special thanks goes to the following people who have helped me with this
their efforts this story would still be a piece of paper scribbled with a
few ideas and stuffed in a file in a desk.
Pernell Roberts, the man who made Adam Cartwright
come alive in Bonanza for all of us to enjoy. Margie Johnson, Michelle Kille, Shan Fleming,
and Carol Convine, who know of my love for the man. My husband Jeff and son
Mark for putting up with the woman who seemed to be forever attached to the
long have you been seeing this…this woman?” yelled Ben Cartwright, giving
his oldest son a hostile glare across the dining table. His
three sons could see he was furious; eyes blazing, voice raised.
the object of the anger, gave his father a faint smile. With
a slow, deliberate movement he leant back in his chair and crossed his arms
defiantly; a glimmer of anger just starting in his eyes.
sure you know, Pa, as if Hoss and Joe haven’t told you.” he said sarcastically,
giving his two brothers a glare of contempt. How had
his father found out about him and Michelle? He thought
he’d been discrete in his liaisons with her, as he was with any of the women
he’d seen in the past. Judging by his father’s reaction,
obviously not discrete enough. Sighing quietly to
himself as he realized his father’s inevitable tirade was about to commence.
turned onto his other sons, who were still seated at the dining table. Infuriated that he was the last to find out and that they’d
kept something of this embarrassing nature a secret from him. Not that his family’s standing in the town was of paramount
importance to him but nevertheless there were some actions by his sons he
would not tolerate. This was certainly going to be
one of them.
didn’t you tell me about this… affair?” He was at
a loss as to why Adam would contemplate such an action. Adam,
of all of his sons, should know better. Surely there
were enough eligible women in town to go out with. Why
if he thought hard enough, there were quite a number of very attractive and
acceptable ladies in Virginia City suitable for Adam.
swallowed, he disliked seeing his father in this frame of mind, even if it
wasn’t directed entirely at him. He gave Adam a sympathetic
look before he answered his father. Adam returned
the look with a shrug of his shoulders and little tilt of his head. There
was nothing Hoss could do but answer and he didn’t want Hoss getting into
trouble with their father in an angry state.
Pa, it’s Adam’s choice as to who he sees. I didn’t
see no harm in it. I didn’t tell you ‘cause… ummm,
I thought Adam would when he wanted to.”
dropped his eyes back to the table and his plate of food.
He knew his father was disappointed with him but Adam was old enough
to make his own decisions.
what about you? Were you aware of what was going on
between this woman and your brother?”
didn’t like to be caught in the middle of a family fight, nor in his father’s
anger, anymore than his brothers but he knew that his eldest brother was
happy with Michelle. Surely their father had noticed
the change in Adam because it was obvious to everyone on the ranch that he
was in love. Even he and Adam had stopped their petty
bickering as Joe no longer felt Adam was peering over his shoulder all the
time while working. Smiling to himself, Joe thought
it was actually the opposite. With Adam’s mind elsewhere, Joe could do the
chores the way he wanted, without incurring Adam’s unwelcome directions.
didn’t tell you because I’ve seen how happy he is with Michelle.”
with his sons’ replies, Ben swung back around to face Adam, the source of
haven’t answered me, Adam, how long? Or do I have to ask questions twice
in this household before I receive an answer?”
by the line of questioning and his father’s tone of voice, Adam suddenly
stood up from the table. With the backs of his legs,
he sent his chair crashing to the floor. Hoss and
Joe winced at the sound while Hop Sing came running from the kitchen to see
what caused the noise. Ben held his glare on Adam,
not phased by the dramatic action with the chair.
was enough. Normally Adam would keep his anger under
control and remain civil with his father but today was very different. He was annoyed that his father would treat him like a
schoolboy in front of his brothers and besides he felt he could see whomever
his napkin onto his plate of half-finished food, he disrespectfully turned
away from his father and started towards the stairs. Ignoring
his father’s question as he strode across the room, his shoulders stiff with
barely restrained anger. This was all wrong. Everyone should be happy about finding out about Michelle
and his love for her, not angry.
going upstairs to pack my bag because I’ll be staying in town from now on.” He could feel three pairs of eyes on his back as he walked
up the stairs, clumping his feet angrily. He knew he
was acting like a spoilt child but if he was going to be treated like one
he may as well be one.
Cartwright sat stunned and open-mouthed at the table. He
was shocked that Adam was leaving home. Furthermore
he was shocked by the way in which Adam had spoken to him.
Was his life at the ranch so difficult he felt it necessary to leave?
Adam had never been one to share his feelings, he’d always kept them locked
up inside him, but this was different. Was it because
of his relationship with this woman? Shaking his head
he looked at Hoss in puzzlement.
what’s going on? What happened?”
for his father’s clenched fist on the table, Hoss covered it, trying to calm
wait, Pa, I’ll tell ya everything I know, when Adam’s gone.”
“Gone. I don’t want him gone.” Ben cried. “His place is here, not with this woman. I won’t allow it.”
down, Pa or he’ll hear you. Besides you don’t even
know her. How can you make a judgment already about
her? And I don’t think you’re going to be able to
stop him now.” said Joe, trying to calm his father.
want him to hear me. I’m going upstairs to talk this
out with him.”
jumped to his feet, knocking his chair over with a crash and making the table
shake as his thighs hit the table on the way up. At
the sound of the second chair falling on the floor, Hop Sing came running
back from the kitchen, his hands covered with flour.
leave him be. He has to do this himself. I’m sorry, but it’s right for him. Maybe
not to leave, but to see Michelle and be with her. You just don’t understand.”
shook his head at his father, while he still held his father’s hand, preventing
him from leaving the table and going after his eldest son.
Hoss couldn’t meet his father’s eyes, sickened by his own disrespect
to his father but knowing the reasons behind Adam’s need to leave.
showed openly on Ben’s face. Hoss was forcibly holding
him down. Never in their lives had any of his sons
acted this way toward him, as they were today. Certainly
in his younger days as a growing boy Adam had been rebellious, but what boy
do as Hoss says. We’ll explain it all soon.” Joe glanced
up the staircase, then back at his father. Adam should
nearly be finished packing and heading back down the stairs. He gave Hoss a sideways glance, knowing how much holding
their father to the table was hurting all of them.
heard most of the conversation in his room, at least his father’s raised,
angry voice. What right has he to be angry thought
Adam? I’m the one being accused of something terrible. All I’m doing is seeing a wonderful woman he thought,
smiling as he recalled her. Packing the last of his
clothes, he took one final look around the room. Leaning
up against the wall, under the open window, was his guitar.
picked it up, running his hand along the shiny smooth wood. Deciding to leave it behind, he carefully set it on his
bed. As he did his fingers lightly played across the
strings; the sound softly filling the room. He didn’t
feel like playing music and couldn’t see himself wanting to for quite a while.
one last glance around his room, he picked up the bag and strode across his
floor, pulling the door shut behind him.
the sound of his footsteps coming down the stairs, the three seated men watched
Adam in silence. Each one was wanting to say something
to prevent him from leaving but refrained from doing so.
Two knew nothing was going to stop him from leaving today, the other
still surprised and unable to speak.
didn’t bother to look in their direction but headed straight for the door. Dropping the bag beside him, he reached out, grabbed his
gunbelt and hastily buckled it on, still waiting for someone to say something. With hat and coat in one hand, he tucked the bag under
one arm and reached for the door handle.
son.” Said Ben, finally finding his voice.
opened the door and stepped outside, not acknowledging the farewell. With
a loud click the door closed behind him.
rounded on Hoss, his voice deep with barely controlled anger.
can let go now, Hoss. He’s gone, are you satisfied? Now are you going to tell me everything or will I have
to drag it out of you, piece by piece?”
let go of his father’s arm; ashamed he had forcibly restrained his Father. He didn’t know where to begin. Raising
his eyes to meet his father’s he started.
started a couple of months ago, just after the last yearling sale.”
months ago. This has been going on for two months
and you didn’t have the courtesy to tell me? I had
to find out by overhearing the gossips in town.”
left the table and began pacing in front of the fireplace.
His mind milling over the length of Adam’s affair, conducted under
continued. “Adam met her in the International Restaurant when he was dining
alone, ‘cause we’d all gone home. He was late finishing
the paperwork for the sales that day and decided to eat at the restaurant. Anyways they got to talking and he’s been seeing her ever
about her husband?”
stepped in and answered his father. “Adam said he
was missing, presumed dead in a railroad accident. The
carriages had fallen into a river, when a bridge gave way.
It appears the searches never found his body.”
and where did all this happen?”
think outside San Francisco… about 8 months ago.” replied Hoss.
stopped pacing, taking in all that had been said. He
was very upset that Adam hadn’t told him but the new information was calming
him down. Could his eldest son no longer speak to
him? Were they so distant that they couldn’t discuss
what he was doing, whom he was seeing?
didn’t he tell me?” Ben asked, despair now replacing the anger in his voice.
Pa, ya did too good a job of raisin’ him. He knew
you wouldn’t approve of him seeing a married woman, even if her husband were
said to be dead. Because the law ain’t stated that
he’s dead, Adam decided to keep it a secret. He only
told me and Joe because we’d seen him out buggy ridin’ one day. He didn’t intend to deceive you Pa, honest. He was just waitin for the right time and he sure didn’t
mean to hurt you just now. It’s cause he was hurtin’
that he lashed out at you. I know he didn’t mean it
Pa and maybe he was feelin’ a might guilty about how you found out an all.”
jumped into the conversation again, to help explain Adam’s actions.
been so happy with her, Pa. Adam said she makes him
feel alive, in a way he’s never felt before. Haven’t
you noticed the difference in him? How me and him
haven’t even been fighting lately?”
began to recall the past two months. They’d all been
so busy with the round up and breaking in the yearlings that he realized
he hadn’t noticed the change in Adam. If that hadn’t
been enough there had been the details of the lumber contract to be sorted
out. Ben was tormented by the fact he’d been too busy
for his eldest son to talk to him. He’d prided himself
on the fact that he had a good, open relationship with his sons. That they could come to him with any problems they had
or discuss anything they wanted; at least he thought they could. Clearing his throat self-consciously, he questioned his
two remaining sons.
either of you two met her?”
and Joe both shook their heads. “Nah, the day we saw
them in the buggy, Adam was so embarrassed at being seen that he didn’t introduce
us. He told us later that day after they’d finished
their ride.” Said Joe. “He was waiting outside of town to talk to us on the
ride home. He asked us not to say anything to you,
because he knew you’d be angry with him. He wanted
to tell you himself, at the right time. I guess the right time never came
I’m going to have to meet this woman whom Adam just left home for.”
was sure she was going to be surprised at his decision to stay in town. From
the very beginning their relationship had been difficult to keep from his
father. Discretion was one thing but Adam couldn’t
help feeling he was being dishonest by not telling his father. He knew all along that when his father found out the
truth, he’d be disappointed it had been kept from him.
wanted to start their relationship slowly and they discussed, in detail,
her husband’s disappearance because, legally, she was still married. Adam had told her that as far as he was concerned, because
Stewart had been missing nearly six months, it was time for her to get on
with her life. She was too young a woman to pine her
life away for a man who for all appearances was dead.
the first time in his life he’d let a woman into his heart and he was savoring
every moment he spent with her. Michelle was everything
he’d ever wanted; attractive, with long dark brown hair and soft pale skin.
with honors in the East, she matched him with intellectual conversation and
although she’d never ventured West until recently with her husband, she loved
the open spaces and beautiful countryside.
and her husband had only been married three months when the accident occurred. After paying for extra searchers to look for her husband,
she’d finally realized the hopelessness and decided to return to the east. Her finances were running low and to continue with the
unsuccessful searches would have drained what little remained. When she met Adam, she’d been staying overnight in Virginia
City at the International Hotel, waiting to catch the morning stage east.
grinned as he remembered their first meeting in the restaurant. He’d had papers spread all over the dining table when she’d
asked to sit with him. He’d look up at the soft voice,
into the face of a woman he instantly thought was the most beautiful woman
he’d ever seen. In his haste to clear the table, he’d
clumsily knocked most of the papers onto the floor. They
both laughed and when each had bent down to gather the scattered papers their
hands accidentally touched. Adam felt shivers run
up his arm at the touch before she’s hastily pulled her hand back, breaking
the contact. Pink with embarrassment, Michelle stood
up quickly and sat at the table while Adam finished collecting the documents
and stuffed them into his portfolio. After their
meal and while sipping on their coffee, Michelle quietly, with barely controlled
tears, told him her story.
knew instantly how she felt at the loss of her husband of three months. He’d lost three mothers; two he remembered clearly. The first, Elizabeth his birth mother, he didn’t remember
because he’d been an infant when she’d died. But Inger,
Hoss’s mother, he’d known and loved with all the loving possible of a boy.
relationship with Marie, Joe’s mother, had been fierce and strained until
he’d finally let her into his heart. He’d been afraid
to love her because all the women he’d loved so far had been torn from him. To have lost one mother had scarred deeply into his heart,
he’d adored Inger but when Marie had died he’d been devastated. He’d had no chance to grieve because his father had ceased
to live at that point or to care about his three sons. Adam
had been forced, by being the oldest son, to assume the family and ranch responsibilities
until a near accident with Joe had brought his father back to reality.
the date of Marie’s death, Adam had shielded his feelings, vowing never to
be hurt again by love. Even his father and brothers
were unable to penetrate the tight impenetrable defenses Adam had built around
himself, unless he let them. To Adam to show his
true love for his family and brothers would have been the same he’d shown
Inger and Marie. If distancing himself from his
feelings meant being cold, aloof and withdrawn he would do it, if only for
knew he’d never survive the loss of someone close to his heart again, so
he avoided getting into that situation all together. He
didn’t want to think about what would happen if he ever lost Michelle; no,
they would never be apart.
long ride into town helped ease his mind of the argument with his father. Adam had hoped his father would understand why he’d gone
behind his back but if he didn’t or wouldn’t, then they’d both have to live
with his decision. Michelle had become more important to him than his life
at the Ponderosa, not that he wanted to leave. He was
prepared to sacrifice everything for her; even his family.
Her company was enchanting, exhilarating and he was enjoying every
minute spent with her.
sun was setting as Adam reigned his horse outside the livery stable and Buck
Kelly the owner, met him at the door.
staying in town tonight, Adam?” queried Buck, noticing the bag slung over
Buck. Put Sport away for me will you, I’m in town for a while.”
untied the bag and slung it over his left shoulder as he strode towards the
International Hotel, smiling to himself in the evening light. After saying a quick hello to the night clerk and a request
for an early breakfast to be delivered to his room, he collected his key
and ran up the stairs two at a time. Still hurrying
at the top landing, he rounded the corner and collided with another guest
coming in the opposite direction.
“Sorry,” Adam said. “My fault, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
guest nodded his head and continued down the stairs. In
the dim hallway lighting Adam couldn’t see the man’s face because his hat
was pulled right down, nearly to his eyes. Shrugging
his shoulders, Adam smiled to himself and knocked on the door to Room 6.
“Yes? Who is it?” came a sweet woman’s voice from behind the
closed door. The door opened slightly and Adam grinned
at the face of a young dark-haired woman.
God, you are beautiful woman.’ He thought. “Hello,
pleased to see me?”
opened the door wider and glanced up the hallway before grabbing Adam’s arm
and pulling him into the room.
was amused to see an anxious expression upon her face. It was as if she expected
the town gossips to see him entering her room at this hour.
are you doing here? I thought we weren’t seeing each
other tonight.” She said, concern coloring her voice. Barely
inside the room, Adam threw the bag on the floor. He
was delighted to see her and wrapped his arms around her in a swift, impulsive
that anyway to greet your love?” He said, kissing
her lips passionately. His left hand moving from her
waist to caress her face. Michelle reached between
their bodies and placed her hands on his chest, pushing him back slightly
so she could look at his face, all the while still enwrapped in his embrace. She gazed into his eyes, a bemused expression now on her
just surprised to see you, Adam, that’s all. Why are
you in town tonight?”
found out about us and he wasn’t at all happy with the news. I wasn’t prepare to sit through a lecture, so I left and
came here to be with you.”
Adam, you know I didn’t want you to have a disagreement with your father
over me. Will he understand why you left and how you
feel about me?” Michelle was deeply distressed by
Adam’s news and she felt tears forming quickly in her eyes.
knew from the way Adam talked about his father and family how much he loved
them, even if he didn’t say it outright. The argument
must have been horrible enough for him to want to leave the house at this
time of evening.
Pa’ll come around. He’ll have to.” Placing his hand
under her chin, he lifted her head so she looked directly into his eyes. “Because I want you to marry me.”
what a wonderful surprise. I wasn’t expecting you
to ask me so soon.”
asked Adam, his eyes bright with happiness. All he
needed now was for her to say yes.
only a slight hesitation, which Adam thought was sweet, Michelle gave him
Yes, Adam, I will. Yes, Yes, Yes.”
Adam kissed her again, then picking her up in his arms, waltzed her around
the room. Michelle giggled in his arms, cuddling into
him closely, her arms wrapped around his neck.
Michelle Cartwright. It has a good sound to it. I like it.” Adam said as he set her down on her feet beside
the bed. He felt into his coat pocket and bought out
the key to his room.
reached out with her index finger and gently rattled the key and tag as she
looked into his face.
“I don’t think you’ll be needing that tonight.” She said
huskily. “In fact I don’t want you to leave this room
I’d love to stay but um…I don’t think it’s appropriate under the circumstances. I should leave now before…” Adam’s face and eyes betrayed
his thoughts to her.
with me Adam, I want you to make love to me. Forget
what’s happened between you and your father and just hold me. I need you.” Michelle could see
she’d convinced him to stay as, after a long moment of thought, his expression
changed from one of indecision to desire.
longing for her outweighed his conscience and sense of propriety.
a deft flick of his wrist, from years of practice throwing horseshoes with
his brothers, he threw the key on the dresser table.
held out her arms to him and as he entered her embrace he groaned, the depth
of passion he felt for his future wife overcame him.
at the Cartwright dining table was subdued for the remainder of the night. Ben stared at the chair opposite him. His
eldest son’s chair was empty and the half-eaten plate left by him remained
on the table. He knew that one day the chairs for
all his sons would be empty but the circumstances surrounding Adam’s announcement
left a bitter taste in his mouth. He’d expected the
time to be happy and enjoyable, not angry because of an argument.
agonized over why he hadn’t seen the change in Adam. Yes,
he had been coming home late in the evenings from town, but Ben had put that
down to the business dealings, which he entrusted to Adam.
trusted Adam with his Power Of Attorney to arrange whatever business arrangements
necessary and see them through, so he’d had no reason to suspect anything
else. When Adam arrived home late the last few months,
he’d discuss the days business with his father then headed off to bed. Besides tending to his chores around the ranch, Adam had
enjoyed the challenge of conducting the ranch deals with his father’s full
approval. Ben had thought about reducing some of Adam’s
ranch chores but somehow the perfect time to discuss the subject with all
his sons had never come up.
back, Ben thought of the last time Adam had come home from town and sat drinking
coffee with his family while they finished eating. He
said he’d already eaten in town because he knew he’d be late for dinner. All the signs were there but he hadn’t seen them for what
they were; his son was seeing a woman. Ben put his
knife and fork down on his plate, his appetite gone. He
pushed the plate away and reached into his pocket for his pipe and tobacco. While he filled the pipe he mulled over what he wanted
to say to his two remaining sons.
serious is the relationship Adam has with her? Either
one of you can answer me and I don’t care who, just as long as I get a straight
answer.” He asked in a voice thick with more emotion
than he intended.
quickly finished off his mouthful of food before he answered his father. He knew his father disliked anyone talking with their
know he’s really stuck on her, Pa. He was seein’ her
in church on Sundays and then afterwards too.”
was in church? Near us?” Ben
was surprised, very surprised Adam had been with her in church. He couldn’t recall any woman in Adam’s company. No Hoss must have been mistaken. He shook his head and
took a deep suck on his pipe for comfort, the smoke wafting slowly into the
Pa. She was the beautiful brunette sitting beside
Adam in our pew.” Joe replied giving his father his usual cheeky grin. Ben glared at his youngest son who quickly dropped his
grin and his eyes back to his plate.
huh, Pa.” Hoss laughed. “I
told you he was stuck on her. I wouldn’t be surprised
if he was courtin’ her.”
looked at Hoss incredulously. “But he can’t.”
confused look passed between Hoss and Joe before both turned to look at their
father, curious as to his reasons.
not? Why can’t he be courting Michelle?”
I taught you boys anything or haven’t any of you been bothered to listen? Adam is seeing a married woman and I did not raise my
sons to be adulterers.”
Pa, Michelle’s husband is dead and besides Adam likes her.” Said Joe. He couldn’t understand why his father was upset about
Adam being happy. Would the same thing happen to him
if he fell in love with a woman who Pa didn’t approve of?
in the eyes of the law, she is still a married woman. He
shouldn’t be courting her let alone possibly wanting to marry her. I won’t let him.”
looked at his father, his eyes and face betrayed his sadness.
though Adam is the happiest he’s ever been, you’ll stand in his way just because
she might still be married under the law. Don’t you
think you’re being a might unreasonable?”
was surprised by Hoss’ outburst. Hoss was slow to
anger and yet very aware of his father and brother’s opposing feelings about
this woman, Michelle.
he’d been a blind fool about Adam’s feelings for her and he was still being
a blind fool about her relationship with Adam. How
could he possibly form an opinion on someone he’d never met? Besides a discussion
with their lawyer could clear the matter up of whether she was still married
at Hoss he reached over to him and gave him a slap on the shoulder.
Hoss, you’re right. I am being unreasonable. I think I’ll go into town in the morning and invite them
to dinner. That way I can get to know her, Michelle,
and see for myself what Adam feels about her. Then
I’ll decide whether to stop him or not.”
and Joe grinned at their father. Both happy that for
now they were getting somewhere with their father on Adam and Michelle’s
“Have you forgotten that you’re tree-marking tomorrow morning with Adam?”
a brief moment of thought, Ben replied.
I had forgotten. Joseph, go into town early in the
morning and invite your brother and Michelle to dinner for tomorrow night. Make dinner around 7.30.”
“Pa, that means I’ll have to be out of bed real early. Do I have to? Why can’t you ask Adam when you see him?”
“Joseph, don’t argue with me. It’s quite possible Adam won’t want to see me tomorrow, let alone spend the day with me in the pines. Do as I say please, without the discussion.”
replied with a big sigh and roll of his eyes. “Yes,
Pa.” Both Ben and Hoss laughed at Joe, before he joined
in after finishing his mouthful of food. At least
the three of them could still laugh together and hopefully it wouldn’t be
too long before Adam could join in.
how many times have I told you not to talk with food in your mouth?”
Ben gave Joe a look out of the corner of his eye. The
tone of voice Joe used usually meant trouble.
of luck stopping him.” Laughing, Joe continued. “You
know how stubborn Adam is when his mind is made up about something. Sort of reminds you of someone else, doesn’t it Pa?”
see Joe, we’ll see.”
that evening, after Hoss and Little Joe had gone to bed, Ben opened the door
and walked into Adam’s empty room. There was just enough moonlight coming
through the window for him to see the now abandoned room.
Even without Adam physically in the room, Ben could feel him. He made
his way over to the dresser and picked up the portrait of Adam’s mother, Elizabeth.
With his large fingers he gently reached out and touched her face, the glass
cold on his fingertips. She would have known what
to do and how to handle their distraught son - most likely a lot better than
he just had.
holding her picture tightly in his hand, he ran his other along the neatly
stacked books on the shelf. Below the shelf, on the
desktop, was a book the open pages lying face down. Mindful
of not losing the place in the book, Ben lifted it up, closer to his face
and read the title in the moonlight drifting into the room. Milton’s Paradise Lost. Ben smiled
to himself, so he still reads it after all this time.
Milton Cartwright, Elizabeth had named their son Adam, after the character
in her favorite book; their favorite book. Unrestrained
tears welled in Ben’s eyes as he remembered that wonderful day when Adam
was born. Within the week she was gone; gone and
left him alone with their newborn baby son.
wiped the tears away with his shirt cuff as he returned the book to its place
on the desktop and turned for the door.
on top of the bed, nestled softly into the bedcovers, was Adam’s guitar.
Ben was surprised he’d left his beloved guitar behind and not in it’s regular
place of leaning against the wall below the window. Usually
when Ben saw Adam strumming the guitar in his room, he’d be reclining back
in the chair with the two front chair legs off the floor, his feet popped
up on the windowsill as he gazed out the window. Ben
smiled at the memory, of Adam happily playing the guitar that Marie had given
son had left two very important possessions behind, so maybe there was hope
yet, to solve their differences. Or maybe he didn’t
want reminders of the sometimes emotionally painful past.
Whatever the reason, Ben knew he had to talk, alone, with his son.
placed the picture back on the dresser, facing the bed. Having
one last look around the room he left, leaving the door open. The door would always remain open for his first born.
he was meeting Adam to tree-mark the western section for the railway contract
Adam had secured. He and Adam would have plenty of
time to talk.
Adam rolled over and snuggled closer to Michelle’s warm supple body. He wrapped his arm around her waist, feeling her warm,
soft skin with the palm of his hand.
that’s nice. Keep that up Adam Cartwright and you won’t get out of this bed,
let alone the room today.”
that be so bad?” mumbled Adam into her soft hair, his eyes still shut, wanting
to forget he was to meet his father today. He wriggled
his body closer to hers, their curves matching each other like spoons.
gave a soft, throaty laugh. “Yes, you have to go to
work and I have to start planning a wedding. Or had
you forgotten that?”
rather stay here, where it’s nice and warm instead of confronting my father. I have a feeling that meeting is going to be very cold.”
“Chicken.” Michelle started to giggle as he lightly played his fingers
against her waist. Mischievously, Adam tickled her
harder and they burst into laughter, enjoying each other’s happiness.
deserved that, woman.” He said, finally stopping his tickling but keeping
his hands where they were on her body. With mock anger he continued “Imagine calling your future husband a chicken. I’m outraged.”
happened to the man who wanted to leave last night, but didn’t?”
gave Michelle an embarrassed laugh.
he’s still here, just in hiding for a while longer, that’s all.”
her gently to face him, he smiled into her eyes, amazed at how complete he
felt with her. If he was given a choice, he’d stay
with her all day but knew his father would be marking trees this morning
and he’d promised him he’d assist. He’d spent too
much time on the contract to waste the effort on an argument with his father. Even though they’d had the argument about Michelle, Adam
would still carry out his ranch chores. He could never
abandon his responsibilities to his father and brothers.
Ponderosa was their life but Adam wanted a life aside from the ranch too. But convincing his father that he could have both was
going to be difficult.
it daylight yet, Darling?” murmured Michelle into Adam’s chest. She was wrapped closely into his body by his strong arms
and she could feel his heart beating; his chest rising and falling with each
opening one eye Adam and squinted at the window over the top of her hair,
the curtains were half drawn. Sighing he finally said. “Yes it is, looks like I’d better get moving or I’ll be
raised an arm and lifted her chin with his fingers, which brought her lips
to his. He kissed her passionately.
Both still felt the warm effects of their lovemaking during the night
before. The memory brought an instant response from
his body and snuggled so closely together, Michelle could not help but notice
the effect on him.
studied her face in the early morning light, content with the notion of waking
up beside her every morning for the rest of his life. Both
were startled out of their reverie when they heard a loud knock at their
you expecting anyone at this hour? Did you order breakfast
by any chance?” asked Adam, as his stomach gave a rumble at being empty. He recalled he hadn’t finished his dinner last night,
so no wonder he was hungry.
vigorously to clear her eyes and head, Michelle smiled.
I didn’t. I’ve been having my breakfast in the restaurant.”
go see who it is.” Adam said, throwing off the covers and padding on bare
feet towards the door.
Began Michelle, as she broke into giggles of laughter. “Don’t you think you’d
better put some clothes on, or at least some pants? You’re
a very handsome man to look at, when you’re unclothed, and I have noticed,
but is it possible the person waiting outside might not think so?” She then covered her mouth with her hand to smother the
sound of the giggles.
by what he’d nearly done, Adam reached out for a towel, which was resting
beside the hand basin. He wrapped it around his waist,
tightly tucking the corner into the top as he walked to the door.
better pull those covers over yourself, woman.” Adam grinned at her over
his shoulder, not wanting to allow her naked body to be seen by anyone but
opened the door, ajar enough to see who was waiting in the hallway. Outside was his youngest brother, Little Joe, grinning
like a kitten with a bowl of milk, a breakfast tray balanced in his hands.
moments before Joe had entered the foyer of the hotel as the desk clerk was
preparing to deliver the tray to Adam’s room.
Harold. Can you tell me which room Adam is in? He hasn’t left yet has he because I need to talk to him
he’s here.” Said Harold after he’d glanced at the key hooks to confirm the
key hadn’t been returned. “As a matter of fact I was
about to take this breakfast tray up to his room, number 5.”
take it up for you seeing as how I’m going to see him. By
the way which room is Miss Michelle Sinclair in?”
she’s room 6. The next door to Adam’s.”
convenient. I wonder….” muttered Joe to himself as
he picked up the tray and smiled at Harold.
nothing. Just thinking out loud.”
big brother, nice to see you’re at least awake early on this fine morning. Mustn’t keep Pa waiting you know.” With
having said his greeting, he tried to peer around the door and Adam as he
attempted to step into the room.
by Joe’s actions but not wanting to let him see anymore than he could, Adam
closed the door a fraction further. “Joe, do you mind? I do.”
he wasn’t going to see any further into the room, Joe made a show of closely
scrutinizing the door number. With a puzzled expression
on his face, he looked at his older brother out of the corner of his eye.
that’s funny, I’m sure the desk clerk said you were supposed to be in room
5 not 6? I knocked on 5 but there was no answer, but
here you are in 6. I wonder why that is?” Joe finished
off his sentence with a cheeky smile only he could give, barely holding back
his laugh. He was enjoying embarrassing his brother. It wasn’t often Adam presented him with an opportunity
like he had right now. Joe couldn’t resist.
another cheeky grin, which reminded Adam of Joe as a child, he continued.
“I can’t hold this heavy tray all day you know, do you mind if I came in….”
as he stepped towards the door, with a half-hearted attempt to move Adam
right where you are little brother and just hand me the tray, if you don’t
mind.” Said Adam sternly as he smiled at Joe, letting
him have his fun at his expense. He knew Joe was going
to play this out for all it’s worth and knew, given the same opportunity,
he’d do the same. No doubt when Joe told Hoss, he’d
have more teasing waiting for him, but then that was typical of his brothers.
are you doing here this early anyway, Joe? You’re usually
in bed yourself at this hour and after a ride from the ranch too, I might
grin faded from his face as he recalled the reason for the early visit.
wants to invite you and Michelle to dinner tonight. I
had to give you the message before you left for the ranch.
Will you both come please? Pa, Hoss and me’d
love to meet Michelle, really Adam. He’s sorry he
yelled at you last night, you know. He was just surprised
and disappointed that you didn’t let him know sooner, that’s all. About Michelle, I mean.” As an
after thought he added. ”I also came into town to
see Anne at the saloon, for a few minutes.”
gave him a questioning look as he hastily grabbed the tray from Joe, turned
and placed it on the nearby chair.
where you are, Joe.” Replied Adam as he walked closer to the bed.
raised his eyebrows at Michelle as he looked down at her.
She’d drawn the covers up under her chin so that only her face was
what do you think, Michelle? Do you want to go? We won’t if you don’t want to. Nobody
is forcing you to do anything.”
slid her hand out from under the covers and placed it gently on his arm,
softly squeezing it reassuringly. “I think we should
have dinner with your family Adam. I don’t want you
to argue with your father over me, they’re your family. Besides,
I’d like to get to know your brothers as well as your father; as I’m sure
they’d like to have the opportunity to know me.”
gave her one of his rare smiles that she had come to love as he walked back
to the door and his patiently waiting little brother. He was grateful she’d
agreed to have dinner with his father and brothers because he needed to talk
with his father.
Pa that we’ll have dinner but here, downstairs in the restaurant, not at
make the reservation for tonight….make it around 7 o’clock.”
that said and a farewell grin, Adam shut the door firmly in Joe’s face, not
waiting for his reply. Adam wanted to meet his father,
but on his terms, not his father’s. In the restaurant
neither would be able to argue the point, without creating a scene, which
he knew his father would go to great lengths to avoid.
would feel more comfortable, as he knew how imposing his father and the ranch
were to unsuspecting visitors.
shown her the ranch house 3 weeks ago when his father and brothers had been
away for 2 days, checking on the lower section fence-line. While passing
Hop Sing on the road that morning, they’d waved to him as he headed the buckboard
into town for their supplies. A chore usually attended
to by either Hoss, Joe or himself but with everyone gone from the ranch Hop
Sing had to do it himself.
once the Cartwright house had been peaceful and quiet. With no one around
to interrupt them, they’d taken the opportunity to make love in the intimate
privacy of his room. Although hesitant at first, he’d
agreed to Michelle’s insistence of making love in his bed.
Something he’d never wanted to or been able to do before, without
the fear of someone walking in on him. Little Joe
had a habit, from his early childhood days, of entering his room without knocking
first, even when the door was shut.
continued to smile as he remembered Michelle, wandering around in his room
while he sat on the edge of the bed. After admiring
the lower rooms of the house, Michelle had wanted to see the room where he
spent his spare time and slept. She’d run her fingers
gently over the book spines and read the titles he kept on the shelf above
his writing desk. Then they’d spent some time discussing
the works of the respective authors.
up his guitar, Michelle awkwardly played a few notes and with a touch of
regret in her voice, admitted she’d never had lessons or bothered to learn.
parents had taught her to read music and play the piano and even though learning
was difficult at first, she missed not playing; how she enjoyed the feeling
of loosing herself in the music. He’d told her he
was sorry that they didn’t have a piano because he’d loved to have heard
her play. Now, he thought, he could buy her one when
they were married, as a wedding gift, and she could play whenever she wanted. He felt his love for her grow as he realized they shared
many of the same loves for music and literature.
a playful laugh she’d pushed him back on the bed, his feet still on the floor,
her hands resting against his chest. Her body began
to move against his, igniting a longing he had to fight hard to control. Michelle noticed his reaction and her desire for him had
swept aside all his thoughts of honorable intentions. Adam
wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer and rolling her under him. Their kisses and closeness had ignited a passion that
neither was prepared to ignore.
her eyelashes, and with a soft smile, Michelle closely watched Adam dress. She enjoyed seeing his smooth muscles ripple across his
back and arms as he pulled first his jeans and then his boots on.
wickedly to herself, she observed him as he buttoned up his fly. Out of the corner of his eye, Adam caught her looking
at him and noticed the direction of her gaze.
laughed as she self-consciously blushed, having been caught so brazenly watching
him. Once he finished the last of his buttons and
buckled the belt, Adam crossed the floor to her grabbing her tightly in his
arms, crushing her to his body.
love you, you shameless woman. So much that it hurts
to think what would happen if I ever lost you.”
you’ll never lose me because we’ve only just found each other.” whispered
Michelle into Adam’s ear as her breath tickled his ear, sending shivers down
pushing his desire aside, Adam released her. Then
he threw on his shirt and buckled up the gun belt. Shining
a glossy black in the morning light, the holster was slung low on his right
thigh, blending into one form, just the way she liked thought Michelle. In one smooth motion he drew the gun and spun the cylinder
as he made sure each chamber was loaded. Just as swiftly
he holstered the gun and began rolling up the long sleeves of his shirt.
eat the breakfast I ordered, sweetheart, I’ll have something downstairs in
the restaurant, on my way out.”
thanks.” Murmured Michelle, as she snuggled back into the cozy bed. ”I’ll
stay here for a little while longer.”
collected his hat from the back of the chair, bent over and gave her one
last, long kiss. It was going to be a long, difficult
day without her to keep him company and the afternoon was aways off. Shaking
his head decisively, he brushed aside the strong longing to stay with her
and avoid meeting his father.
closing the door behind him, Adam strode down the hallway.
The black hat now firmly placed on his head and both thumbs tucked
into his gun belt. His deep thoughts now firmly onto
the coming meeting with his father. He wasn’t looking
forward to facing his father, not after his rude behavior and walking out
on him at the dinner table last night.
he collected his horse from the livery, mounted and headed towards the ranch,
he wondered how much his father had warmed towards his relationship with
Michelle. Time will tell he thought, time will tell.
he’d finished breakfast and headed out the front door to the barn, Ben wasn’t
surprised to see Adam waiting outside the house. What
he was surprised about was that Adam hadn’t come inside to say greet his
brothers, after all it was still his home. Or did
Adam no longer call the Ponderosa his home?
arrived earlier than planned, Adam realized his father wasn’t ready to leave. He quietly dismounted and entered the familiar barn,
the hay on the floor rustling under the soles of his boots as he walked to
the stall. Giving his father’s horse a soft rub down
the nose, he grabbed Buck’s saddle blanket, saddle and bridle then began
to prepare him for his father. By the time Ben had finished eating and collected
his gun and hat, Adam was back on his horse, holding Buck’s reins; waiting
Adam.” Said Ben pleasantly, as Adam handed him the reins.
Pa.” Adam matched his father’s tone. ‘So far, so good.’
didn’t you come inside, son?” Ben said, asking the
obvious question of his son and curious to know what his answer would be.
gave his father a half smile before he answered, his dark eyes remained on
his father - ready to see what reaction his comment would bring.
sure I was welcome anymore.”
anger flared in him as he glared at his son across the saddle on his horse. He delayed his reply while he grabbed a hold of the saddle
horn and mounted, fighting to control his emotions and well aware that Adam
was studying him. Ben could see Adam had deliberately
provoked a response from him. Anger wasn’t the best
emotion right now, he thought, sadness would be better. Sadness
for a father and son who couldn’t see eye to eye on an issue so very important
to the son. They were so much alike; determination
tempered by stubbornness with neither willing to back down from their choice. Would this matter with Michelle tear them apart forever? If Adam felt he was no longer welcome in his own home
already what more would happen before the situation was settled.
he feel the same with every woman his sons decided they wanted for a wife? Would his existence in their life feel threatened by a
woman who wanted to be part of his son’s life? Is this
what Adam’d been feeling when he’d brought Marie to live with them as his
wife? Jealousy? Surely it was much more than that.
could you possibly think such a thing? You and your brothers will always
be welcome in my house.” He said, keeping the tone of his voice as neutral
right Pa, your house, not mine, not Hoss’, not Little Joe’s, yours. It’s not as though I’m asking you for the world where
Michelle is concerned is it? What is it that’s got
you all so fired up? Is it the fact that you found
out about us from those gossiping women in town and not from me? Or is it Michelle because you think I’m having an affair
with a married woman, even though her husband’s dead? Would
you have preferred she’d been a whore from the Silver Dollar? Now I could
understand you getting annoyed if that was the case but it isn’t. You’ve made it very plain, so far, that she’s not welcome
in your house. I guess that means I’ll have to get
my own house.” Adam snapped back.
it, Pa. I didn’t want to start the day out with a
continuation of our argument, but here we are at it again.
Let’s just get the chore over and done with and I’ll be out of your
can stay right where you are, Adam, because I don’t want you with me in the
mood you’re in.”
mood I’m in? Hah, anyway I promised I’d help you and
I won’t go back on my word. Besides I’ve invested
too much time and effort into that railway tie contract to let it go by.” With that he nudged his horse and left Ben in the yard,
a sorrowful view around the yard and towards the house, Ben saw Hoss and
Little Joe standing on the porch, their unhappy faces indicating they’d heard
the heated exchange between father and eldest son. With
a dejected shrug of his shoulders, Ben kicked his horse into action and followed
Adam out of the yard.
was a miserable day spent tree marking. Whenever Ben
spoke to Adam, all he received in reply were curt answers of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
with a ‘Maybe’ thrown in. Adam, in turn asked no questions,
completing each task exactly as his father instructed. It
was late afternoon before they wearily rode back into the yard, the strained
up in front of the barn, Adam kicked his right boot free from the stirrup
and sat cross legged on his horse, his fingers playing gently with Sport’s
mane. With a cool gaze of his own, Adam met his father’s eyes as Ben loosened
the cinch on his horse.
coming to dinner tonight?” Adam asked carefully of his father.
in a tight grip the saddle he’d just removed from Buck’s back, Ben replied,
with a light touch of sarcasm, unable to completely restrain his irritation
with his son.
miss it for the world.” Instantly regretting the tone as he saw Adam flinch.
bet.” Came Adam’s cutting reply.
shook his head, surprised by his own remark. Intent
on making amends, Ben dropped the saddle and rested his hand on Adam’s crossed
sarcasm wasn’t necessary, I know and I’m sorry. It’s
been a hard day. I’d like to meet this Michelle of yours.” Ben said sincerely,
trying to be civil.
hurt he was feeling towards his father was reflected in Adam’s antagonistic
‘Michelle of mine’ as you put it, is looking forward to meeting you and my
brothers. So be nice, for her sake, not mine. Nothing
you say now, or later will make me change my mind about her Pa, just remember
did he have to be so blunt and stubbornly unforgiving where it concerns Michelle.’
Thought Adam as he waited for his father’s reply.
sharp, at the International’s restaurant isn’t it?” Ben asked, trying to shift
away from any further confrontation. At the moment
they were both tired and arguing further would only drive the wedge deeper
between them, if that was possible after today’s fiasco.
strained silence between them continued for a further few minutes, until
Ben removed his hand from Adam’s leg and bent over to pick up the saddle
from where he’d dropped it. Taking this action by his
father to mean the conversation was over, Adam gave Sport a swift nudge. The horse bolted forward, giving Ben no time to yell his
Goodbye before they were around the corner of the barn and out of sight. Deep in reflective thought, he continued to stare after
them, long after the sound of hoof-beats had faded in the evening air.
to himself, Ben carried the saddle into the barn and threw it on the rack. Leaning against the saddle, his elbows resting on the
seat, Ben dropped his head into his hands and rubbed his tired eyes. How could he and Adam get so far down this path without
hurting their relationship more before it was over? Could
they recover what they had in the past or was it already too late?
the cuff of his shirtsleeve, Ben wiped the corner of his eyes. He wished, with all his heart that Adam would ride back
in and all would be back to normal, but sadly aware it wouldn’t happen. His sad, lonely child had grown up and found happiness
away from home. Did he, as his father, have the right
to stand in his son’s way to reach the happiness he earned so gruelingly
over the past years? Did he have the right to hold
him to the ranch, to him? He pushed himself away,
turned and picked up Buck’s brush. As he did he caught
a movement in the corner of his eye.
he said spinning around to face the form in the barn doorway.
just me and Little Joe.” Replied Hoss dejectedly as they stepped out of the
shadows and into the light of the lantern.
“Oh. I thought it might have been your brother.” Disappointed,
Ben swung back to Buck and started to vigorously rub him down.
the day go, Pa? Get anything settled between you and
him?” Joe asked quietly. He already knew the answer
having heard the exchange between his father and brother from the bunkhouse.
what we set out to do and that was mark the trees.” Ben replied, not facing
his sons. “As for he and Michelle, nothing. Dinner is still planned for tonight, so we’d better get
moving otherwise we’ll be late.”
look all tuckered out Pa, want me to finish Buck for you?”
Hoss, I’d appreciate it. It was a difficult day with
your stubborn brother, to say the least.”
guessed it might’ve been somethin’ like that.”
in their Sunday best, Ben, Hoss and Joe were waiting in the foyer of the International
Hotel, when Adam, with Michelle holding firmly onto his arm, walked down
the stairs towards them.
broke into a huge grin. “Look at you two. You look like you’re going to a weddin’ instead of dinner.”
instantaneous smile passed between Adam and Michelle, which didn’t go unnoticed
you just have to be, Hoss.” Said Michelle smiling, as she looked up into
Hoss’ beaming face. “Adam has spoken so much of you.”
in front of Hoss and deftly taking her hand before kissing it lightly, Joe
smugly interrupted Hoss.
Michelle, it’s nice to finally put a face to the voice.”
Little Joe, how gallant of you. I wonder who taught
you that?” she replied with a dazzling smile at Adam, then Joe. ‘Two easily
conquered, the hardest one to go.’ She thought.
her hand remaining firmly gripped on his arm, his other hand covering hers,
Adam guided Michelle over to his father who had waited aside, while Hoss
and Joe said their greetings.
Sinclair, I’d like to introduce you to my father, Benjamin Cartwright. Benjamin Cartwright, Michelle Sinclair…. soon to be Mrs
the ride to town from the Ponderosa that same afternoon, Adam had decided
to make the announcement as soon as possible. That
way his father and brothers knew exactly how he felt about Michelle and what
she meant to him.
by the sudden announcement, Ben politely gave a small bow to Michelle, with
Sinclair, a pleasure to meet you.” He said, emphasizing the Mrs. If his son
was going to play chess with him, then he would to. The
first opening moves were to Adam’s favor - dinner here instead of at the
Ponderosa and now the marriage announcement. Adam
had never been one for small talk, always saying directly what his intentions
stiffened at his father’s use of the married title. Michelle
squeezed his arm, confident of meeting Ben Cartwright’s approval.
Mr Cartwright. It’s Miss Sinclair, my married name
mistake Miss Sinclair. Allow me Adam.” Said Ben, taking
Michelle’s arm to escort her to their table. When
playing chess with Adam, Ben needed all the advantage he could gather. Realizing early the opening ploy of dinner in a neutral
surrounding, upon their arrival, he’d asked the maitre d’hotel which table
they would be seated at for their dinner.
his eyes held to Michelle and his father’s departing backs, Adam was knocked
off-balance by a heavy slap on his back.
Adam,” chuckled Hoss. “That’s one fine lookin filly, you’re gonna marry.”
you son of a gun, if I’da seen her first, there’s no way she would have gone
for you, not with me around. My charm would have won
her over instantly.”
at Joe’s comment, Adam draped his arm around Joe’s shoulders.
remember, little brother, I did see her first and that means hands off. That goes for you too, Hoss.”
turned pink with embarrassment, as if he’d even think of stealing his brother’s
Adam you know I’d never….” He didn’t finish the sentence
because his two brothers were doubled over with laughter.
Bursting out into a loud laugh, Hoss joined in, realizing he’d just
been the butt of another of his brothers’ jokes.
and Ben, who had just seated themselves, heard the laughter and smiled as
the three brothers started to head towards the table.
wonderful to see Adam enjoying himself, Mr Cartwright. He’s
been very quiet and upset since he had the argument with you….over me. I wasn’t expecting him to announce our intention of marriage
tonight. ” Michelle gracefully pivoted her head until her eyes met his.
enjoying the laughter of his three sons himself, turned back to Michelle,
only to find her hazel eyes locked onto his own dark eyes.
Michelle noticed where Adam’s dark eyes were inherited from, only
these eyes she couldn’t read.
hope, by the end of tonight, you’ll approve of me, Mr Cartwright, for Adam’s
sake, not mine.”
remains to be seen, doesn’t it, Mrs Barnes.”
chose not to reply immediately to the slight, because Adam, Hoss and Joe
had reached the table and were attempting to sit down without knocking the
small table with their long legs. Instead she changed
her intended reply.
call me Michelle, Mr Cartwright.”
well, if you insist, Michelle it is.” Was Ben’s cool reply.
evening flowed uneventfully. Ben and Adam polite with
each other, while Hoss and Joe entertained Michelle with various tales from
carved yourself quite a ranch out here in the wilderness, Mr Cartwright. I’ve heard talk around town that you are very wealthy
and own the largest ranch in Nevada.” Asked Michelle, when the conversation
slowed because their meal had arrived.
wondered quickly at the nature of question before replying. “I don’t like to discuss the financial matters of the
ranch, but I am rich in the sons who helped make the ranch the success it
is today. A large credit must be given to Adam, who
was with me when I first started with only a small piece of land, a few head
of cattle and two young sons. Today he controls most
of the financial matters for me. Without my son’s
help, I would not have been able to make what we have today. “
darling, you didn’t say any of this to me before, why not?”
carefully ran his eyes over the people seated at the table, before he answered.
wanted you to love me for who I am, not for what my name is.” He reached over and took Michelle’s left hand in his and
“As I said earlier, I’ve asked Michelle to be my wife. We’ve set the date…May 18 and I’d like you all to be at
make a pretty sister, Michelle. Won’t she Hoss?”
only three weeks away, Adam. Why all the rush?” Asked
grinned as he caught Michelle’s smile out of the corner of his eye. He’d warned her that his brothers would welcome her into
the family with open arms and they hadn’t let him down. “Why not, Pa? I love
her and she loves me, what else is there?”
looked imploringly at his eldest son. He wanted time
to find out more about the woman that Adam wanted to marry.
do you know about her?” he asked of Adam, as though Michelle wasn’t seated
at the table.
Adam could answer, Michelle replied. “I have told
Adam every single thing there is to know about me. I
have no secrets, not from him nor you Mr Cartwright; none what so ever.”
Meeting Ben’s hard, uncompromising stare.
and Hoss watched the struggle over Adam between their father and Michelle. In their heart, both brothers knew that their father would
have to loose. As much as Adam loved his father and
his life at the Ponderosa, Michelle’s love was more fulfilling; it’s what
he needed to make himself complete. They could see how Michelle’s love had
changed their brother for the better, why couldn’t their father. Adam’s head
was held high, but his eyes were dropped onto Michelle’s soft hand held in
his. He didn’t want to force his father into accepting
her, but accept her he was going to.
knew he was losing the fight too. He should be looking
at the marriage as gaining a daughter, not loosing a son.
But there was something holding him back from joining his family’s
happiness and yet he couldn’t describe it, even to himself. When he’d seen Elizabeth, Inger and Marie in love with
him, they gave everything to him, nothing was held back.
With Michelle, there seemed to be a hesitancy, a mystery as though
not all had been revealed to Adam. He couldn’t see
her being happy at the Ponderosa. Although he was
reluctant to give his approval, Ben knew he had to, otherwise Adam would
be lost to him forever.
son, your happiness means everything to me. I won’t
stand in your way. You have my blessing, both of you.”
Pa. Umm, there is one more thing….”
a shy smile, which Ben hadn’t seen on Adam’s face since a young child, Adam
coughed anxiously while he waited for his father’s reply.
you give Michelle away at the wedding? With her father
being dead and all, she’d love for you to walk her down the aisle to me.”
only a slight hesitation and a forced smile on his lips Ben agreed. “Michelle,
I’d be honored to take your arm in the church.”
slowly let out his breath; he hadn’t realized he’d been holding it. So had Hoss and Little Joe. All
four men laughed together, enjoying their old comfortable camaraderie again. Michelle laughed lightly as she gazed over Adam’s shoulder
and met the eyes of the man two tables away. He returned
next morning Hoss, who had stayed in town that night instead of returning
home with Ben and Joe, went in search of his older brother. Adam had asked him to ride back to the Ponderosa with
him in the morning.
knocking on the door to both Adam and Michelle’s rooms and not receiving
an answer, he returned to his room and locked the door. Pocketing
the key he headed down the hallway to the staircase. Clomping
down the hotel stairs, Hoss could see the desk clerk reading a paper at his
George, do you know where my brother Adam is? He wasn’t
in his room and I don’t think I saw him in the restaurant for breakfast neither.”
had breakfast delivered to his room this morning, Hoss. On
his way out this morning he said he was going to the livery to check on his
horse. Said something about one of it’s legs wasn’t
too good yesterday afternoon when he rode in.”
be seein ya.”
almost forgot this.” Said Hoss as he fished his room key from the pocket
and placed it on top of the newspaper George had been reading.
so had I. Just been reading about a murder over in
Sacramento, which made the front page. Pretty gruesome
interest me none, not one bit.” Replied Hoss as he pushed open the Hotel
doors and stepped out onto the porch.
he strolled across the main street, Hoss saw Adam’s Sport saddled and tied
to the hitching rail outside the livery. Stopping beside
the horse, he gave him an affectionate pat. As he
did a gentle run down its legs with his hands, he heard voices, a male and
female in the livery. He decided not to enter and interrupt them, thinking
Adam and Michelle wanted a private moment. Standing
as close as he was to the doorway, he couldn’t help overhearing their conversation.
Darling, it’s so good to see you. I’ve missed you
so you should.” Replied the man as he laughed. “How
are the plans going with Cartwright?”
didn’t recognize the man’s voice, it wasn’t Adam’s but the woman’s was certainly
be better. The wedding date is set for May 18 and
everything is going to plan, he doesn’t suspect a thing. We’ll
still go ahead and do what we planned before the wedding.”
about his family? Any trouble likely from them?”
father may suspect something, I’m not sure, but I think I finally won him
over, at least for the time being. I’ll have to be
very careful around him.”
“And the brothers?”
was Michelle’s turn to laugh. “I have them eating
out of the palm of my hand like two little birds, Stewart Darling.”
Hoss thought, ‘That’s her husband’s name.’
Hoss, you looking for me?” Startled, Hoss heard Adam’s
voice close behind him. He hadn’t heard his footsteps
because he was so engrossed in the conversation between Michelle and her
supposedly dead husband. Hoss spun around, guilty
at being caught eavesdropping.
as he started to think of something to say to Adam, Michelle came rushing
out of the livery.
“Adam Darling, there you are. Why hello, Hoss, I didn’t know you were waiting outside for Adam.” Michelle slid her arm through the crook of Adam’s arm. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you, even in the livery. Where were you?”
Adam leant over Michelle and kissed her forehead. Smiling as he thought how sweet it was that Michelle wanted to see him; he’d only been gone a few minutes.
stopped by the mercantile to order…er, something. Bert
saddled Sport for me while I was there I see.” He
said, quickly changing the subject of what he was ordering at the mercantile. Mr Hanson was going to receive delivery of the piano in
time for the wedding. He’d be able to give it to Michelle
as the wedding gift he planned. “Looks as though his
leg is fine to me. What do you think Hoss? By the way what did you want me
that can’t wait, Adam.” Hoss gave Michelle a quick
glance as he walked past her and into the livery. He
couldn’t see anyone inside, but then he hadn’t expected to. Whoever had been in there talking to Michelle would be
long gone by now.
against his horse for comfort, Hoss couldn’t believe what he’d overheard. Michelle’s husband was alive and in Virginia City. They were planning to do something to Adam, but what?
get on home to Pa and talk it over with him as to what we do.’ Thought Hoss
as he threw the tack on the horse and led him outside. Adam
and Michelle were still outside, arm in arm and talking softly.
ready to go back home now?”
“Yeah.” Hoss glanced at Michelle to see her reaction.
ride with you. Like I said last night, I’ve got something
to discuss with you.”
flickered across Michelle’s face as she listened to the conversation between
the two brothers.
I’ve got no objections.” Replied Hoss as they both mounted their horse.
down from the saddle, Adam motioned for Michelle to come closer. When she did, he leant down further and kissed her again
on the forehead, not being able to reach her lips, even though she was standing
on her tiptoes.
Michelle, I’ll be back this evening. Dinner in the
restaurant suit you?”
Darling, that’ll be fine. I’ll be waiting.” She said
as she waved him off.
“Michelle.” Hoss said coldly as he tipped his hat to her.
waited until they were out of hearing before she swore to herself under her
“Damn. He knows; he overhead us.” Fear
overcame Michelle and she hugged her arms to her body. “What
if he tells Adam?” She took deep breaths to calm herself
as the two men turned the corner, ready to disappear out of sight.
voice called out to her from within the livery. “Pssst,
Michelle get in here if they’ve gone.”
Michelle walked back into the livery, Hoss threw a glance over his shoulder
and saw where she was going. He shot Adam a look out
of the corner of his eye as he turned back towards the direction they were
headed but Adam was looking forward and hadn’t seen her.
where are you? Hoss, Adam’s brother overhead us, I’m
sure.” She snarled into the shadows, her eyes not
accustomed to the darkness.
we can’t have him interfering with our plan can we. I’ll
just have to do something about it won’t I.” Said Barnes, as he stepped out
from his hiding place inside the tack room. He’d only
just managed to close the door before Hoss had walked into the livery; very
intent on finding whomever Michelle had been speaking to.
The one advantage he’d had was the time it took for Hoss’ eyes to become
accustomed to the darkness, had hidden the last movement of the door.
a cold voice, Michelle replied to her husband.
him. He’ll spoil everything we’ve planned. Make it look like an accident if you can but kill him.”
Hoss and Adam rode in silence, Hoss’ thoughts were of how he could tell Adam
what he’d heard. Adam jolted him out of his thoughts.
are you there? Hey Hoss?”
What… Oh Yeah?”
said will you be my bestman, at the wedding I mean?”
“Um, I’d like some time to think about it.” Hoss said, avoiding Adam’s eyes, which he knew, would be trained on him, waiting for his answer.
Adam was hurt and surprised by Hoss’ answer. He had been expecting him to immediately say yes.
do you mean you’d like to think about it? What is
there to think about? I’d have thought you’d jump at the chance to see your
brother off. A simple Yes or No would have been easy.”
not that I don’t want to Adam, it’s just that I….”
With a hurt and angry tone to his voice Adam cut him off, mid sentence.
Pa and now you. I don’t believe it.
Never mind, I’ll ask Little Joe.”
upset, Adam kicked his horse into a gallop, leaving a distraught Hoss behind. He was feeling just as hurt as Adam; he wanted to say
Yes but couldn’t bring himself to say what he’d overheard.
Tears welled in his eyes as his feelings overtook him while watching
Adam gallop into the distance. Hoss adored his older
brother and would willingly do anything for him and save him from anything. He knew Adam would do the same for him, but after today
Hoss wasn’t so sure. He had to make Adam listen, understand
that Michelle didn’t love him; that it was all part of some plan which involved
the time Hoss arrived at the house, Adam had already dismounted and tied
his hard-ridden horse to the hitching rail. He could
see the horse’s sides heaving from the effort of the gallop. It was unlike Adam to treat his horse the way he had.
He’d never known him to gallop his horse, then leave it standing without
cooling him down gently first.
picked up the reins and walked both horses around the yard while they cooled
down. Once he was satisfied they were cooled, he led
them to the water trough for a well-earned drink.
was sitting in his favorite chair reading the newspaper when he heard the
horse galloping into the yard. Expecting to lecture
Little Joe on his riding behavior he was surprised when Adam stormed into
the house, the expression on his face indicating he was seething with anger. For a man who should have been happy, Adam certainly wasn’t.
is it, Adam? What’s wrong?” He
asked, never the less pleased to see his eldest son home, even in a bad mood.
Hoss.” Growled Adam to his father, between clenched
teeth, as he headed up the stairs to his room, slamming the door after he
one to wait, Ben folded his paper and threw it on the seat after him. As he prepared to head up the stairs to Adam’s room, he
heard the sound of another horse, this one slower, and instead headed for
the door. Outside he saw Hoss reach for Sport’s reins
and begin to lead him around the yard.
need to talk to you real urgent, Pa. Just give me
a few moments to finish with the horses.”
gather what you want to discuss has something to do with Adam and the way
he just rode in here?”
Was all Hoss said.
kept his silence while Hoss tended the horses then lead them towards the
hitching rail. He knew Hoss would tell him soon enough
as to what happened, unlike his older brother. Hoss gave the horses a pat
as he tied them back to the hitching rail. They’d
drunk enough water to satisfy their thirst, any more and they’d be bloated.
Ben threw his arm over Hoss’ big broad shoulders. “Now that you’ve taken care of the horses, let’s go inside
and have this talk son.”
up short beside his father, Hoss threw a guilty glance at the house.
Pa, Adam’s inside isn’t he?” Ben nodded his reply
and thought he was right about who had upset Adam this time. For a man about to get married and be happy, Adam wasn’t
- if the last few days were any indication. All the
more reason he had to get to the bottom of the matter.
about over by the barn, where we won’t be heard by him.”
waited patiently while Hoss paced in front of the barn. With
a sorrowful expression on his face, Hoss stopped and lent against the top
railing of the corral, resting his head on his folded arms. Ben reached over
and began to gently rub his son’s strong tense shoulders. “Tell me what’s
troubling you and Adam.”
could see the difficulty Hoss was having. It was as
though there was an intense struggle going on inside, tearing into him.
“It’s Michelle. It’s about her.”
“What about her?” Asked Ben, astounded by his comment. He had been expecting to hear Adam’s name, not Michelle’s.
still married, Pa.” Came Hoss’ voice, cracking with emotion.
thought that had been explained last night and that we weren’t going to let
that stop Adam marrying her.”
snapped Hoss back. “No, I mean I overheard her talking
to some fella in the livery this morning and she called him Stewart.”
staggered and leant back against the corral for support. “What … what did
said she called him Stewart. She said she’d missed
him and called him Darling. And she weren’t talkin’
to Adam at the time neither.” Hoss stopped, biting
hard on his bottom lip as he watched his father taking in what he’d just
rubbed his jaw with his hand, dismay clearly expressed on his face. This was becoming worse than he originally thought but
looking at Hoss he knew there was more to the story to be told. In a disciplined voice and nod of his head Ben replied. “Go on…”
was sayin’ something else about, about the wedding and how everything was
goin’ to plan and that Adam didn’t suspect a thing.”
could see Hoss was holding back with something else, not everything had yet
been said. “Tell me Hoss, everything.”
said that they were going to do it before the wedding.”
don’t know Pa. I didn’t hear anymore because Adam
called out to me and they stopped talkin’ when they heard him.”
you see the man talking to Michelle? What he looked
and I don’t think Adam did neither. I know he didn’t
hear them talkin because on the ride home, he came right out and asked me
to be his bestman for the weddin’.” Tearfully, Hoss
looked at his father. “I turned him down, I said I’d
have to think about it. I hurt him real bad Pa and
I swear I didn’t mean to.”
that’s why he’s upset and angry with you.” Mused Ben, as he hugged Hoss close
the least of our problems Hoss. We’ve got to find
out what they meant and intend doing and we’ve got less than 3 weeks to work
“We’d better tell Little Joe…”
“No Hoss, it’s better Joseph doesn’t know; he can’t keep a secret from Adam, even if he tried real hard.”
the next few weeks, Ben sent wires to friends in San Francisco, in the hope
that they could find something about Stewart and Michelle Barnes. Then he decided to wire other acquaintances in Boston
and Salt Lake City as well, thinking it wouldn’t hurt their chances of locating
the missing information. He also had Sheriff Coffee
send similar wires to the respective Sheriffs, and wherever else he saw fit,
to see if they were wanted.
Hoss was having no luck finding about the man he’d heard in Virginia City. Because he hadn’t seen his face, this made the search
all the more difficult.
Barnes, on the other hand, had no trouble keeping watch on Hoss. He and Michelle had decided on a plan to shoot Hoss on
the way home to the Ponderosa. They would also rob
him, tricking the Sheriff and his family into believing it was a robbery,
gone horribly wrong.
working out at the ranch, Adam avoided Hoss, as much as possible. Whenever he could, Ben had Adam work with Little Joe,
thereby avoiding any further confrontation between the older sons. Little Joe had jumped at the chance to be his bestman,
as Adam thought he would. Although Joe had wondered why it wasn’t Hoss, seeing
as how they were closer then he and Adam. He noticed
the coldness between Hoss and Adam, and as no one would tell him why, he
could only assume it was wedding nerves on Adam’s part.
evening after supper, Hoss and Ben sat talking in front of the fire, the
dry wood burning cleanly in the fireplace. It was
late, Little Joe had gone to bed and Adam remained in town, with Michelle. He hadn’t slept at home since the argument with his father,
two and a half weeks ago. He rarely stepped into the
house and only for lunch, which was usually eaten quickly in strained silence.
I’m gonna have ta tell Adam. You haven’t got any replies
to your wires and the wedding is this Saturday. We
can’t let him marry her.”
thought intensely before answering.
I tend to agree. We’ve got to stop him, before they
do whatever it is they intend to do. It’s been hard
keeping a close watch on him without either of them getting suspicious.”
go into town tomorrow and tell him Pa.”
“Do you want me to come with you Son? I have some business to attend to in the Bank anyway.”
but thanks Pa. I have to do this myself. I’ll speak to him alone, if you don’t mind. But we can ride in together.”
stood up from his seat on the table and stretched, turning towards the grandfather
clock beside the front door as he did. Realizing the
lateness of the hour, he decided to retire for the night.
didn’t notice how late it was. I’m going to bed. You coming Hoss?”
I think I’ll stay here a might longer. ‘Night Pa.”
sat thinking of how to tell Adam what he’d overheard. He
couldn’t see any way out of hurting him. For Adam’s
sake, he had to try though, for all he knew they might be planning to kill
him. Banking the fire, he blew out the lamps in the
great room, slowly climbed the stairs and headed towards his room. Sleep came reluctantly to him that night.
next morning, Little Joe wanted to join them in the ride to town, but Ben
insisted Joe complete the chores for Hoss and his absent brother. Much to Joe’s annoyance, this morning also included the
stables, from top to bottom.
Pa, I haven’t been into town for a week. Can’t I do
the chores when I come home? I won’t be long, honest.
” Protested Joe, in the way only he could. He wanted
to see Anne at the saloon. Although she was older
than the girls he usually wanted to see and closer to Adam’s age, he thought
she was different and intriguing.
under stress with Adam, and now Hoss, Ben was visibly angry with his youngest
a raised voice and in no uncertain terms Ben sternly replied to his youngest
enough Joseph. I’ve had enough of the disobedience and grumbles from my sons. You have plenty of chores to complete today. When and only when they are finished can you ride into
town. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve been to the Bank. If you’re not here when I arrive home, there will be hell
to pay. Do you understand me Joseph?”
Joe replied. “Sure Pa. I’ll
be here and the chores will be done.”
gave his little brother a faint smile before he and Ben rode off towards
morning, since the conversation in the livery, Stewart Barnes had been waiting,
in hiding, for Hoss to ride into town alone. He and
Michelle were getting desperate, because they knew, sooner or later, Hoss
would tell Adam everything he’d heard. The one thing
they had in their favor was that Hoss hadn’t seen Barnes’ face.
again that morning Barnes cursed as he saw Hoss and his father riding together. This time he took the chance and decided to follow them,
at a discrete distance into town. With the wedding
due on Saturday, it had left them two days in which to kill Adam’s brother.
Ben nor Hoss noticed the presence of the rider at their back for they were
both engrossed in their own thoughts regarding the person known to them as
and hitching their horses together in front of the Bank, both men stood shoulder
to shoulder, watching the passing people on the street.
go see Adam.” Hoss said, as he stared at the Hotel entrance, “He should be
at the Hotel. After I’ve spoken to him, I’ll head
back home to help Little Joe with the chores. It ain’t
fair that he should be doin’ them all alone. We’ve
been splittin’ Adam’s between us, most days.”
reached over and patted Hoss on the back. Hoss had
been quiet and off his food for days, while he thought of how to tell Adam
the news. Even Joe and Hop Sing had noticed the change
in him, especially at the dining table. In the past, Hoss would attack the
plates as soon as Hop Sing had placed them on the table. Lately
he would sit back and look at the food on his plate, barely eating a few
time they sat down to eat, the empty chair opposite Ben, reminded them of
the missing brother and son.
“Thanks son and good luck.”
I think I may need all the luck I have when I meet him Pa.”
Chubb a parting pat on the neck, Hoss crossed the busy street and climbed
the few steps into the Hotel. On the landing he stopped,
took a few deep breaths to calm his nerves and pushed the door open. He instantly saw his brother in the foyer, dressed in
his good clothes.
cream shirt, ribbon tie, gray coat and pants complimented his polished to
perfection, black boots. Hoss felt a pang of jealousy
at how handsome his brother looked. Somehow Hoss felt
he’d been behind the door when they were giving out the looks to the Cartwright
boys, not that it bothered none.
was sitting in the room, one leg resting on the thigh of the other, reading
a newspaper and didn’t notice Hoss walk up to him until he heard the voice.
Adam, watcha doin’?” Started Hoss pleasantly, besides
it was only his news that was causing him to be unhappy, not Adam.
looked up at Hoss, folded the paper on its creases before standing up to
are you doing here?”
like to talk to you Adam. Will you let me?”
Shrugged Adam, it was too late for Hoss to be his bestman.
in private please.”
I’m waiting for Michelle, can’t it wait?” he said, glancing towards the staircase. As usual, Michelle was taking longer to prepare than she
said it would. But then he knew she was worth the
insisted Hoss. “It’s important and needs to be discussed
Hoss, we’ll go to my room. That’s if it’s alright
with you.” he added with an edge of sarcasm.
room is fine with me.” Agreed Hoss, as he followed Adam up the stairs.
who had followed Hoss into the Hotel, heard the short conversation and watched
them climb the stairs.
“Damn. I’m too late. He’s going to tell Adam.”
you say something Sir?” asked the desk clerk as he picked up the newspaper
off the chair, straightening the cushions as he did.
he was staring up the staircase, Michelle walked down, somehow she’d just
missed Adam and Hoss in the hallway. She looked around
carefully, before speaking to him in a low whisper.
are you doing here? I’m expecting Adam any minute
now. Why aren’t you waiting to get Hoss?”
glared at his wife, before answering, irritated at her insinuation of stupidity.
and Adam just went upstairs to his room and I’m sure he’s going to tell him
now. Didn’t you hear them in the hallway?”
him.” Michelle said lightly as she smiled knowingly at her husband.
Stewart looked at his wife dubiously.
said let him. I have Adam under my control. He’s so much in love with me, he won’t believe Hoss, not
hope you’re right Michelle.”
sure you kill Hoss today and go ahead with the robbery. We’ve
come this far and I’m not wasting all my plans because of one interfering
even after they talk? Besides he came into town with
mind Ben Cartwright, kill them both, if you have to.” Michelle
gave her husband a chilling smile. “One or two deaths,
it won’t make any difference to Adam, because he won’t have time to grieve
for them, now will he? You’d better go now. I’ll wait here for my dear, future husband. I know he
won’t be long talking to Hoss.”
shook his head at her and left to wait on the trail for Hoss, as Michelle
instructed. Her plans had all worked in the past;
he didn’t doubt for one moment that this one wouldn’t succeed either.
in Adam’s room and the door closed, Hoss put his hands on Adam’s shoulders. He felt them stiffen as he shrugged them off.
still angry - annoyed with me aren’t you?” said Hoss softly, as Adam turned
away from him.
an understatement. Well, what’s so important that
it couldn’t wait? No, let me guess, it’s something
to do with Michelle isn’t it? Did Pa send you?”
on a danged minute Adam, just let me explain.”
his arms in front of him, Adam shrugged his shoulders in agreement. As Hoss spoke, Adam felt his blood begin to boil, hotter
and hotter as he continued.
that’s enough.” Shouted Adam. “I don’t want to hear
anymore. I don’t believe you.”
Desperately Hoss said. “Look Adam, just put the wedding back a few months…six at the least. Just to see what happens; what Michelle does.”
I won’t. I love her and I’m gonna marry her this weekend,
no matter what you or Pa says. Now get out.” He shouted.
Hoss didn’t finish as Adam’s fist connected with his jaw, knocking him backward
against the wall.
Adam…” Determined to continue as he rubbed his jaw.
you listen…get out now….before I really get angry and do something we’ll
both regret.” Adam grabbed the doorknob and yanked
the door open.
..Now…and don’t come on Saturday, I don’t want to see your face anywhere near
the church. You hear me? Nowhere.”
And he slammed the door after Hoss.
heart was tearing apart for his brother, as he leant back against the hallway
tried Pa, God I tried.” He said to himself as he felt a tear form in his
wasn’t sure whom he was crying for…Himself because he failed to convince
Adam or for Adam because of what lay ahead for him.
only thing Hoss was sure about was that the woman Adam intended to marry
in three days didn’t love him the way his brother loved her.
walked down the hallway and stairs, unaware of anyone near him or watching
him; the tears still in his eyes, blurring his vision.
to herself, Michelle watched him go outside. Now all
she needed was for
to finish Hoss off and they’d be right. She knew Adam
wouldn’t believe Hoss, because the fool was hopelessly in love with her,
she’d seen to that.
in his room, Adam kicked the chair over, sending it crashing against the
closed door. How could Hoss, of all people, say those
disgusting things about Michelle? He loved her and
she loved him, it was that simple. Their wedding
was in two days and once they were married his family would all have to change
and accept her or he would leave. He would do anything
she asked to keep her happy, because when she was happy, so was he. Adam threw himself on the bed, tucked his hands behind
his head and stared at the ceiling in frustration.
opened the door quietly and walked into the room, closing the door behind
as though she was unaware of what had transpired, she put on a gay voice.
did I just see Hoss in the hotel? Was he looking for
Said Adam, reluctant to say anything else, until he was in control of his
did he want Darling?”
nothing important. Don’t worry about it.” he smiled
at her. “Come over here.”
it’s early and we have plenty of things to do.” She said playfully running
her hands through his dark hair as she recognized the desire in his eyes
that she knew she’d caused.
don’t care, that can wait. I want you…now.”
smiled, but in triumph, for there was only one outstanding problem and that
was going to be taken care of in the next half-hour by her husband. This
latest plan of hers was going to succeed, as had all the previous. All the meticulous planning had succeeded, especially
now that Adam wouldn’t believe any words said against her.
was deep in miserable thought as he rode back to the ranch. Adam was going to marry a woman who didn’t love him. Hoss saw how much Adam adored her and he was going to
be terribly hurt when the truth finally came out. But
what was it that they intended inflicting on him? He
wanted to know desperately, so he could stop it.
felt the bullet before he heard the shot as it knocked him out of the saddle
and onto the dry dusty ground. He lay face down on
the road, pain lancing across from his shoulder and into his head. Through the fuzziness he could hear a horse riding up
close and a man’s voice calling it to halt.
to be unconscious, which for the moment wasn’t nearly that hard to do, Hoss
waited to see what would happen next. The rider stepped
down from the horse and up to him; the sound of the gun uncocking and sliding
back into the holster carried to him. Strong hands
grabbed him by the shirt; rolled him over onto his back and started to feel
through his pockets.
that he’d been shot in the left shoulder, Hoss drew his gun and opened his
eyes in one uncomfortable motion, aiming the gun at an unknown, but vaguely
familiar face. Instant recognition hit him, as he
knew he’d seen the face around town and in the hotel even.
shot you good, you should be dead.” Cried a shocked Stewart Barnes as he
shook his head at Hoss. “It’s not possible.”
voice. It was the voice from the livery, the one that had been talking to
Snarled Hoss, hatred in his voice. Struggling to his
feet, while keeping the gun trained on Barnes, Hoss stood up swaying, a little
want some questions answered right now from you.”
don’t know what you mean.” Barnes said feigning innocence.
you do. What have you got planned for my brother is
one of them.”
you did hear, but obviously not everything.” Smirked Barnes.
tell me.” Hoss’ rarely seen temper, getting the better
of him as he shoved the gun hard into Barnes’ nose.
looked at Hoss smugly over the gun barrel and shrugged his shoulders, refusing
gonna take you back to town, maybe Sheriff Coffee can get you to talk. He might even turn a blind eye and let me ask you the
yourself, but it won’t make any difference. I’m not
sayin’ a word.” Although Hoss’ last comment had shaken him up.
awkwardly mounted his horse, all the while keeping his gun on Barnes, the
shoulder hurting like hell itself. They had only ridden
for 5 minutes before Hoss recognized his father coming towards him. Ben immediately took in the situation and Hoss’ wound.
shot bad son?”
but thanks, I’ll live Pa. This here is Stewart Barnes
and he’s the one who shot me. He was tryin to rob
me as well, until I got the drop on him. I’m gonna
see whether Sheriff Coffee can make him talk, because he ain’t said nothin
coming with you. Let’s get this matter settled once
and for all. Hoss, put something on that wound, you’re
still bleeding.” Ben drew his gun and moved Buck closer to Barnes, the deadly
gun trained on his stomach.
all three rode in silence to the jail Hoss holstered his gun feeling grateful
he’d met his father. Ben concentrated partly on Barnes,
should he make a desperate move to escape, partly on Hoss, in case he fell
out of the saddle unconscious before they arrived back in town and the remainder
on Adam. Was it possible with Barnes now their prisoner,
he would come to his senses and believe Hoss’ story?
was worried about the Sheriff and Hoss’ intentions of getting him to talk,
with the Sheriff’s permission. He had no doubt what
Hoss meant and wasn’t looking forward to those large hands anywhere near
him, even if he did have a bullet in his shoulder.
was fighting to stay conscious in the saddle. The pace
he’d set was enough for each jolt of his horse’s hoofs to jar his shoulder,
but he knew the sooner they arrived at the jail, the sooner the pain would
ease. The bleeding had stopped once he’d shoved his
bandanna under the shirt, against the wound. Now that
they had Barnes as prisoner, he hoped Adam would listen to him.
if Barnes only told Adam who he was, it should be enough to stop him from
going ahead with the marriage.
Coffee was just coming out the front door of the jail, hat in his hand, when
the three men rode up.
all this Ben? I was just fixin’ to come out and see
just got ambushed by this man, Stewart Barnes, then he tried to rob him while
he was lying on the ground shot.”
Barnes, you don’t say.” Said Roy, staring intently at Barnes, who fidgeted
in the saddle under the stare.
he’s the husband of Michelle Sinclair or should I say Barnes. The woman Adam is due to marry on Saturday.”
well. I’ve got some news about these two Barnes’ Ben. I got some wires back just now and I was about to go fetch
you. Looks like you saved me a ride to the Ponderosa.”
Ben said. “You have? What do
turned his eyes from Ben back to Barnes, to watch the reaction on Barnes’
face. If the information in the wires were true, he’d
have his answer by what Barnes did.
concern this jasper and his wife, of course.”
jerked upright in the saddle, a frightened look passing on his face until
he could recover enough to put the blank look back, but not fast enough for
Roy to see the effect.
get him locked up and we’ll talk inside.”
they dismounted Ben turned to Hoss. “Go get that shoulder
tended to son, while I talk to Roy.”
can’t do that Pa. I want to hear what Roy has to say
about them wires.”
Ben studied Hoss’ stubborn face and he knew what knowing the answer meant to Hoss. He’d ignore his own wound to help his older brother in his time of need.
son, come on in with me, while I talk to Roy. We can
see Doc Martin later.”
Roy locked Barnes away in the cell, Ben checked Hoss’ wound.
down Hoss, please. I can’t see what’s going on with
the bleeding if you keep on pacing like you are.”
looked at his father’s concerned face and gratefully sat down in the nearest
be alright Pa. It’s Adam we should be more worried
about, not me.”
in good time son. I’ll just put some more bandages
reached around to the table, where Roy had conveniently laid out some clean
cloth. He grabbed a handful and bunched them up. The bleeding had slowed, but Ben could see Hoss was needing
a Doctor very soon. Before he’d sat down, Ben could
see Hoss’ legs beginning to shake with fatigue and loss of blood.
threw the keys into the opened drawer of his desk and slammed it shut.
not gonna like this wire Ben. It’s not good news for
read it will you Roy.” Said Ben as he continued to tend to Hoss’ shoulder.
fished the wire out of his pants pocket then his glasses out of his shirt
wire comes from San Francisco, it reads.
REPLY STEWART BARNES AND MICHELLE BARNES ALSO KNOWN
AS SINCLAIR STOP SUSPECTED OF EXTORTION/MURDER STOP WOMAN MARRIES WEALTHY
VICTIM STOP EXTORT MONEY FROM HIS FAMILY WHEN BARNES ARRIVES CLAIMING TO
BE HUSBAND STOP IF VICTIM REFUSES HE IS MURDERED STOP SHE CLAIMS ESTATE STOP
ALSO KNOWN TO KIDNAP MICHELLE BARNES AND HOLD FOR RANSOM STOP WHEN MONIES
PAID WOMANS BODY NEVER RECOVERED STOP THEY ABSCOND WITH MONEY STOP UNABLE
TO PROSECUTE IN EITHER CIRCUMSTANCE DUE TO LACK OF EVIDENCE STOP BOTH CONSIDERED
EXTREMELY DANGEROUS STOP WOMAN CONSIDERED MASTERMIND STOP
is the woman Adam was going to marry this Saturday isn’t it Ben?”
nodded. “Do they give a description of either?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact it did.”
“Let me see it Roy.” Said Ben stiffly holding out his hand for the wire. He read the wire again, including the description before he crumpled the paper in his fist.
it them Pa?
Hoss, I’m afraid so.” Ben said sadly, as he watched the paper ball fall onto
the wooden floor and bounce away from him.
got to tell him. He’ll understand now, he’s got to.”
Cried Hoss for his brother. They had the truth and
proof, in writing, to convince him about Michelle.
an unsteady hand, Ben reached down and picked the paper off the floor, uncrumpling
it in his hands.
do it this time Hoss. You go to Doc Martin’s and tend
to that shoulder. I know you want to be with me Hoss,
but do as I say. It’s going to be difficult for Adam
finding out about Michelle, let alone know you were shot by them as well.”
nodded in agreement to Ben as he fought his sorrow for his brother. Picking himself slowly off the chair he turned and left
watched Hoss slowly walk up the street to the Doctors. Hoss’
head hung low as he shuffled his way along the boardwalk. Inside the jailhouse,
Roy Coffee sat behind his desk, his chin resting on his steepled fingers,
patiently waiting while his friend came to an understanding with the news
which would devastate his eldest son’s plans for the future. No father would
want to overwhelm his son two days before his wedding day with the news that
his intended was a ruthless murderess and extortionist.
will you come with me? You can arrest her after I’ve
spoken to Adam. You can back up my story, if he doesn’t
believe me and show him the wire as confirmation.”
a sad smile to his friend, Roy nodded. He could see
Ben was not enjoying knowing the truth about the woman his son loved and
wanted to marry. Neither man deserved what was going to happen to them in
the next few minutes.
d known Adam from a small boy, when Ben, Hoss and he’d arrived in the area. Adam, the oldest boy was quiet and intense for a young
child. The dark brown eyes held an intelligence and
sadness for such a young age that Roy had taken an instant liking to him.
With his father busy building his ranch and Adam helping in whatever way
he could, Roy gave him the chance to be a child, whenever Adam came into
town. Roy would conduct his rounds of the town during
the day, with Adam matching his stride beside him. His
quick little mind forming questions Roy would expect of a child much older. Roy knew Adam had been hurt emotionally by the death of
Hoss’ mother right before his eyes. Then the death
of Marie, when Adam was in his teens, had only deepened the young man’s outlook
on life. Roy understood what effect Ben’s news was
going to have on Adam, who was reluctant at the best of times, to show his
feelings. This was going to tear at the very being
of Adam Cartwright once again. He hoped his friend
would have the strength to be able to gather up the pieces of his shattered
son, before they were scattered to the wind and lost forever.
watched Ben’s face as he put his worry for Hoss aside and replaced it with
a fierce determination to do what was best for Adam. With
a wry grin, Ben nodded to Roy who picked up his hat and followed him out
the jailhouse door behind him, Roy stepped across the street beside his solemn
friend, as they made their way to the Hotel. Inside
Ben and Roy stopped at the desk.
my son Adam in his room?” he asked of the clerk, who’s name escaped him for
Sir Mr Cartwright. He and Miss Sinclair are still
upstairs in room 6.” Replied the clerk quickly to Ben.
and Ben gave each other a pensive glance.
“This is going to be difficult Roy. It’s got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do for a long time.”
“Yes Ben, but it has to be done and there’s no gettin around it. He’ll understand, maybe not right away, but he will. He knows you always have what’s best for him in mind. “
hope so, but I have my doubts at the moment.”
men turned away from the desk, their resolve standing strong as they neared
the room and Ben knocked on the door.
me Adam. I’d like to come in please.”
do you want now? Haven’t you done enough, by turning
Hoss against me as well?” he replied in anger, through the closed door.
need to talk to you Adam, it’s about Hoss.” Ben looked
at Roy and at least it wasn’t a lie, but not the main reason he wanted to
a minute.” Agreed Adam, although very reluctantly.
were sounds of movement inside the room until Adam opened the door, wearing
only his jeans, hair messed and a sheepish look on his face. Ben didn’t need to ask what he’d been doing.
Pa. Oh, hello Roy, what are you doing here?” asked
Adam as he saw Roy standing beside Ben.
we come in? I’d rather talk inside, instead of out
here in the hallway son.”
threw a quick look over his shoulder at Michelle and the bed. She’d managed to put on her robe, while Adam had answered
the door, but the bed was still unmade. He held the
door open for the two men, while they walked in.
Michelle.” Said Ben curtly - his contempt for her no longer concealed on
let me introduce you to Sheriff Coffee.” Said Adam, his eyes still on his
face turned white as she gasped at the name.
smiled to himself at her reaction, allowing himself a small sense of satisfaction.
know why he’s here don’t you?” said Ben as he continued to watch her face.
stood puzzled in the doorway, hand still clutching the doorknob, not understanding
the short conversation as he looked from his father to Michelle and across
going on? What’s Roy want with Michelle?” He moved himself until he was between the older men and
Michelle, shielding her with his body; protecting her.
stepped closer and held out his hand, the crumpled paper white against his
like you to read this Adam.”
What is it? Some new thing you’ve planned between
Roy and yourself to come between Michelle and I?”
answered for Ben.
a wire from the Sheriff in San Francisco concerning Michelle and her very
much alive husband, Stewart Barnes.”
for the wire, Adam quickly read it, puzzlement showing on his face as the
details sank in. He spun around to face Michelle.
this true? You extort and murder with your husband
who’s not dead?”
smirked at Adam. “Yes it’s all true. I admit it but you have no evidence.”
but that’s where you’re wrong Miss.” Remarked Roy.
“You see your husband just tried to kill and rob Hoss Cartwright but he didn’t
succeed. He’s now in my jail, waiting for you to join
him. What with attempted murder and robbery charges
against him, he’s been very talkative. He doesn’t
want to stand for these charges alone, especially considering as how you
planned the whole schemes.”
couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. No it couldn’t
be true. He grabbed Michelle tightly by the shoulders
and lifted her to face him, her toes barely touching the ground.
did you do this to me? You’ve lied and deceived me. Didn’t you love me?” Ben and Roy winced at the anguish
in Adam’s voice.
laughed in his face. The poor fools never understood
it was all a game and she was always the winner, even as she held the gun
to their head and pulled the trigger.
stupid fool, I never loved you. I slept with you
only to make sure you were committed to me and would let nothing stand in
your way to marry me. You were just a pawn in my game. I planned everything for Stewart and the money. “
love him Adam, not you. You’ve enough money in your
family, not to miss some. If you or your family weren’t
going to pay the ransom, well I’d just go ahead and kill you. You see I never
leave witnesses and dead men don’t talk.” She said,
laughing cruelly in his face.
tears threatening and disgust for her sour in his mouth, Adam threw Michelle
forcibly away from him and onto the bed. She flung
out her hands to prevent herself from falling to the floor, but her contemptuous
smile for Adam never left her face.
out…all of you. Just get the hell out.”
Pa, don’t say another word…. just leave me alone.”
Coffee took Michelle’s arm as he helped her off the bed and towards the door.
see you back at the jail Ben?”
Ben replied. “Yeah….right.” His attention firmly on
his overwrought son.
Ben tried again to reach him as Roy led Michelle out the door and shut it
behind him. There was no need for anyone else to hear
slowly turned around to face his father. His hands
quickly brushed across his face to remove the tears before his father saw
them; he wasn’t fast enough.
suppose you’re happy about this? You should be.”
flinched at the anger in his son as he shook his head.
Adam, I’m not. I never wanted this to happen, not
Pa, you never wanted us to marry; for me to be happy.” Adam’s despair tore
you couldn’t be further from the truth and you know it.” His
son was hurting; striking out at the only person in the room. Ben wanted to go up to him and hold him, but he stayed
where he was. Adam wasn’t ready for his touch - not
you want is the ranch, the mighty Ponderosa, as long as we’re all there to
help you, you’re happy. Well I’m not. I need a life of my own. Everything
is turning out wrong…everything.” Adam yelled as he punched the wall with
his fist. Crying in pain, he clutched the hand to
his chest, tears in his eyes. Glaring at his father
out….get out now.”
could see he wasn’t going to get through to him, not while he was out of
control of his emotions. He turned from his son, opened
the door to leave then stopped. With his eyes kept
forward towards the hallway, Ben spoke loudly enough for Adam to hear him.
you’re ready we’ll talk son. I’m sorry.” Then he shut
the door quietly behind him.
Joe arrived in town the following week he found Anne sitting on Adam’s lap,
her arms wrapped tightly around his neck. At 8.00 o’clock in the evening, the Silver Dollar was full
of patrons and he had to squeeze himself through groups of miners intent
on drowning their sorrows in alcohol before he could locate Anne. His father had sent him to town to check on Adam but he
had all the intentions of seeing Anne tonight. When
his eyes located her, cuddled into Adam’s lap, Joe flew into a rage, his
green eyes flashing in anger at his brother.
her with his older brother, instead of him sent an instant rage flooding
to his head. With his green eyes flashing dangerously,
Joe barged through the remainder of the crowd to Adam’s table. Adam had his head in the hair behind Anne’s ear and didn’t
see him arrive at the table and stand in the exact same manner as their father
in front of him, clenched hands resting on his hips.
the table were one empty whisky bottle; another half full and two glasses.
Joe reached over and holding onto both her arms, dragged Anne from Adam.
are you doing with him Anne? You should be waiting
for me, not entertaining him.”
knew Joe was coming into town to see her tonight, as he had every Friday
night since she’d arrive in Virginia City. Tonight
she was going to have to tell him about Adam. She
couldn’t continue seeing both Cartwright men, it wasn’t fair to any of them,
including her. She’d hoped Adam was gone before Joe
was due to arrive, but he’d refused to go to his room and instead held her
tightly on his lap while he continued to drink.
Adam began to push himself from the chair, using the arms to help him stand. Judging quickly, how angry Joe was and how drunk Adam
was, Anne pushed Adam back into the chair, it didn’t take much effort on
she quickly spun around to face Joe.
sorry Joe, I didn’t mean for this to happen; it just did.
I know you wanted to see me tonight, but I can’t leave him like this,
long have you been seeing him Anne? How long?” Joe shouted at her, oblivious,
to the fact that most of the crowd was watching the scene with amusement. It wasn’t often the Cartwright brothers had words in public,
they would usually leave before anything took place.
was reluctant to answer him. His anger shook her,
and she knew her reply would infuriate him more, if that was possible.
it matter Joe, just that I have?”
tell me here and right now.”
slurred Adam, “Leave her alone, she’s with me.”
out of this Adam. I don’t want to hear you again. I’m talking to Anne, not you.”
Adam replied, throwing himself out of the chair and to his feet, swaying unsteadily. “I don’t want to.”
he overbalanced and staggered forward, Adam made a half-hearted attempt to
swing his fist around Anne and at Joe. Joe sidestepped
with ease, and landed a fist on Adam’s jaw, connecting cleanly on his chin. Adam fell backwards over his chair with a loud crash as
table, chair and glass scattered. The remainder of
the saloon fell silent, intently watching the scene between the two Cartwright
brothers played out in front of them.
Joe, you didn’t have to hit him.” cried Anne as she pushed the chair off
Adam and knelt beside his unconscious body. She grabbed
hold of his arm and rolled him over before feeling his chest to make sure
he was still breathing.
“He deserved that.”
Joe, but not from his brother. Help me get him off
the wet floor and up to my room.”
room?” Shouted Joe. “He’s been staying with you in
your room? What the hell for? He’s
got his own across the street.”
stood up, and at her full height, her eyes were level with Joe’s, her green
eyes matching the color and anger in Joe’s green eyes.
“Yes, I said my room. That’s where
he’s been sleeping the whisky off all week, when he sleeps that is.” She added
with a sad laugh. “He’s been so angry and drunk that
he hasn’t slept more than a few hours each day since he found out about…her.”
you? Why your room?”
“I care about him Joe, not the same way I care about you. I’ve cared about him for longer than I realized. I even thought I was over him; had been able to forget him, but riding in the stagecoach from Placerville, it bought back all the memories.” “Besides someone had to see he was safe when he was so drunk he couldn’t get his head out of his vomit. When he’s drunk I don’t think he knows who I am or where he is, but I still care Joe. He reminds me of someone I used to know, a long, long time ago and in another place.”
“Come on Joe,” she smiled shyly at Joe. “Please help me, he’s too heavy for me to lift alone. Usually he’ll walk up the stairs for me, if he’s not too drunk, but you’ve knocked him out cold.”
he couldn’t resist her request, Joe shrugged, grabbed both of Adam’s arms
and swung him up and over his shoulder. After only
a week, Joe could tell Adam had lost weight and was no doubt drinking more
than he was eating. With Anne leading the way, he
carried Adam over his shoulder like a sack of corn, up the stairs and into
her room. Once inside Joe shrugged Adam off his shoulder,
onto the unmade bed and turned towards her. Still
unconscious, Adam’s arms fell outwards across the bed, legs hanging over
didn’t answer me Anne, how long?”
gently into Adam’s face, she turned back to Joe.
Saturday, when he came into the saloon. He was drunk
that night and I took him up to my room to sleep it off.”
Anne stood over Adam; reached out and smoothed the hair back off his
pale, haggard face.
didn’t sleep much that night, nor any day or night since.
He’d just wake up, go back downstairs and start all over again into
the whisky, not even bothering to eat.” Her hand stayed
on his cheek, feeling the warmth through her palm and the roughness of his
he been with you Anne? I know I don’t have the right
to ask you, but I want to know.”
Anne dropped her hand and turned her head around to face Joe. She knew Joe cared deeply for her but she didn’t know whether the truth would harm or heal his feelings towards his brother.
haven’t asked for a dollar from him and he hasn’t offered me a dollar. You can decide for yourself what I mean. Adam is the only man I’ve ever taken to my room.”
couldn’t bring herself to tell him that for the last three mornings Adam
had woken her up and taken her roughly and angrily. She
neither complained nor cried out when he was too rough and hurt her. When
he’d finished he’d rolled off her, avoided her eyes, dressed and gone back
to the whisky bottle in the saloon.
guilt of how he’d treated her showed clearly on his face as he left the room
and gone downstairs to drink more hurtful memories away.
morning, once Adam had closed the door behind himself, Anne hugged the pillow
he’d slept on closely to her body and sobbed into it. He’d
avoided looking at her again this morning, but not before she’d seen the
haunting desolation in his eyes. She wasn’t sure who
was feeling ashamed the most; her for taking him to her bed in the first
place, for being what she was or him for relieving his basic needs in her
without asking her first. She knew from past experience
before Michelle, that he wasn’t like some of the others and forced his unwanted
attentions on her. He had always been a considerate
lover, the few times he called to see her in the months before he fell in
love with Michelle.
every evening or whenever Adam was too drunk to go to his hotel room, she
took him upstairs to her room, knowing only that she had to be there, close
for comfort for him, whichever way he chose.
understood his inconsolable desolation, for that was how she’d felt when he’d
left Placerville after helping her find what had happened to Tom. She could still remember his parting words ‘Someday you’ll
find another man to believe in.’ He’d ridden off, never realizing that she’d
already found that man.
he’d shown her no respect the past mornings, while he used her body, she
still believed in him; knew he was still the same man she’d fallen in love
with 3 years ago back in Placerville. Somehow she’d
reach out to that man, find him and bring him back home to his family and
herself for only someone who had been through such an experience could help
think you should go now. I’m sorry for you, for us,
but it can’t be. I don’t love you the way I love
I love you. Adam doesn’t love you, he’s just using
you.” cried Joe and he grabbed her in his strong arms and kissed her with
all his passion. Joe let her go as quickly as he had
grabbed her and with one final look at her, then Adam, slammed the door behind
…what happened?” Slurred Adam from the bed as he strained
to push himself off the bed. He collapsed back, drunk
and feeling the effects of Joe’s punch to his jaw.
alright Adam, I’m here.”
Anne cringed. How many times had he said her name
when he was drunk? Never hers, only Michelle’s. Anne wondered if Michelle was aware of how completely
and savagely she’d destroyed Adam’s being. Deep within
her heart, Anne hoped Michelle would never find out, for that knowledge would
give a woman like her immense satisfaction to know she’d brought a proud
and honorable man such as Adam Cartwright to his knees.
him to something he’d always loathed in those men not strong enough to resist
the urge to consider a woman as only an object for their sexual pleasure
and to be treated as such.
Adam, it’s Anne. Let me help you out of those wet
clothes before you catch a cold and make all the bedding wet too.”
lay back on the bed watching Anne unbuckle his pants belt; too drunk to lift
a finger to help himself. She wondered if Joe noticed
that Adam wasn’t wearing his gun in the saloon. He
was the only one unarmed, aside from a few miners; not that it would have
made any difference considering how drunk he was every day.
could feel his eyes on her, watching her every movement as she unbuttoned
his pants and then the black shirt. Pulling him up
by his arms into a sitting position, she removed his shirt and threw it onto
the pile of washing she had in the far corner of her room.
him fall back onto the bed, she tugged his boots off by straddling his leg
with hers and pulling. The jeans followed the shirt
into the corner, and she stood back admiring the man lying on her bed, as
she’d done every time she’d undressed him in her room.
dark eyes watched her, watching him. She shook her
head at him and smiled as she rolled him to one side of the bed and pushed
the covers down. With very little help from him, she
rolled him back between the sheets, covered him up, gave him a soft kiss
on the forehead and left him alone in the room.
sat alone in the saloon as self-loathing and disgust consumed him. He’d used her again that morning and now, as he sat drinking
the whisky, his numb brain couldn’t even remember her name. Once again the golden liquid beckoned and swirled in the
glass in his hand and in the bottle on the table. Why
should he be treating her… Anne he remembered, with the same disregard as
Michelle had done him? She’d done nothing to hurt
him; in fact she’d saved his life - it was Michelle he despised not Anne.
Now he despised himself even more than he could Michelle.
threw the glass back in a quick swallow, no longer feeling the fire in his
throat from the alcohol. Maybe the whisky, if he drank
enough, would drown these new memories too, of how he was mistreating a woman.
was a saloon girl, he admitted to himself and they’d known each other a few
years, but that didn’t give him the right to ignore her feelings when it
came to what she did for a living. Never before in
his life, had he slept with a woman without first asking for her consent.
with his liaisons with other saloon girls in the past, he’d always kept to
his morals and cared about their feelings as well as his own. What had Michelle done to him? What
had he allowed her to do to him? Had she stripped
him of every moral he ever held close to? Or was he
just being a bastard towards women in general?
always feelings, who cared about his feelings when it came down to it?
hadn’t cared, just used him for money and he’d fallen for her. He’d given his heart and soul to a woman who didn’t return
his love; never loved him.
movement of gold and black material at the bottom of the stairs caught his
eye and he became aware of Anne watching him. Shamed
by his actions, Adam dropped his head as he poured himself a full glass of
whisky. He couldn’t face her sober, not after what
he’d done. Raising the glass to his lips, Adam downed
the drink in one swallow.
swerved between the tables and sat beside Adam at his table. She placed her hand around the neck of the bottle and
dragged it towards her.
you think you’ve had enough?”
Adam said as he unwrapped her hand, dragged the bottle back across the table
with one hand and raised the glass to his lips with the other.
don’t have to do this; drown your problems with whisky. There
are people who want to help you Adam.”
“You? I think you’ve helped me enough already. Or have I helped myself instead?” he said bitterly. The bottle tipped over, filling the glass to the brim. The whisky bottle was now down to halfway and the glass
empty again before Anne had a chance to reply.
don’t you talk to me about what’s happened to you? I
know I can help you.”
like Tom Burns huh? He relied on you to help him too
like I’ve done for you Adam.”
that supposed to make me feel better? If anything
it’s made me feel worse.”
flicked his eyes towards Anne’s face but back down to the glass in his hand
before she could hold the look. He couldn’t face her,
knowing what he’d done to her….again.
don’t want you to apologize to me. I know what I was
me alone Anne. I don’t need your kind of help.”
that’s the way you want it Adam, I’ll leave you alone…for now. I never thought I’d live to see the day when Adam Cartwright
wallowed in self-pity. I guess that day has arrived. I’ll be back later to take you upstairs, when you can’t
crawl up them by yourself.”
another glass raised and downed by Adam, Anne pushed herself away from the
table, leaving him alone as he’d asked.
burst in the large front door of the Ponderosa ranch house, his arm no longer
in a sling. He’d just ridden back from Virginia City
after staying overnight to keep a close watch on Adam. Anne
had sent him a message, while he was at the Hotel, suggesting it was time
for his father to see Adam.
he yelled, his hat and gun belt thrown at the sideboard.
Hoss?” replied Ben as he hurried down the stairs, still buttoning up his
shirt, the vest slung over his right arm.
still in the Silver Dollar. He’s been goin’ everyday
now, so Sam says.”
has gone on long enough, two weeks too long. Hoss,
saddle my horse, I’m going into town.”
come with you.”
too.” Said Little Joe, as he came out of the kitchen, drinking a cup of steaming
coffee. He hadn’t spoken to Anne ever since he’d helped
Adam up to her room. He’d come home in a foul mood, clashed with Ben and
Hoss then fled to his room, without dinner.
boys, this is between me and Adam.”
been sittin at one particular table, so’s he can see the whole saloon. It’s as if he’s waitin for something to happen.”
“Oh? Which chair?”
corner table, over near the piano.”
was thinking about how to talk to Adam, while he buckled on his gun belt. This talk was going to be difficult, moreso then when,
as a little boy, he’d told him where Elizabeth, his mother was. How he wished Elizabeth was beside him, to guide him. He paused at the door. Hoss and
Joe were watching him intently.
bring him home boys.”
he pushed open the saloon doors, Ben found his son exactly where Hoss had
said he’d be. Adam sat at the corner table, chair
tipped back against the wall, shot glass grasped in both hands. He watched his father enter and stop at the bar.
long has he been here this morning Sam?” he asked of the bartender as he
leant against the bar, his back towards Adam.
his first bottle for today Mr Cartwright.” Ben glanced
over his shoulder; the bottle was down a half already.
Sam, I appreciate you’ve been keeping an eye on him for me.”
trouble Mr Cartwright. I haven’t been the only one though.” Sam said, pointing
in the direction of a saloon girl wearing a gold and black dress. Ben saw her glance over at Adam from the table she was
seated at, then back to the man buying her a drink. She
smiled at Ben as he caught her eye, nodding to him.
across the floor to Adam’s table, Ben could see he was a mess. His tired eyes were bloodshot, black hair untidy and a
couple of day’s growth on his thinner, drawn face. He
looked like he’d slept in his clothes, which hung loosely on his body.
since his days at college in Boston, Adam would make sure he had clean clothes
on whenever he could. Hoss enjoyed teasing his brother
about how often he bathed and changed clothes. Hop
Sing grumbled about the extra shirts and jeans he cleaned for Adam, which
were twice as many for his brothers.
always laughed with Hop Sing, when he said that, because it was an ongoing
joke between them.
when you were gonna find me.” Said Adam in a husky voice, before he coughed,
his body shaking with the effort.
you want me to find you Adam?”
dropped his eyes to his glass, took a drink and reached for the bottle.
don’t know Pa, maybe, maybe not.”
you sober enough to talk to me?
sniggered. “Probably about as sober as you’re likely
glanced around the saloon, already there were a few customers sitting at
the tables, their eyes glancing back and forth to their table.
Joe had calmed down last week, he’d informed his father of the scene he’d
created in the Silver Dollar with Adam and Anne, the saloon girl. Even mentioning how he’d punched his brother who was drunk
at the time and couldn’t defend himself. Ben didn’t
want a repeat of that, not today.
isn’t the place to talk.” Said Ben.
it isn’t is it?” Adam drank the last of the whisky
in his glass then stood up. Reaching into his pants
pocket, he drew out a few coins, threw them on the table, picked up the bottle
and walked straight past his father.
remained seated in the chair and let his head fall into his hands. The light smell of perfume told him she was standing near
him, waiting for him to acknowledge her. He looked
up to see the woman wearing the black and gold dress he’d seen earlier. She looked to be in her early thirties, long blonde hair
and intelligent, piercing green eyes.
slowly killing himself. Go to him Mr Cartwright please. He doesn’t think he needs you or anyone else, but he
does. I know I can help him, if he’ll let me, but
he needs you first. Let him know how much you care
and that no matter what he’s done, that you love him.”
Anne.” and with that she turned and left him staring after her.
Ben stood up and followed his son outside. Sam caught
his eye, shook his head but said nothing. What was
there to say to a man whose son was drowning himself in a bottle of whisky? By the time Ben unhitched his horse and readied himself
to mount up, Adam was already gone. Dust in the air
showed the direction he’d gone. He checked the cinch
on the saddle, took a hold of the saddle horn and dragged himself into the
see Adam’s finally left the saloon Ben.”
the voice, Ben answered without taking his eyes off the road.
you know where he’s goin’?”
hope so. The way he’s feeling, he’s liable to do something
stupid which we’ll all regret.”
don’t think he’d kill himself, do you Ben?” said Roy horrified as the thought
crossed his mind. The level of despair he’d seen Adam
sink to would be more than enough for a lot of other less stronger townsmen
I didn’t mean that Roy, sorry, he seems to be doing a pretty good job of
that with the whisky. No I meant leaving the Ponderosa…
us for good. At least I don’t think he’d kill himself
but I don’t know my eldest son very well these days. I’d
better go after him, we’ve got a lot to talk about and I’d rather he was
as sober as I can get him. Bye Roy and thanks for looking
out for him.”
wish you luck.”
I think I’m going to need it.”
found Adam by the lake at Sandy Cove. He thought that
this was where Adam would go. When Adam was distressed
and gone off riding, Ben’d always been able to find him watching the water
lap the sandy shore, for it had been the last place he’d been truly happy
with Joe as a baby and Marie alive.
sat on the sand, back against a large rock and the whisky bottle in his hand. He watched as his father tied his horse up next to his,
then walked over to him.
up a chair Pa.” He said sarcastically before taking another long pull of
the bottle. Ben eased himself down and sat with his
back against the same rock as Adam, but to the side.
it was better for them both if Adam started talking first, Ben waited, watching
the ripples on the water. He didn’t have to wait long
before Adam began. Usually he would have had to cajole
his son into talking about his problems but after seeing him in the saloon
and his comments there, Ben knew the wait wasn’t going to be long.
“You knew all along, didn’t you?” Asked Adam, his eyes focused on the three-quarters empty bottle in his hands.
“No Adam, I just wasn’t comfortable about her. She seemed to be holding something back from you.”
that’s funny. I thought the opposite.” He snorted
and took another drink.
is blind son.”
give me quotes Pa. “ snapped Adam, the anger flashed in his dark eyes before
fading back to a dull brown.
gonna happen to them; Michelle I mean?” Adam asked softly, after a further
“Stewart Barnes confessed to everything, saying Michelle arranged every plan, including yours.”
they’d made a good living out of extortion and murder. Their
original plan was to kidnap Michelle and hold her for ransom before the wedding.
The only thing that stopped them was the fact that Hoss overheard them talking
in the livery. They then changed the plan and you
were next. They were going to resort to kidnapping
you once you and Michelle were married. She considered
you a good mark for more money. Once the ransom was
paid, they were going to kill you anyway because with you dead there would
be no witnesses.”
dropped the bottle and raised his hands to his face. The
words his father spoke sank in and he realized how close he’d come to being
for the money, huh, nothing else.”
sorry to say it was just for the money. Some witnesses
have been found in San Francisco, which implicate Michelle in one of the
extortions. They will be charged for attempting to
murder Hoss and attempted robbery. Did you know Hoss
Adam’s head sprung up. “Hoss shot? How? When?”
“After he tried to tell you about Michelle and you’d punched him, he was shot by Barnes on the way back home. Luckily it was minor wound and Doc Martin had him taken care of in no time, although he did loose a bit of blood.”
shot.” Adam shook his head and laughed at the irony. “She
was making love to me that day, while her husband was out trying to kill
Hoss.” The amount of deceit Michelle was capable of
Hoss? Is he alright?” Adam asked in a quiet voice,
filled with regret of not knowing and caring about his younger brother’s
fine, it’s been two weeks you know.”
long? I’d kinda lost track of time.”
stood up slowly and walked to the water’s edge, scuffing his boots in the
when Hoss and I were little, you used to bring us here and I’d teach Hoss
how to skim stones across the water?” With his face still turned towards
the water he continued. “Everything was so simple
then, not like now.”
think it’s time you came home son. Being with your
brothers and myself will help.” ‘Please come home son.’ Ben added to himself.
don’t think I can, not yet.” After a slight pause
Adam continued. “How is it that every time I let
someone into my life, they hurt me?” Ben felt the
desolation in his son flow through his words. He could
understand the despair emanating from his son for he’d felt the same way,
three times before. Each loss becoming harder to deal
with than the first.
what love and being loved is all about son. To be
loved, you must love too. If love is only on one side,
the love will soon wilt and die.”
that why Mother, Inger and Marie died, because I didn’t love them enough?”
Adam, you couldn’t have loved them anymore than you loved Michelle, just
in the different way a child loves. There was nothing we could do. It was their turn to leave us. If
we went through life without ever loosing someone we loved, how would we
learn to appreciate the love we have now? We need
love to make us who we are, to hold us together, for without love we’re empty.
loved her husband and she was willing to murder for him and him for her. Because they loved each other, doesn’t make them bad,
it’s just what they did in the name of love that was bad.
They never realized the men they killed may have been loved by their
family and that by killing him, they died too, in some way. Stewart and Michelle
Barnes may have killed for love but they’d forgotten how to love others,
aside from themselves.”
you still love me Pa, even though I said some things in anger I regret saying
and doing some things I’m not proud of?” asked Adam, as he turned in the
soft sand and walked back to the rock his father was sitting against and
dropped down beside him.
I’ll always love you, as I’ll always love your brothers and your mothers. Just because someone isn’t always with you, doesn’t mean
you stop loving them.”
never felt like this before…so out of control. I can’t
think straight… can’t eat… can’t sleep without help…that kind.” He said looking
down at the bottle near his feet. “I can’t get through
this Pa, not this time. I feel like I’m drowning. When we lost Marie, I had Hoss and Little Joe needing
me. This time it’s different, I can’t fight anymore
Pa, it hurts too much.” He started to cry; tears of bitterness and regret
for a past he couldn’t change; for the love he needed taken from him so many
just need time son. Time to be at peace with yourself. It’s not going to be easy to put behind you what’s happened
but if I’m any judge, you will get through this, just like I’ve had to.”
reached out and hugged his eldest son close to him. He
couldn’t remember the last time they’d held each other. He
could feel Adam’s body heaving as he sobbed, letting all the sorrow and pain
for lost love pour out onto the sand.
Barnes had managed to tear away the protective wall Adam had used to shield
himself and in return nearly destroyed him. Never
one to openly display his feelings Adam had given his total love and commitment
to her, only to have it thrown back at him. It was
going to take plenty of love and understanding from his family to help him
the crying subsided and as Ben held him closer, he relished the physical
contact with his son, but not the reason.
think I’m alright Pa, you can let go now.”
he let go of Adam as asked. To loose the touch brought
a tear to his own eyes. Ben left his hands resting
on Adam’s shoulders, forcing him to meet his father’s gaze. As their eyes met for an all to brief moment, Ben could
see Adam had closed himself to his feelings, the walls firmly back in place,
higher than ever before. It was going to take a woman
of strong determination to break the solid walls down again. Would Adam ever be able to find such a woman here or would
he decide to leave? Ben turned aside his thoughts,
for he hoped all his sons would remain close to the Ponderosa, if not on
it, when they started their family.
better get on back to the house Pa. I’ve got some
apologizing to do.” Adam said softly as he gave his father a wry smile and
moved towards the horses.
understood Adam, we all did.”
just Hoss, Pa.” Said Adam, thinking of Anne in the Silver Dollar saloon and
Joe. A quick look of puzzlement crossed Ben’s face,
but he made no comment.
go home, son. It’s time you came back and we’ve all
missed you. Hop Sing’s been complaining every day
about too much food being left over from the meals. No
one’s had much of an appetite lately, even Hoss has been off his food.”
coming…but not staying.” Adam said, giving a small smile to his father.
Ben reached out quickly and put his hand on Adam’s arm. Was he still going
to lose him?
not staying? Why not?”
Pa. I’m moving into the old house for a while. I need some privacy and time to think, sort of lick my
wounds. I know you’d prefer me to stay at the home
but I can’t. I’ll come home for dinner once a week
or so but other than that I’ll stay away. I’ll take
a list of chores with me to do while up there...enough to keep me busy for
a few months anyway. “
Adam, whatever you think is best for yourself. Don’t
be too hard on yourself son because I’ve never known you to do anything by
halves. For you it’s either all or nothing and I guess
you could say that’s also true when it comes to whom you give your love to.”
smiled to himself as he watched Adam pick up the whisky bottle and pour the
remaining contents on the sand, pleased that for the moment, Adam was no
longer looking for comfort in a bottle. His eldest
son was coming home, maybe not the ranch house, but still the Ponderosa.
put your heart on hold, son. Love has a strange way
of finding you, when you least expect it. Always
and your quotes, Pa.”
Complaints, Opinions, Recommendations?
Who do we think we are?
Why are we doing this?
Standards & Practices
Alphabetical by Title
Alphabetical by Author
Character Bios & More
Input & Opinions from Readers, Authors, Site Owners