For Diane (by BettyHT)

Summary:  While in Waycross, someone told me that my stories are too long because she only reads the shorter stories.  She gave me a prompt for a shorter story, and here is the result:  A broken plate and a dropped plate lead to lessons learned.

(WC = 1090) Rating = PG


For Diane

“What in tarnation is going on here? I didn’t raise my sons to be savages. There is no excuse for damaging property like this. What happened here?”

With hands on hips and his brows lowered, Ben Cartwright stood at the end of his dining room surveying his oldest and youngest sons squared off against each other. Adam’s fury was evident with his chest still heaving from having chased his younger brother to the dining room and having knocked the plate out of Little Joe’s hands that he had used to try to dissuade his brother from hitting him. It had been that last action that Ben had witnessed as he entered his home. Standing only a few feet from Adam, Little Joe was less winded having mainly dodged his brother and thrown things. He stood there wary of his older brother’s anger but reasonably confident that Adam would no longer do anything now that their father was present. He was correct on that count. Nor would Adam respond to his father’s demand because it meant repeating what had caused his anger to erupt. Instead, he turned and left the house despite his father’s demands that he stay and answer for his actions.

“Do not walk away from me, boy! I’m still your father and I have a right to know how you thought you could destroy one of your mother’s plates like that.” His anger grew when Adam not only refused to halt but didn’t even acknowledge his command.

Suddenly Little Joe realized the significance too of what had happened. However instead of blaming himself for pulling up the plate from the table to use for defense or for accepting responsibility for starting the altercation in the first place with the things he had said, he got angry with Adam. “Yeah, he smashed one of my Mama’s plates. What are you going to do to him for that, Pa? He really ought to get a good tanning for that, shouldn’t he?”

“Joseph, I can’t do that however much I would like to do exactly that sometimes. He’s twenty-three years old.” Frustrated by his inability to deal with Adam, Ben turned his attention to his youngest, eleven-year-old Little Joe who held the keys to what had happened. “Now, what made Adam so angry with you that he would do that?”

“Oh, you know how he gets so mad when I tease him. I was teasing him, and he lost his temper again. He really ought to do something about that temper of his, don’t you think, Pa?”

“Yes, I suppose he does, but you could do well not to tease your brother knowing how angry that makes him. Now, don’t you have chores to do?”

“I thought I would wait until Adam left before I went outside to do them.”

Nodding with the wisdom of that, Ben moved to his desk to work. “Get a broom from Hop Sing and clean up that mess.” It was only minutes later that he heard Adam ride out on his new horse. He reminded Little Joe then to go do his chores. A short time after that, Hop Sing stood next to him holding a plate. Ben looked up expectantly wondering why he was there with an empty white plate when Hop Sing dropped the plate letting it shatter into many pieces.

“Hop Sing, why did you do that?”

“Yes, you ask why. That show respect for Hop Sing. It good question, but you not ask son that question. You only challenge him. You need to ask why. Number one son know something that number three son need yet to learn. You need to find that answer too.” Hop Sing turned then and walked to the kitchen having done all he could to prod the father into doing what needed to be done.

After a moment’s reflection over what had happened earlier, Ben grabbed his hat and gunbelt and headed to the stable to saddle up Buck. Little Joe asked where he was going and got worried when he said he was going to go talk with Adam about that morning.

“Pa, maybe we need to talk about that too.”

“Maybe we do need to talk about that too, but we’ll do that when I get back. You can think about what you’re going to say while I’m gone.”

With that, Ben rode out. He found Adam hard at work a short time later. Working hard at pulling brush from a ravine to clear a waterway, Adam didn’t acknowledge his father’s arrival. “I suppose I deserve that snub. I am sorry about my reaction earlier and about how I addressed you. I would like to start over. Would you please tell me why that happened earlier with your little brother? I’m afraid that his version of events left out important information.”

Looking down at the ground, it was clear that Adam didn’t want to talk about it. Somehow Ben knew that whatever had been said embarrassed him or made him uncomfortable.

“Whatever is said here will not be repeated by me to anyone without your permission.”

Ben’s intuition on that was correct, and it opened the door for Adam to talk.

“I’m seeing a girl in town. I really like her. She’s fun, cute, and she’s smart. Her name is Diane. When I’m with her, I smile. She’s very nice and she’s a respectable girl.” Adam then repeated the things that Little Joe had said. “Pa, you always taught us to be respectful of women. He wasn’t and I wasn’t going to listen to him say any more of that. You came in right then. I am sorry about the plate, but I was so upset, I wasn’t thinking about the plate.”

“Son, I can understand that. When I get home, your younger brother won’t be thinking about that either. You can be assured that he will not be saying anything disrespectful about women again. That lesson is going to be driven home forcefully if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, Pa, I remember those lessons of yours. And Pa, thank you.”

“And I have to go thank Hop Sing too. He and a dropped plate taught me a bit about being a father today too.”



Tags:  Adam Cartwright, Ben Cartwright, Joe / Little Joe Cartwright


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Author: BettyHT

I watched Bonanza when it first aired. In 2012, I discovered Bonanza fan fiction, and started writing stories as a fun hobby. I have hundreds of stories now. If I am unavailable and anyone needs permission to post one or more of my stories on a site such as Bonanza Brand, AC1830 and/or Mo1427 are authorized to give permission in my absence.

18 thoughts on “For Diane (by BettyHT)

    1. Thank you so much. It was so short that I had the whole story in my head before I started writing so it wasn’t that difficult to do.

  1. Thank you for this lovely story and for not taking offense when I said that I really liked shorter stories. 🙂

    1. Of course. I love having readers, and I know that more readers like shorter stories than long ones. I got a lot more comments by writing a short one which I wrote in one hour than I get for the long ones that take so much more effort. It was fun all around, and I am so pleased that you liked your story. Send a prompt any time you like.

  2. A lovely short story Hop Sing is very wise and he shows us all we should think first before getting angry Ben learned a valuable lesson. short or long I have enjoyed all the stories I have read that you have wrote

    1. Thank you so much. Yes, when we lose our temper it is good to have cooler heads prevail and remind us to think about what we need to do. Hop Sing played his role to perfection.

  3. Great little story Betty. You have the talent to give us some big family lessons in a short little story. Hop Sing is so underestimated by the family for his wisdom. Thankfully Ben learns his lessons quickly to set the family right again.

    1. It’s fun to find ways to show how important Hop Sing is to the family. This prompt made me think of how Hop Sing was observant and wise, but most important of all, he cared for all members of the family wanting the best for them.

  4. Really enjoyed the story, an entertaining snippet from the Cartwright family album. So like life, it is the retaliation that is punished rather than the instigator. We could all take heed of that lesson. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Yes, it is often the retaliation that is seen and it takes some investigation to find out why it occurred. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  5. Your stories are not to long. Most short stories are rushed and don’t have enough depth to bring the story to life. I am not saying this is not a good story, I just prefer long stories. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

    1. I didn’t take the comment as a criticism. Some readers simply prefer shorter stories which I rarely do. I’m very happy that you like the long stories as that is my preference for writing.

  6. Let’s hope Ben remembers to ask “why” of number 3 son as well before “forcing” a lesson.

  7. Ah yes the time honored tradition of the younger finding the means to embarrass the older who then does something stupid and is then left trying to explain and embarrass themselves further.

    1. Yes, but thankfully, Hop Sing intervened and Ben found the way to help his older son. The younger son probably was not so comfortable with the solution.

  8. Oh, I really liked that, Betty, and a great comeback to the criticism–you can write any size story and always prove it! This was a great story between the family members and I just loved Hop Sing’s involvement, what a wise man who never was shown having a big enough say in family problems.

    1. Oh, I didn’t take it as a criticism. It was stating a preference, and I took it as a challenge to myself. I don’t usually think of small story ideas so it was a good thing for me to try to do. i’m glad you liked the result.

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