Them Crane Boys

Martin was still at the table when Frasier came down the stairs for breakfast.  This was slightly disappointing; not that Frasier had anything against eating with his father, but he was hoping to see his hosts, the Cartwrights this morning.  In fact, Frasier had gotten up extra early just to be with them.  But then, he had been getting up early everyday this week and kept on missing them.

“If this goes on,” he thought, “I’ll have to sleep at the table to eat breakfast with them!”  He asked his father if it was his imagination or were the Cartwrights trying to avoid Frasier and Niles.

“Well, what do you think!” retorted Martin.  “You almost hang Hoss when you and your brother tried your hand at roundup.  When you both tried to help with the branding, Niles got Little Joe right in the keister.  The only thing you haven’t tried is castrating the calves and Adam ain’t going to let you go near that operation, at least not when he’s in charge of it!  Something tells me he still has hopes of having a family.”

“Oh please, father,” Niles said as he came down the stairs fresh from his morning bath.  “You act as if it were our fault about these...these…” Niles waved his hands as if the word would materialize from the air.  Quickly, his face brightened as the word suddenly appeared in his brain, “Mishaps!”

Frasier looked at his brother incredulously, “Mishaps?  Niles, even I would call that a stretch.”

Niles got out his handkerchief and automatically began wiping down the mahogany wooden chair, “Now you know, we probably did the Little Joe a favor. As often as he gets hurt away from home, this could be a blessing in disguise.  Now, when people strip him to tend his wounds, all they have to do is look at the brand and next stagecoach, he’s on the way back home to the Ponderosa.” Niles smiled then sat down next to Frasier, opposite their father.

“We must stress that point with Ben and Little Joe, when we next see them,” remarked Frasier dryly as he finished his coffee.

Niles frowned at his brother and tried again, “It’s not even that bad.  Dr. Martin was most impressed with the way we handled both emergencies.  He said he never seen such fine work in his life.”

“You must have missed that little dig he got in about doctors who drum up their own business,” Martin added.

Annoyed, Frasier and Niles both looked at their father.  Martin smiled brightly back at them.  Luckily, their father’s beautiful English nurse, Daphne Moon coming in the front door interrupted anything they were going to say. She had been taking Eddie, their dad’s Jack Russell out for a little walk.

“Oh, finally, you’re both up!  You missed a great sunrise this morning.  Adam and Little Joe both made sure I saw it,” she smiled wistfully.

“Somehow, I don’t think we would have gotten the full effect, Daphne,” Frasier said snidely.

“Well, aren’t we snippy today?” she retorted. "Mr. Crane, if you don’t need me, I would like to go riding today."

Martin smiled at Daphne, “That’s a good idea! I won’t need you today, and actually, I thought I would take a ride myself.  Ben said there was some good fishing around here.”

Frasier and Niles looked at each other.  This was what they had waited for!  Now they would be able to go into Virginia City and see Caruso at the Opera House. Perfect!

After breakfast, Frasier and Niles went out to get the horses the Cartwrights had loaned them while they were staying at the Ponderosa.  Quickly, Hank, one of the hands beat them to the horses and started saddling them.

“Hank, that’s not necessary, we could do that,” said Frasier.

“No sir! Mr. Cartwright told me if you two needed to go anywhere I was to take care of the horses,” Hank replied.  “Are you sure you two want to ride in? I could hitch up the buggy,” Hank added uneasily.

Frasier thought about it.  The buggy would be easier to deal with since neither Niles nor he was a horseman, but somehow he felt it insulting to be asked about the buggy.  After all, unless there was a special occasion, all the Cartwrights usually rode horses when they went anywhere.

“No, Hank, Frasier and I will be riding in today.  It’s such a nice day for a ride.” Niles said, apparently thinking the same thing Frasier was.

Frasier, took his brother aside, “Niles when have you actually gotten on a horse?”

“Plenty of times.  I was used to ride daily at Uncle John’s when we were kids. Don’t you remember?” Niles replied primly.  Frasier closed his eyes.  Oh yes, he did remember.  He rode every day while he stayed there also.  In fact they both rode on very old, very tired, farm ponies.  The only danger there was for Niles and Frasier was they would fall asleep and fall off before anyone could coax the ponies to move.

“Maybe we should let Hank, hitch up the buggy.”

Niles was indignant. “Of course not!  We can ride, why there would be nothing more invigorating than a brisk canter to town!”

Finally it dawned on Frasier.  “Daphne said something about admiring how the Cartwright boys looked on their horses.”

“Yes,” Niles huffed.  “She commented on how even Hoss looked on his horse.” He added grudgingly.  Frasier smiled.  Oh yes, competition and Niles were old friends.  Luckily he never had to worry about that.  But still, Frasier thought thinking of the Cartwright boys, it couldn’t hurt one’s image…

My bones denounce the buckboard bounce…

They reached Virginia City with no problems.  “You know Niles, I have this nagging feeling that there is something wrong about us seeing Caruso.” Frasier confessed after leaving the horses at the livery stable.  Niles turned to his brother aghast.

“What could be wrong about seeing the famous Enrico Caruso? This is the chance of a life time to see him in person.”

“I know, but something doesn’t seem right about it.”

Whatever, Frasier’s misfeelings were, nothing seemed to be wrong with the performance.  Frasier and Niles had box seats almost on the stage.  The concert was perfect.  They even got to go backstage and talk with the noted opera star.  This caused Frasier even more misgivings.  Nothing was ever that perfect.

As they walked out of the opera house, they noticed it was getting late.  “Do you think we should try to head back?  I didn’t realize it was getting this late.” Frasier asked his brother.

Niles looked longing at the French restaurant they had found, but was reminded that it would be rude to miss dinner with their hosts, especially since there was no way of telling the Cartwrights that the brothers would be late.  “I suppose we should get our horses,” Niles said grudgingly.

When they got to the livery stables, they found it empty except for the two Ponderosa horses.

“Hello, is anyone here?” called Frasier.

Niles looked around and poked his head in a few of the stalls.  “It looks like everyone is gone.  Maybe we should just saddle up and go,” he said.

“Well maybe, I just don’t feel right about leaving without paying…” Frasier said.

“Paying?  Who’s leaving without paying?” a craggy voice interrupted. “I’m here, just hold your britches on.”

Frasier and Niles turned around to see an ancient man limping in on a crutch with his arm in a sling.

“Uh, where is the other man?  The one who was here when we came in?” Niles asked hesitantly.  The old man stepped nearer to the brothers to take a good look at them.  Frasier noticed that there was a milky film over one eye. As he stepped closer, the Crane brothers stepped back to keep away from the fumes that emanated from the man’s body.  Quickly, Niles brought his handkerchief up to cover his nose.

“You mean my son?  He’s down at the saloon; I’m watching the place for him.  Now you just hold your horses, and I’ll saddle them.” The old man began limping toward the horses.  He looked back at Frasier and Niles as neither of them made a movement to follow.  “I SAID, you hold your horses and I’ll saddle them.”

Startled out of their shock at seeing the old man, Frasier and Niles quickly went to their horses.  “I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thought you were just speaking colloquially, not literally.” Frasier said, trying hard to keep downwind of the old man.

The man looked at Frasier.  “Nope, just talkin’ good ol’ U S of A ‘merican.  What’s wrong with you, boy?”

“Um, nothing is wrong.  Look, why don’t we pay you and we’ll saddle our horses ourselves, we’re sort of in a hurry and don’t want to bother you.”  Frasier looked at Niles who was nodding his head frantically in agreement.  The old man looked them both up and down, but took the money and walked out.

“It seems he has doubts about whether we can saddle our horses.” Niles claimed as he put the blanket and saddle on.

“It’s really foolish, I mean, it seems straightforward enough and they didn’t take the bridles off,” Frasier agreed as he began tightening the cinch on his horse.

“Oh wait, didn’t I see the boys hit their horses in the stomach while they were cinching?” asked Niles as he struggled with his own horse's cinch.

“Probably because Ben Cartwright wouldn’t let them hit us,” replied Frasier.

“Frasier, I’m not sure. These are expensive animals, I’m sure Ben would rather have the boys hit us than these animals.”

Frasier looked over his horse to his brother.  “Did I hear you right?”

Niles looked back at his brother and said, “You’re right, he’s much too good of a host to let his sons punch out his guests.”  As they finished, they both got into their saddles.  Both were rather pleased because they were able to get on without any help, except a box that was near by.

The ride out of town was uneventful until they were about halfway to the ranch.  “Oh Frasier…” called Niles.

Frasier turned around on his horse to see what Niles was yelling about, and was surprised to see Niles’ horse, but no Niles.  “Niles?  Niles?  Where are you?”

“Down here!” a voice called out. And there Niles was, his saddle had slipped and he was halfway towards his horse’s belly.

“Well Niles, I don’t think that’s what they meant when they talk about riding side saddle,” Frasier joked.

Niles rewarded him with a glare and said, “Help me off this thing.  I’m going under!”  Frasier was getting off his horse when his own saddle slipped and his horse took off.  As Frasier fell, Nile’s horse got skittish and luckily Niles was able to get off and away before any damage was done to him.

“Oh great!  Now we have to walk back, and Hop Sing had promised to make his roast pig, too!” Frasier complained.

“Well, at least the saddles went with them so we don’t have to carry them,” Niles said brightly, determined to make the best out of a very bad moment.  He was rewarded with a glare from Frasier.  They both started the long hike back to the ranch.

It was completely dark when they finally made it to the Ponderosa ranch house.  They both were tired, thirsty, and hungry.  They saw the lights on in the main room.  “Oh Frasier, I don’t feel like facing everyone. This is just another thing those foolish city slickers mucked up.”  Niles ran a hand across his face as he lowered himself to the edge of the water trough.

Frasier tried to console his brother. “We don’t know that.  I mean, our horses just arrived.  For all they know, we might still be in town.”

Niles looked up at his brother,  “yes, that is so much better.  We’re not goof ups, we’re just rude.”

Frustrated, Frasier retorted, “Well if you’re going to be that way!”  Suddenly he got an idea.  “Why don’t we just go up the backstairs and slip into our rooms. We can say we were tired and didn’t want to bother anyone.  They won’t know when we came in!”

Niles grasped this hope. “Do you know that there ARE back stairs?”

“Yes, through the kitchen!  It can’t fail.  There are no lights on in the kitchen so Hop Sing is probably in bed. We can slip through and go upstairs.”

Niles thought about it and said, “What about the horses, shouldn’t we tend to them?  How come no one came out when the horses came in?”

“They probably didn’t hear them.  Let’s get the saddles off and tie them up.  Then to bed!”  Frasier said with glee.

After taking care of the horses, Frasier and Niles walked toward the entrance on the side of the house.  Suddenly, Niles grabbed Frasier. “Wait, you’re going in the wrong entrance.  That goes into the bunkhouse, the next one goes into the kitchen.”

Frasier stopped. “Are you sure?  I thought that one goes into the guestroom and that one goes into the kitchen.”

Niles shook his head, “No, I’m sure of it.  That one goes into the bunkhouse.”  Niles pointed to one doorway; then pointed to the other.  “That one goes into the kitchen.  The door to the downstairs guest room is through the dining room.”

Frasier looked at both entrances and went into the door nearest the main house.  Suddenly, a female began screaming.

“Daphne!  Niles, you fool, this is the guest room!”  Frasier turned around, and faced a figure in black with a gun on him.  Niles came up behind the figure and hit him hard on the head with a piece of firewood. Down the stranger fell.  Daphne lit the lamp next to her bed and came over where Frasier and Niles were bent over the stranger.

“It’s Adam!  Dr. Crane, he probably thought you were breaking in and was going to protect me!”  Daphne cried.  Her face softened, “He was trying to protect me.”

Frasier and Niles looked around for others to come tearing into the room.  “Where is everyone?” asked Frasier, very frightened after knocking out the eldest son of his host.

“They’re out looking for you.  Adam went with them, I don’t know what he’s doing here.”  Daphne brought the lamp closer Adams face.  She softly smiled and sighed as she thought about the way his eyelashes made small-feathered fans across his cheekbones.

Niles stepped in between Adam and Daphne under the pretense of checking Adam’s pulse on his neck.  “He’s fine, just unconscious.” Niles announced.

“Oh great, now we’ve knocked him out! What are we going to do?”  Frasier was trying to think. Frantically, a thought came to him.

“We can carry him upstairs to his room and no one will be the wiser.  We will just say we don’t know anything.”

Niles looked at his older brother as if Frasier had lost his mind; in fact, he asked him that very question. “Are you out of your mind?  How will we explain how he got there?  Adam isn’t the kind of man just to leave a manhunt and go to bed.”

“How do you know,” Frasier said defensively.  “Besides, as I said, we can say we were safely in bed, so we wouldn’t know anything about it.” He then turned to Daphne.  “Is everyone out of the house? Except for you?”

Daphne nodded.  “I stayed behind in case you both came back.”

“Quickly, Niles you take his feet, I’ll take the upper part.  Daphne, go ahead and look out for anyone coming.”  Frasier barked out the orders.  Niles bent down to pick up Adam’s feet and was brought down again.

“Ooof, he’s heavy.  He doesn’t look that fat!” Niles exclaimed.

“Ooh, he’s not,” explained Daphne. “Look at him.  It’s all muscle.  Look at that chest.”

“Stop drooling, Daphne.  You’re dripping on him and we don’t want him up just yet,” snapped Frasier.  But if Daphne stopped looking at Adam’s muscular chest, she would have noticed that both Niles’ and Frasier’s shirts were unbuttoned lower than before.

Again Frasier and Niles picked up Adam and were carrying him towards the stairs when they heard, “what’s going on down there?”  They both looked at each other in panic.  It was their father!  What was he doing there?  They both looked at Daphne.

“Well you didn’t expect him to be riding out at this time of night with his hip did you?”  She replied defensively.

Frasier glared at her, “Okay, besides, Adam, Dad, and you is there anyone else here we should know about?”

Daphne shook her head, “No just us.  Oh Eddie of course!”

“Of course,” growled Frasier.

Quickly they headed for the far end of the room out of the light so their father couldn’t see what they were carrying. Daphne stayed at the bottom of the stairs with the light.

“Dad?  It’s just us, me and Niles.  We just came home.” Frasier called out.  Martin Crane appeared at the top of the stairs.

“What are you two doing?  The whole household is out looking for you. Hold on a minute, I’ll come right down.”  Frasier and Niles looked at each other panic stricken.

“Oh no, you don’t.  Not without your robe on.  I’m not taking care of a sick man on me holiday,” Daphne cried out, and turned to Frasier and Niles looking rather pleased with herself.

“Alright, I’ll get my robe, but then I want to know what’s going on.” Martin replied as he went down the hall to his bedroom to get his robe.

Amazed at Daphne’s cleverness, Frasier and Niles went to the window seat at the far end of the room. Daphne followed with the light.  Lifting up the seat, Frasier started to put Adam into the box.

“Wait a minute, I don’t remember this being here,” cried Niles.

“Who cares, Niles!” Frasier hissed back, “It’s here now, and we can hide Adam in it until Dad goes back to bed.”

“Wait!” cried Daphne.  Putting down the lamp, she ran quickly to the main room and took some cushions off the settee and placed them in the box.

“Now, you can place him in there.”

Frasier and Niles both put Adam into the window seat.  As Frasier was closing the lid, Niles then cried out “Wait!”  He then proceeded to cross Adam’s arms across his chest.

“Oh, he looks so peaceful now,” murmured Daphne her hands to her heart.  Incredulously, Frasier stared at Daphne, but before he could comment, Martin was coming down the stairs with Eddie.  Guiltily, Frasier and Niles closed the lid and sat on the window seat.

“Now boys, I want to know…” Martin stopped talking as he looked at his sons sitting on the seat, smiling rather sickly. “What’s gotten into you two?”  Eddie ran up and started to sniff around the window seat.

At this moment, Ben Cartwright came through the door with Little Joe and Hoss.  He looked surprised at seeing his houseguests at the far end of the house.  “Well this is lucky!  I was just going to tell you we had to quit looking.  It’s too dark to see anything.”

Frasier and Niles waved weakly at the Cartwrights, “Oh yes, Daphne told us you were out looking for us.  Sorry about that, we had a small accident with our horses, but everything is fine now.”

“Well, while you men folk sort things out, I’m going to bed.” Daphne exclaimed while she quickly went to her room.  Frasier and Niles followed her with their eyes, wishing they, too, could leave so easily.

“Are you alright?” asked Ben concernedly.  After putting their guns and hats away, Little Joe and Hoss came over to listen.

Niles began massaging his hands, “Of course we are.  Just a little slipping of the cinch. We were able to take care of it in no time.”

Frasier tried not to look at his brother.  Oh why couldn’t Niles lie convincingly just this once!

“And the concert was longer than we imagined,” Niles continued. “We even got to see Caruso in person, backstage!”

All of a sudden, Frasier felt his heart stop.  There was a knocking.  Niles apparently heard it too, as he stuttered in mid sentence then gamely continued on with his description of the meeting between the Cranes and Caruso his voice getting louder as the knocking grew louder. All the while, Eddie began digging and scratching at the window seat and Frasier was trying to keep him away. The Cartwrights were looking around the room however, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from.

Finally, Daphne came out of her room to answer the front door.

“Heavens, do I have to answer the door in this house too?  What is it about a door knob that you men find it so difficult to operate?”

Frasier watched Daphne open the door in horror.  She opened it and no one was there.

“I think the noise is coming from your seat, boys.”  Martin said calmly.  “Of course, I may be wrong, it’s been a long time I’ve been on the police force.” Martin smiled at his sons. “Com’ on Eddie, get over here.”

Ben’s eyes narrowed. He cleared his throat and asked dangerously calm, “Why don’t you boys just get up for a second.”

Frasier did the thing any 40 something-year-old man would do in this circumstance. He looked at his father and weakly cried, “Dad?” appealing for help.

“Com’on boys, get up.” Martin replied soothingly.  Behind Ben and Martin, Little Joe and Hoss were trying to control their laughing, finally, they were seeing the Crane brothers getting in trouble and acting like small boys in front of their father. And apparently, there was something very interesting in that window seat.

Reluctantly, Frasier and Niles got up and opened the lid.  Adam calmly and slowly got out of the box.  Ben rushed over to help him.

“Son?  Are you all right?”  Ben asked.

Adam glared at the two Crane brothers. “Yes, I’m all right,” he exclaimed irritably.  “I just have one hell of a headache.”

Surreptitiously, Frasier pointed to Niles. Unfortunately, Niles saw it.  His eyes widened and his mouth opened.  "You were the one in Daphne's bedroom!" he cried out.

"Well I didn't know it was Daphne's room and I certainly didn't expect Adam in there!" Frasier shouted back.  All eyes went to Adam.

"What were you doing in Daphne's bedroom?" Ben asked his eldest son.

Little Joe and Hoss were in the thralls of silent laughter.  Adam took a deep breath to control his temper. Frasier and Niles could see the muscle in his jaw work before he said, "I came back because Sport had a stone bruise.  When I came in, I heard a noise and was going to investigate, when all of a sudden I heard Daphne screaming. I went to see what the problem was and I got hit from behind."

The eyes shifted to Frasier and Niles.

"He did it," Frasier nodded toward Niles, and took a step away.

"Now boys, I know we're all tired.  I think we should get to bed and discuss this calmly in the morning," Martin said trying to calm everyone.

"Yes, I think that's a good idea." Ben agreed.

"Well, all except Adam," interrupted Niles. "I think he might have a slight concussion and staying awake might be the best thing for him."

All eyes again turned toward Niles.  Frasier shook his head.  He never realized that his brother might have a death wish buried deep in his subconscious.

Adam walked up to Niles and looked down at the smaller man. Still controlling his temper he said coldly, "I think I will be alright.  Thank you for your concern."  With that, Adam turned and walked up the stairs.

Niles watched him go up the stairs. "He'll be all right," he said as he turned toward the group at the bottom of the stairs.  "But, I think I'll go up to make sure."  With that, Niles followed Adam up the stairs.

"Gotta lot a pluck for a little feller," Hoss said admiringly as he watched Niles disappear around the corner.  Little Joe standing near his bigger brother nodded his head.

“Well boys, why don’t you take care of the horses and we’ll all get to bed.” Ben broke in.  He looked at Frasier; “we’ll talk about this in the morning.”

Frasier smiled weakly and went up the stairs.  He passed Adam’s room and heard Niles’ voice.  “Well, Niles is still alive.” Frasier thought to himself as he went to his room to go to sleep.

Just before the battle, Mother (Father)

The next morning, Frasier woke up with dread. He still remembered there was to be that “talk” with Ben about putting Adam in the window seat.

“I don’t know why I’m so upset.  I’m a grown man. Niles and I didn’t do anything wrong.” Frasier grumbled as he went through his morning ablutions.  “This is silly, I’m being treated as child and I didn’t do anything wrong!” Frasier continued as he stamped around getting dressed.

Martin poked his head in, “Frasier, if you are going to have a temper tantrum could you be a little quieter? Some of us are still asleep.”

Frasier looked at his father coldly, “Like you?”  Martin ignored Frasier’s remark.  After all, Frasier wasn’t usually a morning person unless he had a particularly good night and last night certainly didn’t qualify as a good night.  Finally, Frasier was dressed and shaved.  Knowing he couldn’t put it off any longer, he went down to face his hosts.

As he came down, three of the Cartwrights and Daphne were around the table. “Adam must be asleep,” Frasier thought.

Along with Adam, Martin and Niles were not at the table.  “Good morning, all,” Frasier called out cheerfully, determined to weather out anything Ben was going to give him.

He sat down next to Little Joe and across from Daphne.  The conversation was polite, but stilted. Everyone kept well away from discussing the antics of the past night.  About halfway through, Martin, Niles, and Adam came down to join them.  Hoss asked about the concert, saying he had never heard of this Caruso fellow.  Again that odd feeling came over Frasier.  He wasn’t sure what there was about Caruso, but he felt that there was something wrong every time someone mentioned his name.

After the awkwardness was over, breakfast actually turned out quite pleasant. Everyone agreed since this was the end of the Crane’s visit, that a picnic would be a nice outing.  The Cartwrights would finish up some chores they had this morning and would meet the Crane’s at a spot near where the creek passed through the Ponderosa.  The Crane’s would take the buggy with the food.

The Cartwright’s had gone off to the South pasture, when Daphne again had mentioned how the finely the Cartwrights looked on their horses as they rode out.

“Oh God,” Frasier silently prayed as he saw the look that passed on Niles’ face.

“You know, there’s no reason for all of us to pile into the buggy,” Niles started.

Frasier closed his eyes and continued with his prayer, “Please, don’t let him suggest what I think he will.”

“Frasier, why don’t you and I take the horses while Dad and Daphne takes the buggy?”  Niles finished.

“Well, so much for the power of prayer,” Frasier thought as he opened his eyes again.  “Niles, have you forgotten about last night?” a sudden thought came to Frasier’s mind. “Dad, why didn’t Ben say anything about last night?  He couldn’t have forgotten about Niles and I putting Adam in the window seat.”

Martin rubbed the side of his nose, and answered, “He didn’t.  But I told him I would take care of it by taking you two out to the barn and blistering your behinds myself.”

“You did not.” Frasier replied dryly.

“No, but I should have. What were the two of you thinking?  Bad enough you knock Adam out, but then try to hide him in a window seat?  I’m surprised Ben didn’t kick your sorry butts off the Ponderosa.” Martin scolded.

“He can’t. We’re guests.”  Frasier stated.

“If that’s the way you act as guests, I’m glad I’m family,” Martin retorted as he made his way toward the kitchen to help get ready for the picnic.

At the Foot of Yonder Mountain

Everything was going well down at the creek.  After everyone had eaten, Frasier and Ben had started a game of chess, which Ben was quite good at, much to the surprise of Frasier.  Martin had gone to sleep under a tree and Adam was strumming his guitar.  Niles, Daphne, Hoss and Little Joe had gone off to explore the area.

Hoss came running up to the picnic site.  “Pa, I think there’s trouble.”

Ben looked up at his middle son, “What’s wrong, Son?”

Hoss licked his lips then nervously looked at Frasier and Martin. “It’s Little Joe and Niles, Pa.”

Adam put down his guitar and joined the group.

“What about them?” Ben urged.

“Well, they were acting like a couple of bulls in the pasture near Miss Daphne.” Hoss began.

“To say the least,” cut in Adam.  Ben gave Adam a stern look then turned back to Hoss.

“Well, they decided to settle it with a race.” Hoss said nervously.

Frasier shrugged his shoulders, “So?  Niles isn’t the best runner, but I don’t see where that should cause any problems.”

“You don’t understand, they’re doing it by horseback and they going by Devil’s curve!” Hoss tried to explain.

The looks on both Adam’s and Ben’s faces told the Cranes this was something they should be concerned about.  Adam was quickly getting his gear together and gathering the horses.

“I can’t believe Daphne would agree to this,” Frasier cried as he was trying to get on his horse.

“She doesn’t know how dangerous it is. I didn’t know what they had planned or I would have stopped them.  I was called away…by nature, and when I got back, Miss Daphne told me what was happening.” Hoss replied as he helped Frasier get on his horse.  Martin was helped up behind Frasier and they followed the Cartwrights.

“There they are, down there,” Hoss pointed to two riders racing across a treacherous trail that wound round the mountain.

“Just wait until Little Joe comes back,” growled Ben.

“Pa, there’s something peculiar about … the race.”  Adam was following the riders with a spyglass.

“What?  Let me see that,” asked Ben as he held out his hand for the spyglass.  Putting it to his eye, he watched the riders, “I don’t see anything… Oh!”  He lowered the spyglass.

“Let me see,” Hoss asked with his hand out stretched for the spyglass.  Raising it too his eye, he just said, “Oh!”

Curious, Martin said, “What’s going on?  Let me see.  What’s happening down there?” When Martin raised the spyglass to look at the riders, he slowly lowered it and turned to Frasier.

“Frasier, would you know of any reason Niles is riding sidesaddle?”

Frasier’s eyebrows shot up. “No, not at all.  You all must be mistaken. He has a hard enough time riding astride.  I don’t know why he would be riding sidesaddle.”

He took the spyglass from his father to look for himself.  Sure enough, there was Niles, hanging on for dear life, with one leg thrown over the horn of his horse, sidesaddle.  “Well, he’s still on.”  Frasier said weakly.

Martin looked at his older son, “Let’s go get them.”

They had arrived at a place Hoss called descriptively enough “The Peak” where Little Joe and Niles were already.  Little Joe was congratulating Niles on a race well rode. “Apparently, he wasn’t looking too closely on how Niles was riding,” thought Frasier.

“Just what do you think you were doing, you rapscallion?” boomed Ben.

Joe turned around to face his father, paling. “Uh, Pa, Niles and me were just having a little fun.” Joe gave a weak smile.

“A LITTLE fun?  You both could have been killed, at least Niles could have been!  You know better than that, Joe.”  Ben had gotten off his horse and went to where Niles and Joe were standing.

“Now, Mr. Cartwright,” started Niles but seeing the look on Ben’s face, he stopped.  Niles took a swallow and started again.  “If anyone should get into trouble, it’s me.  I’m older and I should have known better.”

Ben turned to Niles, “Yes, you should have known better. But Joe knows how dangerous these passages are and he knows how you ride.”

Frasier stepped in, “Mr. Cartwright, that may be, but the blame can’t be placed on Joseph. Niles is after all, a grown man and my brother is quite capable of judging his own skills.”

From the corner of his eye, Frasier noticed a look passing between Adam and Hoss.

“Yes, if anyone is to blame, it’s me for going along with it.” Niles added.

“Like I should be for last night when we knocked Adam out and put him in the window seat,” Frasier added.

Joe was about to say something, but Adam pulled him back and motioned him to be quiet while Ben and the Crane brothers were talking.  Martin was standing next to the Cartwright brothers, proud that Frasier and Niles were finally standing up for their own actions. After talking with Ben, Frasier and Niles turned toward Adam with their hands outstretched.

“We’re sorry we hit you.” Frasier said, “I’m afraid we’re not the best guests you’ve had at the Ponderosa.”

“Well, you may not be the best, but you sure ain’t the worst we’ve ever had,” piped up Hoss.

Joe rubbed the spot where he was caught with the branding iron and grinned, “Besides, now whenever I get hurt, all anyone has to do, is strip me, look at the brand, and next stage, I’m off to the Ponderosa!”

“See! I was just saying that to Frasier and my father yesterday!” Niles said brightly.

Adam smiled, “Let’s get back to our picnic, I’m sure Daphne will be wondering where we all got to.”

Come along boys and listen to my tale

Later, that evening, the Cartwright sons and the Crane sons were enjoying themselves at the Silver Dollar Saloon. Frasier thought it was sort of a celebration for the Cranes.  They were finally being accepted for being “one of the guys.”

A thought passed Frasier’s mind. “By the way, Niles why were you riding that way?” Frasier asked.

Niles gave a sheepish look and confessed. “I saw Joe talking to Daphne.  He had one leg thrown over the horn rather casually.  I was trying to imitate the look and my spur got caught in my trouser leg.  My leg was fastened around the horn, and I couldn’t get off that horse even if I wanted to!”

“Must have been frightening!”  “No,” replied Niles calmly, “not much different from my wedding night with Maris.”  He suddenly caught a case of the giggles.  Frasier roared with laughter.

A feminine voice suddenly said behind Frasier, “It seems you two are enjoying yourselves.  Mind if I join you?”  Frasier turned his head.

“ROZ!! What are you doing here?” for there was Frasier’s producer, dressed in a low-cut red silk gown with black lace trim.

“Well how’d you expect for me to get in here?” Roz retorted.  Roz settled into Frasier’s lap and began unbuttoning his shirt, “Wake up Frasier, this is what you wanted for a long time.” Frasier got a caught look in his eyes.  “Frasier, wake up.”

Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland

Frasier opened his eyes.  He was in his apartment in Seattle and Roz was standing over him with some papers in her hand.

“My God, Frasier, you ask me to go over these promo’s with you, and when I go to the bathroom you fall asleep.”

Frasier slowly pulled himself up from the couch. “I’m sorry Roz.  Dad kept me awake last night.  He and his pals are having some sort of Bonanza convention and he made me stay up to watch some videos of the show.”

“Bonanza, huh?  Oooh, I really liked that Little Joe, of course there was Adam, and Ben wasn’t too bad himself.  And then there’s Hoss…” Roz went off into a dreamy look.

“Oh please, Roz, I think I’ve had my fill of the Cartwrights.”

“Wish I did,” commented Roz with a wink and a smile.

Frasier gave her a disgusted look.  “Look Roz, why don’t you just leave those promos here, and I’ll look at them later.  I’m expecting Niles to be over shortly.  I just got a new digitalized cd of Enrico Caruso’s first recording ever.  It sounds like he was in the same room. Niles and I were going to listen to it.”

Roz made a face and gathered up her things.  “You don’t have to tell me twice. You just better look over those promos before Monday.”

“Don’t worry, I will, I will,” Frasier said, as he shepherded Roz to the door.

As he opened the door, Niles greeted him with a fist upraised to knock.

“Hi Niles, Bye Niles” called out Roz as she headed for the elevator.

“Bye Roz,” Niles called back as the doors shut.  “So, do you have it?” asked Niles anxiously.

“Yes it’s right here!” Frasier held up the cd jewel case.  He took out the cd and placed it in the player.  Niles had just poured himself a sherry and was settling on the couch when the first strains of the song came out.

“I want a hat like Hoss…”

Niles had a puzzled look on his face.  “I don’t think Caruso is known for that song.”

Frasier stopped the player and looked at the cd.  “Oh, my God!! This is Dad’s cd.  They must have gotten mixed up last night. No wonder I dreamed about the Cartwrights and Caruso!”

“Uh, Frasier, I hate to be picky, but wasn’t Bonanza set in the 1860’s and Caruso made it big in the 1900’s.”  Frasier turned to stare at his brother.

“That’s what was bothering me in my dream! We couldn’t have seen Caruso!”

Niles looked at his brother and said soothingly, in his best psychiatrist manner, “No, we could not have seen Caruso. He died a long time ago.”  Frasier glared at his brother and told him about his dream.

“Well, I guess after a night of Bonanza you would be dreaming of the Cartwrights.  But why was I riding sidesaddle twice in your dreams?” Niles looked in askance of his brother.

“Niles sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” Replied Frasier.  Niles looked puzzled, but decided to leave it.

“Well since we don’t have our cd, should we listen to the rest of this one?”

“Why not?”  Niles and Frasier were settled on the couch again when Frasier started laughing.

“What’s so funny?  That we’re listening to a cd about an old western?” Niles asked.

“No,” replied Frasier wiping away tears from his eyes, “I only wish I was there when Dad puts in that Caruso cd for all his pals at the convention!”

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