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Who am I?  by Cecilia Jones

This story is an orphan – that is, the writer has not been active in the fandom for a long time, and the story has been rescued from the old, defunct Yahoo groups. So that we don’t lose the story entirely, we’re storing it here.

However the original author still owns this story. Should they reconnect with the fandom at some point, we will naturally respect whatever they want to do with their story.

Word Count 1,970

It was unusually quiet in the great room that took up most of the ground level floor at Lancer.  For once, Johnny and Murdoch were not arguing.  The rancher was reading a week-old broad-sheet that someone had kindly fetched in from San Antonio, and Johnny was playing checkers,  albeit with the chess pieces, with Theresa. Scott, who had a book on his knees, was, well, he wasn’t doing anything much. 

Unlike Johnny, he was perfectly capable of sitting still without the need to be fidgeting or twiddling or eating–but even though his body was still, his mind was busy.

He glanced around the room at his engrossed family.  There they all were, Murdoch Lancer, a local rancher, well established, respected, and, on paper at any rate, wealthy.  A big confident, competent man with an undisputed air of authority and of pride in who he was. Everyone knew Murdoch Lancer and who and what he was.

Theresa, a young lady, somewhere, at the moment, between the girl she had been and the woman she was becoming.  Murdoch Lancer’s ward and, of course, well known in the area.

And there was young Johnny. Johnny Lancer. Brash cocky, self-confident and endlessly kind-hearted. He had already made a ‘place’ for himself in the community as well, with his blue-eyed smile,  effortless charm, dubious past and his apparently boundless energy. 

And then there was himself.  Scott Lancer. Or was there?  It seemed, sometimes, as if there was, in fact, no such person as Scott Lancer and never really HAD had been such a person as Scott Lancer. 

Who am I?  

The thought arose unbidden in his head and for a moment, he thought he might even have spoken it aloud. A quick discreet glance from under his lashes showed him that, thank heaven, he had not. 

As a child, he had been his grandfather’s pet. ‘Scotty’, over-indulged and overly protected but never QUITE sure that he was loved.

Amongst the staff, he had been ‘Master Scott’  his grandfather’s spoilt darling. At school, he had been ‘Harlan Garrett’s Grandson’.

Even at Harvard, he seemed to have been known by the people he hung out with and the things that he did with them rather than by his own name and deeds. Later on, he had become ‘Julia Dennison’s fiancé’ and then he had become rather well-known as the famous Emile Du Maurier’s friend.

Even during the war years, he had been ‘Phil Sheridan’s aide-de-camp ‘  A grand title for a mere messenger boy, he had thought scornfully,  and then a nameless ‘Lieutenant’ and anonymous ‘cannon-fodder’.  In the hell-hole of a Confederate prison camp, he had, for a terrible time, even been just a number.  He just seemed to have drifted through life being no-one in particular, as if his presence and existence was of no importance or had no worthwhile impact on the world around him, and it was still happening, even here, in this insular society in the middle of no-where,   it seemed.

It had happened today, in fact.  He had ridden into Morro Coyo to pick up some packages from the brand new Mail Office, spent a pleasant half an hour or so in the saloon, and then he had been making his way back to the livery stables to get his horse when he had met Mrs. Paget along with a girl he had not seen before.  He had, of course, politely tipped his hat with a courteous ‘Mornin’ ladies’ and moved on, to hear the girl ask.  ‘Now who was that?’–and he had heard the reply ‘That’s Murdoch Lancer’s son’. 

Sounded about right.  Even here, where there weren’t even that many folks at all, he wasn’t a person in his own right.  He was Murdoch Lancer’s son, he was ‘the dandy from back east’, the ‘man from Boston’, or he was Johnny Lancer’s brother.  He had even heard himself referred to as ‘Murdoch Lancer’s boy.’  Boy!!!  The only time he seemed to be Scott Lancer was when he looked in the mirror, and even then, he wasn’t sure that he knew just WHO he was or what he was. 

He had no known reputation, no particular skills.  He didn’t do anything either terribly well or even terribly badly. He could shoot straight with a good gun, but then who could not.  He could ride a fiesty horse without falling off, but then so could any other man here in the wilds.

He wasn’t given to fusses and tantrums.  No-one felt it necessary to pussy-foot around HIS feelings and behaviors.  He was good for the ‘chores,’ he thought wryly. He had developed a knack for swinging a wood axe that would have chilled his grandfather to the marrow, and he was good for clearing blocked streams or shifting rocks, or driving into town to collect the mail.  He could even broker a reasonable ‘deal’, as long as someone checked it out afterward, of course,  but nobody would have been in the least put out or put to a disadvantage if he wasn’t around. Nobody really needed Scott Lancer.

He was not even a good cowhand. Any one of the itinerant hands that his father employed was of more use on the open range than was he.    He was just there, doing his not very impressive best, hovering in the background just in case someone needed a ‘nobody’ to do something not very important. 

It was very depressing and he couldn’t really think of a single sensible thing to DO about it.

‘Book not so good, huh?  Johnny’s voice, amused and mocking.  Plainly sitting still and playing checkers had palled on the restive youngster. He was on his feet, looking, as always, as if he was about to go someplace in a tearing hurry.

‘Where were you son?’ Murdoch, too was laughing gently at him.  Scott dredged up a wan grin.  Oh well, at least he kept them amused.

‘Just thinking,’ he said, with a forced smile,   which became a rather more genuine one at Johnny murmured ‘Uh-oh’  in meaningful tones.

‘I’m goin’ out to check them mares before I turn in–fancy some night air?’  His brother was all but dancing with impatience to be DOING something.  He had three pregnant mares in the barn, all due to foal anytime now, and he inclined to ‘mother-hen’ them some. 

‘Sure.’  Scott set his book aside willingly and they headed for the door,  side by side.  Johnny held his stride on the way out long enough to automatically collect his gun belt and was strapping it in place as they went. 


The sound of a mare in trouble reached them before they were halfway to the barn.  Johnny took off at the run, Scott close on his heels. 

The bay mare with the little white star was in trouble.  She was plainly straining, great grunts wracking her sweat-dampened flanks, and even as the brothers fired up a series of lanterns to give themselves some light she collapsed into the straw, groaning.  Johnny went pale and before he had the chance to recover himself, Scott took charge.

‘Get a bucket of water and gimme some more light down here.’  He commanded stripping of his ‘fancy’  jacket, ready for action and dropping down at the mare’s tail, in one smooth action.  Johnny gave him a puzzled glance, then, recognizing the authority of the man, obeyed silently.

‘So now I’m the midwife.’ Scott thought a few minutes later as he sat in the straw, his arm up inside the struggling mare, trying to make some sense of what seemed to be a tangle of about twenty legs.   ‘Hey, Johnny! I think we got two of ’em in here.’

‘Shit.’ Johnny said succinctly.  Twin foals were not a good thing. Horses didn’t birth twins easily or well.   He could do nothing more to help at the moment and there was a short, tense silence between them, broken only by the groans and grunts from the mare,  Johnny’s soft crooning as he soothed the patient and Scotts rather laboured and concentrated breathing.

‘They are both alive.’  Scott had found two heads and sorted out the tangle of legs. ‘Cummon lass.’  He encouraged the mare.  ‘Do your stuff now.’ He had a good grip on a pair of slight, slithery legs and was tugging gently. A few moments later, one foal, small but alive, was lying in the straw, all but in his lap.   The mare, puzzled, struggled to her feet, and seconds later, the second foal all but fell into Scott’s arms.  Johnny, at her head, was stroking and soothing the mare’s sweat streaked neck.

‘Two fillies.’  Scott came to his feet, grinning his relief at this relatively easy outcome of what could have been a very tricky situation, his nice new store-bought shirt from San Francisco now a mess of blood and fluids.  ‘And so far as I can see, both are healthy. ‘ 

He watched the mare as she turned her attention to her babies.  ‘Will she be able to feed two of ’em Johnny , do you think’.  He glanced at his brother, who was staring at the delightful scene before him with shining eyes.  The mare was nuzzling and licking at each of her foals in turn and they were both responding in a perfectly natural, healthy way.  One of them was already struggling to get its long legs in position to get to her feet. 

‘I reckon she will.’  Johnny breathed.  ‘Thanks, big brother!’  He wiped the sweat off his own forehead with the back of his arm and a slow, satisfied smile,  beautiful to behold,  spread over his face as one of the fillies lurched uncertainly to its feet and then fell to its knees again whilst her sister seemed content to lie quiet a while longer. ‘Ain’t they beautiful.’  He raised his eyes to those of his taller brother with a grateful, respectful little bob of his head.  ‘One of ’em is yours if you want one.’ 

‘You pair OK in here?’  Murdoch, realizing by the length of their absence that something was happening,  threw a long shadow across the barn floor as he arrived to investigate. His eyes fell on the mare and her babies.  ‘TWO of ’em huh–are they both healthy?’

‘Sure they are.’  Johnny said softly.   ‘Scott delivered ’em’.  He could scarcely tear his gaze from the mare and her twin foals but he did manage to give his father a nod and a smile.

‘Did he now?’  the rancher was eying the filthy ‘dandy’ with some pride and no little wonderment.   ‘A man of many talents, eh Scott’. And suddenly, under this unusual and unexpected glow of approval,  Scott knew exactly who he was.  A feeling of great satisfaction was spreading through him as he stood there, covered in blood and straw and drenched with the mare’s broken waters, in this lantern-lit barn, with his father and brother both looking at him with affection and pride. 

Soon enough, he thought, they were almost bound to want to know just how he had learnt to birth a mare and no doubt they would all laugh about him defying his Grandfathers censure and the servant’s careful watchfulness,  to spend long hours in the watches of the night, down at the stables with the grooms and the veterinarians that his Grandfather thought were unfit company for him.  He wondered fleetingly just what that austere gentleman would have to say if he could just see him now.

But that was not what was important right now. Right now, he was Murdoch Lancers son and Johnny Lancers brother. Scott Lancer. Part owner of the biggest and most beautiful spread in the Valley.  And that, he reckoned, was good enough for any man. 




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3 responses to “Who am I?  by Cecilia Jones”

  1. Beautiful story. Thank you.


  2. Really enjoyed reading this story. Thanks for sharing


  3. I really liked this


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