Dear Son, My Son (by BettyHT)

Summary: Joe gets himself in a bit of trouble involving a romance and a jealous husband, but Adam is implicated in it too.  The entire story is told by messages mostly between the family and Adam.  Some reading between the lines is necessary because these are men communicating in writing so not all will be said directly.
Rating: T   Word count: 2,856

Dear Son, My Son

Dear Son:

Now that the contract negotiations are concluded, I do hope that you are enjoying your short visit to the city by the Bay. I would like to offer you the chance to extend your stay. You don’t often get a chance to enjoy the benefits of the theatre, the restaurants and the bookstores there as well as the chance to visit with your friends. There is a lull in the work here on the Ponderosa so this is a good opportunity for you to take some extra time and you are there already. I know how the ranch work tends to frustrate you with its repetitive tasks and the lack of challenges for you, and hopefully this time will give you some much needed respite from that.

The contracts you sent have been signed and delivered. The terms you negotiated were reasonable and something we can manage quite well. Hoss is already lining up workers to begin the cutting as soon as the weather cooperates and the company tells us they are ready to take deliveries. He’s making arrangements for the teams we’ll need so that will be settled soon too. I’ve got Joe up there setting up the work camps with a small crew so we’re in good shape.

Your loving father



Although I was delighted to receive your offer to stay longer, I wondered why this happened more or less out of the blue. Is there a reason you don’t want me coming back at this time, or am I reading something between the lines that isn’t there? I sensed a bit of tension between you and Joe the when I was home. Now you have Joe up in the timber tracts getting the camp ready which is usually Hoss’ job. Hoss is hiring men which you and Joe most often have done if I was not available. I assume because that is happening, Hoss will also be arranging for the teams that will be needed to pull the logs down the mountain. Again, that’s a job Joe usually did or helped do. For some reason, it appears you are keeping Joe away from town. Is there a reason for this or am I being too suspicious? It just seems odd especially as it seems you are also intent on keeping me away from Virginia City at the same time.

I know I’ve been told that I’m too suspicious and that I look for ulterior motives where there are none. Well, at least Joe has told me this although not quite so politely. However, I’ve had lots of time to think while I’ve been here and since I got your short letter, that’s about all I can spend my time considering. I hope it is nothing or at least nothing serious, but I would appreciate an answer that would alleviate my worry.



Dear Son

I am glad that it seems you will accept my offer to stay in the city for a time, but perhaps you are suspicious too much of why I made the offer. Don’t you think it’s a good idea for Joe to learn how to set up the timber camps and isn’t it time too for Hoss to have more experience in hiring and in securing the necessary teams. Joe will have to handle those jobs more often in the future as will Hoss. We’re all aware that someday, you will likely leave at least for a time. Your brothers need to be ready for that day, and learning the different jobs on the Ponderosa is one way of preparing.

Now, there is another possibility I am considering. I was even thinking that perhaps Joe could join you there to get a short course in meeting the bankers and brokers with whom we do business. What do you think of that?

Your loving father



I got a letter from Pa and he invited me to stay in the city for a few extra weeks at least. In fact, he didn’t even specify a time frame. It was all so reasonable and so unlike him when I’m gone and he’s usually so impatient to have me come home. He told me too about how you and Joe are splitting the work for the timber contract which seemed odd in how it was being done. I asked about that and he gave me his reasons. They were logical but somehow he never answered the question I asked which was about him keeping Joe away from town and why that was. Now, can you answer that or do you want me to come home and find out for myself? Yes, I am suspicious. You already knew that about me as does Pa so I don’t know why no one is telling me what’s going on.

Your concerned brother, Adam



I told Pa he should spell it out to you or you would be like this. Pa was real worried that if we told you what was wrong that you would come back to try to help out cause that’s what you always want to do. No, don’t you dare come back right now. It wouldn’t be a good idea at all. That part of Pa’s thinking was right. I thought though that we ought to tell you the whole truth and you would be smart enough to know it would be better if you stayed away for a time.

You see, we got a problem with a jealous husband, or rather, we got a problem with what happened to a jealous husband. You remember how Tyler Graham up and left his wife oh about a year or so ago and headed off to find his fortune or thought he would. Said he was tired of being married. Well while he was gone, our younger brother spent some time with his missus. Now, he was careful and didn’t even ride Cochise over there but rode one of the other horses, yours. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking about all of that, and you got to know I already said it to him enough, and Pa did too. He had to ride him cause nobody else could and he needed to exercise him some, but he shouldn’t have been riding him over there.

Anyway, Tyler came back about as broke as you might expect, and he found out his wife was with child, and pretty far along. He knew that baby couldn’t be his. He ain’t none too bright, but he’s smart enough to figure any man who’s gone for a year ain’t gonna find his wife just a month or so past the quickening when he gets home. Now Joe swears it ain’t his. Says it couldn’t be because things never went that far. But at some point she must have said she had spent time with a Cartwright because Tyler got all upset that the baby was a Cartwright. He came here and demanded Pa pay him money because you made a baby with his wife. I know you didn’t. Well, Pa said that was impossible. When she was getting with child, you were hurt from that fall from the house you were building and spent some time in a wheelchair. I hate to remind you of that, but you wouldn’t have been riding anywhere and certainly not bedding anybody’s wife.

No matter how the facts said it couldn’t be true, Tyler still liked to say it was you and said it often enough in town. He said people had seen your horse tied up outside his house. Then in town, somebody up and shot him on Saturday night a week ago. In his dying words, he told Roy that it was “that Cartwright who had been with his wife.” Now, you were in the city so you couldn’t have shot him, and everybody knows you couldn’t have been with his wife, but if you come back, Roy’s gonna question you. You’re going to have to be honest and say that while you were hurt, Joe was the only one who ever rode Sport. Once you say that, you might be sending Joe to the gallows. Joe was in town that night so he doesn’t have an alibi. If they think he’s the one who was with Pamela, then the next question is going to be about where he was the night Tyler got shot. Pa don’t want you to come back because he doesn’t want Roy to ask you any questions. I don’t see any way out of this right now. You’re the smart brother. Maybe you can come up with a plan. I told Pa I was going to tell you all of it. He didn’t like that, but you got a right to know it all.

Your worried brother, Hoss


Oldest Brother of Mine

I’m sorry my stupid behavior got us all in a mess like this. I swear to you like I did to Pa and to Hoss, I never did anything with Pamela Graham except kiss her one time. Yes, of course I know I should not have done that, but that was the end of me going over there too. I fell into a trap with her, and I should have been smarter. I really do know that. I was out riding your horse one day, and I came across her. She was crying about being abandoned and all, and I told her I would ride to her house with her to make sure she got home all right. I got her inside and made some coffee for her and calmed her down. Then I came back a few times to help out around the place, and well, things got too far down that road. When I realized what I was doing, I backed away completely, but she must have found somebody else. I guess that’s pretty obvious that she found somebody else, but she didn’t waste any time doing it either. For all I know, she was seeing somebody while I was helping her out. I do want you to know that I didn’t ride your horse over there to make anyone think it was you. It was stupid of course, but when I took your horse out riding, it was a convenient way to go see her without Pa or Hoss asking any questions about where I was. They just figured I was giving Sport some exercise, and I was. That’s all I did. I’m so sorry that I got you mixed up in this by doing that. Now if you could come up with a way to get my sorry behind out of this trouble, I would really appreciate it.

Your brother who is really sorry, Joe


Dear family

Thank you for finally telling me the whole story. I will stay here in the city because I cannot see any other way at this point for me to return without jeopardizing Joe. Yes, I would have to answer Roy’s questions and be honest with him. I could try to evade, but he knows me too well and is too good at his job. He would know, and we know how doggedly persistent he can be when he’s on the trail of the truth. I suppose he’s already suspicious of why I have not returned home considering what has happened, but he obviously hasn’t got enough to force me to do so.

Now, one thing none of you have mentioned and what seems obvious to me, and that is the question of who saw my horse at her house? If I recall, her house is in an area far from any road or any place that people would pass by on business normally. To me, there is only one possibility for a witness and that would be another man or other men who were seeing Pamela as well. If you consider that possibility, then the next logical thought would be that the one man who said he saw my horse there is the killer too. Think about it. It’s not too difficult to reason that out. Who else had a reason to kill Tyler except the man who wanted him out of the way so he could have his wife?

If that’s true, then Pamela may be involved in this plot too. Be very careful in what anyone says to her or asks her. This could get very messy before it’s concluded. Has anyone brought up this kind of theory to Roy? If not, it should be discussed soon. A little surveillance of the Graham home on occasion might be warranted as well as long as it isn’t Joe doing it. I wish I could help more.

One thing I never thought I would say about being in the city, but I’m getting a bit bored just lazing about and enjoying the amenities. I guess I’m the kind of man who has to feel he’s being productive. There have been a few job offers, and I plan to take one of them to keep busy until this matter can be resolved.



My son

You were right about everything. I was wrong not to tell you the truth from the beginning. We met with Roy to tell him your theory about what might have happened. We had already had some men watching the Graham house at times when a visitor might be expected, and they had reported back with exactly what you had suspected. A man was seeing her. By how he greeted her and how she welcomed him into her house, it was enough to know they were more than friendly. We didn’t get a chance to tell Roy that before he said a lawyer in town was preparing a lawsuit against us on Pamela Graham’s behalf suing us for wrongful death and asking for an exorbitant sum in compensation. When he gave us the lawyer’s name, we all had to smile which shocked him of course. Then we got to tell Roy that was the man who had been at the Graham house to see Pamela and they weren’t spending their time talking about any legal case. We discussed the whole situation, and Roy said we had to catch them more or less in a compromising situation. Just him being at her house wasn’t going to be enough to convince a jury of his guilt. You can probably guess the rest. When confronted with the evidence against him, he took full responsibility for what happened so she isn’t going to be charged with anything. No one really wants to charge her anyway and leave that baby alone. Apparently it was mostly his idea anyway. He dressed in black clothing and rode a brown horse with socks. He planned to capitalize on the rumor that Tyler had started and implicate you. They didn’t care about the criminal case. It was all about getting Tyler out of the way and then suing us to get money for the two of them. They would have left as soon as they got the money. So it is settled, and you can come home now without worry of any trouble. I miss you as do your brothers, and we hope to see you soon.

Your loving father



That is great news about Joe and the Graham matter. Working together, we got that settled. I wish you all had been honest with me from the start, but that’s in the past now. There is the future to consider.

While here, I told you that I had job offers. One of them was to work on drafting some building plans, and I accepted that work. The work was nearly finished and I only had to help review the work and help finish off some minor revisions and additions. The man who was in charge of the project is going to Australia to work on a similar endeavor there and has asked me to go with him to work as his assistant. This is such an opportunity, I cannot pass it up. To travel, to see a new continent, and to work on a building project is all so much of what I had dreamed of doing. The contract is for a minimum of a year, and then I would be free to return. I hope this is not too much of a surprise and that you can be happy for me. You have done well all this time while I’ve been gone, and I know you can continue to do so. I wish you all well, and I hope you can send your best wishes my way that I would do the same and prayers for my safe travel to the new land too.



to Adam Cartwright Carleton Hotel San Francisco STOP We are on our way STOP Please do not leave without saying goodbye STOP Will be there tomorrow if weather holds and stage is running STOP Ben Cartwright


to Ben Cartwright Ponderosa Ranch Virginia City Nevada STOP Message undeliverable STOP Guest checked out STOP Carleton Hotel


Tags:  Adam Cartwright, Ben Cartwright, Hoss 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.

26 thoughts on “Dear Son, My Son (by BettyHT)

  1. What a truly unique way of telling the story! This is the first time I’ve seen a whole story done entirely in correspondence; it’s very effective and added something to the story. Well done!

    Edited to remove ‘spoilers’ to the story.

    1. Thank you so much. Writing the story this way was a challenge to myself but ended up being fun too. I’m glad you liked the result.

      1. I wish I could remember what all I originally said so I could try to repeat it without the spoilers. I didn’t realized I’d even typed any; it sure wasn’t on purpose.
        Oh well… I still loved the story.

        1. Jenny, don’t be concerned about it. I don’t know what was removed, but it doesn’t matter. We’ve all probably done it at some point. I know I have. It’s not an intentional thing. I know sometimes I’m excited about a story and say things I later realize were spoilers. I’m happy you read the story, liked it, and took the time to write a comment. Thank you!

          1. Yeah, sometimes I get too caught up in a really good story and feel like I’m watching it and just say what I’d normally say to the TV, LOL! (What? You mean not EVERYONE talks to their TV?!?! Hmmmm!)

  2. This is a great story. Even though I hate to see Adam leave his Family, it was a good way for Adam to leave. All the letters fitted each person to the T. Thanks.

  3. Wow, Betty, this is such a whirlwind of a story! I love that the whole thing happens through correspondence. I had planned to only read the beginning and then finish this tonight but I got too wrapped up in the mystery. You did a great job and the ending certainly was a twist, both in writing and in my heart! Thanks for sharing :0)

    1. Thank you so much. I can hardly tell you how much your wonderful words meant to me about this story that I was ready to edit until my beta said to post it as it was. To have a writer of your caliber say such nice things about it is both humbling and encouraging. Thank you again.

  4. Great story. I really liked this letter format. Each one perfectly matched the character. Ben dug his hole deeper with each letter. Thank goodness Hoss set things right. At least Joe owned up but will that boy ever think first. Poor Adam, he saw the truths confirmed on printed page what he’d known for years. This was the last straw.

    1. Thank you so much. It was a bit difficult at first switching points of view but that got to be more fun as I wrote more of the story and imagined each of them and their moods when writing. Hoss did his best, but there were too many things happening that he could not change. Yes, it was a last straw not the first problem in lack of trust that had occurred, but this time there was another offer.

  5. Loved this unique way to tell a story! I would have loved to see Ben’s expression when he got that last telegram. Would he have been sad, upset, disappointed…or a combination of all of them.

    1. Thank you so much. It was unique certainly and Lizabeth helped me with the indecision I had about sticking with leaving it as it is. I’m glad I did but was unsure of it when I first posted it. As for Ben, yes all of those emotions probably as well as guilt must have assailed him.

  6. Une histoire fort bien construite, les lettres sont bien faites pour comprendre ce qui se passe dans la famille. Une idée qui fait comprendre pourquoi Adam est parti.

    1. Merci beaucoup. Au début, il était difficile de changer de point de vue d’un personnage à l’autre, mais cela est devenu plus amusant au fur et à mesure que j’avançais dans l’histoire. J’imaginais leur humeur tandis que chacun écrivait ses lettres.

    1. Thank you so much. In reading Judy Karge’s crossover story, I found out that hotel actually existed there so it was a natural to use it, and clever of you to notice too.

    1. Thank you so much for reading, and in feeling for Ben who must have felt sadness and guilt and all sorts of other pain at that last message.

  7. Oh Betty! I’m not sure why this caught me by surprise. But it did. I almost felt sorry for Ben and that’s hard for me because he’s not one of my favorite character. Really great story. It also could be a springboard for lots of new adventures for Adam. Take care and thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much. I rather did intend for the ending to be a surprise in some ways in that Adam was going to react after all that had happened. In keeping with the style of the story and the tempo, he gave back in kind.

  8. I loved this style of writing letters telling the story Betty. Joe really does get himself mixed up in some stuff doesn’t he, and unfortunately it’s usually Adam he implicates, even if it’s totally by accident! Adam was right in that the truth from the start is important and with his thinking, Pa was never going to get away with his first letter. Like how he then went to his brothers. And now, he’s off on an exciting adventure, perhaps another story developing? Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much. I was unsure of the style but an excellent beta reader helped me with that issue, and I stayed with only the letters. Only Hoss comes out of this one relatively unscathed but the whole family will feel the effects of this for quite some time. As for more stories, I don’t know.

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