find a blanket. Your brothers are taking care of Curtis.”

“W-walt? Why did he do that?” True asked, his teeth chattering just a little.

“I don’t know, buddy, but I don’t think he’s gonna have a job when your Papa finds out.”

“Oh.”

Walt went to the wagon and found a blanket, brought it over and wrapped it around the boy’s trembling shoulders.

“Thanks, Walt.”

“You’re welcome, True,” the man said as he rubbed the boy’s hair dry with the corner of the blanket.

Johnny and Scott escorted Curtis to the wagon and bade him to get in. They laid the tools on the ground and told Walt and Frank that they were taking Curtis and True back to the ranch. Scott lifted his younger brother and placed him on the front part of the wagon, then climbed up beside him. He and the boy sat up front and Scott drove the wagon back. Johnny rode Barranca behind the wagon, keeping a close watch, and his Colt, on Curtis.

When the Lancer brothers returned to the homestead earlier than expected, Murdoch came out to see why. He was NOT happy seeing his youngest wet and wrapped in a blanket. When he saw the man in the wagon and realized that Johnny had his Colt trained on the newest ranch hand, Murdoch raised his eyebrows in enquiry.

Story 1: A Song for Father’s Day, Part B

“What’s going on and why is Truman wet and wrapped in a blanket?” Murdoch asked with as much control as possible. “Are you alright, son?” the patriarch asked as he approached Truman.

“I’m okay, Papa,” True replied as he trembled.

Murdoch lifted his boy down from the wagon and hugged him, then set the boy on his feet.

“Go inside and get some dry clothes. Go on,” Murdoch instructed.

True obediently went inside and did as he was told.

Scott related the tale as Johnny dismounted and secured Barranca’s reins. He ambled over to where his father and brother were speaking, but kept a wary eye on Curtis, who remained seated in the wagon and was scowling at the Lancers.

Murdoch walked over to the wagon bed and looked down at Curtis with disdain. Curtis was a teenage drifter who had come to Lancer, pleading for a job. Murdoch had given the boy numerous chances, but Curtis had not matured enough to be considered responsible. Murdoch didn’t appreciate people who acted stupidly and caused others to possibly be injured, especially his family members and close friends.

“Why, Curtis?” Murdoch growled.

“I didn’t do anything. The kid didn’t let go of the damn hammer. It’s not my fault the brat fell in,” Curtis claimed.

“You didn’t give him a chance to let go of the hammer,” Scott intervened.

“I’ve heard enough. Curtis, pack your things and be ready to leave in twenty minutes. I’ll pay what you’re owed and you are not to come on this ranch or anywhere within a thousand feet of my family.”

The angry young man jumped out of the wagon and headed for the bunkhouse.

“Keep an eye on him. I’m going to check on Truman,” Murdoch said as he turned towards the house.

Johnny and Scott nodded then turned to watch the bunkhouse.

Truman was pulling on his overalls when Murdoch came into his room.

“How are you coming along, son? Your brothers are waiting for you.”

“I’m fine,” True replied. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

“It’s almost time for lunch. You three can have lunch here and go back to the bridge.”

“Okay.”

Truman finished dressing, then followed Murdoch down to the great room. As Murdoch settled in his chair behind the big desk, Johnny and Scott escorted Curtis in through the French doors. Murdoch scowled as he took the payment record book out of his drawer and opened it. He figured the amount he owed Curtis and then opened the strong box to take the cash out.

True leaned up against Murdoch’s desk and watched as Curtis fidgeted under Johnny and Scott’s scrutiny. The boy’s eyes met Scott’s and the eldest Lancer son gave the youngest a wink. True smiled and turned to look at Johnny. His other older brother looked bored, but True knew that Johnny was ready for anything. Johnny gave the little one a small smile.

Murdoch glanced at his youngest boy, then cut his eyes towards Curtis.

“Don’t you owe Truman an apology?” Murdoch asked curtly, before he paid the jerk.

The former ranch hand scowled and turned towards the boy, who was now standing next to Murdoch.

“Sorry, kid. I was just playin’ around.”

True looked up at Murdoch in confusion, as if to ask, ‘what am I supposed to say to that?’

“You’re not here to play, Curtis. You were hired to work. Playing around can get people hurt. Good-bye and good luck,” Murdoch said, as he paid, then dismissed the young man.

Johnny and Scott escorted Curtis out to his horse and watched as he mounted and rode off. They went back inside to receive any further instructions from Murdoch.

“Murdoch, anything else?” Scott asked.

“Thanks for handling this. Have lunch and then go back to finish what you can today.”

“Right. Okay,” they replied.

“Is True going back with us?” Scott asked.

“Yes, after lunch.”

“Okay. Let’s go eat, lil cowboy,” Johnny said, holding out his hand for the boy to join him.

Murdoch smiled as True joined his brothers and walked to the kitchen with them. He joined his sons and Teresa in the kitchen after he had put the strong box away. They enjoyed their mid-day meal together, then Johnny, Scott, and True went out to return to the river to work with the crew. True climbed into the back of the wagon as Johnny mounted Barranca and Scott settled on the driver’s seat of the wagon.


Back at the river, Walt and the other crew members had taken a break to eat the lunch Jelly had brought out to them.

When Johnny, Scott, and True arrived, Walt asked the boy how he was.

“I’m fine. Thanks for helping me, Walt.,” True replied.

“You’re welcome, little buddy,” Walt replied.

“What happened to Curtis?” Frank asked.

“He was fired, He was only playing a joke, but we can’t have people like him around. They’re dangerous,” Scott replied.

Johnny had gone to the bank of the river to take a look at the bridge.

“Lookin’ good, guys.”

“Thanks, Johnny,” Frank replied.

Johnny nodded and he and Scott got back into the building of the bridge. True was the tool go-fer again. The job was nearly complete by three in the afternoon. The crew started to clean up and make sure the finished part of the bridge was stable.

“Hey, guys, we only have about an hour’s worth of work to do to complete this job. Why don’t we finish it?” Johnny suggested.

“Yeah, let’s finish it!” Walt agreed, enthusiastically.

The other men agreed to stay and finish. True proved to be a big help to the crew.

Murdoch rode up on Chief, leading Remmie, as the crew was putting the finishing touches on the bridge and praised them for completing the project.

“Good job, men. I need you to go to the west range and move those four bulls to the north pasture to mate with the heifers. True, you come home with me, son. Scott, here’s Remmie. Frank, drive the wagon with the tools back to the shed and put the tools away,” Murdoch ordered.

“Why do I have to go home? I thought we were going swimming after the work was finished,” True asked.

“It’s getting too late, son. We’ll go tomorrow after lunch, I promise,” Murdoch replied.

“Well, why didn’t you bring Mickey? I can help the crew,” True said.

“You’re not moving bulls until you’re older. They are dangerous and unpredictable and the crew needs to concentrate on getting them moved, not worry about your safety. Come ride with me, son. You may play after you see to your animals,” Murdoch answered firmly.

“Oooookaaaaaaaaayyy,” the boy replied.

Johnny walked over and lifted True to Murdoch‘s arms, who took the boy and placed him in front of him. They headed home as the crew began carrying out their orders.


When Murdoch and True returned to the compound, they took care of Chief and the boy’s animals.

After entering the hacienda, Murdoch walked over to his desk and True roamed the room. He walked the perimeter, stopping at the piano.

“Papa?”

“Hmm?”

“Am I allowed to play the piano?”

“Do you know how to play?”

“Yes. My dad taught me.”

“You haven’t asked to play before.”

“I was doing other stuff.”

“I see. Yes, you may play as long as you are careful and do not bang the keys,” Murdoch replied as he filled his pipe.

“Thanks, Papa.”

“You’re welcome. I’m going onto the porch to smoke, if anyone needs me.”

“Okay.”

Truman climbed onto the piano bench, flexed his fingers, and began playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. After a couple of false starts, the boy got his rhythm back and played the piece all the way through without any more errors.

When he heard the beautiful music, Murdoch came in and watched the boy play, mesmerized by the soothing melody. He noted how perfect the child’s posture was as he played the classical music.

Teresa and Maria had heard the music from the kitchen and came to see who was playing, for they knew Scott was out on the range. Jelly wandered in through the open French doors and his jaw dropped when he saw the youngest Lancer sitting at the piano and playing like a professional.

When Truman finished, his audience clapped and walked over to Truman, praising him profusely. True ducked his head shyly and smiled.

“Truman! That was wonderful! Did your dad teach you to play that?” Murdoch asked.

“Dad taught me the keys and what notes they played. I heard this music one night in Chicago. There was an ork-orkest…”

“Orchestra?” Murdoch asked.

“Yes. There was an orchestra playing at a park and I heard it. The music made me feel happy and peaceful. I listened and then played it on the circus piano,” Truman explained.

“Can you read music, True?” Teresa asked.

“No, I just listen,” the boy answered.

“Nino, you sing like angel and you play music like an angel,” Maria said.

“Gracias, Mamacita,” True replied quietly.

“Do you know other songs, son?”

“A few.”

“Will you play for Scott and Johnny?”

“Will they like it? I mean, Scott probably might, but would Johnny?” the boy asked.

“I bet he would. You just keep surprising us, son.”

“It’s not a big deal, Papa.”

“Yes, it is. Especially since you’re only seven years old.”

“Seven and a half,” the boy corrected Murdoch.

Murdoch grinned and patted the child’s back.

“I’ll play for them after supper, if they’re here,” True answered.

“Okay. Good. They should be back soon, if they plan to bathe before supper,” Murdoch said.

Truman nodded then went to his toy box and pulled his covered wagon and horses out and played on the floor of the living room. While he played, he thought of the song he had written and sang it to himself. He was trying to figure out the melody in his head. He would practice it when he got the opportunity. He didn’t want to play it now because the surprise might be spoiled.

About half an hour later, Johnny and Scott came in and saw their little brother playing quietly on the floor.

“Hey, True. Where’s Papa?” Scott asked.

Johnny followed Scott over to the couch and sat down as Scott knelt next to True.

“Hey Scott and Johnny. I don’t know where Papa is. He was here a little while ago.”

“How ya doing?” Johnny asked.

“I’m fine.”

“Good.”

“Are you guys going to town?” True asked.

“Naw, I don’t think so, lil cowboy. I’m tired. Those bulls are stubborn,” Johnny replied.

“Are you guys gonna bathe before supper?” True asked.

“Why? We’ve been in water most of the day,” Johnny protested.

“Not with soap,” True pointed out.

Johnny and Scott laughed at this quip. Scott scooped up their little brother and tossed him over his shoulder.

“Are you saying we need a bath?” Scott asked.

“Yep, and don’t get me all smelly-I‘m clean,” True warned them.

Johnny hopped up from the sofa and walked over to his brothers. He reached out and tickled the little one.

Murdoch came in from the kitchen and smiled at his sons. He loved to watch them play with the youngest Lancer.

“Hey, I didn’t see you come in. Are the bulls settled?” he asked.

“Yep,“ Johnny said.

“Any problems?”

“No, sir,” Scott replied as he set Truman on his feet.

“Very good. Are you going to town tonight?” Murdoch asked.

“No. I’m beat,” Johnny said.

“Me, too.”

“Okay. True has a surprise for you,” Murdoch said.

“Really? What is it?” Johnny asked.

“You’ll find out after supper,” True replied.

“Okay. I’m going to bathe before supper. See you later,” Scott said.

“I’m gonna bathe, too,” Johnny stated.

“Good, you’re both smelly,” Truman muttered.

“What was that, little brother?” Scott asked.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing. Enjoy your baths,” True replied with a sweet smile.

Johnny looked at the boy askance and smirked. He knew what True had said, but let it go. Johnny tweaked the boy’s cheek and turned to follow Scott upstairs to get clean clothes. Murdoch patted his sons’ shoulders as they walked by him and received smiles of appreciation in return.

Truman returned to playing with his horses. Murdoch picked up the paper from his desk and sat in his chair and read while he and his youngest son waited for supper to be ready.

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Story 1: A Song for Father’s Day, Part C

Johnny and Scott returned to the living room freshly scrubbed and in clean clothes. They sat in the living room and had a brandy before supper was served. Truman was still playing on the floor and Murdoch was engrossed in his newspaper.

Teresa came in and announced supper would be served soon.

“Okay, darling. True, time to put the horses away so you can wash up,” Murdoch said.

“Okay.”

True put his horses back in the toy box and returned to the rug to pick up his covered wagon. After the toys had been neatly stowed, he scampered off to the kitchen to wash his hands.

When the boy returned to the great room, his family was already seated at the table. He climbed up into his chair and bowed his head for the blessing, joining hands with Murdoch and Johnny as he did so.

Platters and bowls were passed to fill plates and Maria came in with a pitcher of milk for Truman and poured some into his glass.

“Gracias, Mamacita.”

“De nada, nino,” Maria replied as she patted the boy‘s cheek affectionately.

The family enjoyed their supper and helped carry the dishes into the kitchen. When the family returned to the living room, Murdoch took Truman aside and whispered to him.

“Are you ready? What do you plan to play?” Murdoch asked.

“The song I played earlier and maybe something else. I’m ready. You sure the guys wanna hear this?” True asked, knowing his brothers preferred dancing music.

“I’m sure they will enjoy it. Ready?”

“Yes, Papa. As Johnny always says, ‘let her buck!’ “

Murdoch chuckled and patted the boy on his back, then went to stand next to the piano and announced Truman’s surprise.

“Gentlemen, your little brother has a surprise. He’s going to play the piano for you,” Murdoch stated.

Johnny and Scott raised their eyebrows and looked at each other curiously. Teresa was beaming because she already knew the secret.

“I didn’t even know True could play piano,” Scott declared.

“You been holdin’ out on us, lil cowboy?” Johnny asked.

True grinned and approached the bench. He climbed onto it and straightened his back. After flexing his fingers, he turned to his audience and announced the name of the piece.

“I’m gonna play Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.”

“Okay, little buddy,” Scott replied.

Scott had heard the piece at a concert in Boston and knew the music. He expected True might be able to play a few key notes.

True nodded and began playing.

Scott hadn’t expected his younger brother to play the piece like a professional. Both his and Johnny’s mouths were open in shock. When True finished his first piece, he turned to see if his brothers had listened or fell asleep. He was delightfully surprised to see that they were wide awake and watching him with big smiles on their faces.

“That was beautiful, Truman!” Scott exclaimed.

“Thanks, Scott.”

“Lil cowboy, you are full of surprises. That was really nice playin’.” Johnny said.

That was a real compliment, coming from Johnny. True smiled and ducked his head.

“Thanks, Johnny.”

Scott turned to Teresa and Murdoch. They both wore knowing smiles on their faces.

“How long have you two known about this prodigy?” Scott asked, gesturing towards True with his thumb.

“What’s a prodigy?” Truman asked.

Even though he wanted to know the answer to that question as well, Johnny was relieved that True had asked.

“There are a few definitions, True. But in your case, it means ‘a highly talented child,’ “ Scott replied.

“Oh,” the boy answered. “Well, I have something else I wanna play. I wrote this for Papa for Father’s Day. I might turn it in for the song writing contest…when is Father’s Day?” True asked.

“Uh, let me go check the calendar,” Teresa said.

She left and came back just a few minutes later.

“Um, it was last Sunday. Sorry, Murdoch.”

“That’s alright, darling. We’ll have our own special day tomorrow, okay? I think we got so busy catching up that we completely forgot to check the calendar,” Murdoch replied.

“Go ahead and play your song, True,” Scott encouraged the boy.

“Okay. I’m gonna sing, too. It’s called ‘Coming Home.‘ I didn’t write down the notes, but I sang it to myself a few times to get the music right,” the boy explained.

“That’s fine, son. I’m sure I’ll love it,” Murdoch said.

“Okay. Here goes,” True replied.

He began playing a slow melody, then started singing softly.


“When you change the way you look at things
The things you look at change
I can see the world so differently
Seeing things your way
There’s a path that’s right in front of me
That’s been calling me for days
And I know that when you walk with me
It will be for always

You give me everything I have
Everything I need
You are the reason why I believe
All my love
I wanna give to you all my life
I wanna see you in my dreams
You opened up my eyes to a world I have never seen
I’m coming home

When I see the way the early dawn drives the night away
To reveal a world that’s holding on to see a brighter day
I can only hope for everyone to feel the way I do
Live their life to love someone the way I love you

You give me everything I have
Everything I need
You are the reason why I believe
All my love
I wanna give to you all my life
I wanna see you in my dreams
You opened up my eyes to a world I have never seen
For always I will remain faithful to the faith you have in me
Can’t believe how much I have grown with you
I’m finally coming home

Through you I see the light that will take me home
All the days of my life

For always I will remain faithful to the faith you have in me
Can’t believe how much I have grown with you
I’m finally coming home

I’m coming home

After the last notes faded away, True turned to look at his family. Teresa was dabbing at her eyes with her handkerchief. Johnny had his head cocked to the side with a mixed expression of pride and wonder on his face. Scott was smiling warmly at the boy, and Murdoch cleared his throat as he stood up, walked to the piano bench and lifted his boy, hugging the child close.

“That is the most beautiful song I have ever heard, Truman Lancer. I feel so honored to have that song written just for me. I want you to submit your song to the contest. It’s a winner, Son,” Murdoch stated with tenuously controlled emotion.

“Thanks, Papa. I will. I gotta take it to town Monday.”

“I’ll take you. Is there an entry fee?” Murdoch asked.

“I don’t know. The paper is in my desk.”

“I’ll take a look at it tomorrow.”

“Okay. I have another song. Wanna hear it?” True asked.

“Yes!” the audience said simultaneously.

Murdoch set the boy back on the bench and squeezed his youngest son’s shoulder affectionately.

The boy smiled and turned to face the piano again. After he played the opening notes, True began to sing.

When you’re feeling lonely, lost and let down
Seems like those dark skies are following you around
And life’s just one big shade of gray
You wonder if you’ll see the light of day

{chorus}
Behind the clouds, the sun is shining
Believe me even though you can’t quite make it out
You may not see the silver lining
But there’s a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds

I’ve heard it said that this too shall pass
Good times or bad times, neither one lasts
But thinking that your luck won’t ever change
Is like thinking it won’t ever stop once it starts to rain

{chorus}
Behind the clouds, the sun is shining
Believe me even though you can’t quite make it out
You may not see the silver lining
But there’s a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds
Yeah, there’s a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds

After the last notes faded, the Lancers clapped.

“That was another fantastic song, little brother,” Scott praised.

“Thanks, Scott,” the boy replied quietly.

“Ya should turn that one in, too, lil cowboy,” Johnny suggested.

“I might. I wrote it during our cattle drive.”

“It’s a wonderful song, True. It really makes a sad day into a happy day,” Teresa said.

“Yeah,” the boy agreed.

Murdoch lifted the boy into his arms and gave him a big hug.

“You are a mighty special young man, Truman Oliver. If you decide to study music, let me know and we’ll find a good school for you,” Murdoch stated.

“You’re not gonna send me to Australia, are you? To that Vienna place?” True asked, alarmed.

Murdoch chuckled and shook his head ’no.’

“That’s Vienna, Austria, son. No, I’m not going to send you there. I meant here, in California, there are good schools for musicians. It’s up to you, though. You decide what you want to be when you grow up. You have plenty of time to decide, son.”

“Good! I don’t wanna go to Vienna!”

“You don’t have to, True,” Murdoch said.

The boy nodded and smiled. He rested his head on Murdoch’s shoulder and sighed happily. Murdoch rubbed his back and squeezed the boy one last time before he put the child down.

True looked at his brothers and smiled.

“I’m glad you’re not going to town,” he said.

“Why?” Scott asked.

“Cause I want you to play with me!”

“What do you want to play?” Scott asked.

“Guess.”

“Chess?” Johnny asked.

“Nope.”

“Checkers?” Scott suggested.

“Nope.”

“Pick up sticks?” Teresa proposed.

“Uh-uh.”

“Go fish?” Murdoch guessed.

“That’s a baby’s card game. I wanna wrestle!” True exclaimed.

“Nope,” Murdoch vetoed.

The boy’s shoulders slumped in defeat and disappointment.

“Why? Brothers are s’posed to wrestle!” True protested.

“I know, son, but there’s not enough room in here, furniture can get broken, and I don’t want anyone bumping heads on the hearth or coffee table. You can wrestle with your brothers in the grass when we go swimming tomorrow,” Murdoch explained.

“Okay. Anyone wanna play Mancala?” True asked.

Murdoch winked at his son for accepting his decision and finding an alternative activity. Truman winked back and grinned impishly.

Johnny and Scott were relieved that Murdoch had vetoed the rough play because they were both too tired to wrestle an energetic seven year old. They loved wrestling with Truman and they were very careful with him, but tonight was not the time.

“I’ll play with ya, lil cowboy,” Johnny offered.

“Okay! I’ll go get it. Be back sooner than you can spit,” the boy said as he ran off.

“Ew, Truman,” Teresa fussed.

The Lancer men chuckled at the boy’s quip.

When Truman returned, he and Johnny settled across from each other on the rug in front of the hearth, with the game between them, and started to play. Scott moved from the couch and sat on a cushion he placed on the hearth and watched his brothers play.

The sound of the game’s stones being dropped into each little bowl became the background noise for the rest of the evening. Teresa started mending True’s denim overalls and Murdoch read a Homer classic, The Iliad.

.
Story 1: A Song for Father’s Day, Part D

Truman won the first game of Mancala and Johnny won the next. Before True had a chance to play Scott, it was time for him to go to bed. Johnny hoisted the child onto his back and took him to bed.

The next day, after church, the family had their belated Father’s Day celebration. They took a picnic lunch to the swimming hole on the south range and spent the afternoon and evening there.

After they ate lunch and let their food settle, it was time to swim.

Johnny had tied a rope to a nearby tree so they could swing into the middle of the swimming hole. The rope had several knots in it so the people using it could get a good grip.

Murdoch waded into the water and watched as his sons took turns swinging and dropping into the water with big splashes. Johnny and Scott helped True get the rope swinging and the child squealed and screamed with delight. Once he was over the water, the boy let go of the rope and dropped into the water, splashing Murdoch mightily. True swam over to Murdoch and the Lancer patriarch lifted his son and held him as they watched the older Lancer sons swing and drop while laughing and yelling with wild abandon.

Teresa watched and laughed as her big brothers acted like little boys. She kept a close eye on Truman and made sure the boy didn’t wear himself out. She reminded Johnny and Scott to be careful with the youngest Lancer several times. There were some large boulders in and around the swimming hole and Teresa was worried that True would fall on one.

After an hour of continuous rope swinging and swimming, the Lancers took a break for a snack and short siesta. After their rest, the boys finally convinced Murdoch to give the rope swing a try. He climbed on, grabbing the rope tightly, and waited as Johnny and Scott pulled the rope away from the water, then let it go. Murdoch laughed as he swung back and forth a few times before he finally decided to let go of the rope.

What a splash Murdoch made! He came out of the water, sputtering, but gave his sons a rare, full-blown grin.

“That was great, Papa! Do it again!” True urged.

“No, I better not, son. That was fun, but I shouldn’t push my luck,” Murdoch replied.

“Will you still swim with me?” True asked.

“Sure, son. Come on in with me,” Murdoch replied.

True jumped into the water and swam to Murdoch. Johnny and Scott walked to a tree about fifty feet from the edge of the swimming hole. They turned, counted to three, then raced to the water, jumping in from the bank, and splashing Teresa, who was sitting on the bank, dipping her feet into the water.

“Johnny! Scott! You are in BIG trouble!” she yelled.

Murdoch and Truman laughed at their antics.

“Yeah? Whatcha gonna do, lil girl?” Johnny asked.

“I’ll start by not letting you have any cake. I ought to take a switch to you!”

Murdoch and Scott laughed. True swam to Johnny, then whispered into his ear. Johnny grinned and nodded.

“Truman, don’t you encourage their mischief or you’ll go without cake, too,” Teresa threatened.

“Oh, T’resa! You wouldn’t keep cake from me! I’m a good boy!” True defended himself.

Murdoch chuckled as Johnny and Scott laughed out loud.

“Yes, you are, little buddy!” Scott agreed.

Teresa couldn’t deny that so she just smiled and shook her head.

After a couple more hours of swimming and play, the family packed up and headed home. They had enjoyed the day together, and would spend a pleasant evening in each others’ company, too.

True had a bath before supper. He came out dressed in a pair of denim overalls with several patches and a red calico shirt. After supper, the family had some cake and ice cream.

True and Johnny had drawn pictures and made home made cards for Murdoch and gave them to the Lancer patriarch. Scott gave Murdoch a new pouch of imported pipe tobacco and Teresa had made a calf-skin vest for her guardian-father figure. Murdoch loved all of his gifts and thanked his family.

The Lancer sons played mancala and talked and laughed about their day in the water. Pretty soon, it was True’s bedtime and he went willingly. He had worn himself out and was quite tired. Scott took him up and tucked him in after helping the sleepy boy shimmy out of his overalls and into his cotton nightshirt. The boy was asleep before his head hit the pillow.



The next morning, Immediately after breakfast, Truman had copied the songs onto fresh paper in his best handwriting. He made sure his name and other pertinent information was on each page.

Murdoch and Truman took the boy’s songs and the contest paper to the Green River Community Center where Truman turned in his papers and paid the fifty cents entry fee for each song.

“Thank you very much, young man. We will have a concert featuring the finalists Saturday night. The judges decide the finalists, but the audience decides the winners for the categories and age groups,” Mrs. Hawkins informed them.

“Thank you, ma’am,” True replied.

“He’s such a nice boy, Mr. Lancer.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Hawkins. We’re very proud of him,” Murdoch replied as he gently squeezed the boy’s shoulder.

True was embarrassed, but pleased that people liked him. He ducked his head and blushed.

“I hope to see you and the family Saturday night. The program starts at seven and each finalist gets to sing their song. Good luck, Truman,” Mrs. Hawkins said.

“Thank you, Mrs. Hawkins,” the boy replied.

“You’re welcome, dear. Have a nice afternoon,” she replied.

Murdoch nodded and steered his boy outside. “How about some lunch, son? You hungry?”

“Just you an’ me?”

“Yes. Do you want to go to Claire’s Café or go to the cantina in Morro Coyo?”

“The cantina, please.”

“Okay. Let’s get our horses and go, then.”

“Okay!”

Murdoch and Truman rode to Morro Coyo and had lunch at the cantina. They stopped in at Baldemaro’s and Murdoch bought some candy for Truman. True munched on a licorice stick as they rode home.

“Papa.”

“Yes?”

“I had a good time with you. Thank you.”

Murdoch smiled at his youngest.

“You’re very welcome, my boy. I had a good time with you, too.”

When they arrived at the hacienda, they cared for the horses and walked into the house.

“Are you ready for a siesta, son?” Murdoch asked.

“No, Papa, I’m fine. I’ll have some quiet time, though,” True replied.

“Okay. “

“I’m going to sit on the veranda and draw,” True stated.

“Okay,” Murdoch agreed, knowing that if his son became sleepy, he would rest on the big chair.

True gathered his materials and went outside to draw. About an hour later, Murdoch came out to check on him and found the boy sound asleep on the chair. Murdoch gently pulled the pencil out of his son’s hand and picked up the other materials and placed them on the table. He smiled at his son and felt pure contentment.



The week progressed normally, for the Lancers, that is. A few cows got stuck in the mud, a couple of bulls decided to mate and crashed a fence to get to the females, and a few calves were born.

Truman had practiced his songs all week and had even asked Charlie to help him learn one of his songs on the guitar. Charlie worked with the boy in the evenings and taught him the chords and how to strum effectively.

By late Saturday afternoon, the Lancers were relieved the week was over. They cleaned up for an early supper, then rode to town for the song contest finalist concert.

The Lancers found a seat in the middle of the right side of the community center. The center filled up rather quickly, to the point of standing room only. Charlie joined them, brining his guitar for Truman to use when it became his turn to perform.

Mrs. Hawkins stepped onto the stage and cleared her throat.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of Green River, thank you for coming to our first annual song contest finalist concert. The categories are happy songs, sad songs, ballads, love songs, and dedications. The age groups are six to ten, eleven to fourteen, fifteen to twenty, and twenty-one and older. For the age group six to ten, our happy song finalists are Laura Lane and Simon Carter. We didn’t have any entries in this age for sad songs. The finalists for the ballad category are Martin Sawyer and Truman Lancer….”

Murdoch and Johnny, who were sitting on either side of True, each gave the boy a pat on the back.

“…The finalists for dedications are Mary Lane, Paul Phillips, and Truman Lancer,” Mrs. Hawkins continued. She finished listing the finalists for each category and each age group.

“Everyone who attended tonight’s function was given a ballot card. Please be fair and listen to each song before voting. In case of a tie, a secret committee will cast the deciding vote. The runner up performer will receive an honorable mention certificate and prize. The winner of each category will receive a certificate and twenty-
five dollars. “

“Wow! Twenty-five dollars!” True said, in awe.

“That’s a lot of money, lil cowboy. What would you do with twenty-five dollars if ya won?” Johnny asked.

“I’d put twenty of it in the bank and keep five out for stuff I might need,” True replied.

Even though True didn’t know the exact amount, he had a decent amount of money in the bank already, accumulated from cattle drive wages, allowance, and money received for his birthday and other special celebrations.

“That would be a good idea, son,” Murdoch said. “Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch, though,” Murdoch warned.

“Is that the same as don’t count the calves before they’re born, Papa?” the boy asked.

Murdoch and Johnny chuckled.

“Exactly, son. Exactly.”

.

Story 1: A Song for Father’s Day, Part E

Mrs. Hawkins called for all of the finalists in the first age group to come onstage. They were directed to sit on stools on one side of the stage.

“Our first finalist to perform is Laura Lane,” Mrs. Hawkins announced.

Laura stood and went to the center of the stage to begin her song. It was a very nice one about bluebirds and butterflies. Simon sang about the sunshine and successful crops.

“Our next performer will be Martin Sawyer,” Mrs. Hawkins announced.

Martin sang a ballad about his horse and dog.

Finally, it was Truman’s turn to sing his song. Charlie brought the guitar up to the stage and waited patiently as the boy moved his stool into position. Once True was settled on the stool, Charlie stepped onstage and handed the guitar to him, helped the boy get comfortable and whispered some encouraging words to Truman. The boy smiled at his friend and nodded his understanding. When Charlie returned to his seat, True began playing the opening notes.

When you’re feeling lonely, lost and let down
Seems like those dark skies are following you around
And life’s just one big shade of gray
You wonder if you’ll see the light of day

{chorus}
Behind the clouds, the sun is shining
Believe me even though you can’t quite make it out
You may not see the silver lining
But there’s a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds

I’ve heard it said that this too shall pass
Good times or bad times, neither one lasts
But thinking that your luck won’t ever change
Is like thinking it won’t ever stop once it starts to rain

Truman played some chords on the guitar without singing along before finishing the song with another refrain of the chorus.

{chorus}
Behind the clouds, the sun is shining
Believe me even though you can’t quite make it out
You may not see the silver lining
But there’s a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds
Yeah, there’s a big blue sky waiting just behind the clouds

When True finished, there was thunderous applause. He smiled and blushed as he took a small bow. Charlie came up to the stage and reclaimed his guitar and shook Truman’s hand in congratulations.

When True had moved back with the other finalists in his age group, Mrs. Hawkins announced the final category, the dedications. Mary Lane sang a song she had dedicated to her grandmother, Paul Phillips sang a song he dedicated to his mother, and then Truman stood to take his turn.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Hawkins?”

“Yes, Truman?”

“I need to use the piano, ma’am,” True replied.

“By all means, dear. Have a seat.”

“Thank you, ma’am.” True approached the piano and sat, then turned to the audience and said, “I want to dedicate this to my Papa, Murdoch Lancer. He and his family welcomed me into their home, took care of me, and adopted me so I could be somebody. This is for you, Papa.”

True settled at the piano and played the introductory notes, then began to sing his song, “Coming Home.”

After the last note faded, the audience stood up and clapped thunderously, giving True a standing ovation. Several women were dabbing at their eyes with handkerchiefs. Truman was awestruck. He had never expected such a reaction as this. The boy looked to his family for guidance and received a wink and a nod from Murdoch. True nodded, then bowed and returned to his seat with the other children.

Once the children were thanked for their performances, they were excused from the stage. They returned to their families, where they were hugged and congratulated.

As the evening continued, the citizens of Green River enjoyed listening to several songs being performed. Charlie had written a song, too, about a town going through changes.

After the last performance, Mrs. Hawkins announced that it was time for the audience to vote. She and two other women from the community collected the completed ballots and took them to the center’s small kitchen to count the votes.

In the meantime, the citizens in attendance mingled and quite a few came to praise Truman’s creativity and performances. The shy little boy ducked his head and blushed, but said “thank you” for each compliment.

While the audience mingled, Mrs. Hawkins and the other women tallied the votes and discovered that one performer was the obvious favorite. Once they had their totals, the ladies filled out the certificates and bank drafts and returned to the stage. They set up the prize table, then opened the curtains.

As the crowd noticed the curtains were opening, they began to settle down and return to their seats.

“I’d like all of the finalists to join me on the stage, please,” Mrs. Hawkins announced.

True and the other performers walked up on stage and stood where Mrs. Hawkins indicated. The children lined up across the stage with the older people behind them.

“For the six to ten age group, our winners are: Happy Song, Laura Lane. Simon Carter received Honorable Mention. For the Ballad, Truman Lancer. Martin Sawyer receives Honorable Mention.”

Thunderous applause followed both announcements. The children received their certificates and the winners received their bank drafts. Those who received Honorable Mention received a gold star pin with a musical note engraved in it.

“The last category, Dedications, was won by Truman Lancer. Honorable Mention goes to Mary Lane. Congratulations, children. You all did a wonderful job!” Mrs. Hawkins declared.

Charlie and Mr. Lane also won prizes in the contest.

Truman was escorted back to his seat by Charlie. The boy was surrounded by his family as they congratulated him.

“Papa! I can’t believe I won! Two times!”

“I can believe it. You were fantastic! We are very proud of you, my boy,” Murdoch replied.

He lifted his son and held him close, then Johnny took the youngster from Murdoch and hugged him.

“You’re a great kid, True. You deserved ta win. Whatcha gonna do with all that money, ?” Johnny asked.

“I’ll put forty in the bank and keep ten out for emergencies,” True answered.

“I thought you were only going to keep five out, son.”

“That’s when I thought I might win twenty-five dollars. Since I won fifty, I can keep ten out. Fifty is double of twenty-five and ten is double of five,” True explained his reasoning.

“Makes perfect sense to me,” Scott said, as he tousled True’s hair.

“Papa, will you please hold my drafts till we can take them to the bank?”

“I’d be happy to, Truman. Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah, Papa. I’m….tired,” the boy said, with a yawn interrupting his reply.

“I can see that. Let’s get going, then.”

The Lancers and Charlie said their good nights to their friends and left. Murdoch had the bank drafts in his wallet and Teresa was holding the certificates. Truman was perched on Scott’s shoulders and rode there to the surrey. Murdoch, Teresa, and True took the surrey home while Johnny, Scott, and Charlie rode their horses.

True was sound asleep by the time the family arrived at the estancia. Cipriano took control of the team as Murdoch climbed down. He reached up and pulled Truman into his arms and carried the boy to his room. Murdoch undressed True and tucked his boy in, planting a small kiss on the child’s forehead.

After Barranca and Remmie had been put to bed in their stalls, the rest of the family convened in the living room and chatted about True’s latest success.

“We’ll have to get these certificates framed, too, “ Teresa stated.

“Yeah, if he keeps this up, he’ll have a whole wall of awards,” Johnny said.

Murdoch chuckled. “We might have to move him to a bigger room,” Murdoch suggested lightly.

“No way! I’m keeping’ my lil cowboy right next door where I can keep an eye on him,” Johnny stated emphatically.

“Or he can keep an eye on you,” Scott muttered.

Murdoch and Teresa chuckled as Johnny gave Scott a slap in the stomach. Johnny let loose a slow grin and chuckled along with the others.

“I wonder what True plans to spend his money on?” Scott asked.

The End of Story 1

To Story 2

More adventures to follow.

Boonie

6/7/07

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