Summary: Paschal Musings from the Ponderosa.
Rated: T WC 1250
Ben Cartwright was weary: the coming of spring meant more and more jobs to be done around the Ponderosa: pastures to be tended, stock to be checked and then moved to richer grazing, fence mending, line shacks to be replenished and repaired – the list seemed never ending. And on top of all this, Easter was approaching. The Giggly Sisters couldn’t just be content with an Easter Egg hunt – that was far too simple. They were insisting on rolling their eggs down a hill, which appeared to be some strange Scottish tradition.
There was an enticing smell coming from the kitchen, but Ben only sighed. Ever since Shrove Tuesday, Hoss had been insisting on having pancakes with lemon juice and sugar for breakfast and he was fed up with this.
“Hop Sing!” he bellowed in the stentorian tones that had earned him the sobriquet ‘Voice of Canada’. “Can’t we have oatmeal for a change?”
Five pairs of reproachful eyes gazed at him. Only Paw continued snuffling in the sugar bowl.
“What’s wrong with oatmeal?” he demanded. “Isn’t it Scottish enough for you?”
The redhead favoured him with one of her searching gazes. “We don’t eat porridge, even when it calls itself oatmeal,” she informed him in implacable tones.
The blonde smiled sweetly at Ben and decided to pour a little oil on troubled waters. “I do like your aubergine shirt! It’s very in keeping with the Lenten season.”
Hoss looked at her in shock. “I don’t hold with all that Lenten fasting,” he proclaimed. “T’aint right to expect a growing man not to have eight square meals a day.”
Ben ignored this little sally and addressed himself to the blonde in a vain attempt to have a sensible conversation, although he didn’t really hold out much hope.
“I’m rather fond of this colour myself. Mind you, I used to have this lovely peacock blue shirt, but I haven’t seen it for ages.”
Joe finished his pancake and added “I used to have a really nice jacket in a sort of bluey-grey …”
The sisters sighed in unison, “The little blue jacket!”
Adam gave Joe a sideways look. “He looked like Peter Rabbit in that!” he commented, seemingly to no one in particular. Joe bristled with indignation.
“I suppose I should be grateful you didn’t mistake me for a bunny and shoot me accidentally-on-purpose!”
Adam gritted his teeth, exercised great constraint and managed not to thump his little brother, who simply couldn’t let go of was a perfectly genuine, if somewhat unfortunate accident.
Hoss watched Adam’s jaws working away silently and said consolingly “It’s all right – we know it was a mistake.”
“I-thought-he-was-a-wolf!” Adam forced out between clenched teeth.
“That plumb don’t make sense – I ain’t never seen a wolf with curly hair! Now, if you’d a thought he was a little lamb …”
Luckily, at this point, Hop Sing beetled in, holding a platter of pancakes. “No oatmeal,” he said, quite forgetting that the cameras weren’t running, and he didn’t need to speak in that humiliating singsong accent. “All needed for making skirlie for supper.” He bustled out again, while everyone grabbed for a pancake before Hoss could scoff the lot.
Ben fastened his gaze on the sisters, who smiled at him. They just knew what the next question would be. “What exactly is skirlie?” Ben asked, in dangerous tones. He hated when he didn’t get what he wanted.
“It’s a traditional Scottish dish, which you serve with mince, or inside beef olives,” replied the redhead, cheerfully. “Or you can stuff a chicken with it, if you prefer.”
Joe beamed. He loved skirlie. “Which are we having?” he asked.
“Chicken,” replied the blonde. She had never eaten so much beef in all her life, as she had since coming to live on the Ponderosa. The redhead nodded vehemently. She was in full agreement; they ate far too much beef. What the family didn’t know was that the sisters had persuaded Hop Sing to make some traditional Chinese food for Easter. It would be such a pleasant change from all the meat and potatoes.
“Easter won’t be the same without The Great Escape to watch on television,” the blonde said mournfully. She was especially fond of the film because her hometown of Musselburgh got a name check in it. Ben made a small, tutting noise, while Adam looked down his nose in a somewhat supercilious fashion.
“That would be totally anachronistic,” he proclaimed and then returned to reading the paper, which was miraculously printed in Virginia City, yet managed to be delivered to the Ponderosa in time for breakfast.
“While riding in divided-skirts that expose their ankles and calves is perfectly in keeping with the period?” demanded the redhead. “Not to mention riding astride a horse!”
“They did ride side-saddle in The Lady from Baltimore,” Ben said, but even he had to admit that was a rare occurrence. It was so difficult to get accomplished equestriennes on the show.
Joe decided it was time to change the subject. “Why don’t we go away for a little spring break?” he suggested. “We haven’t been away for ages. In fact, we haven’t had a proper holiday since that trip to San Francisco in season one.”
Adam looked affronted. “And I wasn’t even there!”
Hoss recalled the trip. “It weren’t what you’d call the most restful of holidays. What with Pa getting’ shanghaied an’ all.”
Ben flushed: he was still rather embarrassed by his bargain basement price. “You boys have plenty of hunting trips!” he protested. “And you had that lovely break with that young lady, Adam. Wasn’t her name Ruth? You remember – you wore that leather hair band?”
“I wouldn’t exactly call what I went through in The Savage a holiday! And I had a head wound, and needed the leather band to keep the dressing in place. I didn’t get one of these self-adhesive dressings like Shorty over there wore at the end of Breed of Violence!”
Joe looked affronted, as well he might. “It was stitched on,” he protested. “And jolly sore it was, too!”
“Very fetching,” said the redhead quietly, but with her clear diction, everyone heard. Joe winked at her.
“Well, we can’t have a break right now anyway,” Ben said, with finality in his tone. “This is springtime, and there’s far too much to do on the ranch for us to go off gallivanting. But we can have a nice picnic at Easter and hope the Easter Bunny comes to visit.”
“We don’t have the Easter Bunny in Scotland,” said the blonde, with dignity. Her eyes lit up with an unmistakable gleam. “But I know one tradition we wouldn’t mind you doing again, just for us.”
“What’s that?” Ben wanted to know. He couldn’t think of a single thing that was a tradition.
However, the redhead was grinning. She knew what her sister was thinking of. “Oh, yes!” she exclaimed.
By now everyone was looking at them. Joe was grinning broadly, infected by the girls’ enthusiasm.
“You must have another wrestle in the mud,” said the blonde. “Just like in Springtime.”
The reaction was everything she could have hoped for. Ben scowled, as he recalled that hideous friend who had dropped in on them. Hoss rolled his eyes as he thought about the mule team that had started the whole thing. Adam dropped his head in his hands and groaned. Joe perked up.
“Oh yeah!” he said. “A mud fight!”
Other Stories by this Author
- The Sporting Life (by the Giggly Sisters)
- In A Matter of Speaking (by the Giggly Sisters)
- I Beg Your Pardon (by the Giggly Sisters)
- The Ranch House (by the Giggly Sisters)
- It’s a Serious Business Being Funny (by the Giggly Sisters)