Something Worth Fighting For (by Tauna Petit-Strawn)

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Summary: Adam’s been believed dead for two years; then the Cartwrights learn different. Getting him to the ranch is not a problem…keeping him there may be.

Rating: K (7,180 words)

DISCLAIMER: Bonanza and the original Cartwright characters are not mine. Only thing I claim a right to is the story line and “guest stars” per say. Written for writing practice only. I’ve also only recently started giving fan fiction a shot; any constructive comments would be greatly appreciated.

Author’s note:

I realize “Comrades, I am Dying” was written in 1864 (by Thomas Manahan,(words) and by B. Sontag. (Music) and that BONANZA was set in a time before the Civil War but I used it anyway. It’s in public domain when it comes to copyright laws. (And yes, poor Adam is really getting hammered by me-sorry, I REALLY DO like him…it’s what he gets for being the singer of the family. 😉 LOL)

Author’s Note: “The Minstrel’s Harp” is a Cantata, From the Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Sir Walter Scott and Composed by John Clarke-Whitfeld (1770-1836]. It is also in Public Domain so… you got it, I used it. 😉

“The Silver Moon” (1838) A Serenade Composed and arranged with accompaniment for the Piano Forte & Guitar, by J. Chadwick.

“The Place I Called My Home” (1853) [Words – anonymous] [Music] by Charles C[rozat]. Converse [1832-1918]

 

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR

Chapter One

Comrades, comrades, I am dying! See the crimson fountain flow! Sick and wounded, I am dying, On the field among the foe. But the angels hover round me. They will guard me while I sleep; Comrades, onward to the battle, Do not for the soldier weep.

Hoss lay with his eyes closed; afraid the singing he was hearing would stop. Actually, it wasn’t the song itself that he didn’t want to end, it was his voice singing – Adam’s; he didn’t want that to stop. His brother had went missing over two years ago. The family had held out hope for his return until the day the sheriff broke the news they’d found his body down in a ravine; what had happened they never found out. By the time he opened his eyes the singing had stopped; a young woman with the brownest hair he’d ever seen was wiping his forehead with a wet cloth.

He was lying in a full sized bed next to a window. The room was small-barely held the bed, a nightstand and one dresser. He remembered his horse stepping in a small hole and falling-throwing him off in the process, “Where am I? Who are you?” he asked.

“About thirty miles out of Carson City,” the woman smiled down at him, “I’m Mrs. Hawk Jensen. My husband found you not a mile from here.” She turned and immersed the rag into the bowl of water she had setting on the bed stand so she didn’t see the look of shock that came upon her patient’s face as Hawk’s voice-once again-came drifting in through the window.

Comrades, comrades, I am dying! For I see me mother now: See her coming down from heaven With a wreath upon her brow. God has sent her to the soldier, She will teach him how to die; And, when He has called my spirit She will bear it to the sky. Comrades, comrades, dying! See the crimson fountain flow! Sick and wounded, I am dying On the field among the foe. Comrades, comrades, I am dying! Soon I’ll be among the blessed. Fare-oh! fare you well for ever, I am going there to rest. For my mother’s arms entwine me, And I can no longer stay; Onward, comrades, to the battle, Angels they will lead the way.

“Sounds like Hawk is coming,” she turned back towards Hoss; who had his face towards the window, “I best go tell him our guest is awake.”

Hoss turned his head and watched as the woman left the room. Hawk? That voice; it belonged to Adam! That was impossible; had his injury affected his hearing?

“Well, it’s about time you awoke!” Hoss’s jaw fell open as Adam appeared in the doorway; only-he wasn’t dressed ‘right’…his clothes were that of a poor farmer. What on earth was going on? If his reaction to the man’s appearance in the doorway was noticed it was not acknowledged.

“Yes, I’m awake.” Hoss tried to sit up only to find his brother’s arms on his shoulders pushing him back down on the bed. “No, you don’t, Sissy will have both our hides if you get up too soon. I’m Hawk Jensen and just what would your name be?”

“Hoss; Hoss Cartwright. I owe you and your wife my life.” He lay trying to wrap his mind around the fact that; one, a stranger who could pass for his brother was lying in a grave next to his stepmother, Marie and; two, Adam was going by another name and, apparently, did not recognize him .

“Don’t think anything of it, we’re just glad we were still here and could help you.”

“You are moving?” Hoss asked.

Shrugging his shoulders ‘Hawk’ replied, “We don’t have much choice. Two years of bad crops and other things,” he glanced out into the kitchen where Sissy was working, “make it necessary. We told the bank we’d be out in two weeks,” he pointed out towards the kitchen which held only a table and four chairs, “That’s why the house is starting to look bare.”

“Where are you going?” Hoss may not know what was going on but he wanted time to find out; time to get what was apparently a horrible case of mistaken identity cleared up.

Seeing how her husband did not answer, Sissy left her work, walked back into the room and spoke up, “We don’t know for sure; no jobs around here and, “it’s like my husband said-we can’t gamble on another bad year.”

Hoss’s mind raced like crazy as he knew he had to come up with a way to get Adam to the ranch, but give his family heads up beforehand. He didn’t want everyone having heart failure on him. “If I wrote to my pa; his name is Ben, would you accept a job on our ranch?” He looked at ‘Hawk’.

A ranch? ‘Hawk’ rubbed his chin as he thought on the offer. Funny, he’d been thinking about ranches for some time now; he didn’t know why only he had. “If you’re willing to do that you best know the whole story up front.” He stepped into the kitchen and pulled a chair into the room.

“Hawk?” concern was in his wife’s voice as she looked from one man to another, “are you sure?” She remembered the headaches and fits that had always followed ‘those talks’ all too well.

Hawk smiled as he knew her concern. “If he’s willing to help me get a job he has the right to know,” he paused and grinned, “Just have the brandy handy, I may need it.”

Hoss said nothing as he waited to hear what ‘Hawk’ had to say.

“I have no past, Mr. Cartwright,” ‘Hawk’ rested his elbows on his knees and clasped his fingers together, “That is; except for the past two years. Sissy’s father found me on his last trip to Carson City; I should say on the last trip back from Carson City. He brought me back here and Sissy tended to me. I could tell them very little when I awoke. My late father in law named me Hawk and Jensen is their last name, not mine.”

Very little? Hoss caught those two little words and held onto them tight, “What do you remember?” he kept his eyes on his brother’s face.

“Don’t know if you’d believe me, I know my father in law was skeptical when I told him. He seemed to think it was just the effect of my head injury.” He and Sissy couldn’t help but chuckle as they thought on her father’s reply.

“I’ll believe you.” Hoss once again tried to sit up only to find ‘Hawk’ again holding him down.

“Fine, you’ll believe me only,” ‘Hawk’ spoke sharply and loudly, “you will stop trying to sit up until you heal!” He shocked himself as he realized just how loudly the words had come out and how strong they’d sounded. Why should he care if this man pushed it or not?

Hoss grinned; it sounded so good to hear his brother barking orders like this; guess one doesn’t really appreciate what they have until they either lose it or nearly lose it.

“So?” Hoss smiled as ‘Hawk’ sat back down but said nothing.

“I remember dismounting my horse and surprising what might as well been myself,” he chuckled as he thought on the one memory he did have, “seriously, the man was my height, his build was the same; I mean, everything was the same. It was like I was standing in front of a mirror and looking at myself,” ‘Hawk’ paused, “I know he had tried to kill me and planned on deceiving people I cared for deeply, who they were or what he wanted I cannot recall,” he shrugged, “all I know for sure was I felt strongly I had something worth fighting for. The only other thing I remember after the fight began is laying badly injured upon the ground and looking down towards the bottom of a ravine, the man lay at the bottom. How I got to the place in the road where Sissy’s father found me is beyond me.”

Hoss fought the anger he felt towards the dead man knowing it would be fruitless, “It does not matter,” he spoke after a couple minutes of silence, “If you will bring me a paper and pen; I will write my family.”

CHAPTER TWO

Little Joe had just finished his morning chores when Roy came riding up to the house. “Is your pa at home?” Roy asked as he looked at the house.

“I’m here,” Ben; who’d heard a rider coming, had opened the door and stepped outside, “What’s up?”

“This,” he handed the letter to Ben, “is for you. I have to get going. I have some business to take care of at the Jones’. I just stopped by to save you a trip into town. I know you said the other day you didn’t want to have to make any trips for a day or two.”

Ben took the letter out and read. The more he read the wider his eyes got-that only served to raise Little Joe’s curiosity. “What is it, pa?”

Adam? He was alive? A part of him want to shout for joy but the part about amnesia; that bothered him. Hoss had that once; they’d been blessed though and he’d gotten his memory back in a very short time. Adam had had it for two years! “Treat him like you did Hoss.” Ben handed the letter to Little Joe and went inside.

Confused Little Joe opened the letter and read; then quickly sat down at the outside table. What kind of man could have done such a thing to Adam! As he thought more about it he stiffened; whatever he was the jerk was lying next to his mother! Little Joe hurried into the house. He sure wasn’t going to have some low life lying next to her! In a matter of minutes both he and Ben were riding hard to catch up with Roy.

After hearing their story Roy quickly agreed to find someplace else for the imposter to lay. “You want me to spread the word around town? I mean, if he comes riding in without warning doc’s going to be getting a lot of calls for heart medicine.”

Ben chuckled, “You best do that.”

“Pa,” Little Joe looked at Ben after Roy had ridden away, “It’s going to be a repeat of when this happened to Hoss only,” he scratched the back of his neck, “It’s been a long time already. You think we’ll get him back like we did Hoss?”

Ben sighed and shook his head, “I can’t answer that for you, son. I sure hope and pray we do. Let’s get home; sounds like he’s given me a daughter in law and I’m sure they won’t want to be living in the bunkhouse.”

Little Joe laughed, “I’d say you were right!”

While they were making preparations for Adam’s return Hoss was helping load the rest of their things, “I appreciate your pa being willing to give me work,” Hawk stepped away from the back of the wagon, “you see,” he watched as Sissy shut the door, “there’s going to be an addition to our family in the future and I feel much better knowing I’ll have a way to provide for the family.”

Hoss started grinning, “Don’t you worry about that one. Pa will keep you plenty busy!”

‘Hawk’ watched as the man called Hoss mounted his horse. There was something familiar about the man or was it just the desire he had to recognize anyone and anything? He told himself it was the latter and turned to help his wife up onto the wagon.

Comrades, comrades, dying! See the crimson fountain flow! Sick and wounded, I am dying On the field among the foe. Comrades, comrades, I am dying! Soon I’ll be among the blessed. Fare-oh! fare you well for ever, I am going there to rest. For my mother’s arms entwine me, And I can no longer stay; Onward, comrades, to the battle, Angels they will lead the way.

“Can’t you find another song to sing?” Sissy rolled her eyes at her husband, “You’re wearing that one down to its last thread.”

“Blame your father,” he winked, “he’s the one who got me stuck on it.”

“Pa fought one too many battles in his day,” Sissy sighed, “and saw one too many men die.” ‘Hawk’ could not argue; the man had told him all the stories of his army days-Sissy was right. The man had seen too much. Softly he started singing something else…something more upbeat and not so depressing.

Hoss sighed; he hoped his brother had not ‘seen too much’; that is, not been so badly injured at the time that he would never get his memory back.

Chapter Three

“All of this is your father’s?” ‘Hawk’ was amazed at what he’d been seeing for the past twenty minutes; miles and miles of wide open space dotted with trees and thousands more trees set off in the distance.

“Yep,” Hoss’s grin went from one side of his face to the other, “hope you’ll feel at home.” If they could make him feel at home then the chances of them getting to him to stay on for good rose drastically; even if he never remembered. Hoss knew it and vowed to do his best to do just that; make it so Adam would not want to leave no matter what.

Home? ‘Hawk’ frowned a bit; the need to provide for his wife and unborn child made it necessary to accept the Cartwright’s offer; still, it wasn’t his home — not Sissy’s home. Guess, for now, it was better than wandering around not knowing where’d they’d wind up.

Ben and Little Joe were out in front of the house working when Hoss, Adam and Sissy came around the corner of the barn and into view. It was all the two of them could do not to run and embrace Adam. It would be even harder to call him by an unfamiliar name. Though, just as they’d done with Hoss, they would do for Adam. They would not say or do anything that might upset him or harm him in anyway. It would be better to have to watch him leave again than to know they’d done that.

Hoss dismounted his horse while ‘Hawk’ helped his wife down from the wagon. “Hi, Pa,” Hoss pointed towards their ‘newest hand’, “Let me introduce you to Hawk and Sissy Jensen.”

“Hello, welcome to the Ponderosa.” Ben forced a smile upon his face and held out his hand; as much as it tore at his heart he would keep his resolve and not even think about even asking the smallest question of his son.

Hawk shook it, “Thank you. Thank you for giving me a job too.”

Sissy; who’d been looking for a sign of another house the whole time they had been traveling through the Ponderosa, asked, “Just where will we be living?” While she loved the view she couldn’t imagine anyone thinking that they could hire someone to work on such a large ranch-without some sort of housing available.

“I hope you don’t mind using the guest room for a few days. Little Joe and I have been making repairs to a cabin as we’ve been able to. We’re not quite finished with the job.” Truth was; they hadn’t pushed themselves to finish it. They held onto the hope that being in the house for a little while might push some memory to the forefront.

“I’ll be more than happy to help, Mr. Cartwright,” ‘Hawk’ figured he’s best prove just how hard he could work right from the start; only way he knew of keeping a job for any length of time, “after all; we’ll be the ones using it.”

Inwardly, Ben cringed at his oldest calling him Mister, he’d not be having it, “The name is Ben to you; not Mr. Cartwright or sir. As there is time to spare; you’re more than welcome to join in and help us.”

“Yes, s…Ben.” ‘Hawk’ didn’t know what to think of a boss that would insist that one call him by his first name; in the past two years he’d never met any man that would let their employee call them anything but Mister or Sir.

“Come on in,” Ben turned to go into the house, “Hop Sing will probably be hollering at us any minute.”

“Hop Sing?” ‘Hawk’ looked at Hoss.

“Our Chinese cook,” he too headed for the house, “the best cook in the territory! No insult intended, really.” He went red from embarrassment as he realized just how bad that could sound to Sissy – she was a good cook.

Sissy simply smiled, “Don’t worry; no insult taken.”

As they headed for the house ‘Hawk’ took a quick glance around. Again something gnawed at him; he didn’t like it. Oh, it wasn’t like the feeling was bad, it wasn’t, he just didn’t like getting strange feelings he couldn’t explain. It made him uneasy. He might have sat and pondered longer on the feeling only his stomach started yelling louder than his thoughts were talking; soon he was sitting at the table next to Sissy and finding out for himself the man called Hoss had not been exaggerating.

Chapter Four

And said I that my limbs were old;
And said I that my blood was cold,
And that my kindly fire was fled,
And my poor wither’d heart was dead,
And that I might not sing of love:
How could I to the dearest theme,
That ever warm’d a minstrels dream,
So foul, so false a recreant prove!
How could I name love’s very name,
Nor wake my harp to notes of flame!
In peace, Love tunes the shepherds reed;
In war, he mounts the warriors steed;
In halls, in attire is seen;
In hamlets dances on the green,
In hamlets dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below and Saints above;
For love is heav’n, And heav’n is love,
For love is heav’n, and heav’n is love.

Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below And Saints above;
For love is heav’n, and heav’n is love.
For love is heav’n, And heav’n is love.

Ben sat at his desk listening to Adam’s voice drifting in the open window. He was working on of the buggy’s wheels. It was bittersweet listening to him sing; good to hear his voice but difficult to keep himself focused. Finally, as much as he hated it-he shut the window. He had to; he had to get his own work done and it was impossible while he could hear his oldest singing.

“If Hawk’s singing is disturbing you, Mr. Cartwright,” Sissy came down the stairs, “I can talk to him. He’ll stop it.”

Ben shook his head and waved his right hand, “Like I told him, the name is Ben and, no, really, it’s okay. He sings a lot while he works?” That part had surprised him; sure Adam could play the guitar and he sang well but to sing while he was working? As much as he was that is; that part was taking some getting used to.

Sissy smiled, “You can thank my papa for that one. He did it all the time and Hawk picked up on it,” she then grew serious as she looked upon Mr. Cartwright, “I think he sings for the same reason papa did though; he is troubled and it helps ease the burden he feels.”

Ben laid his pencil down and sat back, “Troubled because he does not know his past or what?” Not having all the facts, Sissy and Hawk had confessed his condition.

She shrugged her shoulders, “That and,” she rested her hand on her abdomen which was beginning to show her condition, “this child has only us. I have suggested many times hiring someone to see if they can find out who he is but…” her eyes traveled to the window; her voice trailing off.

“But what?” Ben felt himself sitting on the edge of his chair.

“He refuses; he insists that he either remembers on his own or remain Hawk Jensen. If you ask me it is because he has a serious trust issue anymore. The thing is,” she sat down on the chair that set off to Ben’s left, “he did not tell Hoss everything,” Ben sat straight up as she continued, “the thing is there have been a few men have, in the past, shown up on the farm trying to convince him he was someone else; just don’t ask me how they found out about his amnesia. Anyway, two times we fell for it and he about landed in jail for something they had planned, the third time he literally threw the man off the land and told him he’d have him arrested if he came back.”

Ben felt an urge to go find the men and feed them a couple of knuckle sandwiches; maybe it was a good thing he couldn’t do that. He wouldn’t be able to help Adam in any way if he landed himself in jail. “Suppose we best hope,” Ben looked towards the window then back turned back to Sissy, “He will be able to remember something on his own then.”

While they talked Adam was talking to Hoss; he’d just gotten back from some work he’d been doing on the other side of the Ponderosa. Hoss had just invited him to go to a dance the town was having that night, “Come on, Hawk. It would do you and Sissy good to get out and meet people.”

He smiled, “Maybe but I still have work here to finish.” Not that the idea of taking his wife to a dance wasn’t appealing, it was; but he didn’t have a habit of leaving a job half done.”

“Dadburnit, A… Hawk! Life is more than just work,” Hoss caught himself before he slipped up on his brother’s ‘name’ and put his hands on his hips, “And that’s all you have been doing since you got here three weeks ago. Tell you what…how ’bout you and me finishin’ this here job up together. That way it will be done in time for you and Sissy to go!”

“Go where?” Sissy, who’d finished talking with Ben Cartwright, stepped out the front door and walked up to her husband.

“A dance,” he put his arm around her shoulder, “Hoss wants to pull me away from work and for us to go to some dance. I was going to go work on the cabin again.”

Her eyes lit up, “Oh, the cabin can wait. Let’s go! It sounds fun!”

Hoss found himself hold his breath when his brother did not answer. Would he consent to go? Hoss sure hoped so. So far nothing around the Ponderosa seemed to be jarring anything in his memory. He hoped that, maybe someone, or something, would. He started grinning as ‘Hawk” gave in, “All right, all right. Let’s get this work done first though.”

Chapter Five

The silver moon is in the sky,
The stars are shining bright,
And every breeze that murmer’s by,
Seems whisp’ring of delight.
Come love and roam with me afar,
And listen to my sweet Guitar
Come love and roam with me afar
,
And listen to my sweet Guitar.

Roy sat with Ben, Hoss and Little Joe as ‘Hawk’ and Sissy sang; they’d been talked into it by Little Joe and one of his friends.

“Adam still sings and plays as good as ever; that gal he married isn’t half bad either.” Roy told Ben but kept his eyes on the pair. He felt bad for his good friends. He, like everyone in town, knew they feared losing him altogether but no one knew what to do about the situation. After all; Ben had made it quite clear absolutely no one was to push Adam to remember anything and very few people cared to disagree. The few who had, they’d made the mistake of saying something around Adam’s brothers who only served to reinforce what their pa had said.

“I know,” Ben leaned forward, “were you able to find out anything at all? I mean about who that other fellow was?”

“Yes but not because of any effort on my part,” Roy turned his attention away from the singing couple and looked at Ben, “A friend of mine stopped by and I happen to mention the matter to him. He was relieved to hear the news; it seems like the man was wanted for murder out in California. My friend got wind of a man fitting his description being here so he came out. At first he was concerned Adam may very well be dead and ‘this Hawk’, as he put it, the imposter only,” Roy smiled, “remember those papers we found on the body? The ones we couldn’t explain?”

Ben nodded; some maps of different parts of Oregon, “The other man was known to be carrying them?”

“Yes, and,” Roy shrugged his shoulders, “From what my friend said those papers weren’t something to be just left lying around. He said the man never would have put them on Adam; said they were worth way too much money. He wouldn’t have left a copy for anyone to find.”

Ben was relieved to hear that because, for a second, he was afraid there had been no mistake after all.

Hark the gentle birds of night,
Carol their plaintive song,
And softly o’er the lakes of light,
It seems to float along … along,
Come love and roam with me afar,
And listen to my sweet Guitar,
Come love and roam with me afar
,And listen to my sweet Guitar
.

Ben watched as his son and Sissy finished singing and headed for the table, “I think we best stop talking.”

“Don’t leave just because we came over.” Hawk said as Roy stood up.

“It’s not because of you,” Roy chuckled, “it’s on account of life. Good singing by the way.”

“Thank you.” Hawk and Sissy replied simultaneously; that made everyone laugh; including the two of them.

The rest of the evening was spent visiting and dancing. The fact that people had a habit of looking at “Hawk”, even subconsciously, did not pass him by. What was it about him that people found so fascinating? He hadn’t said anything about his amnesia; had the Cartwrights? That bothered him; the fact that they might be talking behind his back. No one had the right to do that.

“I think it’s time to go home.” Hawk stood up. If he wanted to be stared at he’d go do something stupid, at least that would justify everyone’s actions.

Ben sensed something had upset his son but didn’t dare press the issue; neither did Hoss or Little Joe. While Sissy would have preferred to stay she didn’t argue; whatever was bothering her husband could be discussed in the privacy of their home not out in public. “Thanks for inviting us,” Sissy smiled at the Cartwrights, “it’s been great.”

“You’re welcome.” Ben watched as the two left. ‘Please give me back my son’ he prayed ‘before anything else happens’

Chapter Six

“Dadburnit! I tell ya, I heard them myself!” Hoss was arguing with Little Joe as they worked out in the barn, “He told Sissy as he helped her into their wagon that the people were a starin’ at him an’ he didn’t like it! He told her he was wonderin’ if they should just go elsewhere!”

Hoss may be a lot of things, but he wasn’t a liar and Little Joe knew it, “I reckon I can’t blame him when it comes to people staring; I don’t like that much myself. We just have to find a way to convince him to stay! It will kill pa if he leaves here not knowing who he really is and who we are!”

“Just how do you reckon we’re gonna convince him? From what Sissy told pa he would never believe us if we tried tellin’ him; not after what those other fellars did!” It still got under Hoss’s skin to think of how ‘those fellars’ had tried using Adam the way they did.

“If the two of you holler any louder our neighbors just might get might not have to strain to hear what you are saying!” Startled by the sound of their father’s voice, Little Joe and Hoss jumped.

“Sorry, pa,” Little Joe apologized, “We’re just worried that Adam will take off is all. Hoss said he overheard Sissy and him talking as they went to leave.”

Ben sighed, “I know. He was just here demanding to know if we’d been talking behind his back. I did my best to assure him we had not; don’t know that he believed me though. I don’t know what to do. I had hoped something would jar his memory but nothing has.”

“We gotta get people to stop starin’ at him, pa,” Hoss put his hands in his pockets, “If they don’t stop he’ll be leavin’ us for sure.”

“I’m going to ride into town and talk to Sheriff Coffee and a few others. I don’t know that it will do any good though. People are people; you can do your best to get others to see things your way but you can’t force them to. Finish up with your work and, please, be careful of what you say! Adam is supposed to be coming by again and we don’t need to be the cause of him taking off!”

“Yes, sir.” Hoss went back to work as did Little Joe. Neither one of them said another word, they figured the less they talked the faster they’d work and that meant the sooner they could get back into the house where it would be safe to talk.

While his two younger sons worked Ben headed for town. He thought on the conversation he’d had with Adam that morning; more than once he’d caught himself starting to say Adam only to have to change it to Hawk. He was sure that hadn’t helped his son believe him.

The fact that his son had openly admitted that he and Sissy were thinking to move had him worried. It’s not like Adam felt any need to keep in contact with him, Hoss and Little Joe if they did move. If he had to live with the fact that his son would never know who he really was might be heart wrenching but not knowing where he was; if he was alive or dead? He couldn’t take that one.

‘If he has to leave fine but couldn’t we at least tell him who he is and who we are without him thinking we’re lying to him or using him?’ Ben looked upwards, ‘Would it really do any harm?’

From where Sissy and Hawk sat in the buggy Mr. Cartwright had been letting them use they could see Ben on his horse. “I want to believe him,” ‘Hawk’ looked at his wife, “but what am I supposed to think? Why would people be staring at me like they were if they haven’t been talking?”

Sissy shook her head, “We’ve been here for a solid three months; in that short time the one thing I’ve known is he is an honest man. I wouldn’t be worrying about them; we need to think about us and this baby. She or he is due any time now. If you want to leave that is okay with me only… can’t we at least wait until the baby is born?”

“I heard the sheriff talking about a friend of his that is going to need some help on his ranch in a few months; supposed to be fifty miles from here. I’ll talk to him about it. By that time the baby should be here and both of you will be able to travel. Either way, we move. Okay?”

“If that is what you really want.” Sissy said the words but that was it; the fact was she didn’t want to leave.

Hawk told himself her moodiness was due to carrying the baby; the problem was, what excuse could he come up with for the uneasy feeling that came over him as he talked about leaving? Then again; how could he stay in a place where people acted as if he was either poison or some kind of oddity to be stared at and judged?

“I don’t know it’s what I want,” Hawk shook his head, “but it might be what needs to be.”

Chapter Seven

Hoss, Little Joe and ‘Hawk’ working on mending some fence line when Sheriff Coffee rode up; the fact that he’d been pushing his horse full force didn’t pass by any of them. “What is it, Roy, what’s wrong?” Little Joe put down the pole he’d been holding.

“It’s your pa and a few men from town. Don’t ask me why only they went into an old mine. George just came into town hollering it caved in; that he barely got out but your pa and the others are trapped inside!”

All three of them ran to their horses; which surprised Little Joe and Hoss-“Hawk’ had just finished telling them to back off trying to get him to stay; he’d given his two-weeks notice and that two weeks was going to be up that very afternoon. He’d added quite forcefully, ‘Nothing; absolutely nothing is going to stop us!’ ‘Hawk’ turned to Joe, “Give me directions to the mine and I’ll be there as soon as I tell Sissy what’s going on.”

It didn’t take ‘Hawk’ long to get to the cabin and then head out. What was it that was making him do this? Mr. Cartwright had plenty of men working on freeing him. Why did it matter so much to him to make sure the man got out of the caved in mine? Oh, sure he was a good boss and any decent human being would want to help only…there was more. His mind raced over the past few months; everything from the way Mr. Cartwright treated him to the way he looked at him.

‘Hey, light’n up,’ Hoss had thrown a bucket of water starting one huge water fight. When Mr. Cartwight and come out and seen it all he’d done was smile as he tried, but failed, to give them a stern warning about what would happen if they didn’t get their work done on time.

Another time Mr. Cartwright had spent hours helping Sissy tend to him when he’d fallen ill; Little Joe and Hoss had taken turns helping too. There was something not being said; for the first time ‘Hawk’ began wondering whether or not they could somehow hold the key to his past.

Without even thinking he began singing;

I never left the place that knew me,
And may never know me more;
Where the chords of kindness drew me,
And have gladened me of yore,
But my secret soul has smarted
With a feeling full of gloom For the days that are departed
And the place I call’d my home And the place I call’d my home.
I am not of those who wander Unaffectioned here and there,
But my heart must still be fonder Of my sites of joy or care;
And I point sad memory’s finger Thro’ my faithless foot may roam
Where I’ve most been made to linger
In the place I call’d my home In the place I call’d my home.

Hoss and the others were working feverishly to get to Ben and the other trapped men when Little Joe stood straight up and swore. “What is it?” Hoss hurried over to his brother.

“I gave Ad…I mean, Hawk the wrong directions!” Little Joe’s face showed the horror he felt. His brother was going to be running around looking for them and, when he didn’t find them? He’d think they didn’t want his help and had sent him off on a wild goose chase on purpose!

Sheriff Coffee overheard what Little Joe told Hoss and hurried over to them, “I have to go back into town anyway; so does Mac and Stephen, we’ll split off and see if we have any luck in passing him on the way back.”

“I should go too.” Little Joe headed for Cochise only to be stopped dead in his tracks.

“What is it, Joe?” Hoss followed his brother gaze, ‘Hawk’ was riding towards them as fast as he could, “I thought ya said ya gave him the wrong directions?”

“I did only I mentioned the name of the mine!” Little Joe was smiling. He didn’t know whether or not his brother had remembered everything only; obviously, he had remembered some things.

“Let’s get back to work, pa and the other men ain’t gonna appreciate us hangin’ around with our jaws hangin’ loose!” Hoss headed back to where the other men were working.

Chapter Eight

‘Hawk’ jumped off his horse and ran over to where Hoss and Little Joe were working. “Any luck?” The concern that could be heard in his voice and in his eyes gave Hoss and Little Joe hope that maybe; somehow, their father being in trouble had stirred something up inside of him.

“We’ve located them and got enough rock and boards moved so there’s air going down; we just need to get them out before it caves in again.” Little Joe answered.

Hawk grabbed a shovel and, running into the mine, went to work with the other men.

As he worked he started ‘seeing’ events flash through his mind.

Horse bucked me.” he was sitting on the ground; Hoss was laughing.

Help me!” He was holding onto something and hanging off a ledge; next minute Little Joe was rescuing him.

Hoss had a hold of his hand; he was leading him to a trough and forcing him to step into. ‘Hard Feelings’ Hawk heard himself say.

The more scenes flashed through his mind the harder Hawk worked. They know me, I know them, but how?

“I’ll take over, ya go take a break.” Hoss walked up to him.

Hawk shook his head, “No, if you want to help, fine. I’m staying where right here.”

Hoss stood for a few minutes watching his oldest brother work. He could see a determination in his brother he’d not seen…not since his return that is. Maybe Little Joe was right. Maybe; he was remembering.

A shout went up from the men as they broke through to where the trapped men were; one by one they helped them out. ‘Hawk’ watched and waited…where was Ben Cartwright? Soon he saw him; he was being carried out by the last two men…unconscious.

Hoss ran over to the men; Hawk followed. Taking over, they carried him to a wagon outside. Once they had him in the back of the wagon; Hawk stayed by his side. Hoss smiled, “I’ll tell ya, what, I’ll do the drivin'”

Hawk said nothing; he had his eyes on the man before him.

Little Joe was lying on the ground; he’d been shot. Hawk saw himself taking care of him, taking him to the house…Ben had come later.

Name’s Kane…” an ugly face; an ugly name and bondage. ‘Hawk’ saw himself dragging the man across a desert. The heat was horrible; the pain almost unbearable. Next thing he saw was himself lying on the ground Hoss, Little Joe and…Ben. Ben was holding him close reassuring him everything was okay.

Little Joe and he were in the front room. Ben was talking, he was talking about Hoss, “Doc says…will push him back…”, “I know what you’re made of. That is why you will not call him brother and I will not call him son!”

“Oh, pa!” the wall that had been holding his memory back broke and crumbled, “How could I forget?” he rested both hands on his father’s arm, hung his head and let the tears fall, “How could I forget?”

Slowly Ben’s eyes opened and he smiled, “Does that mean I can start calling you Adam again?”

Adam’s head shot up and he started grinning, ‘Call me anything you want, pa!”

EPILOGUE

“Boy, sit still. That baby isn’t going to come any faster than it wants to.”

“Did you sit still?” Adam sat back down on the couch; Little Joe was standing by the fireplace and Hoss was eating the last piece of pie Hop Sing had in the kitchen.

Ben laughed, “I did some pacing, I admit; still…” his words were cut short when they heard the cry of a baby. Adam jumped to his feet. His family laughed.

“What ya gonna name the little tyke?” Hoss looked up from his dessert.

“Mary Elizabeth if it’s a girl and,” Adam smiled at his father, “Adam Benjamin if it’s a boy.” That brought a smile to Ben’s face; as he had known it would.

It seemed like forever but soon Dr. Martin came down the stairs.

“Well?” Adam looked at the doctor; eager to know if he had a son or daughter; eager to know Sissy was all right.

“You have a very healthy son and,” the Dr. smiled, “your wife is fine. She wants to see you. Congratulations, Ben. I’ll show myself out.”

Adam started to run up the stairs then turned around and looked at his family, “I was right from the beginning.”

Puzzled expressions came onto his family’s face, “Right about what?” Ben asked.

“I told Hoss I remembered I thought I had something worth fighting for. I do.” He smiled then disappeared up the stairs.

Ben smiled and relaxed, “We all do son, we all do.”

 

~The End

 

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Author: Tauna Petit-Strawn

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