Summary: Adam and Hoss rescue a young girl named Cassie from the river after a flash flood hits the wagon she’s traveling in. What happens next?
Rated: K+ (11,950 words)
A/N My apologies to the original creator of Cassie (the girl in the river). When she asked me to write Cassie’s story, I tried more than once to work from the two chapters she’d written and NOTHING would come for me. I finally had to simply start the story from an angle that it would come for me. I hope this version of Cassie’s story will suffice.
Hoss and Adam, who had been away on business, were now riding towards home. The morning had started early and one thing after another had popped up to delay their journey. The fact that the sun was throwing its blistering hot rays down upon their backs did not help them. “If I have…” Adam started to speak only to have Hoss raise his hand and motion for Adam to quit talking.
Adam looked at the look of grave concern that had appeared on his brother’s face. It didn’t help Adam’s curiosity any when Hoss stretched his neck forward slightly and leaned his head to his right, as if he was trying to listen to something. However, curiosity was replaced by horror when Adam realized what Hoss was hearing. “The river! It’s flooding!” Adam yelled as Hoss and he sped towards the river. They might not have done so only they could also hear more than one person screaming.
If Sport and Chubby could talk, they’d probably have complained that their shoes were receiving more than a good pounding as their hooves flew through the tall, green grass and hit the hard, brown earth below. As it was the horses were pushed their limit as Adam and Hoss raced towards the river.
“Adam, look!” Hoss pointed to a wagon that was just disappearing in the river. For a second the two brothers thought that whoever had been screaming had been lost to the river only then they heard the screaming again. This time they looked off to their left. They’re hearts skipped a beat as they saw a young girl who looked to be around twelve years of age, holding onto a rock for all she was worth. Before Adam could say a word, Hoss had flown off his horse and went to the girl’s rescue. With his brother rescuing the young girl, Adam tore off in the direction the wagon had been carried. He hoped to find the child’s parents and anyone else who had been traveling with them.
While Adam was searching for other survivors, Hoss was pulling the young girl out of the river. Soon he had her sitting on another rock, one that sat a good ten feet away from the river. It didn’t take long for him to grab his bedroll off Chubby’s back and wrap it around the child, as she was shivering quite badly.
“M…ama, P…apa,” the young girl stammered through her badly chattering teeth, tears streaming down her cheeks. “W…e w…were in the wa…g…on. The fl…od h..it be…fore we kn…ew it. M…ama, sh…she fell o…ut f…irst. I…I’m sure sh..ee dro…wned ’cause sh..e ca…n’t sw…im. Pa…pa…pa, I do…don’t kn…ow what h…happened to h…him.”
Hoss did his best to assure the young girl who told him her name was Cassie that Adam would find her father if possible. Cassie only cried harder. “What if he can’t find them?” She asked as she got control of her speech.
Hoss went to answer only to fell his heart sank as he heard the words and saw his brother riding, alone, towards them. If Adam was coming back alone, Hoss knew there were no other survivors. “Don’t worry none,” Hoss did his best to smile at the young girl beside him. “Me and my brother, we ain’t gonna leave ya out here alone. Yer comin’ with us.”
Cassie looked rather uneasy, even if she knew the giant of man next to her meant well, still they were strangers. “I don’t even know who you are or where your home is!”
Hoss’ grin grew wide as he introduced himself and told her about the Ponderosa, his younger brother and their pa. “Believe me, Pa would have my and Adam’s hide iff’n we left you out here by yerself.” Not that he or Adam would have left her, he made sure she knew that.
Hoss turned away from Cassie and looked at Adam, who had reached Hoss and their new friend. He told Adam what the young girl had said about her mother and then her mother. He asked, “I don’t reckon ya find her pa?” After what the young girl had said about her mother, Hoss didn’t see what good it would do to ask about her.
“I’m sorry.” Adam threw a sympathetic look towards Cassie as he dismounted. “I rode for quite a ways. I never saw a sign of him.” Adam figured that the fact that he’d found the girl’s mother washed up on the bank of the river, and had buried her, was something he could tell his pa and brothers before sitting down with Cassie and explaining it to her. “I think you best come with us. We’ll, that is, our pa, our younger and the two of us will be more than happy to let you sleep in the guest room for now.”
Cass didn’t like the idea of leaving the area without her father. After all, he’d always said the fastest way to get found was to stay in one spot, and she didn’t hesitate to say so. “Pa will have a harder time finding me if he finds me at all!” she blurted out, her eyes wide with terror as she thought of her father searching for her in vain.
Adam and Hoss looked at each other. For a moment it was as if they were communicating silently. “Tell ya what pumpkin,” Hoss turned his eyes towards Cassie and said, “we’ll stay here for another hour. Iff’n yer pa shows up great.”
“But if he doesn’t,” Adam sat down on a small boulder that sat nearby. “You come with us.”
Cassie still didn’t like it only she didn’t see where she had a choice. At least the men were willing to wait and give her pa a chance to show up. Nodding her head, she wrapped the blanket around her even tighter…more out of a need for comfort than anything else.
Ben stood in the guest bedroom’s doorway and looked with concerned filled eyes as he watched their young visitor sleeping. He had to agree that the young girl had to be around twelve. He shook his head as he realized that fact, how old she was, had not been brought up during the short conversation that had taken place in the living room not an hour before. There had just been too many other things being discussed, her mother’s definite death being the hardest.
Since her Sunday dress had been washed away in the flood, Ben had Little Joe get one of his night shirts for Cassie. However, the shirt was naturally far too for her so Little Joe had cut a rope and used it as a belt while Ben had rolled up her sleeves for her. Now Cassie sat next to the fireplace warming herself by what would turn out to be the last fire any of the Cartwrights would build in the fireplace. “Thank you, sir.” Cassie took the cup of hot chocolate Ben handed her.
“Was it just you traveling with your parents?” Ben asked as he sat down on the hearth next to Cassie; he spoke in a kind and gentle voice. When Cassie looked as if she was going to cry, Ben wished it was not necessary to ask the young girl anything. Only problem was, he knew of no other way to get any answers.
“I have a brother, Paul; he’s somewhere in Ohio. At least, that’s where he said he was going. He left after pa and he had a fight.” She paused and then added softly, “I had another brother when we left Michigan.” She turned her eyes towards the fire. “He got ill and died on our way out here. It was just my parents and me. Now mama’s dead too and….” She started crying harder, not being able to even talk about the possibilities that her father was most likely gone as well. As she sobbed she also said she hated to be a burden to Ben and his sons.
Ben laid his hand gently on her shoulder and assured her that having in her in their home was no by means to be considered a burden. If anything, he’d told her it was more of a blessing…as he’d never had a young girl to brighten up what was an all male house. Adam, Hoss and Little Joe all said the same thing.
“There’s always the orphanage,” Adam spoke quietly as he walked up beside his father. Even as he said the words, Adam knew that wasn’t an option in his father’s book…or any of theirs if the truth be told.
Ben shook his head, remembering how hard it had been to lose his own parents…even if he had been full grown before they’d passed on. “No reason to do that. Tomorrow, when you and Hoss go into town, you can talk to Roy. In the mean time I know a good detective agency that I can have look into the whereabouts of her brother, Paul.”
“What if they can’t find him? What if Roy has no luck?” Adam asked even though he couldn’t help but think he already knew the answer to that one.
“Then she stays here for now unless you have a justified reason for her not too.” Ben stepped out of the doorway, as did Adam, and shut the door behind him.
Adam shook his head and gave his father a smile. “Of course, I don’t. I always wanted a little sister.” He said and then shrugged his shoulders, “Just wish it I had got her a different way,”
Ben agreed with eldest and then headed for his own bedroom. It was late, and he was tired.
“You what?” Hoss practically dropped down into the chair next to him and stared at Roy. He had told Adam he’d go talk to Roy while he, Adam, went to the mercantile and got the items Hop Sing needed and would then meet him at the hardware store.
Roy, who felt horrible when to learn about the child involved in the flooded river, leaned back in his chair and sighed. “My deputy found the man’s body tangled up in the limbs of a fallen tree, only knew who he was due to his name being carved into a wallet he was carrying in his pocket. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it was still on him.”
Hoss shook his head. For Cassie’s sake he had hoped her father would be found alive. She was going to be devastated when she learned both her parents had indeed been killed by the raging waters. He was brought out of his thoughts when Roy asked him about the young girl’s living arrangements.
“Sorry, Roy, what did you say? Reckon my mind was wanderin’ just a mite,” Hoss apologized, embarrassed to have been caught not really listening to his friend.
“I was asking what your pa and the family wanted to do about Cassie. I can contact Mr. Holmes if I need to.” Roy answered.
Hoss visibly cringed when he heard Roy mentioned the gentleman in charge of the local orphanage name. “Pa already made it clear that Cassie has a home with us if she needs it, and me and my brothers we feel the same way.” Hoss stood up and shrugged his shoulders. “Unless’n the detective can find her brother Paul of hers, reckon we have a new family member.” He had no more gotten he words out of his mouth than he saw Roy’s face pale. That made Hoss eyebrows turn downwards and a slight frown appear on his face. “What’s wrong, Roy?”
“Did you just say Cassie’s last name was White?” Roy asked slowly which only made Hoss more curious …and a bit nervous.
“Ya, I did. What’s up, Roy?” Hoss asked as he put his large hands upon the lawman’s desk and leaned forward slightly. “Ya gonna tell me the man’s wanted by the law?”
Roy sighed and shook his head, “Not anymore,” he let out a slow breath as he turned his chair and stood up. Hoss walked the lawman walked over to his filing cabinet, open it open and remove a few pieces of paper. He then walked back to Hoss and handed him the papers. “He was involved in a bank robbery and was killed in Carson City last year, though,” Roy said as he sat back down leaving Hoss to look at the papers he’d just been handed, “As you will see from the report I just handed you, eyewitnesses say that, by comments that were made by a couple of the other men involved, Paul was forced to participate. In fact,” Roy leaned forward and rested his arms on the desk in front of him, “It says there he actually lost his life when, at the very last second, he pushed the bank manager to the floor and took the bullet the leader of the men meant for the him,..the bank manager that is.”
Hoss felt his heart go out to Cassie even more than it had before. He couldn’t help but ask, “Roy, ya think it’s really necessary for either one of us to tell Cassie anything but the fact that her brother died saving the bank manager?”
Roy saw no reason to argue with Hoss on that one. Cassie was going to feel quite alone in the world until she adapted to being a part of the Cartwright family, no need to add to her burden by giving her any other information. “I don’t see why not.” Roy said as Hoss handed him back the papers. “You have a good day.” Roy added as Hoss bade him goodbye and walked out the door.
Cassie was sitting next to the bedroom window when Hoss knocked on the door and opened it up slowly. His huge heart went out to the young girl as he could see fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. He couldn’t say as he blamed her as the past half hour raced in front of his eyes.
“No!” Cassie screamed as she doubled up her fists and began pounding Hoss on the chest after he’d sat down on the sofa and told her all the sheriff had told him. “He’s lying! You’re lying! Paul’s still alive!” Ben, who was sitting in “his” red chair reading the newspaper, put the paper down on his lap and started to open his mouth. However, Hoss shook his head while his eyes begged his father to leave the matter to him. Ben didn’t argue as shut his mouth.
Taking a hold of Cassie’s small hands and wrists Hoss held them just tight enough to keep her from bolting, but not so hard as to hurt her. Only when she stopped struggling did Hoss speak again. “Listen to me pumpkin. I might not know what it’s like to lose yer brother, but I have lost myself a ma. I know yer hurtin’, ya will be fer a long time…that’s where we come in.” Hoss nodded towards his father and his brothers, who were standing, or sitting, near the fireplace. “Still, when it comes to Paul, let’s be glad at least yer brother died a hero. I mean, that bank manager has a wife and seven children from what Roy told me before I left town.” He let go of Cassie’s hands when he could feel her relax. The moment she was free, Cassie turned and bolted up the stairs.
Hoss sighed as the young girl reached the top of the stairs and then disappeared around the corner; he didn’t have to ask where she was going. “I wish I coulda found out somethin’ different fer her. A youngin like that shouldn’t have ta be alone in the world.” Hoss stood up and walked to the empty fireplace. He put his one foot on the hearth while he leaned against the mantle. “No one should be as alone as she seems to be.”
Ben felt his own heart go out to the young girl once more. True he’d lost three wives; still, he’d had his sons to hold onto. “I’m going to have the detective I was going to hire to look for her brother look for other relatives instead. If he doesn’t find anyone,” Ben looked towards the stairs, “then she can continue living here with us.”
“You going to just stand there or what?” Cassie turned her head away from the window and snapped a bit harsher than she meant too. Immediately she was sorry as she could almost hearing her mother getting after her to remember her manners. “Sorry, no cause for me to bite your head off like that.” She turned her face back towards the window.
“Sure there is,” a sympathetic smile spread over Hoss’ face as he grabbed the only other chair in the room and sat down beside her. He then looked through the window with her. “I remember when my stepmother, Marie, was killed when she fell off her horse. We were all hurtin’ fer quite a spell. We would blow up at each other once in awhile too…not that we should have only when yer grievin’ ya ain’t always thinkin’ straight.”
Hoss spoke gently and with understanding in his voice hoping it would help Cassie. He was rewarded for his kindness and patience when Cassie turned and threw her arms around his waist and held on for all she was worth, tears still very close to the surface. “I’m afraid Hoss. I ain’t never been alone before.”
Hoss smiled and he returned her hug. “Yer not alone now. Ya got us; that is, ya got me, my pa and my brothers. You can stay here as long as you need to. Pa told ya that and pa’s not a liar.” Then, because Hoss got the strongest impression something else was bothering Cassie, he asked, “Is there something else wrong?”
Cassie pulled away from Hoss and turned her face towards the window. After what seemed like an eternity to Hoss she whispered quietly, “Adam said he buried my mama near the river, but your father said the sheriff would have my pa buried in Virginia City. That ain’t right. I mean, mama and papa shouldn’t be separated like that. And,” she gulped as tears began running down her face once more. “I’ll never be able to visit either one of my brothers’ graves like other people do.”
Hoss, who happened to agree about her parents and where they were buried, slapped his hands down up on his knees and said in a no nonsense tone of voice, “Well, we’ll just have to fix that.”
Cassie’s eyes widened as she sat up and sniffled. “How?’
Hoss stood up and held out his hand. “Come with me. I gotta talk to my pa. Ya might as well come with me and listen to the idea yerself.”
Cassie and all the Cartwrights stood in the Virginia City graveyard and watched as the last of the dirt was thrown over the graves of Cassie’ parent’s graves. After Hoss had talked to his father and then the sheriff, Mrs. White’s body had been moved from beside the river to the city’s cemetery to lay next to her husband. Also two crosses had been placed next to Mrs. White’s graves with the names of Cassie’s brothers on them.
“I know your brothers ain’t buried there.” Hoss had told Cassie, who had once again been in the room that now belonged to her, after he and Ben returned from talking to Roy. “But this way you have a place to go and remember them iff’n you want too.”
Cassie stepped away from Hoss and knelt down by the graves. She might have started crying only no tears would come. She’d cried so much in the past few days that now all she could do was walk around feeling numb. “Don’t worry ’bout me mama. You don’t have to worry about me being raised in an orphanage. Ben Cartwright and his sons say I can stay with them instead.” Cassie spoke so soft the Cartwrights could barely hear her; still, they heard every word she said. Their hearts once again went out to the young girl as talked Adam and Hoss, especially Hoss since he’d been the one to pull her from the river and how she’d do her best to make her parents proud of her. Only when she’d finished talking to her parents, along with the few words she spoke to her brothers did Ben lead Cassie out of the graveyard with his sons following. “Heaven help us help her.” Ben thought as he helped Cassie up into the surrey he’d driven into town.
The days following Cassie’s parents’ funeral all seemed to blend together for her. She’d spend her days going to school, doing home work, helping Hop Sing in the kitchen or doing the chores Ben had given her. Life might have seemed unbearable to Cassie only along the way she’d attached herself to Hoss. The fact that he now had a shadow when he was working near the house didn’t exactly hurt Hoss’ feelings.
Little Joe, who had complained to Adam that he wondered if it was Hoss that had adopted Cassie and not their pa, had felt rather foolish when Adam pointed a few things out. Not only had Hoss pulled her from the river, but Cassie struggled with her schoolwork as much as Hoss used to. She wasn’t stupid by any means only schoolwork was definitely a challenge for her. On top of her academic problems Cassie was proving to be just as protective of the animals around her as Hoss was. Naturally, the two were going to become allies.
“Hello, Pete,” Cassie made her way from the house to the barn. Climbing up on the top of the fence that surrounded the back of the barn, she began petting the mule Ben was taking care of for a friend. “I think we can handle it for a few weeks” had been Ben’s exact words when his sons questioned him about the animal. The mule had not had a particular name until Cassie saw him. “You’re lucky. You have no family to miss.” Cassie sucked in her breath and did her best not to cry only it wasn’t easy. As nice as the Cartwrights were being to her, Cassie wanted her family back…even if she knew that was impossible.
Cassie groaned when she heard Ben’s voice calling for her. He didn’t sound too happy, and she figured she knew why. After all, she was sure Hop Sing had gone straight to Mr. Cartwright and told him what had happened in the kitchen.
“No more salt! Missy listen Hop Sing! Food go bad too much salt!” Hop Sing, who had had his fill of the orneriness Cassie had been displaying all morning, grabbed the salt out of the young girl’s hand and start yelling words in Chinese. Of course, she didn’t understand and she’d ran out the kitchen door.
“CASSIE!” Ben’s voice thundered through the yard.
Even with the foul mood Cassie was in she knew better than to ignore the tone that was in Mr. Cartwright’s voice. “See ya later, Pete…that is unless Hop Sing’s talked Mr. Cartwright into sending me away.” She jumped off the fence and hurried around the corner of the barn and towards Ben, the whole time wondering if he really was going to send her away. That idea scared her even more. By the time she reached Ben Cassie couldn’t look up at him. She simply stared at the ground and waited for the worst.
Ben, who was upset at the way Cassie had been behaving that morning, sighed inwardly. It had been so many years since he had to deal with a child who was full of grief, and that had been when he was dealing with his youngest. Back then Ben had been able to fully relate to his son. Now? He just had to shake his head. He’d never lost his entire family. Ben just hoped and prayed he, and his sons, would be successful in helping Cassie. “What do you think you were doing running away from Hop Sing when he needed your help in the kitchen?”
Cassie lifted her head up and looked at Ben. He stood with his hands on his hips and it looked to her as if he was glaring at her. He really wasn’t only that’s the way Cassie perceived the look, and she let her get to her. “He was yellin’ at me, and I couldn’t understand anything he was sayin’!” Cassie retorted back. “Iff’n he was gonna yell at me, he could at least make it so I knew what he was sayin’!
“Yellin'”? “Iff’n?” “gonna” and “sayin”? Ben had to hide the smile that was trying appear on his face. Hoss was definitely rubbing off on Cassie. He had to push that fact aside though and deal with the matter at hand. “There is no need to raise your voice with me, young lady. I’m not deaf and I know what you’re saying.” Ben threw her own words back at her. That made Cassie shut up. Ben let out a slow breath and explained that Hop Sing had a habit of yelling in Chinese when he is very upset. When he was finished explaining, Ben paused and asked in just as firm of a voice, “Hop Sing said you have been extremely rude this morning, mouthing off and telling him he has no business telling you what to do. Is that true?” He could not allow rudeness in his house, not even from a grieving child.
Cassie folded her arms and snapped, “He ain’t my boss! He’s just an old smelly cook!” The moment the words were out of her mouth, she instantly regretted her words…as Ben took a firm hold of her upper right arm and started marching her towards the house.
“Hop Sing is an excellent cook and he’s worked for me for years!” Ben spoke low and even. “There is no good reason for this rudeness! You will apologize to Hop Sing and then you will go to your room until it’s time for supper!”
“Pa can be the gentlest man around.” Hoss’ words from the week before came back to her. “Just don’t go makin’ him mad. He’s a real bear when he gets upset.” As Ben marched her into the house and into the kitchen to face Hop Sing, Cassie wished she’d listened to Hoss. As it was, she looked from Ben, who simply gave her a fatherly glare, and then to Hop Sing. “I’m sorry for saying so many mean things to you, Hop Sing.”
“Young girl miss family,” Hop Sing’s kind smile and sympathetic tone of voice surprised Cassie, though his next words didn’t. “Still rudeness not good, uou lucky I or Mista Car’wright not use paddle.”
“Yes, sir,” Cassie said and then found Ben turning her around and, after giving her backside one swat, telling her to get to her room. She ran out of the kitchen and did as he had told her to do.
“One of my sons should be dealing with this, not me. I’m too old to be raising another child.” Ben sighed once he knew Cassie was no longer within ear shot.
“You not too old, you have good sons,” Hop Sing smiled “Have daughter now, good too, just sad. You do fine,”
Hope Sing didn’t have to tell him that. Of course, Cassie was sad. He just hoped, someday, that fact would change. “I hope so.” Ben replied as he walked slowly out of the kitchen.
Cassie sat in between Adam and Hoss on one side of a picnic blanket while Little Joe and Ben sat on the other side. They were in a meadow with roughly a dozen other families, as the church was having a huge picnic for anyone in the congregation that wanted to participate. Besides good food and the chance to visit each other, there were games being held in various spots throughout the meadow. Cassie had participated in a couple of games; however, for the most part, she stuck close to one of the Cartwrights.
Hoss, who hated to see Cassie just sitting around, pointed towards a group of girls who were jump roping. They were having a *Double Dutch contest. “You should join them. You do Double Dutch better than anyone I’ve ever seen.” Hoss wasn’t surprised when his father and brothers’ jaws fell to the ground. While they’d seen her use a jump roped, they’d never seen Cassie do Double Dutch. On the other hand, he’d had Cassie with him when he went to visit Timothy Coffee a number of times. Timothy was a nephew to Roy Coffee. Timothy had seven children, and they all had jump ropes and were doing that exact thing. Cassie had surprised him by joining in the fun the Coffee children were having.
Cassie shook her head. “Those girls don’t like havin’ me around. They say I’m too much of a tomboy.”
Ben and his sons grinned from ear to ear. Cassie did have a way of climbing trees and she’d caught more fish than Little Joe when he’d taken her fishing the week before. Hoss might have pushed her to join the contest only at that moment he heard one of the girls’ mother talking about the three legged foot race that would be starting in a few minutes. “Well, if you don’t want to have a go at the Double Dutch competition, how ’bout joinin’ me in the three legged race?” Hoss asked, determined (for more than one reason) to get his new sister more involved in the activities.
Cassie’s eyes widened. She’d always wanted to be in that kind of race only her neither one of her brothers had ever cared ‘for such a thing, and her father had been the same way. Slowly a grin a mile wide spread over her face and she stood up. “Let’s go!”
Ben, Adam and Little Joe started smiling as Hoss stood up and, taking Cassie’s hand, led her over to where the three legged contest was being held. However, their smiles left when they heard a couple of women, who stood far enough away that they (the women) didn’t think the Cartwrights would be able to hear a word they said, talking… and the women were bad mouthing both Cassie and Hoss. “My Lizzy says that girl is as slow as that big ox, probably why the Cartwrights took such a tomboy of an orphan in in the first place.” The first woman a black haired lady who sounded as if she had a cold said.
“Has to be the case,” The other woman, a blonde haired agreed and then added, “there’d be no other good reason to take in a female child into an all male household.” She went onto slander Cassie’s character often quoting the words of the snobbish girls who attended school with Cassie.
Ben, full of fury, stood up and shocked the women when he walked briskly up to them and said rather bluntly, “I can understand young children who do not know any better saying such things. However, I would appreciate it if two full grown women who should be fully capable of using the brains the good Lord gave them would decide to stop such a childish conversation!” He might have continued laying into the two very immature women only Adam and Little Joe, who had joined their father, turned his attention to the footrace. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch my son and daughter, who happen to be very normal in my book, in the race.” Ben hurried off with Joe and Adam. Soon he was cheering Hoss and Cassie while the women turned slowly around and walked away, actually having the decency to feel ashamed of the things they’d chosen to say.
Cassie, who could see and hear Ben, Adam and Joe cheering her Hoss on, couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. She hadn’t felt this good in months. As she and Hoss did their best to run it made her smile even wider as she and Hoss passed one of her classmates, Patricia Beaver, and her father. If Patricia had been decent to her, Cassie might not have liked passing her so much. As it was, she didn’t care if she and Hoss didn’t win the race as long as they beat Patricia and her brother.
“Come on!” “That’s the way to go!” “Keep it up!” were just a few of the many things Cassie could hear more than once person yelling. Of course, if it wasn’t one of the Cartwrights yelling, other names were attached to the words being yelled. The closer the participants in the race got to the finish line the louder the shouting from the bystanders got. Cassie was so intent on staying ahead of Patricia that she didn’t realize she and Hoss had actually passed the last person in front of them until they tore through the ribbon in front of them.
“We did it, Hoss! We did it!” Cassie screamed in delight as Hoss untied their legs.
Hoss who had cringed when Cassie started yelling, rubbed his ear and grinned. Remembering how he’d reassured her things would be just fine before the race, Hoss smiled wide. “I told ya we could do it, pumpkin.”
“Way to go, sis.” Little Joe said as he, Adam and Ben reached Hoss and Cassie.
“What about Hoss?” Cassie held onto Hoss’ hand and looked at Little Joe. “Are you gonna congratulate him too?”
Little Joe went to answer only to have Hoss pipe up, “He doesn’t have ta ’cause he’s buyin’ us lunch!”
“I didn’t say I didn’t’ want Cassie to get involved in the races tomorrow. I said I didn’t think she’ll do it just because she still seems quite awkard around people in town. But, I’ll tell you what. If you can actually get her to do more than play a couple of games, I’ll buy everyone lunch.” Little Joe groaned while everyone else laughed. He’d forgotten the bet he’d made with Hoss the night before…one made in front of Adam and their pa. While he wasn’t happy about the money this was going to cost him, Little Joe had to admit, it was a bet worth losing.
A/N Double Dutch (referring to jump roping) was, according to my research, brought over long before the 1800’s by the Dutch.
Patricia Beaver stood in front of the general mercantile with some of her friends. She was telling them about the race and claiming it wasn’t fair that Hoss had been Cassie’s partner. “I don’t see what you’re complaining about.” Mary, Patricia’s closest friend, said. “The only rule was that the two partners had to be siblings in one way or the other. Cassie and Hoss are stepbrother and stepsister now; my mama said so.”
“He’s an adult! The judges should’ve told him he couldn’t be in it.” Patricia argued only to have another one of her friends point out that, legally; Patricia’s brother was also an adult…as he’d just turned eighteen. The fact that he was much smaller than Hoss was beside the point. That observation did not help Patricia’s mood at all. She determined right then and there to get even with Cassie for the perceived wrong. Just as Patricia made the promise to herself she noticed two horses standing next to the hardware store that stood down the street a little ways. Recognizing Hoss and Cassie’s horses, Patricia starting smiling…and it wasn’t a friendly smile.
“What are you up to Patricia?” Mary asked, concern in her voice.
Having seen how well Cassie handled a horse, even staying on one when it began to buck, Patricia knelt down and picked up a small pebble and headed for the horses without answering her friend. Mary followed while the other friends, afraid of what Patricia had in mind, stayed behind.
“Patricia!” Mary gasped softly as Patricia slid the pebble up and under the saddle on Cassie’s horse.
“Don’t worry! You saw how well she handled that spooked horse the other day. She’ll be fine. Besides, Hoss is with her. That big ox will be able to stop anything real bad from happening.” Patricia then hurried to find a “good spot”, as she called it, saying she didn’t want to miss the show. Mary, more scared than anything, followed her. Just as the two girls sat down on a crate that sat in front of a building a half a block away from the hardware store Hoss and Cassie came out of the store. Patricia and Mary’s heart skipped a beat as Cassie mounted Hoss’ horse instead of hers. The two girls exchanged worried looks.
“Are you sure Chubby won’t mind my riding him?” Cassie asked, Hoss had told he she could when she commented how much she liked the horse and wished she could ride him just once.
“Naw, he’ll be fine. Though, I admit, if Old Hank here,” Hoss said as he rubbed the neck of the horse Cassie had been riding the past few weeks, “was any smaller, I’d have no choice but to let you ride with me while we simply led Old Hank home.” Hoss said as he mounted the horse only to find the horse bucking and neighing like he’d just been stuck with a pin.
Cassie screamed and those people within hearing range stopped dead in their tracks and watched in shock as Hoss was thrown from the horse. Just as he hit the ground Ben, Adam and Little Joe, who had been to the barber shop, walked out of the shop and started running towards Hoss. By the time they got to him Cassie was kneeling by his side screaming at him to wake up.
“What happened?” Ben asked as he sent Little Joe for the doctor.
“I…I don’t kn…ow!” Cassie found herself stuttering as she looked up and saw Adam getting control of her horse. She explained what had happened and why Hoss was on her horse. Just as she finished Adam, who had run his hand under the blanket and saddle, pulled out the small pebble.
Seeing the pebble, Cassie quickly looked around. Catching sight of Patrician and Mary, and seeing the guilty look on Patricia’s face, Cassie shocked everyone when she jumped an rand towards Patricia. The girl jumped to her feet and began running only it did her no good. Cassie knocked her to the ground moments later and began hitting the girl with her fists. “You did it! You wanted to kill me!”
“No!” Patricia yelled as Adam, who had handed Old Hank’s reins to his father and ran after her, pulled Cassie off Patricia. “No one was supposed to get hurt. You’re great at handling a horse.”
“You…” Cassie tried to get away from Adam only to find him holding onto her tighter.
“We have to get back to Hoss and you,” Adam gave Patricia a look that would scare a dead man out of his grave, “best pray Hoss isn’t hurt too bad! What on earth were you thinking!” He asked the question only he didn’t wait around for an answer as he practically drug Cassie away from Patricia.
“Why doesn’t he wake up?” Cassie asked with fear in her voice as she paced around in Dr. Martin’s waiting room.
Ben, who was sitting next to door that led into the room where the good doctor was examining Hoss, reached out and made Cassie sit down next to him. Adam and Little Joe were sitting across from them.
“He’ll be fine; we have to believe that.” Ben said as he looked at Little Joe; his youngest had gotten back from talking to the sheriff. Ben had sent him to talk to Roy after Adam had told him what Patricia Beaver had said. Ben figured that Roy might be able to be some fear into the girl. After all, even if Hoss was all right, she needed someone to pound it into her young head that actions like the one she had chosen to take could very easily get someone killed or seriously injured.
“He’s gotta!” Cassie began crying. “I already lost one family! I can’t start losing all of you as well!”
While Ben was not shocked to hear that Cassie feared losing yet another family, he was surprised she thought this might be the start of her losing them all. “You won’t lose all of us and you’re not losing Hoss.” Ben pulled her onto his lap, thanking the man upstairs Cassie was on the small side. “We just have to believe that.” Ben said, praying like mad he was right.
Before he could say anything else, the doctor opened the door of the examining room and walked out.
Ben and Little Joe looked at Cassie, who had climbed on the bed where Hoss lay and curled up next to him. Their minds were on the words that Doctor Martin had spoken when he’d stepped out into the waiting room. “There’s no internal bleeding; however, he has broken his right leg.” He went on to tell the Cartwrights the rest of his concerns, “Let’s just he wakes ups soon.” Cassie had flown out of the waiting room and into the examining room before the good doctor had a chance to say anything else. Now, with Dr. Martin going on another call, the Cartwrights were left to wait in the examining and hope. That is, all but Adam. After Ben, Little Joe and he had stepped out of Cassie’s hearing and discussed things Adam had found himself with another matter of business to take care of. Now he was sitting in the Sheriff’s office talking with Roy and waiting for Patricia to arrive with one of her parents, or both as Deputy Foster had been sent to fetch them.
“Are you and your pa sure about this? What about Little Joe?” Roy leaned back in his chair and asked Adam.
“She was mad because Cassie and Hoss won the foot race.” Mary’s words came back to Adam, along with all the other things Patricia’s friends claimed she’d done when she’d gotten upset at someone. “We’re very serious. We don’t hate the Beavers, or Patricia, but goodness knows that girl needs a good scare put into her. She’s thirteen, almost fourteen, and acting like a two year old for the past year. I know,” Adam said raised his hand as Roy acted as if he was about to make a comment about “those years”, “how old she is, and that’s exactly the point. Even if Hoss survives, if we don’t do something now to get through to her, can you imagine what she’ll be like at sixteen or eighteen?”
Roy rubbed his forehead. He didn’t have to imagine; he’d seen firsthand evidence time and time again what could happen. “I…” Roy started to answer when the door to his office opened and Deputy Foster, Mr. Beaver, a gentleman who stood five feet nine inches, had a medium sized frame, and thin reddish hair entered stepped in towing one very frightened child in with them.
“How’s Hoss?” Mr. Beaver asked as the deputy disappeared into the back room; Mr. Beaver’s face showed his genuine concern.
Adam repeated what the doctor said about his brother’s leg and then paused, his face growing even more serious than it had before. He wasn’t surprised when both Mr. Beaver and Patricia looked as if they were bracing themselves. “He hadn’t regained consciousness when I’d left; however, the doctor says Hoss has a good sized bump on his head and,” Adam took a deep breath praying the doctor was wrong and continued, “that the bump is near the area of the optical nerve. He’s concerned about the effect the fall might have on Hoss’ eyesight.”
Roy leaned forward and, resting his arms on his desk, spoke up once Adam had finished talking. “For now, Patricia is being charged with willfully endangering the life of a law abiding citizen.” Mr. Beaver gasped while Patricia’s hands flew to her mouth. “If Hoss does not come too, but passes away instead…” Roy paused and shook his head, “I don’t know what charges will be brought against her. By law I could put her in one of my cells; however,” Roy glared at Mr. Beaver, who had been known to be far too lenient with his daughter, “she is underage. IF you and your wife will keep her with you at all times, I will leave her in your custody. And,” he turned his eyes towards Patricia, who was looking rather ill, “if I see you, or hear of you being anywhere but with your parents, I will pick you up and bring you back here. Do you understand?”
Patricia nodded her head slowly while Mr. Beaver replied, “We understand.” He turned his attention away from Roy and onto the oldest Cartwright son. “Adam, I am sorry about this. Please, if there is anything we can do for Hoss or your family, let us know.”
“We’ll talk about that one later.” Adam spoke with a flat monotone voice. He had every intention of laying into Mr. Beaver for his leniency, but not in front of Patricia. The idea was scare the living daylights out of her and teach her a lesson that would hopefully sink in, not hand her someone to blame for her own choices. “Now I suggest you take your daughter home, and keep her off the streets for now.”
“I’ll let you know when her court date is.” Roy said as Mr. Beaver turned to leave.
“Yes, sir,” Mr. Beaver, who was looking at his daughter with a very displeased look on his face, answered and then led Patricia out of the office. Only when the door was shut and they heard the Beaver’s buggy driving away did Roy and Adam start grinning from ear to ear.
“I think she has a bit of fear in her for a change. Maybe she’ll stop and think about her actions from now on. By the way, when does the judge get back from his vacation?” Adam asked as he stood up.
“Not for another month,” Roy smiled as he too stood up. “Oh, the temporary judge could hear the case sooner, but I think a month being stuck with one of her parents or at the school will give that youngin’ plenty of time to think. Only you know, for there to be any chance of this to do any good, you and your family can’t go changing your minds and stopping the proceedings, right? Besides, once the judge finds out she’s been stuck with her parents…when she’s not is school…I’m sure he’ll say she’s done her time.” He wasn’t about to add ‘as long as Hoss doesn’t die’. He didn’t even want to think of that as a possibility.
Adam was very aware of that fact. “The only one who might do that would be Hoss and, once we explain why we’re doing more than giving her a good scolding, I hope he’ll go along with it.” Adam then bid Roy good bye and hurried out of the office and down the street. He hoped to find his brother very much awake by the time he got to the office. After all, he didn’t want to see what it would do to Cassie if Hoss didn’t pull through.
“She’s getti’ off too easy!” Cassie, who was still sitting next to Hoss, looked at Ben, Adam and Little Joe after Adam had told the family what had taken place at Roy’s. “I hate her! Roy should have put her behind bars unil the judge gets here and,” Cassie’s eyes shot fire, “That judge best not just let her walk out of the courtroom without punishin’ her! Iff’n he doesn’t, I will!”
Before any of them could reply they were all shocked, but overjoyed, when Hoss spoke up from behind Cassie…although it was very apparent he was struggling to talk. “Don’t hate her; don’t lower yerself to her level. And, please, don’t go lettin’ hate drive ya to do somethin’ stupid. Ain’t worth it.”
“Hoss! Yer awake!”Cassie whirled around and looked at Hoss as the rest of the Cartwrights took a step closer.
For Hoss’ part, when he had regained consciousness, it had taken a moment to remember what had happened. He might not have known what had caused the accident only Cassie and his family had been discussing the matter when he woke up. As he blinked a few times it all came back to him. Now he looked at the very blurred sight before his eyes. He blinked a couple more times. That action instantly concerned his family. “Hoss?” Ben stepped even closer and leaned forward. “What’s wrong?” Even as he asked the question, he and his family pretty much knew the answer.
“Everything’ fuzzy lookin'” Hoss answered. He wasn’t surprised when Cassie exploded.
“She’s blinded him! That no good varmit has blinded him!” Cassie screamed only to find Hoss raising his hand and clamping it down upon her right shoulder.
“I told ya, don’t lower yerself to her level. Like I jist said, ain’t worth it.” Hoss’ voice was firmer than Cassie had ever heard it. It shocked her so much that she instantly calmed down. “Besides, from what I overheard Adam say, you already belted her a few good ones.”
Everyone stared as they had no realized just how long Hoss had been conscious and listening. Cassie was the first to break the silence. “But yer blind, Hoss!” She started sobbing as she laid her head upon his chest.
One could have heard a pin drop for a minute. Then Hoss replied, “Reckon I am partly blind fer now. Everythin’ is so dagburnit fuzzy only I ain’t totally blind. I can tell where each one of you is standin’ or sittin’ in your case.” He turned his head and looked around the room. What he’d said concerning his family was also true when it came to the cabinet that sat in the room and the chair that Little Joe had been sitting on when Hoss first opened his eyes. “Maybe all I need is time for things to clear up.”
“And if time doesn’t fix yer sight?” Cassie asked softly, though she felt another surge of rage flow through her. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was Hoss who had told her not to lower herself to Patricia’s level, she would have let the rage show its face.
“Reckon we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it; jist promise me not to do anythin’ stupid.” Hoss answered quietly. Only when Cassie made the promise did he close his eyes and fall back to sleep.
“HOSS!” Cassie flew up, afraid Hoss had just died on them. However, Ben, who was checking Hoss, calmed her fears.
“He’s just sleeping.” Ben said as he looked at Little Joe. “Why don’t you go find Dr. Martin and tell him what happened and what Hoss said?” He then laid a comforting hand on Cassie’s shoulder. “Listen to him Cassie. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Hoss is alive; that’s the important part. We’ll make it through this, as a family. Just wait and see.”
Cassie wanted to tell her stepfather that he really needed to find another phrase to use only she didn’t. Instead curled back up by Hoss and did her best not to think of Patricia and just what she deserved, for the sake of her brother.
Cassie was sitting on the front porch with Ben when Mr. and Mrs. Beaver drove up in their wagon. Patricia was riding between them and, for the first time since Cassie met the girl, she wasn’t sitting with a posture that screamed ‘I’m better than you’. Still, Cassie stiffened and said nothing, reminding herself of her promise to Hoss, who had just returned home and was upstairs resting in his bed. He might insisted on laying on the couch only Dr. Martin had refused to release Hoss unless he promised up and down he’d take a few days to recuperate in his bed. “As it is, Hoss, unless your eyesight clears up, you’ll have to spend six weeks in a wheelchair while your leg heals.” As much as he hated that, Hoss hadn’t argued for the simple fact it was going to be hard enough adjusting to moving around the house if his eyesight didn’t return to normal without adding someone having to help him move around on crutches.
“Hello,” Ben kept a straight and serious face as he stood up. It’s not that he wanted the Beavers to feel unwelcome only he had been serious when he agreed with Adam that they had to make sure Patricia felt the full sting of her selfish actions. It was the girl’s only hope as far as he and his family were concerned. “May I help you?” He asked as he shot a warning glare towards Cassie, whose eyes told him she had a few ideas of how she, Cassie, could help their visitors.
Mr. Beaver looked at his daughter and shocked Ben when he spoke his daughter’s name in the most serious tone he’d ever heard thim speak. “She would like to see Hoss and talk to him.”
Ben didn’t say anything while he looked at Patricia, who squirmed under his gaze. Ben had to hide his smile at their visitor’s reaction. “Take her up to Hoss, Cassie.” He finally said as he looked at his stepdaughter. “I want to talk to the Beavers for a few minutes.”
Cassie started to open her mouth, but clamped it shut when Ben gave her another warning look. “Yes, pa,” Cassie, who had called Ben by ‘Mr. Cartwright’ for months, answered using the familiar term without even thinking as she stood up and headed for the door. It made Ben beam from ear to ear, though he’d have to reprimand her for not waiting for Patricia, who had hurried and climbed down from the wagon with her father’s help. The young girl then had to run to catch up with Cassie.
“I…I’m sorry, Mr. Cartwright.” Patricia, who stood a few feet away from Hoss, stammered out her apology. “I…I never meant for anyone to get seriously injured, really.”
“Reckon ya didn’t, but then again, ya didn’t stop to think about it really, did you?” Hoss spoke in just as serious tone as his father had. He might not have only Adam and Ben had both sat down with him and explained what they’d done and why they had did it. While Hoss hated the idea of any youngster having to go before a judge, he had to agree that Patricia needed something to shake her up.
“No, sir,” Patricia’s eyes turned downward. “I…I was just plum out jealous. Pa laid into me something fierce for it after we left Sheriff Coffee’s and got home.”
It was all Cassie could do not to bust up laughing as Patricia rubbed her backside as she spoke of her father, but she didn’t do it. Not only because she was standing next to Hoss, but because for the first time she saw genuine remorse in Patricia’s eyes. The bad feelings Cassie had towards Patricia went down a few notches. Guess the Cartwrights were right; there was no need for her, Cassie, to do anything to Patricia. She’d been punished and would be disciplined again when the regular judge came back. Though, she didn’t resist rubbing in the consequences of Patricia’s actions. “Hoss is going to be laid up for six weeks and his eyesight is still messed up.” Cassie said through gritted teeth.
“Cassie,” Hoss spoke in the warning tone she’d heard more than once since he came too. “No need to tell her what I reckon she already knows.”
“I am sorry.” Patricia was close to tears from the guilt she was carrying around with her.
Now it was Cassie’s turn to feel guilty as she saw Patricia’s reaction to her, Cassie’s, word and actions. “I reckon I know that.” Cassie sighed as she sat down on the chair next to Hoss.
Hoss told Patricia the same thing and then told her she’d best get back to her parents, who he was sure were downstairs waiting for her by now. Patricia nodded her head just a little and hurried out of the room, leaving Hoss to have yet another talk with Cassie.
Adam wheeled Hoss up the aisle of the courtoom and parked his brother’s wheelchair next to the bench that the rest of the Cartwrights were sitting. He then joined his family. He was glad the room was practically empty as Hoss had requested adding the fact that there was overkill in anything….and traumatizing Patricia with a bunch of onlookers would be just that.
Cassie, who was sitting at the end of the bench, in order to be next to Hoss, looked from Hoss (who still remained legally blind) to Patricia who sat with her parents. For the first time since the prank gone bad Cassie truly felt sorry for the young girl. Hoss was right. In the long run, she’d done more damage to her own life than his.
“You don’t think the judge will really put her behind bars do you?” Cassie asked Hoss as they prepared to go to the hearing.
Hoss, who still had another week in his cast, looked at his adopted sister and tapped the side of the wheelchair he was using. “I hope not, reckon we’ll find out today.”
“Can’t you and pa just drop the charges?” Cassie asked.
Hoss couldn’t help but start smiling wide. It seems like all their talks had softened Cassie’s revengeful heart. His face then grew serious once more. “We’d like to only the whole idea was to knock some sense into the gal. If we drop the charges, the full impact of that attempt won’t be felt. However,” he said as he laid his hand on her shoulder, “Pa and I are gonna ask the judge to consider givin’ her the lightest judgment he can. After all, she is sorry and has been without the freedom to do as she wishes for the past five weeks.”
While Cassie had her mind on the talk she had with Hoss, Patricia, who had glanced towards the aisleway when Hoss was wheeled in, now sat with her eyes slightly downwards. Her own mind on the past five weeks, and what it had been like to have either her mother or her father with her at all times…except for when she was in school…even then one of her parents were outside waiting for her. And, when it came to the lienency in her home, whatever Adam had said to her father and mother had done something. She had learned early on that she could no longer play her father and mother against each other. Then, for the thousandth time, she thought on Hoss and what had happened to him because of her stupidity. She prayed like mad what people were saying, the fact that since Hos’ vision remained fuzzy he would be blind for the rest of his life, was wrong.
“All arise…” the words from the court bailiff brought both girls out of their thoughts. Soon they were watching the tall (he was actually only five feet five, but to the girls he seemed much taller) white haired judge sitting down. Only when he had sat down did the judge look at both parties, addressing Patricia’s attorney after he was through.
“Is it my understanding that Miss Beaver is pleading guilty to the charge brought against her?” the judged asked as he looked at the young girl before him, mentally shaking his head as he did so.
The attorney stood up. “She is sir, but we ask for some leniency as not only is she truly remorseful for what has happened, but for the fact that she had, in essence, been in a jail of another kind since the accident took place.”
The judge said nothing at first, having talked to Ben and Hoss before, he too wanted to drive the point home just how serious things were. After what seemed like an eternity to both Patricia and Cassie, the judge gave his response. “I don’t like it when youngsters are sent to any correctional facility where grown men or women are kept. So, since this is a first offense, I will not send her to the prison I could.” A huge sigh of relief could be seen and felt as both the Beavers and the Cartwrights let out a breath they did not realize they were holding. “However,” the judge’s face turned hard and his voice took an almost frightening tone; well, at least Patricia and Cassie thought it did. “Miss Beaver will spend the next two years doing at least ten hours a week of community service on a regular basis, along with checking in with Sheriff Coffee on a weekly basis when school is not in session. When school is in session Saturdays can be used for seven of the ten hours if necessary. As long as there are no more incidences and I do not find her in my court again, she will remain in the custody of her parents and not have to worry about ever seeing the inside of any prison. And,” he looked from Hoss to Patricia, “At least five of those ten weekly service hours are to be done on the Ponderosa until Mr. Cartwright’s eyesight fully returns, if it ever does. Is that clear, Mr. Day?” The judge asked Patricia’s attorney, but he looked at Patricia.
“It is, sir.” Mr. Day smiled, relieved that things had gone the way they did.
“Good,” The judge then dismissed everyone and excused himself, saying he had other things to do. Once he had left, Cassie asked Ben if she could go talk to Patricia, promising him she’d behave herself.
“Go ahead,” Ben smiled as he then watched Cassie walk over to the Beavers, who looked a bit uncomfortable as Cassie approached them. However, looks of relief replaced that look as Cassie and Patricia talked. Ben smiled even more when the two girls smiled and shook hands. It might not be the start of a wonderful friendship (it wasn’t) but at least the two girls had made peace with each other. Once Cassie was through she made her way back to the Cartwrights and Hoss.
“May we please go home. This place is makin’ me uneasy.” Cassie looked at Ben with a pleading look in her eyes.
“You bet we can.” Ben said as Adam turned Hoss’s wheelchair around. Ben, Little Joe and Cassie then followed Adam and Hoss out of the courtroom.
A/N I originally planned on putting the epilogue with this chapter. However, I get the feeling the epilogue may be a chapter in itself. So…either I’m right or the next installment is going to be extremely short?
Epilogue (40 Years later)
A cold wind blew over the Ponderosa as Cassie rode her horse over more than one hill and passed by more than one tree. She was sure her children (all seven of them) thought she had lost her mind as she left the house. After all, she could always wait until better weather came around to visit her family especially at her age…and they’d said as much too. Cassie had simply smiled, saddled her horse and ridden off anyway.
When she reached her destination, Cassie White-Cartwright Williams took a hold of the old Iron Gate that kept unwanted visitors out and opened it up. Soon she was looking down at a headstone that read “BENJAMIN CARTWRIGHT”. “Hello, pa,” Cassie smiled as she thought on the man who had, in spite of his age, stepped in and raised her when her own father was gone. He had been as good to her as he was to his son…even when it meant disciplining her for some of the bad choices she had made along the way. How she’d wished he’d been able to find a wife who would have lasted for more than a couple of years. While that had not happened, Cassie would always remember the day her husband, Peter Williams, had gathered up his courage and approached Ben to ask him for Cassie’s hand in marriage.
Cassie glanced at the wedding ring on her hand and chuckled. Her adoptive father had not been overly thrilled with the fact that his sixteen year old daughter wanted to get married. She chuckled again as she was sure Ben had only agreed to give his consent because Peter, who had just turned twenty, had been working for Ben for a solid two years and had proved himself to be a good, honest, hardworking young man…that and Peter had said he and Cassie weren’t actually planning on being married for another year. “I still miss you, pa. I think I always will.” She then took a few steps and stopped in front of another headstone…one that was actually only a marker, a place to visit a son who had left home a few years after Cassie’s arrival never to return. His absence has left a hold in all their lives…even if he did write consistently.
“Hello, Adam.” Cassie sighed as she remembered all the evenings she’d sit on the porch and listen to Adam sing and play his guitar. She could have listened all day if she had had the chance. Of course, with his responsibilities and hers, neither one of them could have spent twenty four hours a day on any porch. A part of her would always wonder how on earth Adam could have left the Ponderosa, the other part understood all too well. “I hope you truly loved Australia big brother. I know those sons of yours sure do; they say so when they come to visit.” Marriage…that was good thing that had come about after Adam left. He had found a good woman and married her. They’d spent thirty five years together and she’d born him two handsome sons and a beautiful daughter. Sadly, her niece had passed away after giving birth to her first child. After the father had an unfortunate accident a year later, Adam and his wife had taken their grandson in and raised him also.
Cassie then moved passed Adam’s marker and looked at the last two headstones. ERIC “HOSS” CARTWRIGHT and JOSEPH FRANCIS CARTWRIGHT…Cassie’s eyes rested on Little Joe’s marker first. She was sure that at first Little Joe had been jealous of the bond she and Hoss shared only there was nothing she could do about the bond or the jealously. As much as she loved youngest of Ben’s natural born sons, Cassie could never be closer to any brother than she had been to Hoss. At least Little Joe hadn’t had much time to be jealous. He’d married Caroline Summers, a young woman he’d known for seven years, a couple of years after Cassie had joined the family. He and his wife had been blessed with five children, most of who lived on or near the Ponderosa.
Cassie’s eyes then moved to Hoss’ headstone and felt a few tears threaten to surface. There would never be another Hoss in her book. How she’d adored the ground he walked on, He’d been her mentor, protector, but most of all he’d been her “partner in crime” more than once…even during the five years he’d suffered from limited eyesight. During those times, the times they were busy pulling pranks on various members of the family (and even some of their friends) Cassie was sure Ben’s hair had grown even whiter. When his eyesight had miraculously returned, Ben and the others swore it only made Hoss and her pranks increase. Even with her knees which were starting to have problems with arithitis, Cassie knelt down and ran her fingers across Hoss’ name. He had had so much love to give to those around him. She’ d felt so bad for him as year after year he remained alone. Then, at forty-two years of age, he’d had another miracle walk into his life…a widow by the name of Nancy Little. Nancy had been a saint and the union had given Hoss an instant family…four sons, two daughters and three grandchildren to begin with. He’d handled it well though. Eventually the couple would be blessed with two children of their own, twins by the name of Christopher and Christine.
Cassie stood up slowly and once again looked over all the headstones and lovingly said, “I’ll never be able to thank all of you for taking me in allowing me to be a part of your family. God bless you all.” She then turned and walked back to her horse. Someday, she would join her second family; someday, she’d sit down and again laugh and talk with them, just not today.
A/N I am sorry will not allow me to post the link to the following… only I DID find it while searching on the internet. I have copied and pasted this small portion from the site I was looking at. As you will see below, the first Juvenile Court was not established until 1899. Which means, if he had to, Roy could very well have someone as young as Patricia in one of his cells if necessary.
History of Juvenile Justice System
Juvenile Justice in the United States
From an historical perspective, the concept of having a separate legal framework for juvenile offenders is relatively new. Throughout history, children as young as 7 years old who were accused of wrongdoing were imprisoned with adults. In the early nineteenth century, the idea of reforming youth offenders took root in the United States…The House of Refuge in New York, which opened in 1824, was the first juvenile house of reform in the United States. This was the first attempt to house juvenile offenders in a separate facility and other States, like Maryland, would soon follow suit.
Supported by emerging research and science regarding child development in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, reformers across the country championed the cause of not punishing youthful offenders like adults but, rather, rehabilitating them.
In 1899, Cook County in the State of Illinois established the first juvenile court. Within 30 years, virtually all of the states had established juvenile courts.
A/N I know many of you will disagree with how young Cassie was married only, remember, for years it wasn’t uncommon for girls to marry young…especially in the 1800’s.
1 thought on “Cassie (by Tauna Petit-Strawn)”
This story was nice until the end when it became wonderful. I would love to think that is how it ended.