backward into the saloon, keeping his eyes fixed on his father and Adam,
standing with Hoss at the stage. His father was sharing a laugh with his
brothers, probably at his expense. But then Joe saw Ben glance over at the
saloon, his face a grim mask. Joe’s heart leapt to his throat when Ben took a
stride toward the saloon, but relief flooded over him when Clem approached Ben,
and after some brief discussion, they walked toward the sheriff’s office. Joe
craned his neck and watched his father until he disappeared with the sheriff.
Joe?” Sam raised his voice, startling Joe who nearly fell out through the
balance, Joe turned wide eyes to the bartender, “Huh? Oh, uh, yeah. I, uh,
need to buy another window pane.” Joe’s face grew pained in anticipation of
Sam’s reaction, and his hands grasped each other in worry.
one?” Sam hollered. “Ain’t that four now? And two of ‘em today!” The
man had his feet planted apart and his hands on his hips were fisted.
Joe said quietly, his mouth pulling into a small bow. His large, sad green eyes
looked up and regarded the man.
right!” the man said in exasperation and threw his bar rag down. “But that
means rent on another room for a week, at least!” Sam pointed a thick finger
“I know, I
know already.” Joe blew out his cheeks with a sigh and his eyebrows lifted in
sure working hard at stayin’ outta trouble with your Pa!” Sam joked as he
brought the reservation book from behind the bar.
I’m not so sure it’s workin’.” Joe said nervously. He cast a nervous
glance at the swinging doors and paid Sam three dollars and fifty cents. He
eased over to the doors and peered over them toward the sheriff’s office.
Nothing. He looked over at the stage where his brothers were unloading Adam’s
baggage. Joe’s face took on a pale, sickly expression as he turned and made
his way up the stairs to remove the windowpane.
carefully down the stairs, carrying the prized sheet of glass. Perspiration
beaded his face, more from nerves than heat. He saw an older man talking to Sam.
“What do you
mean you ain’t got a room for me?” the old man exclaimed.
“Just what I
said.” Sam gave Joe an angry look over the old man’s shoulder. “I’ve
rented all but one and that one’s taken!”
gonna go call that old man out there an out and out liar! He told me there’s
always plenty of rooms to rent here. Low cost, decent food and plenty o’
liquid refreshment!” The old man cleared his throat. “Let me see your rental
book!” Sam reluctantly gave the open book to the irate man. He quickly looked
at the name and shook his head, shoving the book back at Sam.
Just then, Ben
walked into the saloon. Joe’s eyes widened and he started talking a blue
streak to his father again. “See, Pa! I already got the windowpane!! Pretty as
you please! Come on Pa, let’s get home, so I can take care of puttin’ it in,
okay Pa?” Joe resisted the urge to pull at Ben’s sleeve.
Just a minute son, alright?” Ben said, frowning at Joe’s hand that seemed to
be grasping at him.
“I said, just a moment, Joseph.” Joe nodded and tried to smile
through his suffering.
didn’t I tell you the rooms here were clean, affordable and all the comforts a
man could want?” Ben said proudly, slapping the man on the back. Joe looked at
Sam with worried eyes.
KNOW about the rooms...., what’s yer name? Ben? They’re all RENTED! And you,
you old goat are an
OUT AND OUT LIAR!” And the old man, grabbed his satchel and left
the saloon in a huff. Ben stared in shock at the swinging doors. He looked at
Sam questioningly, who shrugged his answer. He turned to look at Joe, who met
his father’s gaze with an ingratiating grin and the familiar look of
innocence. Ben didn’t know what this was about, but he was pretty certain his
youngest knew something. His eyes narrowed as he nailed Joe with his gaze. Joe
wilted underneath the scrutiny and examined his boots
Ben made a low
sigh, which sounded for all the world like a growl. “Let’s go home!” Ben
jerked his head in the direction of the door. Joe scooted past him quickly and
walked ahead of his father. As they began to step off the sidewalk, the old man
started up his complaint again. This time to other passengers just off the
right! No rooms! Four rooms rented to one man, named ..... uh......Joseph
Ben stopped in
mid-stride, as did Joe. Ben slowly turned around and fixed his son with a deadly
black countenance. Joe froze. He attempted a smile, but it faded quickly.
“Joseph, you wanted to talk about this later? Well, we suuuure are.” Ben
took a death-hold grip of his son’s arm above the elbow, which made Joe’s
eyes water. Joe swallowed hard and held onto the pane of glass for all he was
worth as he and his father made a quick walk to the wagon.
going to stay in town for a while longer. See that this young man gets that
window fixed and doesn’t disappear.” Ben looked at Joe. “I want to talk to
him when I get home.”
half closed and he looked at his feet. ‘This is bad. This is very bad,’ he
thought to himself.
Ben said, “I’m going to pick up the contest money, and the reward money.
We’ll sort it all out at home.” Ben made a circle with his hand between all
Hoss fiddled with the team’s reins. He looked at Joe and at Adam. Hoss’s
face showed how much he hated conflict in his family. He climbed up in the wagon
seat to avoid as much of it as he could.
his father walk to Buck, mount up and ride to the Sheriff’s office. Adam
looked from Ben to Joe and back twice more, settling on Joe. Adam tilted his
head at his youngest brother.
well!” Adam clasped his hands and rubbed them together in delight. “I was
disappointed that I missed out on whatever has been going on for the last two
weeks, but I’m sure glad I got back in time for the finale!” Adam smiled a
broad, white smile at Little Joe, who returned an angry stare.
Hoss said under his breath. He clucked at the horses and flipped the reins to
urge them forward. Joe sat in the back with the windowpane and tried to avoid
the gleeful smiles Adam cast his way.
Ben walked his
horse up to the hitching post in front of the sheriff’s office and dismounted.
He flipped the reins twice around the rail and stepped onto the walk. Within two
long strides he was at the sheriff’s door and he walked in without knocking.
Ben offered in greeting.
Coffee?” Clem said, holding the coffee pot.
you. Clem, about that …. bank robber you have locked up here.”
‘im?” Clem asked.
“Mind if I
talk to him?” Ben asked, standing tall and looking directly into Clem’s
don’t mind, Ben. Ya ain’t gonna make any bets with him are ya?” Clem
seen enough wagering for a while.”
right in through there.” Clem motioned to the door.
Ben opened the door and went in to the cell area. Once he saw Cunningham, Ben
closed the door behind him.
Cunningham,” Ben stated.
that’s right.” Cunningham turned and looked at his visitor. “Hey, you’re
“How can a I
help the likes of Mr. Ben Cartwright?”
“I just have
a question for you. How much money were you willing to take off my son?”
did he offer?”
thousand dollars, all tolled.”
flushed red and then the color drained from his face. “One…. thousand
dollars?” he almost whispered. “Got any proof?” Ben said quickly.
sheriff. He’s got all my marks,” Cunningham said lazily.
Mr. Cunningham,” Ben said as he left the cell room.
Cunningham says I can look at his record book. May I see it?”
Ben.” Clem rummaged around in the middle desk drawer. “Here it is.”
Ben opened the
book and turned three pages. He scanned down the list and found the first bet
made for one hundred dollars, payoff of five hundred if he won. A
little further down he saw the second bet. Slapping the ledger shut, Ben thrust
the book at Clem.
Clem. That’s all I needed,” Ben said. “Wait, I need to collect that reward
money and the contest money.”
Ben. I can help you with the reward money. But you’ll have to see the banker
for the other reward, that’s from the bank trustees, and you’ll have to
visit Sam for the contest money.”
the horses to a halt near the porch. Joe scrambled out of the back of the wagon
and drew the windowpane glass toward him. He took it up in a protective grasp
and wordlessly headed for the house.
Hoss? If I didn’t know him better, I’d say that Joe is showing a lot of
responsibility, hustling to get that window fixed.”
Adam.” Joe said as he entered the house.
his voice. “Watch your tone, boy!” His remark was met by a ferociously
lay off will ya. Poor fella’s got enough problems already.”
himself to blame, I am certain.” Adam smiled and patted Hoss on the shoulder.
Adam looked up
as Hoss entered the great room and then returned to his reading.
upstairs?” Hoss asked.
haven’t seen him come down.” Adam said without looking up.
mounted the stairs. He walked down the hall to Joe’s bedroom and knocked on
the door. “Joe?”
in.” Joe answered
the door and saw Joe struggling to set the windowpane in the window.
me help ya.”
applied the putty to the glass and they slid it in place. Hoss pressed and
pulled on it to make sure it seated properly.
ought to do her, Joe.” Hoss wiped his hands on his pants.
slightly in response.
Hoss dragged a
chair from the desk and turned it around. He eased his bulk onto the too-small
chair and folded arms in his lap. Joe sat on the bed and raised troubled eyes at
his big brother.
got yourself a peck a trouble don’t ya, boy?”
Joe said despairingly.
his face up as he made an effort to understand his brother.
didn’t you do like I told ya Joe? Ya shoulda laid it all out to Pa, the whole
truth, the whole miserable story!” Hoss looked at his brother earnestly.
remember we went over this before. Imagine what Pa would do if I told him the
brother, it looks like you’re gonna have to tell him that truth anyhow, plus
fessin’ up to some outright lies!”
like that, you’re making me upset again.”
better plan on stayin’ upset for a while, Joseph. I don’t see no way out a
this for ya!”
gonna go downstairs and get started on cleanin’ those rifles.” Hoss said and
left the room.
cleaning up the floor around the window, thinking over what Hoss had said.
the street to the bank. The bell tinkled as he drew the door open and closed
again. Looking around, he only saw the assistant banker and approached him.
Hennessey, I’ve come to pick up Joseph’s reward money.” Ben smiled.
Mr. Cartwright. It was left in an envelope for you. Here you are! And tell that
fine son of yours we are deeply grateful for his unselfish act today.”
his throat. “Uh, yes, yes. Unselfish. I will tell him.” Ben didn’t try to
hide the aggravation he felt. “Thank you.”
day.” Ben replied flatly.
Ben left the
bank and decided to walk down to the saloon, rather than ride. He didn’t mind
having to come back for Buck after his final errand. The stretching would do him
good; clear his head. He tipped his hat at the ladies he met on the way. He also
overheard whispers about Joe’s bravery, heroism and Hoss’s appetite. It was
putting him in a fouler mood than before. Finally, he arrived at the saloon. He
fairly burst through the swinging doors. Sam nearly dropped his bar rag when he
saw the formidable figure of Ben Cartwright standing before him.
said with not a little authority. “I’ve come to collect Hoss’s contest
money, if you please.”
Ben! I’ve got it all ready. The boys hurried home, eh?” Sam laughed a little
too readily, as he handed Ben the cash.
they’ve … gone … home,” Ben growled.
and then concentrated on polishing the wooden bar. Ben didn’t leave however.
understand that you were helping Joseph out with some windowpanes. You …..
startin’ a general store, too, Sam?” Ben’s wry smile did not ease the
Ben. Ha, ha, ha, that’s right funny there.” Sam laughed.
leaned on the bar and looked at Sam.
his throat. “Oh, dang it, Ben. What was I gonna do? That son of yours was
tryin’ in the worst way to stay outta trouble and he was just in a real fix
and I didn’t just give ‘em to ‘im, you know. He paid me for ‘em, fair
and square, Ben.” Sam worried a little that he sounded like he was babbling.
“Is that all?” He narrowed his gaze and his eyebrows dropped low.
The glass was already set in the windows! I couldn’t rent the rooms without
windowpanes, could I? So, Joe offered to pay for the windowpanes and one
week’s rent!” Sam sputtered.
“On how many
rooms?” Ben questioned.
under the interrogation. “Four.”
look surprised. “Got a receipt, or a record?”
it all down in ma book!” Sam produced the green leather cashbook and pushed it
Ben opened the
book and read in Sam’s round hand, ‘Joseph Cartwright, one room, $3.50’
four times in a row. Ben pursed his lips and his brow furrowed. “Thank you,
Ben. A real pleasure.” Sam called as Ben strode out of the saloon.
Sam rolled his
eyes heavenward and went back to polishing the bar.
the main street to avoid the gossip regarding the morning’s events. Gratefully, he
reached Buck without one single encounter or overheard conversation. He checked
the cinch, tightened it and was just reaching for the reins, when he felt a
velvet glove rest on his hand.
you are, Benjamin! I’ve been looking all over town for you!”
Ben tipped his
hat and smiled. “Well, Miss Hanson, how are …”
can’t get over Little Joseph and his wonderful, heroic feat this morning! Why,
you have raised such a valiant young man, Benjamin! So much like his father!!”
Miss Hanson broke into a delighted giggle.
you, Miss Hanson. If you’ll forgive me, I really need to….”
Benjamin, won’t you and your delightful sons come to dinner next Sunday?”
She nearly jumped up and down in anticipation.
course, Miss Hanson. But I really need to get back to the ranch, if you don’t
mind!” Ben desperately collected the reins and quickly shook hands with the
woman. Mounting, he tipped his hat again and urged Buck into a trot.
waved her handkerchief at Ben as he rounded the corner near the International
Hotel. He raised his hand in acknowledgement and rode away.
his neckerchief and opened the top button of his shirt. He slowed Buck to a
gentle walk and took several deep, slow breaths. Why did he feel as if he’d
had the wind knocked out of him, he wondered. Soon, the cool breeze off the
pines and their scent eased his mind.
Hoss came down
the stairs, crossed to the gun rack and took two rifles down. He set them on the
coffee table and crossed back to the gun rack, opened a drawer and took out a
rag, some oil and a metal cleaning rod. Adam’s eyes followed his younger
brother as he crossed back to the settee, set his materials on the table and sat
those rifles finally?” Adam queried.
Hoss answered without looking up.
kid?” Adam asked as he read.
“He did a
fine job on that window.” Hoss wasn’t giving.
what I mean. How’s his mood?” Adam pressed.
the gun and said,
“About what you’d expect, I guess. If you’re so worried about
‘im, why don’t ya git up there and see for yourself?”
him enough, without my help,” Adam replied
silent as he continued working.
Joe stood up
and moved his chair back to the desk. He looked around the room, and smoothed
the back of his hair as was his habit. Walking to the newly installed window he
looked out onto the yard. Joe chewed on his lower lip as his mind worked
overtime. Pa would be riding up soon and Joe wondered what his mood would be by
then. He didn’t know what to do with himself. Go downstairs where Adam was? Go
talk to Hop Sing? The cook would
probably give him an earful too. Sighing, Joe sat down on the bed, then lay back
with his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. He swore he could hear his
heart beating through his shirt.
The sound of a
horse trotting into the yard, roused Joe from sleep. He didn’t need to look
out the window. He knew it was his father’s horse. Buck had a funny way of
“paddling out” his right foreleg, which produced an unusual gait.
Hoss looked up
at Adam. “Pa’s home.”
ready,” Adam said quietly.
One side of
Hoss’s mouth raised in a half-scowl. “Yeah.”
footsteps were heard on the porch and then the front door latch opened
forcefully and the door swung open and closed as Ben came in. He hung his hat on
the peg, slid the knot on his neckerchief and drew it over his head, then hung
it around the crown of his hat. Ben unbuckled his gun belt, rolled it and set it
on the sideboard, careful to not scratch the wood with the gun.
the room, Ben asked, “Where’s Joseph?”
get him please,” Ben said, more than asked.
Pa. I’ll get ‘im.” Hoss scooted to the edge of the settee and then heaved
himself to a standing position. His eyes darted quickly to Adam, who raised one
eyebrow in reply. Hoss mounted the stairs quickly.
Ben cast a
look at Adam, then walked to the fireplace. He picked up the poker and jabbed at
the fire a little, as Hoss, followed by Little Joe, came down the stairs.
around. “Joseph, please sit down, Hoss? Adam? I’d like you to stay too.”
brothers exchanged glances, signs of the silent communication that they shared
and which amazed Ben, usually. Today, the charm of it was lost on him. He felt
“Now, as you
know, there has been a fair amount of money made, spent and loaned between the
three of you. As I told you I would, I have collected the rewards and the
contest money in town. Joseph, due to your, uh, heroic actions this morning, you
won, as you know, five hundred dollars from the bank for capturing a bank robber
and another five hundred dollars reward from the sheriff for turning in a wanted
man.” Ben’s face almost smiled. “Here is your money.” Ben handed a thick
group of bills to Joe.
brightened. ‘Maybe things are going to go a lot better than I thought
today.’ He mused to himself.
took on a suspicious expression as he watched Joe fold the money into his
billfold. Joe returned a gleaming, open-mouthed grin at Adam.
“Hoss,” Ben said. “As the champion flapjack eater in the territory, you are the deserving winner of five hundred dollars.” Ben laughed, patted Hoss on the back and handed him the five one hundred dollar bills. Hoss counted the money and then counted it again, enjoying the feel of the large bills. His smile quickly turned to a frown when he saw Joe staring at him expectantly.
Ben cleared his throat. “I understand that you were going to loan your five
hundred dollars to Joe, am I right?” Ben asked. “He would pay you back and
it would teach him a lesson, as you said.”
Hoss complained. “Yeah, that’s right, Pa. I’ll never git it back
though.” He handed the money to Joe, who seemed insulted by the comment. Adam
rolled his eyes.
Joseph, I believe you owe your brother Adam fifteen hundred dollars for the
ruby,” Ben said
sternly. Joe was about to holler about the gem being fake but one
look from Ben, extinguished that thought. He looked at his father sorrowfully.
go, Adam. Use it in good health.” Joe mumbled unhappily.
little brother, and ….. tough luck, huh?” Adam’s face was split by a huge,
wide grin as he held the money.
“I do have
one concern though, boys,” Ben advised.
looked at him intently.
Ben rubbed his index finger across his lips and then held his finger up. “It
seems to me that it isn’t ‘quite’ right for you to make a five hundred
dollar profit on a fake ruby.”
“Yes, it was
made of glass and quite destructible, I’m afraid, son,” Ben told him.
hung open in shock. He didn’t move for a while. Then he slowly counted out
five hundred dollars in fifty-dollar bills and handed them wordlessly to Joe.
nodded toward Hoss. Joe grimaced and then handed the five hundred dollars back
to Hoss, who quickly stuffed the money into his vest pocket.
“As a matter
of fact, Adam, I am of the opinion that it isn’t right for Joseph to pay one
thousand dollars,” Ben’s voice started to raise, “for a broken ruby that his eldest
brother was stump-brained enough to buy, without PROOF OF AUTHENTICITY OR
APPRAISAL!!!” Ben’s voice echoed off of each beam in the large room’s
his lips and looked off to the right and gazed at the fire, after the berating.
Ben kept his eyes on his eldest. Adam, stunned, drew the one thousand dollars
out of his billfold and held it out to Joe.
out tentatively and took the money. “Really, Pa? Heck, I…”
“I AM NOT
FINISHED YET!!” Ben hollered. Joe startled at the roar of Ben’s voice. Ben
slowly stalked over to Joe. “Stand up. STAND UP!!”
Joe leaped to
hasn’t gone unnoticed by me that you have, for the last seven weeks, stayed
out until three or four in the morning more nights than not … GAMBLING! You
said nothing about the ruby for three days.” Ben held up three fingers in
Joe’s face. “THREE DAYS! While I continued to check the post office for
Adam’s valuable PACKAGE!” Ben looked up and fixed Adam with a dark glare.
Adam looked at
attention back on Joe, Ben continued. “AND, I know all about the FOUR rooms
you rented at the saloon in order to get more windowpanes! And while I’m at
it, young man, I am well aware of the bets you made that you could NOT even
ATTEMPT to pay if you had lost. Something tells me that I would have had to pay
for them!! So, your money, your one thousand dollars will go in the bank to help
pay off any future destructions you cause
on the ranch or in town! I must have re-furnished Sam’s saloon fifteen
times in the LAST FIVE YEARS! And finally, on top of all of this, you lied to
me. At the stage, you said ‘I don’t bet, Pa. You know that.’ Well I DO
know, Joseph. I know that you DO BET and you have lied to me to save your skin.
And I am here to tell you that IT DID NOT WORK!” Ben was now within inches of
Joe’s face, towering over him.
brought the money up between his and his father’s face. “Um….here you
go,..Pa.” Joe smiled sickly, his voice quavering with uncertainty.
Ben took the
money from Joe. “Thank you.” Ben growled without removing his gaze from his
youngest. “Now, you take yourself to the Sheriff’s office and speak to Clem.
He has all the bets that were collected by Cunningham. You will go with him and
distribute back to the citizens of Virginia City, ALL the money they wagered on
that contest. Understood?”
broadly. “Oh, yes sir, Pa! I’ll go right now!”
Ben nodded in
Joe’s face. “I’m not finished with you, young man. When you return from
town you wait for me in the barn.”
ducked away and to the door, looking behind him as he slipped out of the house.
Hoss shook his
head. “That danged, Little Joe, he gets in more scrapes than any ten people I
Ben turned to
Hoss. “And YOU! When are YOU going to learn to not follow him INTO those
eyebrows raised in misery as his eyes looked down at his fingers, his mouth
turned into an unhappy grimace. “I keep askin’ mahself the same thang. Well,
ah guess I better git started on evenin’ chores, Pa,” Hoss said, and lifted
his large frame. Tucking his hands in his front pockets, he walked to the door
with his head lowered.
Hoss leave the house. He fully realized it was no mistake he and his father were
now alone in the great room. He had been looking everywhere BUT at his father
during the “conversation” between all of them. Now, it was impossible to
avoid the man. Without looking up, Adam knew that his father, still standing,
was staring at him. The discomfort played across his face, Ben noticed and tried
not to smile. Adam raised his head and looked up at the stout image of his
father before him. Ben held his gaze for a moment, then walked to the coffee
table and sat on it.
hear it,” Ben stated with just the slightest bit of amusement in his voice.
what?” Adam asked cautiously, then remembered how his father did not
appreciate questions for answers.
eyebrows lowered and he sighed. “Hear how my college-educated, world-wise,
level-headed, ELDEST son managed to spend one thousand dollars on a worthless
That.” Adam smiled and scratched the side of his neck. “Well, Pa, it’s
Ben held up a hand. “It’s a long, sad story?”
uneasily. “Yeah, it is, as a matter of fact.”
to look at him.
remember how I wrote you that I had run into that old friend of mine, Aaron
Smyth, who wanted to sell the ruby?” Adam questioned.
Clipper Captain, go on.”
wasn’t exactly the Captain.”
Ben gave Adam
an impatient puzzled look and started to say something.
It wasn’t the Captain who wanted to sell me the ruby. It was his sister,
Diana.” Recognizing increasing impatience in his father, he continued in a
hurry. “Aaron, she and I had dinner that night. Aaron asked me to walk her
back home because he had a meeting after dinner. On the way home, she asked if I
was interested in buying the ruby. She said Aaron had given it to her.
She…well….she was in a fix.”
Ben raised his
she and Aaron were behind in their property taxes. Aaron hadn’t told Diana,
but she found out. She knew Aaron was worried about it and was working hard to
catch up on the payments. She wanted to pay it off, so she decided to sell the
ruby. She showed it to me and the next day I withdrew the money from my account
in San Francisco and gave it to her.” Adam fixed a firm gaze on his father,
proving to him that it was the absolute truth.
the three of you, none of you knew the ruby was a fake?” Ben asked.
“Am I to
assume that by not answering my question, it means that you DID know the ruby
was a fake and that you were going to sell that ruby, AT A PROFIT, to some poor,
unsuspecting fellow on the stage?”
no fellow on the stage offering me fifteen hundred dollars for the ruby. I made
soon as I saw Joe standing there saying he wanted to buy the ruby, I knew it was
gone. I figured it wasn’t your fault or Hoss’s fault. And with that guilty
as sin expression on Joe’s face, well, I knew he had managed to lose it
somehow. I…..thought I’d scare the pants off him a little.” Adam tried to
suppress a smile.
“I see. No
harm done, I suppose,” Ben offered.
Adam smiled, satisfied. “I’ll, um, go out there and help Hoss, since Joe
will be in town during evening chores.”
Ben pursed his
lips and nodded as Adam stood and walked to the door.
Ben called. “Tell me the truth. Did you know the ruby was a fake?”
the door but paused. “Let me put it this way, Pa. I’m glad I could help a
friend.” Adam smiled over his shoulder to his father. Ben’s started to say
something, but smiled instead. Adam went outside and softly closed the door
Ben stood up
and looked at the door. Shaking his head, yet smiling, he crossed the room to
his desk. ‘She sure must have been a beautiful woman to snooker Adam like
that.’ Ben thought to himself. He sat down to organize his letters and mail,
but the sight of the photographs on his desk caught his attention as they did
each day. He gazed at the portraits in turn, Elizabeth, Inger, Marie and warmth
flooded through him as he thought about each of his sons.
on the porch. He had closed the door behind him, but his hand still rested on
the doorknob. He shook his head. “I’m glad I could ‘help’ a friend,”
he sighed to himself. “Oh, I sure helped a friend alright. Helped her to one
thousand dollars!” Adam let his hand drop from the doorknob and he slapped it
against his leg in disgust.
can’t believe I bought a fake ruby!”
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