Marcy (by Tauna Petit-Strawn)

Summary:  A ‘what if’ I got off the episode “Three Brides for Hoss”.

Rated: T (8,950 words)

Marcy

Chapter One

The stagecoach rolled along the road that led to Virginia City carrying three passengers…a businessman from Carson City, his wife of ten years and a black haired, twenty year old woman, named Marcy Carpenter from Maryland. While the businessman, a balding fellow by the name of Tom Miller, and his wife had visited with her a little, there hadn’t been much conversation. Truth be told, Marcy was rather nervous as she thought on the reason for her trip out west, a trip her family and friends were telling her she was crazy to make.

“You’ve never met this man,” her father was beside himself as he paced back and forth in his study. “This Erick Cartwright, or Hoss as he calls himself, could be nothing more than a scoundrel!”

“Now papa, I had a detective check him out. He’s no scoundrel!” Marcy politely chastised her father, and then told him everything that the detective had told her. “I’ll be fine. The Cartwrights have a solid reputation as good people.”

Her father relented, knowing she was of age and there was nothing he could do to stop her.

Marcy might not have been as nervous only, while stopping over in Carson City, she’d heard some rumblings about an Irishman and the mess he’d created for Hoss. She didn’t know how much truth was in the rumblings; how much of it was in the alcohol the men had been drinking. So, to play it safe, Marcy decided to send a second telegram before leaving Carson City. If Eric Cartwright had sent for her, the second telegram would simply confirm what he already knew. If he hadn’t, he’d have the time to deal with the shock, and she could decide what to do next. Marcy inwardly sighed. As long as he had really sent for her, there would be no problem. Only, if he hadn’t, what on earth was she going to do? Her father might have relented and backed off, only he’d made it crystal clear what would happen if she came home still not married or with a divorce on her hands. “Let me not be crazy for coming to Nevada” she silently prayed.

~oOo~

Hoss and is father stood on the boardwalk waiting for the stagecoach. Hoss was as jumpy and scared as he’d been the day three women had showed up at the Ponderosa claiming to be the wife he had advertised for. When two of the women had run off with two of the ranch hands and the third had married the man responsible for creating the mess in the first place, Hoss and his family had thought the whole event to be a closed chapter in their lives. And then the telegram had arrived.

“Pa, what if there are more women coming?” Hoss had an almost comical look of fear upon his face as he asked the question.

Ben shook his head. “I talked to *Jester. He assures me only four women replied to the ad he put out.” He then paused and then asked, due to the comments Hoss and Little Joe had been exchanging before Hoss and Ben had left the house to come to Virginia City, “What are you going to do when she gets here? I mean, you’re not seriously thinking to enter into such a marriage?” That part, the fact that Hoss had gone from being horrified at the thought that he just might be stuck with a wife to actually entertaining the notion, had Ben concerned and confused. It might have been different if he could see the reason for the change only he couldn’t.

Hoss hooked his thumbs over the top of his pant pockets and shrugged. “I dunno, though reckon iff’n I’m to be honest, I’m thinkin’ on it. Though, guess I can’t decide either way until I talk to this Marcy gal and let her know what happened and see if she’s willin’ to give me the time to think about it.” He knew his father wanted more than that for an answer, only how was he supposed to explain something to his father when he, Hoss, didn’t truly understand why he’d changed his mind…or if he really had. Before Ben or he could say another word, the stagecoach rolled in.

Ben shook his head as the stagecoach stopped and the businessman climbed out, helped his wife out and then, politely, helped Marcy out.

“Thank you, sir,” Marcy smiled wide, only to have the smile quickly replaced by more serious look once she turned and saw Hoss and his father. From the letter in her pocket, she knew who both men were. “Hoss?” She asked cautiously as she took a step forward.

Hoss felt bad for the young woman who stood in front of him. She couldn’t stand over five feet four inches and looked more scared than a jackrabbit cornered by a fox than anything. He figured it was because she’d traveled so far to meet a total stranger. “Um, yes, ma’am that’s me. And this here is my pa, Ben Cartwright.” Hoss nodded towards Ben. “And you’re Marcy Carpenter?”

A smile spread from one corner of her fact to another. The man didn’t seem angry or upset to see her. Maybe that was a good sign. “Yes, I am.” She couldn’t help but fidget slightly.

“Our buggy is at the livery stable.” Hoss smiled as he picked up her luggage; the driver had sat it down moments after the coach had stopped. “Why don’t we go get it? We can talk on our way out to the Ponderosa.”

Hoss might have missed the look of concern that was in his father’s eyes; concern that was as bright as the noon day sun, due to having his eyes on Marcy…but, the young woman had no problem seeing it. “He feels the same way as my father,” she thought, feeling a weight pressing down upon her shoulders, as she walked alongside Hoss. All she could do was hope she hadn’t made the biggest mistake in her life.

~oOo~

Chapter Two

Marcy was appreciative of the cool breeze that blew across her face as Hoss drove the buggy towards the Ponderosa. It helped her nerves, especially since Hoss’ father was riding ahead of them. However, her mind went from their apparent chaperone to Hoss when she turned her head and noticed the troubled look on his face. Either the rumors she’d heard were true, or he was simply having second thoughts. There was only way to find out, and she knew it.

“If you’re changed your mind, Mr. Cartwright, of if the rumors I heard in Carson City are true…” without thinking she began rubbing the palm of her right hand with her left thumb, a nervous habit she’d had for years.

Rumors? Hoss stiffened and turned his face to look at the young woman beside him. “They’re talkin’ about it in Carson City? Reckon some people need a more interestin’ life.”

Marcy felt her heart sink as she heard his words. “Then it’s true,” she turned her face forward, holding her chin erect. “You did not send for me. You wish I had not come.”

Hoss might be slow in many areas only he wasn’t stupid. He could hear the hurt and disappointment in her voice. It tugged at his heart. “Ma’am, that has a yes and no answer. Iff’n yer willin’ ta listen, I’ll explain.”

Listen? Why not? She’d already traveled more miles than she could count. What did she have to lose? Marcy nodded as she turned to face him once more. “What is it?”

Slowly Hoss began from the beginning. By the time he reached the end Marcy was shaking her head. Sure she could understand this Jester fellow wanting a mother for his daughter, only to use Hoss like that…maybe it wasn’t right only she wished she was in a position to give the man a piece of his mind. “So, yes, you didn’t send for me. Where’s the no?” She asked confused.

Hoss pulled the buggy over to the side of the road they were now on, not wishing to get home until he and Miss Carpenter had a chance to talk; really talk about the situation. He wasn’t surprised when his father, who had heard the buggy stop, turned Buck around to see if anything was wrong.

“Go ahead home, pa! Miss Marcy and I are gonna talk fer a bit!” Hoss called out, though he didn’t have to raise his voice all that much since his father wasn’t that far away.

“All right, but don’t be too long. You know how Hop Sing gets when food gets cold.” Ben smiled and pushed Buck forward.

“Hop Sing?” Mary asked; her confusion shone in her eyes. The letters this Jester had sent made no mention of a Hop Sing.

“Our cook,” Hoss replied before looking around at the trees, grass and the few rabbits that could be seen here and there. Funny how peaceful everything looked, but he felt anything but calm inside. His mind turned back to the subject on hand when Marcy again asked him to explain the ‘no’ part of his answer.

“I can’t explain it, Miss Marcy….I kin call you Miss Marcy, can’t I?” Hoss looked at her questionably. The last thing he wanted to do was to start off on the wrong foot with her, even if they wound up only friends.

Marcy smiled. No one had ever called her anything but Marcy or Miss Carpenter. She liked the sound of Miss Marcy. “Yes, you may. Now go ahead, explain what you meant by ‘no’.”

“I kin’t say I’m sorry yer here, though it’s kind of hard ta explain.” Hoss leaned backwards as he talked.

“I’m listening.” Marcy smiled; she couldn’t help it. There was something about this giant of a man that intrigued her. If he needed time, she had no problem giving it to him.

Hoss thought about the three women that had showed up and how he’d reacted. As he did so he talked about each one of them. “The second and third ones were so darn pushy it wasn’t funny! I couldn’t hide from them fast enough.” He chuckled, as did Marcy.

“I can’t say I blame you. Go on,” Marcy said once she quit laughing.

“The first one,” Hoss shrugged his shoulders, “She turned out to not be half bad only, I don’t know.” Hoss again shrugged his shoulders. “I just didn’t want to be married to her. I was more than happy when she and Jester said they were getting married. Only, after they all left,” Hoss paused again, struggling to put the words he wanted together. Finally, he sighed and said, “Guess the truth of the matter I was only upset with the idea of a marriage that came about because of ads, because I hadn’t had a say in it.” He turned up the palms of his hands, “Truth of the matter is, I want to be married. I jist haven’t had any luck in that area.” He leaned forward, trying to calm his nerves, and scratched the back of his neck before continuing, “I been thinkin’ ever since I got yer telegram. I’ve been tryin’ ever since then to decide iff’n a marriage that came about this way could work for me.” He looked at his large hands and said, “I know I’m awfully big and some folks like ta call me slow…” He stopped when he felt Marcy’s hand on his arm and saw the smile on her face.

“Are you asking me to stick around long enough to see how compatible we are? Long enough to see if we want to give marriage an honest try?” Marcy asked, feeling her heart beat with excitement. Maybe all the miles she’d traveled wouldn’t be a waste after all.

Hoss smiled back and nodded. “Call me crazy, I know my family thinks I’ve lost it to even consider it…. only, yea, guess I am, Miss Marcy.” He held his breath as he waited to hear what Marcy would say next.

“Just how long were you thinking, and what will we do about my living arrangements?” Marcy asked as the smile on her face spread across her face and reached up into her eyes.

Chapter Three

“You did what?” Adam sat in the blue chair near the staircase and stared at Hoss, as did their father who was sitting in ‘his’ chair. Marcy had just disappeared into the guest room, while Hoss explained what the two of them had decided. It had sent additional shock waves through his father and brother. For once he was glad Little Joe was out of town visiting friends, as Hoss was sure his baby brother would be attempting some humorous snippet and speaking without thinking.

“You heard me,” Hoss stood with his thumbs once again hooked on top of his pants pocket. “Iff’n you will, Adam, we’d appreciate it iff’n ya’d talk to the judge. See if, as long as we don’t do nothin’, any marriage between us could be annulled, iff’n we decide it jist won’t work between us.” He then went on to explain that he had given it a lot of thought and that, yes, he wanted to give it a shot.

“Why not just have her move into town and court her? I’m sure we could help her find work.” Adam asked, seeing no reason for his brother and Miss Carpenter to actually wed at this stage.

Hoss shook his head. “With all the work I have to do around here, it will be easier if she simply stays here. Only neither one of us wants her livin’ here for more than a couple of weeks, unless she has the Cartwright name. You gotta admit we’ll need more than two weeks to decide something like this. And,” He shrugged his shoulders, “Right or wrong, people talk and we all know that. The gal deserves to have her reputation kept intact.”

Ben and Adam couldn’t argue with Hoss on that one. People did have a way of talking, truth or lies, it didn’t matter. This being the case, whether or not they approved of the decision or not, Adam nodded and gave in. “I have to go into town sooner or later. I’ll stop in at the court house and find out.”

Hoss started smiling wide. “Thanks, Adam. Pa,” He turned his attention to his father. “Iff’n ya would, please talk to Miss Marcy. For some reason she’s got a notion you’re dead set against this. I told her that, yes, ya had yer concerns, but that was it. I don’t think she quite believed it though.”

Ben sighed. He was against the way the ‘marriage’ was taking place. He was also greatly concerned that both Hoss and Marcy would only find themselves with a huge heartache. However, he knew he didn’t want any blame thrown his way if things didn’t work out for them. “I’ll go talk to her now.” Ben stood up and headed for the guest room, leaving Hoss and Adam to talk to each other.

~oOo~

Marcy was just unpacking her suitcase when the knock on the door came. Standing straight up and taking deep breaths, she called out, “Come on in! The door’s not locked!” Halfway expecting Hoss to enter the room, Marcy was on high alert the moment the door opened and the white haired patriarch of the house stepped inside, though she was relieved when he did not shut the door all the way. It told her that her future father in law did not want her reputation comprised either.

“May I help you?” She asked, even as she thought ‘besides leaving your house’. She couldn’t help it, not with the look that had been in his eyes when she’d gotten out of the stagecoach. Since she fully expected another version of her father’s tirade, Marcy was a bit surprised when Ben did just the opposite.

Ben, who was fully aware of how uptight he’d been in town, sighed. He hadn’t known how badly it showed; however, the way their guest was standing upright and looking as if she was on pins and needs, told him his inner turmoil had indeed shown through. He relaxed knowing he needed too, or the young woman wouldn’t take his words seriously. “I wanted to apologize.” He gave Marcy a huge and warm smile as he rested his left hand on the top of a chair that sat up against the wall. “It seems as if I’ve sent one very wrong message, one that says I strongly disapprove about what’s taking place.”

Marcy’s eye brows turned down slightly and confusion appeared in her eyes as a slight frown appeared on her face. “You don’t?”

Ben shook his head. “Hoss didn’t lie to you. I have my concerns only both of you are grown adults. It’s not my place to tell you what or what not to do; that is, as long as it does not affect this family in an adverse way. You’re more than welcome to stay here as Hoss’ ‘wife’ until the two of you decide whether or not to actually to make it a real marriage.” He was rewarded with a warm smile from Marcy as she relaxed. However, when she turned and walked to the window, Ben found himself holding his breath, wondering what the young woman was thinking. He didn’t have to wait long to find out what was on her mind.

“My father practically disowned me before I left Maryland.” After the warm, welcoming feeling she’d just felt coming off Hoss’ father, Marcy wasn’t surprised by the sound of a man sucking in his breath coming from behind her. “I said practically, I didn’t say he actually did it.” She parted the curtains and looked through the glass window. The sight of trees, grass and the wide open space was breathtaking. “He thinks I’ve gone and lost my senses. I had more than one young man want to court me; he couldn’t see why I would respond to an ad, asking if I had to be a widow for Eric-or Hoss as you all call him, to consider me as a wife.”

With her back to Ben, Marcy did not see Ben’s eyes fill with confusion for second, along with a fleeting frown. “If you had interested suitors, why did you answer the ad?” Ben asked out of curiosity.

Marcy turned around and gave him a sad smile. “My father’s heart, every bit of it, is in Maryland and in Connecticut….we have a summer house right on the ocean. Before he and mother married, he used to work on a fishing boat. All my siblings live in one of those two states.” She turned back to the window and leaned against the wall next to it. Keeping her eyes on the scenery in front of her, she sent shock waves through Ben as she asked, “Would you have any idea what’s it’s like to go to sleep listening to the sounds of waves hitting against boulders that stand guarding the beach? Do you have any idea of going to sleep and dream instead of the waves there was the wind and the tall Pine trees that were truly your guards?” She closed her eyes and continued. “I would read book after book, look at one picture and then another one, all shown the western scenery in either words or drawings.” She started laughing softly as she opened her eyes and turned to face Ben, “My father was shocked and appalled a few years back when I took upon myself to take riding lessons. He didn’t see any need for me to know how to ride a horse when he, or one of my brothers, could drive me around in a buggy.”

“But, you wanted to ride free, to feel the wind whip across your face and through your hair.” Ben smiled wide, remembering his own dreams from long ago years.

Marcy’s eyes lit up, and her heart skipped in excitement. “You do understand!”

“I do.” Ben gave her a brief synopsis of his years in New England and his own dream. He then walked over to her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Like I said, you are welcome. All I ask is that you take the time to think. I’d hate to see either one of you make the wrong decision.”

“Yes, sir,” Marcy beamed as Ben let go of her shoulders.

“It’s at least Ben to you. I’m not a stranger.” Ben said as he smiled and left the room, leaving Marcy to finish her unpacking.

Chapter Four

Marcy, who had been up at the crack of dawn, now stood in the barn watching Hoss tend to a calf that had been born prematurely. She knew from the way the other Cartwrights talked that many would have given up on the calf. It warmed her heart to see Hoss doing just the opposite. As she watched him working with the young animal, Marcy’s mind went back to the day before.

This is Revered Miller.” Adam, who had arrived back from town, stood in the living room talking to his father, Hoss and Marcy. “The judge said that, as long as we did not have an elaborate wedding, and you two gave this marriage an honest try for at least six months, he’d grant you an annulment if nothing happened between the two of you in that time.”

Marcy looked at Hoss wondering, due to the look of someone deep in thought, if he had changed his mind. Ben and Adam wondered the same thing, until Hoss looked at his father and asked, “Iff’n this does work out, would you have anythin’ against Miss Marcy and me havin’ another ceremony in six months? A woman deserves some sort of shindig on her wedding day.”

Marcy couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear as Ben told him that would be no problem, as long as the two of them could honestly say the marriage was for real. It felt as if someone had just wrapped her up in one of her grandmother’s large downy quilts. Only when Hoss asked her if she was still willing did she come out of her thoughts. “I haven’t changed my mind.” Even if she’d been tempted to before, the love and support she saw in the Cartwright home was definitely something she had no problem with.

Let’s begin then.” Reverend Miller, who had his concerns about the union, held his tongue. It wasn’t his place to tell another person, or people, how to live their lives. He then waited for Hoss and Marcy to be standing side by side.

As the reverend began speaking Marcy couldn’t help but think about her own family back in Maryland. Inwardly she sighed. They were good enough people and they did do their best to support each other, only she wished they’d let go of some of their notions….the largest one being that anyone who moved out west must be ‘part savage’ as they put it. She had a problem with their attitude towards the ‘savages’ too. As far as she was concerned, how were they justified in judging the Indians when they had never taken the time to meet any of them, to talk to them and to get to really know them?

Hoss looked up when he felt someone watching him. He smiled when he saw who had come into the barn. “Thought you were helping Hop Sing,” he said as he reached out and took a bottle that held milk in it, off a crate that set next to him.

“I was.” Marcy answered as she walked over to where Hoss was sitting on the back of his legs working with the calf. “He didn’t need my help anymore though, and I decided to come out here.”

Hoss couldn’t help but smile. None of the women he’d ever courted ever wanted to come out to the barn with him. Oh sure, they hadn’t talked bad about him for doing it; they knew he had to and that it was part of his work and the life out here. Still, they’d made it clear that ‘stuff like dealing with calves and such could be left up to the men’. Also, he could see a look of someone who wanted to be a part of what he was doing only they were afraid to ask.

“Do you want to feed him?” Hoss asked and then chuckled as Marcy’s eyes widened in surprise.

“You’d let me feed the calf?” She couldn’t stop the hope she felt from showing in her eyes.

Hoss chuckled again and moved just enough to allow Marcy to kneel down beside him. Soon he was showing her how to hold the calf. Before she knew it, Marcy found herself feeding the young animal. She laughed to see how eagerly the young calve was sucking on the bottle. Without half thinking, she exclaimed, “He’s so cute, Hoss! How could anyone just turn their backs on him without trying to help him?”

Hoss couldn’t help but smile even wider as he heard those words and watched Marcy feed the calf. “I drove my parents crazy with all the stray cats and dogs I would bring home over the years.” Marcy’s words from the evening before rang once more in his ears. He couldn’t help it; he started laughing.

Marcy was puzzled, and a little upset, what had she said that was so funny? She wasted no time in demanding to know what Hoss was laughing at. He quickly explained and added, “I was just imagining’ what they’d have done if you brought this here fella into their house!” Hoss laughed again only this time Marcy was laughing just as hard.

“They’d have had a cow!” She said without thinking. The comment, even though it had not been meant as a literal answer, had the two roaring with even more laughter.

Ben and Adam, who had just walked out of the house, could hear their laughter coming from the barn; it was that loud. While they had no clue as to what was so funny, they did know they hadn’t heard Hoss laugh that loud in a long time. Well, not around any woman he hadn’t. “It sounds like they’re getting along.” Adam threw his father a grin, though his eyes still held some reservation in them.

Ben, who felt a warm feeling fill his entire being, nodded. “It would seem so. I hope things will work out for them. So far, it seems like Marcy’s a godsend for your brother.”

“Me too,” Adam answered and then changed the subject. “I’m going to check on Asa and Phil,” the two men were cowhands that had been left to work on fixing fences around the Ponderosa’s boundaries. “And, then I’ll head up to the logging camp. I should only be gone a few days; four at the most.”

“Fine,” Ben said with his mind still somewhat on the laughter coming from the barn, even if it was starting to fade away. “We’ll be waiting.” By the time Adam reached the barn the laughter in the building had stopped. Ben was half way tempted to go see what had been so funny only he resisted the temptation. He didn’t want Hoss and Marcy to think he was meddling in their affairs. He turned around and went back into the house.

Chapter Five

The music that was playing in Virginia City’s social hall rose through the air and floated through the air. Men, women and children were dancing, visiting or eating from the smorgasbord of the potluck people had contributed to. Ben sat at a table visited one of his friends while Adam danced with a young woman named Sally and Hoss danced with Marcy.

“They sure make a nice looking couple.” Hank, Ben’s friend, smiled as he watched Hoss and Marcy. “Though, I have to say, I was surprised to hear he’d gotten a wife through the want ads.”

Ben chuckled. His friend’s reaction was not out of the normal. “We all were, but she’s a nice girl.”

Hank didn’t doubt that for a moment. He then changed the subject, not that he didn’t have a dozen other things he could have talked about when it came to Hoss and the unexpected marriage. However, he was too polite to do such a thing.

While Hank might have considered it bad manners to lengthen out the conversation concerning Hoss and his new bride, others did not. As Hoss and Marcy danced, they overheard Miss Abigail the schoolteacher and one of her visiting cousins, a red headed woman with her nose up in the air, talking. The things they said unsettled Hoss a bit, but they downright infuriated Marcy…as they were putting down Hoss and questioning her, Marcy’s, motivation in marrying him. However, Marcy totally lost it when she heard Miss Abigail’s cousin say some rather rude and hurtful things concerning Hoss; it made her furious.

Marcy let go of Hoss, whirled around and marched over to where Miss Abigail and her cousin was sitting. Before Hoss could stop her, Marcy was spitting fire at the two women, and she wasn’t exactly whispering. “Hoss is handsome enough and he’s one very intelligent gentleman. Also, you might want to get your eyes checked and consider buying a pair of glasses! Hoss is a human being with feelings just like the rest of us. If anyone is acting the part of a fool, it is the two of you!” Marcy would have said more only Hoss had taken a hold of her arm. She turned and looked up into his eyes. She could see embarrassment and amusement in them, along with admiration.

“They just brought out some dessert.” He told her as he nodded towards the far side of the room. “I think we best get some.”

Marcy did not fight him, though she still had a need to shock the women who had been talking so badly about her husband. That being the case, she lowered her voice and said, “I’d rather go home and have my dessert there.” The fact that her implication was not lost on the small minded women was crystal clear, as horrified expressions appeared on their faces as she and Hoss walked away.

“You know,” Hoss, who had had a hard time not laughing at the looks that had come upon the women’s face, said, “it might not be a good idea to make such comments too often. Iff’n things don’t work out the judge won’t believe nothing’s happened.”

Marcy let out a harrumph. “What was I supposed to do? Let them get away with belittling you? You’re ten times the gentleman than many men I have met.”

Hoss couldn’t help but smile. It felt good to hear his unexpected wife give him the compliment. However, it didn’t stop his concern that she’d find herself wishing she hadn’t handed women like Miss Abigail and her sister any unintended ammo. Marcy seemed to sense his concern and sighed. “I have a tendency to speak what’s on my mind, Hoss. If that bothers you, then we do have a problem.”

Hoss shook his head. “Pa always said one should say what’s on their minds, unless’n someone’s going to be unnecessarily hurt.” He paused and then said, “Thank you.”

“For what?” Marcy was confused as she couldn’t see anything she’d done to warrant any thanks. That is, until Hoss smiled and answered her question.

“For standing up against those women,” he answered as they reached the table of food. “It’s nice to know you’re not afraid of them.” He’d courted a few women who had been just that and it had been the cause of the eventual breakup of the relationship. Not because he couldn’t stand up for himself, but because their refusal to defend Hoss showed they didn’t care enough for him. At least, in he thought so.

Marcy shrugged her shoulders, as he handed her some punch. “I have little use for anyone like that. Bad mouthing others when it’s their own lives that are so pitiful; probably the reason they try so hard to pull others down to their level.”

The rest of the evening Hoss and Marcy danced or visited with his father, Adam and his girl or their other friends. By the time the dance was through, Marcy was more than ready to head back to the Ponderosa, especially since the younger brother Hoss had talked about on more than once occasion, was supposed to be arriving home. It would be nice to finally meet her second brother in law.

~oOo~

The stagecoach carrying Joe Cartwright hit yet another bump, though it didn’t matter all that much to the youngest Cartwright. Over the years, he’d grown accustomed to the bumpy rides which one always got when riding in ‘one of those contraptions’ as Hoss had put it once, while they were growing up. His mind was on the short letter Adam had sent, the one that told of another woman answering the ad Jester had placed. It might have made Joe laugh, except when he read the part where Hoss had actually married the young woman, he was too shocked too.

She’s a pretty and polite young woman who seems to love the outdoors and animals as much as Hoss does. Joe shook his head, still in a mild state of shock. In the past, he knew he would have made one smart remark after another, only he had over the past few weeks been doing a lot of thinking and decided he’d been way out of line on more than once occasion. In all fairness to Hoss, Joe sighed and promised himself to shock everyone by keeping any smart remarks he had to himself. Well, concerning the marriage he would. He wasn’t about to attempt to keep his mouth shut in all aspects at the moment. That would simply too much to ask, even if he was beginning to honestly work on himself.

Chapter Six

Marcy was sitting on the sofa mending a pair of Hoss’ trousers, when she heard the sound of horses approaching the house. Knowing her father in law, husband and Adam had gone to get some things in town, along with meeting Joe, she sat down the mending and stood up and then wasted no time going outside. Sure enough, her husband was back with his father, Adam and a young man who was wearing a green jacket.

Joe did his best not to stare. Adam had said their sister in law was pretty, not downright beautiful. “So,” Joe asked as he and the others dismounted their horses. “Is this Marcy?”

Hoss smiled as his wife walked up beside him. “Yes, it is. Marcy meet my baby brother, Joe.” Hoss had stopped using the word ‘little’ when it came to his brother’s name, unless he was teasing him over something.

“Hello, Joe.” Marcy smiled and held out her hand.

“Hello,” Joe smiled and shook her hand. “It’s good to meet you; though, I’ll admit I’m still in bit of shock. I had no idea Hoss was seriously looking for a wife. Welcome to the family.”

Hoss, who had expected Joe to make some off handed remark was astounded, but grateful the young man had refrained from doing so…and he could tell by the look in Joe’s eyes that is exactly what Joe had done.

“Hop Sing’s got a special lunch prepared.” Marcy smiled as she took a hold of Hoss’ hand. “I think we’d best get in there and wash up before he thinks no one is hungry.” She wasn’t surprised when she and Hoss were making a beeline for the front door, nor when she heard the chuckles coming from Ben and the others.

~oOo~

Marcy was sitting next to the table that sat on the porch, listening to the sounds of the night, when she heard someone approaching. She turned her head to see Joe stepping up onto the porch and walking towards her. Soon he was seated on the opposite side of the table. He surprised her when he said, “I wanted to apologize privately.”

“What for? You haven’t done a anything wrong.” Marcy said as she went back to gazing at the stars.

Joe shrugged his shoulders and answered, “But I have. When I learned of Hoss’s marriage to you, I thought a few things I shouldn’t have. You’re nothing like the women that showed up before, and you make my brother’s face light up like no one else he’s ever been with. I can tell you mean a lot to him.”

Marcy blushed at the compliment. She hadn’t expected to hear him say anything like this. “He means a lot to me too, Joe. I’ve never met anyone like him. He’s pretty special.” She went on to give Hoss high praise and acknowledged just how much it warmed her heart to see how good and gentle of a man he was.

Joe smiled. “We’ve felt that way for years; it’s good to know that you feel the same way.” He would have said more only he looked over to the side of the porch and saw Hoss looking at them. He automatically leaned backwards, an action that had Marcy whipping her head around.

“I think I best go.” Joe stood up and excused himself, saying he had things to do.

On the other hand, Marcy quickly stood up when she realized Hoss had, most likely, heard everything. She found herself holding her breath as Hoss stepped up onto the porch and walked towards her.

“Did you mean what ya said?” He asked as he kept his eyes on hers.

“I meant everything I said.” Marcy felt her heart racing as she answered his question. “Why?”

Hoss smiled as he reached out and took a hold of her shoulders. However, instead of giving her a verbal answer, he pulled her to him as he lowered his head. Marcy felt her heart skip yet again, as she wrapped her arms around Hoss the best she could and returned the kiss. For a small moment, she felt like she was in heaven. This is exactly what she’d been silently wishing for when she and Joe had been talking.

“I reckon we best leave it at that for now.” Hoss pulled back and looked into Marcy’s eyes. “You’ve only been here two months; we still have four months to go before we have ta decide.”

Marcy didn’t have to wait. Like she’d just told him; she had meant every word she said. On top of that, she knew she wanted Hoss as her husband; for real. “Why? Are you still not sure you want this marriage?”

Hoss couldn’t believe his ears. Could she really have come to a decision in such a short time? “You’re willing to be my wife fer good? You know this after only two months?” he asked, his eyes filled with a mixture of disbelief and hope.

“Why do you find that so amazing?” Marcy answered as she gazed into his eyes. “Don’t you believe in yourself?” She had a hard time accepting that notion as she’d seen the way he carried himself and the way he talked.

Hoss grinned from ear to ear, “It’s not believin’ in myself that I’m havin’ a problem with, Miss Marcy. It’s believin’ …well, it’s ….” He struggled to find words that wouldn’t send the impression she was lying to him, because he knew she wasn’t. It didn’t matter though; Marcy could tell what was bothering him.

“Hoss, I’ve known all my life what I wanted in a husband, and you have it all. Why should I wait another four months to say what I already know?” Marcy’s eyes sparkled as she reached up and touched the side of Hoss’ face.

Hoss started to tell her he didn’t think two months was long enough for her to really know for sure only to have the knowledge of a myriad of couples run through his mind, ones-like Marcy and he-whose marriages had come about due to one arrangement or the other. He pulled her to him again and lowered his head. ‘I’m sure glad she cooks good and loves the animals so much’ Hoss thought as their lips met once more.

Chapter Seven

The wind whipped through the windows of the stagecoach causing Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter to button up the last few buttons on their coats. The couple had, upon receiving an invitation to the formal wedding of their daughter to Hoss, had traveled out west…in spite of Mr. Carpenter’s mild protests over the event. He had seen no reason for a second ceremony when Marcy and ‘this Mr. Cartwright’ were already married.

Mrs. Carpenter, a blondish woman with a tad of gray starting to appear, turned to her husband. “She is our daughter, Peter. We need to be just as supportive of her as we have been with our other children.”

“Our other children did not come out to this… this wilderness.” Peter replied. He, like other men, had dreams for his children and none of his had ever included having any of his live so far away…and in a place he did not approve of.

Having been married to her husband for close to thirty-five years, Mrs. Carpenter had seen past the front he put up shortly after Marcy had boarded the train to come out west. “She’s not a little girl anymore, dear. She’s a full grown woman who has a mind of her own. She has made her choice and, while I don’t like it either, we still need to give her our support.” Then, thinking on the things her husband had speculated on when it came to their new son-in-law, she shook her head. “We’ll do wrong if we don’t give him a chance. From the sounds of it, Marcy is heads over heels in love with him. You know as well as I do our daughter has always been picky when it comes to men.” That was the main thing that had helped Marcy’s mother to decide to support her daughter; the young woman hadn’t looked at just anyone.

“I know.” Mr. Carpenter, who was looking out the window, sighed as he thought over the last few months. He’d been so shocked to learn from his daughter that she’d decided to answer an advertisement from a total stranger, one that stated the gentleman was looking for a bride. With so many young men interested in Marcy, Mr. Carpenter failed to see the necessity of answering the ad. Though, the more he thought on it, the more he knew that had that had only been a small portion of his overly strong objection. One memory after another ran itself through his mind.

“Look father!” five year old Marcy called out to her father as she climbed upon some boulders that sat guarding a small portion of the coast line that ran along Maryland’s line and began ‘dancing’. The sight had her father smiling from ear to ear.

“Look father!” Ten year old Marcy picked up a starfish that had been washed up on the coastline and was looking at it. “It’s shaped funny, bet I could make it look more like a horse.”

“A horse?” Mr. Carpenter laughed. “That would take some doing.”

Those had been the days, the days before Marcy had started showing more and more interest in something other than the Maryland coastline and her family. Maybe his wife was right; maybe the majority of his problem was he didn’t want to give his daughter up to a man who lived well over a thousand miles away, in a place so unfamiliar. Maybe, just maybe, the truth was he needed to know his little girl had not made a huge mistake.

~oOo~

“It will be fine, you’ll see.” Hoss, who lay in the huge mahogany bed that had been especially made for him, pulled Marcy even closer to him. They’d been sharing a room ever since he’d first kissed her out on the porch. His wife had been more than nervous since receiving word that her parents were indeed coming out to witness the renewal of her and Hoss’ vows. “Yer parents letter said they’d both come to the ceremony, and they didn’t say anythin’ rude in the letter.” Hoss kissed the top of Marcy’s forehead. He took that as a good sign and prayed that he was right. He didn’t like seeing Marcy this unsettled.

Marcy wanted to trust that her parents were simply coming to the wedding. Still, a small part of her feared that, after the way her father had reacted before, he would be the cause of a few small waves before the second ceremony began. “Mother wrote the letter; she’s never rude about anything.” The woman wasn’t. In fact, many said Mrs. Peterson was too polite for her own good, not that the remarks bothered Marcy any. She thought her mother was just fine the way she was.

Hoss remembered the conversations they’d had of her father. He had to admit that a part of his blood boiled at the way the man had acted towards Marcy’s decision to come out west. Still, he also recalled his own father saying more than once that, if he’d been blessed with any girls, he’d be might overprotective of his daughters too. “We just gotta remember Pa’s gotta be right; yer Pa probably reacted out of fear fer you. After all, parents only want what’s best fer their children.”

Marcy still found herself wondering what her father would say and do once he got there; she snuggled even closer to her husband and rested her head against his chest. “So I’ve heard. I just wish,” her voice went softer as she practically whispered “I just wish he’d trust me.”

Hoss felt his heart go out to his wife. She was a good woman; he hated seeing her hurt…and she was hurting over her father’s apparent lack of trust in her judgment. Lifting her chin up, making it so he could look into her eyes, he smiled. “I think yer pa’s problem has less to do with trustin’ you and more with not wantin’ ta lose you.” Hoss said quietly as he closed what little space was between them and started kissing her with all he had. That did it. Any conversation concerning her parents vanished as the two of them lost themselves in each other.

Chapter Eight

Hoss walked out of the house to find Mr. Carpenter leaning against the fence that surrounded his family’s home. The gentleman and his wife had arrived the day before. While he and his wife had been polite enough, it was all Hoss could do to be polite as the man did indeed have a rather arrogant attitude about him. It was only reminding himself of the things he and Marcy talked about after consummating their marriage that kept Hoss from losing his temper. Now, with time to think about things, for Marcy’s sake, he had to try to get through to the man, to get the gentleman to see what his actions were doing to any relationship he wished to have with his daughter.

“Beautiful morning,” Hoss said as he walked up beside Peter Carpenter and rested his arms on the top of the fence.

“Yes, it is.” Peter admitted grudgingly, not wanting to admit he hadn’t expected it to be anything to like what he now saw.

Hoss took a deep breath and started talking, though he kept his face forward. “Pa says that the smallest hole in the side of a boat can, eventually, destroy the whole ship.” He wasn’t surprised when his father in law’s eyes widened in surprise, probably because he hadn’t expected to hear any of the Cartwrights talk about ships. “Adam’s grandfather was a captain of a ship for years. Pa sailed with him for awhile, before and after he was married to Elizabeth.”

“He did?” Peter asked this time the surprise could be heard in his voice.

“Yep,” Hoss nodded, “but, as much as he liked the sea, he had a different dream. After Adam’s mother died, his father in law encouraged my Pa to follow his dream. The two still have a solid friendship after all these years. However,” Hoss finally turned to look at Peter, who was looking rather uncomfortable, “it’s only that way because Abel Stoddard accepted that my father’s dream was different than his and supported him in it. Iff’n he’d done different and fought against him, it would have destroyed the relationship.”

Peter sucked in his breath, as he realized where this conversation was heading. At first he tried to justify his actions. “Marcy isn’t a man who’s been out on her own for awhile. She’s a young girl who’s never been away from Maryland before now.”

Hoss shook his head. “She’s a grown woman with a mind and a dream of her own. And iff’n you refuse to see that, you’ll lose her.”

“I’ve already lost her.” Peter answered quietly.

Hoss shook his head again, “No ya aint, she’s still yer daughter and loves you very much, only you’ve hurt her. You’ve questioned her judgment and withheld your support. Now,” he stood straight up, “I might be a giant of a man,” he said, quoting Mr. Carpenter from the day before, “Only I’d never purposely hurt your daughter in anyway. Only question now is what about you? That hole you’ve created is small right now. Ya can fix it iff’n you want to, but I reckon if you keep it up that hole will be wider and wider until it kin’t be fixed.”

Mr. Carpenter had shock waves go through him as he had never fully accepted that possibility only, he had to admit, Hoss was right. His actions were driving a wedge between him and his daughter. “I don’t know that she’ll listen to me now.” He finally said as he looked back towards the house.

Hoss smiled. “She’ll listen.” He knew she would as he’d gotten her word on the exact notion already.

Peter went to say something else, only to turn slowly and walk towards the house. He hoped his son in law was right as he hated the idea of his daughter never speaking to him again.

~oOo~

Marcy was standing in front of the full length mirror that sat in the corner of her and Hoss’ bedroom when a knock came on the door. She just knew it was her father again and she felt herself tensing up. “Only for your sake, Hoss,” she whispered before calling out that the door was open. Sure enough, while her back was facing the door, she could still see her father step into the room…the mirror showed her that.

“May I help you?” While she did her best to sound polite, the question came out just abrupt enough to tell Peter that Hoss had not been lying; there was a hole in ‘the boat’. Inwardly, the man sighed.

“I wanted to apologize.” Peter wasn’t surprised to see his daughter whirl around and stare at him. He knew it was because he’d never apologized for anything. “I never should have questioned you. You’ve become an amazing woman with her own dreams. I, I just didn’t want to lose you.”

Marcy eyes filled with a few tears as she felt her heart skip a beat. She hurried to embrace her father. “You will never lose me; I will always be your daughter.” She and he then began talking, and they continued talking for a solid hour before going downstairs to join her mother and Hoss’s family for lunch. Marcy just knew the ceremony the next day was simply going to be beautiful and special now. Sure enough by noon the following day wagons filled the Cartwright yard and guest were sitting in every available chair.

“You ready?” Peter opened the door and asked, after he’d knocked and invited to enter.

“As ready as I’m ever going to be. You’d think I wasn’t already married.” Marcy turned around, causing Peter to suck in his breath as he saw the pure white, dress which hung to the floor and fan out in all directions. With the exception of the lacy collar, there was nothing overly fancy about the dress only it fit her extremely well. Hoss had insisted that Marcy wore white ‘as white symbolizes you’ve already proven to be a pure and virtuous woman’. Okay, while Hoss was very intelligent, Marcy still suspected those words were borrowed from Adam only she wasn’t about to say so.

Peter smiled and gave his daughter a hug, and whispered, “You’re husband is a lucky man.” He then escorted her out of the room, down the stairs and led her to Hoss while the music played. As he stepped aside, Peter Carpenter had to admit, Hoss and Mary made one very nice looking couple.

The End

 

A/N: This was never intended to be a very long story or one with filled with a lot of drama. It was always meant to be a simple, short, romance. Though, I am hoping at some later date to write a longer story with Hoss and Marcy.

A/N I refer to Little Joe simply as Joe. I never have cared for the ‘little’ part of his name.

 

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Author: Tauna Petit-Strawn

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