No Man Wants to Be Bossed (by Robin)

adam, ben

Summary:  This stand alone story is related to, but separate from, a novel-length work.
Rating:  K+
Word Count:  2907

“Did your brothers finally leave?” Ben Cartwright called to his son Adam as he came into the house. Ben had heard both of his younger sons’ voices calling “good bye” and the sounds of horses leaving the yard as he worked at his desk. He certainly knew Hoss and Little Joe had departed but he asked Adam anyway.
“Finally! I got them set and on their way,” Adam answered. He hung his hat on the hook near the door and coiled his gun belt on the sideboard. “If I hadn’t watched what they were doing, the two of them would have forgotten half their gear and the map.”
“Most men and all younger brothers hate bossing,” Ben observed gently. Adam followed his father’s voice and strode across the room.
“Sons too,” Adam grumbled softly to himself.
“What was that you said?” Ben asked.
“I was just agreeing with you, Pa.” Adam chuckled. He strolled over to his father’s desk.
“Hoss and Little Joe are going to do that entire job on their own? Without you pitching in?” his father called from the other side of the house.
“I got them to take on the job without me.” Adam explained.
“Really?” Ben looked surprised. “Didn’t Joe and Hoss realize that marking all that timber up on Burn Ridge is a mighty big job that would take quite a long time? It’s not a one or two day job. They won’t be finished for nearly a week. Does that means only you will be going to Carson City with me?”
“You and I will be enjoying the party and gloriously representing the Cartwright family at the party! Just you and me. We haven’t been to the Havermeyers in quite a long time.”
“It will be wonderful to see Richard after all these years. No one entertains like the Havermeyer do!” Ben agreed. Then he adeptly steered the conversation in the direction he intended from the beginning. “I can’t believe you got your brothers to do that job the way you wanted them to do it.”
“You’ve got to learn how to out figure them, Pa.” Adam smugly pointed out.
“Figure them out? What in the world do you mean, son? “Ben asked innocently.
 “Sometimes it involves rewarding them or a bit of downright bribery.”
“Bribery? What did you give them?” Ben leaned back in his green leather desk chair.

“I told them they could take a few days off when they get back as long as they finish marking the timber on all of the entire slope.”
“All of the slope? All of Burn Ridge? That’s quite a large section.” Ben responded. “That might take more than a week. Maybe even two.”
Adam shrugged. “I know that and you know that but I don’t think Hoss and Joe thought it was too big a job after I sold them on it.”
“Adam! What on earth did you do?” Ben asked. He put down his pencil and stared at his eldest son in amazement.
 “You have to make a man think he’s doing what HE wants and it’s all completely and utterly his own idea.”
“His own idea you say?”
“And you need to flatter him.”
“Flatter him? You flattered your brothers to make them do the job?” Ben had a shocked look on his face. “Quite clever! You are a pretty smart fellow.”
Adam smiled and shrugged.” Thank, Pa.”
As if on cue, Hop Sing came into the room carrying a tray with a fresh pot of coffee and cups and set it down on the corner of Ben’s desk. “You want pie? Pie still in oven. I bring pie when done.”

“Thank you Hop Sing,” his boss said. “And some more cream for the coffee too. Adam likes cream in his coffee.”
“What kind of pie, Hop Sing?” Adam asked. The sweet fragrance wafting from the kitchen made his mouth water.
“Blueberry! Your father said make blueberry pie. He said number one son likes blueberry. Favorite son’s favorite pie.” Hop Sing answered over his shoulder as he walked towards the dining room. “I make blueberry pie. I make fresh coffee and more cream.”

“Blue berry pie is your favorite, Adam,” Ben pointed out. “I figured with all the hard work you were doing, you deserved a fine treat.  Bring us some pie when it is ready, Hop Sing. And a nice big slice for my handsome and ingenious oldest son.”
The cook nodded. He smiled as scurried back to the kitchen. His boss was very clever, very crafty. The father was still smarter than his sons, even number one son.
“Now what were you saying about getting your brothers to do extra work? Flatter him? Joe? Or Hoss?”
“Both or either” Adam bragged. “I’ll tell Hoss how strong and hardworking he is or tell Little Joe that he is really far more intelligent than I am and by far the truly best looking of all of us. Absolutely the handsomest by far.”
“And that gets them to do the job? That’s brilliant. You are really smart! Truly a genius!” Ben smiled. “Smart and good looking too. A dangerous combination with the ladies, right son?”

“Usually,” Adam bragged. He winked at his father who winked back. They both laughed.
“What happens if flattery and bribery don’t work?” Ben Cartwright asked. He sifted through the stack of papers on his desk until he found the page he needed that had the specifications of the horses the Cavalry was hoping to buy. He had no doubt all this tedious paperwork and writing of contracts would be off his back very shortly. He was no old fool even thought his sons sometimes thought so.
 “But I have one last strategy that always works.”
“And what’s that, Son?” Ben inquired as if he had no idea.
“I tell them there is no way the task can be done…. That whatever the job is has to be totally and absolutely impossible to do and Hoss and Joe always bite on that bait and I just reel them in.”
“Reel them in like a …”
“Like a trout..” Adam laughed.

“Really? Totally and absolutely impossible. They rise to the challenge? Bite on the bait? That’s a grand strategy, Son! You challenge them to do the impossible and they bite on it?” Ben raised his eyebrows in amazement. He hoped he wasn’t over acting. “Very clever, Adam! I can’t believe you can put that over on them.” He shuffled the papers on his desk from one pile to another and sighed.

“Usually,” said Adam.
His father sighed again and muttered something about all the paper work being impossibly difficult. “What was it you were saying, Son?”
“I said that sometimes I have to sweeten the pot and get them to bet on the job.” Adam explained.
“What sort of betting? With cards?” Ben shook his head and seemed a bit confused on what his oldest son was describing. He wrote down some figures in his ledger and sighed again. He shuffled through some papers as if he was searching for something. “How do you boys play cards without your old Pa noticing?”
“No, Pa. Not with cards!” Adam laughed. He couldn’t believe his father wasn’t following his drift. Perhaps he was getting old, losing his edge.  “I wager that they can’t get the chore done in a set amount of time or point out that the task is totally impossible.”
“Totally impossible? Dice?” Ben couldn’t believe he was playing this game of cat and mouse and winning so easily. Adam was such an easy mark.
“Not dice, Pa.” Adam laughed. He was amazed to discover that his father who he admired more than any other man in the world was so naïve and a seemed bit confused. Was Ben Cartwright finally slowing down?
“Then how do you outwit those sneaky brothers of yours?”  Ben glanced down at the papers on his desk and moved a few from one pile to the other, counting the pages out loud. He was hoping to get this paper work done before midafternoon if he was going to leave for Carson City early in morning. An afternoon nap and a relaxing dinner would be just perfect. He was looking forward to the celebration at the Havermeyers home for months. The youngest Havermeyer son, Richard was returning from completing college and a yearlong trip to Europe.  “Flattering and gambling and what was the other, Son?”

“Challenging them. “ Adam repeated. “It always works.”
 “Challenging them always works? Always? “Ben smiled up at Adam who was standing next to the desk.
“Sure!” Adam grinned proudly.
Without looking away from the papers on his desk, Ben gestured at the chair beside the desk.  “Sit down and tell me how you do it, Son. I hope you don’t mind if I keep at this complicated paper work while we talk.”
Adam slid into the chair and leaned back in it. “What do you want to know?”
“How does that work, Son. What do you do? I’m not quite clear.”
“Well, Pa, “Adam started. He leaned back in the chair and made himself more comfortable. He took a sip of his coffee and rested his cup on his father’s desk.  “I take them off guard. Sort of unaware. Play at being a weak adversary. How are those contracts going?”
“Contracts? Awful! I can’t seem to make heads or tails out all the details. I certainly hope I’m able to get this paper work done today or you will be the only one able to go to Carson City for that party at the Havermeyers. What was it you said about taking your brothers off guard?”
“I put it to them when they aren’t watching,” Adam answered. He picked up the top page of the contract and started to read it. “Sort of distract them.”
“Like when they are all relaxed?” They heard a clatter in the kitchen and the oven door slam shut. Both of them paused, the conversation diverted by the unexpected commotion in the quiet house. ”That pie should be ready soon. Doesn’t it smell grand? “
Adam’s mouth watered as he inhaled the delicious fragrance of fresh blueberry pie. “What were we saying?”
“So you get them all relaxed and distracted?” his father responded. “You must be hungry.”
“Indeed. I begin by telling them the job is far too tough for me and totally impossible for them and then they try to prove me wrong. They fall for it all the time.”
“All the time? And you said your brothers hate being bossed?” Ben looked down and made a few more entries in his ledger and then added up the numbers. “I sure hate doing this book work. And this contract is driving me totally mad.” He rubbed his forehead and sighed. Then he looked at one of the papers on his desk and shook his head and frowned. He thumbed through another the stack on the right corner of his desk and then, shuffled the pile on the left.

“No one likes to be bossed, Pa. A man likes to think he is doing what he wants to do on his own.” Adam answered. He stretched out his long legs and smiled smugly.
“So true. Very wise. I wish the book work came as easy to me as it does to you, Son.” Ben sighed and shuffled the papers around his desk. He sighed. He squinted as he looked for a particular document and rubbed his eyes. “All these figures are straining my eyes. Do you think I need glasses?”
“Really?” Adam was a bit surprised at what his father said. Ben Cartwright had organized the accounting system and the records for the Ponderosa and took pride in its efficiency and accuracy. Maybe his father was getting older and his eyes weren’t as sharp as they used to be. Or could his mind be clouding? “Pa are you ok?”
“Sure, fine! It’s just taking so long to pull these figures together by myself. It really is so easy for you. You certainly have a special knack for it… Never you mind, I’ll try to get it all done. I’ll struggle along. What were you saying about getting your brothers to do those jobs? Is that how you got them to go up there for a few days? Is that how you get your brothers to do work around the ranch? That is awfully conniving.” Ben silently made four stacks of the papers and then divided each into two more.
Adam shrugged. “Pa, do you want me to work up those figures for you? Write up the contract specifications?”
“And write this impossible bid and the timber contract too? It’s really too difficult for me and we are coming up on the submission deadline.” Ben asked as if he didn’t know what the outcome of his request would be.
“I’d be glad to give you a hand if you need, Pa,” Adam immediately offered. He pulled his chair closer to the desk. “All of it.”
“But Adam!” Ben protested. “Are you sure you can handle it? All this has me totally bamboozled!”


“Totally bamboozled. Overwhelmed completely and totally and thoroughly. I can’t imagine you can get all of this done today,” Ben shook his head mournfully. Ben looked past Adam and saw Hop Sing quietly standing in the dining room holding a large tray with two slices of pie, a fresh pot of coffee and all the fixings. He shook his head quickly and held up one hand, signaling to Hop Sing to wait for a moment before bringing in the refreshments.
Hop Sing nodded and remained silently in the shadows just like an actor waiting off stage for his cue to enter, just as Mr. Cartwright had directed him.
“Really? You are overwhelmed? ” Adam was amazed that his father was having such a rough time with such a tedious, but routine task. Totally oblivious to Hop Sing’s silent presence in the adjoining room behind him, Adam assumed his father’s head shaking and hand waving were somehow directed to the stacks of papers and ledgers chaotically scattered across his desk. He figured his poor, weary old father was wishing the confusing task would somehow magically disappear with a wave of his hands.
“Do you want me to give you some help with this, Pa?” Adam generously offered.
“Oh! I shouldn’t dump all this on you, son! It’s much too much for you to do!” Ben shook his head plaintively. Behind Adam, Hop Sing rolled his eyes and stifled a laugh.
“I can do it, Pa! I can get it all done this afternoon,” Adam recommended. “My pleasure!”
“Your pleasure? By this afternoon?” Ben played the line out just enough before he reeled in his fish. “It’s not too much for you? I couldn’t dump all this on you! It’s so much and so complicated.”
“It would be my pleasure. I insist, Pa! Please, let me do it” Adam begged.
“I guess I’ll just have to turn it over to you, Son,” Ben slowly stood up and offered Adam the desk chair. Adam sat down and immediately started working on the ledger.
“Thank you, son!” Ben said as walked away from the study towards the dining room. ”And one more question…”
“Yes?” Adam looked up from the account ledger where he was meticulously transferring the figures on the financial transactions onto another page for the bid estimate.  
“I can’t imagine where you learned such a clever strategy to get your brothers to mark all that timber up on Burn Ridge so the two of us can head out to the Havermeyers.”
Adam stopped his calculating a column of entries for a minute and it suddenly hit him. He looked at his father stowing one of the unneeded ledgers on the shelf. “Pa, can I ask you a question? Did you just trick me into doing this work?”
“Me? Trick you?” Ben chuckled. “Me?” Knitting his eyebrows together in an all too familiar frown, Ben stared at his son.
“Yes, Pa. Did you trick me?” Adam demanded once more.
Ben laughed, then he shrugged. “Perhaps, Adam. Perhaps.”
“Did you?” Adam demanded angrily, thoroughly embarrassed that his father had outfoxed him again. Adam Cartwright had been beaten at his own game.
“Perhaps,” Ben smiled.
“I guess you can say, I learned from the master.” Adam laughed. As if on cue, Hop Sing brought in the tray with a fresh pot of coffee and two slices of pie, one significantly larger than the other. He set the tray on the corner of the desk.
 “And don’t you forget it, Son!” Ben laughed.
“Pa, did you ever consider a career on the stage?” Adam meekly asked.
“All the world’s a stage, son…. What was the rest of that line?” Ben asked.
Before Adam could respond, Hop Sing marched into the room.  “Pie and coffee for Mr. Adam! Coffee and pie!” Hop Sing announced. Then he handed Adam the plate holding the larger slice of pie.
“As you said, I learned from the master.” Adam inhaled the mouthwatering fragrance of the warm blueberry pie and took a forkful.
Don’t take too long on that pie, Son. You have a lot of work to do if we are going to go to all those festivities at Havermeyers.” Ben smiled.
The End

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Author: profrobinw

6 thoughts on “No Man Wants to Be Bossed (by Robin)

  1. This was a fun story. It was great seeing Adam being played by his father like he played his brothers. What a twosome Adam and Ben make. It was hard to tell who was thee better actor. Loved this story. very pleasant reading. Thanks

  2. LOL! That was good. Poor Adam got played by his father in his own game! If Hoss and Joe ever figure out they’ve been outsmarted, both Adam and Ben will have to pay the price!

  3. Oh that was good!!! That wily old pirate, and Adam is a chip off the old block. Hoss and Joe won’t ever stand a chance unless they pay more attention to the masters.

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