Don’t take Nevada’s children for geese (by ViveAdam)

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Summary:  While dating a beautiful Irish girl, Joe is trapped

Rated: K+  WC  5300

 

Don’t take Nevada’s children for geese

 

Author’s Notes:
Warning : Virginia City’ sheriff  wasn’t all the time Roy Coffee. In season one and even in other seasons, we meet several different sheriffs. This starting stories takes place in the pre-Coffee period and the sheriff in charge isn’t very bright.
***

Joe Cartwright was proudly riding, his heart swelling with joy. The beautiful Margaret O’Connor had arranged a date with him, close to the little house situated at the end of the arched bridge, for twelve o’clock. This was the result of having been assiduous in his attentions to her for two months, even if this wooing had seemed doomed to failure until the day before

This tall and slender fair-haired girl, whose china blue eyes seemed insuperable, had arrived a few weeks ago, among an incredible tribe, a caravan of pioneers, all Irish people, all related, all noisy and quarrelsome.

Margaret’s father looked like a fox : pointed nose, eyes narrowing when he was fixing his attention on something or somebody, thick and short-cut half red, half grey hair, bushy eyebrows nearly touching his eyelids, which accentuated his crafty look. The look of a man who would not fear breaking the law from time to time, if he could find an interest to do so.

The mother, on the contrary, seemed placid and Margaret’s thick and corn coloured head of hair was coming from her, although the mother had it dressed in a bun while the daughter let her hair cover her shoulders with ringlets. This was the only point of likeness. Margaret had a pure oval shaped face, her mother’s was puffed up. Margaret had a patrician nose, her mother’s was plebeian. Margaret was a miracle of grace, her mother moved heavily as a bear.

Margaret had three brothers. Joe had approached this strange family though the intermediary of the eldest one. Thomas was invariably dressed in a black suit that made him look like a clergyman. Under the suit, he wore a blue shirt perpetually untied because he had lost all the buttons. Thomas was the deadpan type, with an unpleasant irony that had made him a reluctant loner. He liked Joe because the guy never seemed offended, so used he was to his brothers’ gibes.

Thomas was twenty-four years old, which meant four years elder than Joe. The latter would have been closer to Johnny, the second brother, who was twenty-two, but Johnny, a handsome boy, fair haired and steel blue eyed, looking like his sister, had stared at Joe scornfully and, in his mind, he had put him in the rivals’ category. To the Virginia City youths’ company, he preferred the one of his cousin, Paddy Gallagher, a raw-boned boy with fever in his glance.

Last of Margaret’s brothers, Brian was seventeen and was the perfect replica of what his father had probably been as a teenager. Although, if a totem had to be chosen for him, the weasel would have been more appropriate than the fox. Brian used to poke his nose into everything, listen to every conversation. He asked questions about everything and everybody. He had found in Joe an obliging interlocutor who was able to answer his inquiries about the whole country and his inhabitants without being surprised not to receive, in exchange, any information about the mysterious caravan and the reason why they were staying for such a long time in Virginia City, instead of going further to the West.

The family’s shady side didn’t bother Joe. He was attracted by Margaret as iron by a magnet and any mean was good to hover around the slim Irish lass. God knows, however, that she had not encouraged him. She hardly answered monosyllables to his compliments and madrigals. His father and Hoss had considerably laughed at him, happy to see, at last, the Nevada’s Don Juan held in check. Joe had been delighted about Adam’s absence. This one was temporary staying in San Francisco, dealing with some obscure lawsuit. In counterpoint with Hoss, Adam’s mockery was fearsome. It was better not to have him as a witness of his sentimental disappointments. However, to day, he regretted his eldest brother : his triumph would have been brighter with him. Later, when he would come back home with the pretty Margaret hanging at his arm, Ben and Hoss would have to surrender and admit his irresistible power of seduction. “Joe Cartwright is irresistible to women” : this was the watchword he would suspend above his bed. Hoss would be piqued to death.

Round the bend, the bridge’s arch and the little house abruptly stood out against the clear sky. Joe ran his eye around the landscape but couldn’t catch sight of the gal. Perhaps she had decided to go out of the reach of inquisitive people and hide in the unoccupied shack.Joe tied his horse to a post and pushed the shaky door. The shutters hardly let a thin shaft of light passing. It was very unlikely that the young girl was staying in the dark. And yet, he thought he had perceived a move. He made a step and received a searing hit on the nape of his neck.

When he came back to life, he was trussed up in a place that he couldn’t identify in the darkness but seemed to be a wagon.

The following morning, sheriff Auguster saw something between a starting hurricane and a buffalo bitten by a tarantula, come into his office. Broken up, Hoss Cartwright announced :“ Sheriff, Joe disappeared.”

“Calm down, Hoss, calm down ! Since when did he disappear ?”

“Since yesterday. Around eleven, he got all dressed up to the nines, rode off and never came back.”

Auguster burst in laughter : “My goodness, you’re losing your head for nothing ! My poor Hoss, you’re a bit naïve if you call “disappeared” a man who just spent a night away from home !”

Hoss became as red as a peony with anger. He caught the sheriff’s collar and began to shake him as he would have done with a refractory door.

“Joe never spent a night away from home when he wasn’t travelling. I happened, several times, to take him back across his saddle, as drunk as a lord, but he never stood outside without letting us know.”

“Let go of me” Auguster hiccoughed. Then, when Hoss released him, he asked ironically : “Never spent a night away from home ? And his affair with Julia Bulette ? Did you forget that episode ? Come on, let me alone with your brother’s elopement. I bet he’ll soon reappear, face lit up, out of a beauty’s arms. Makes me think : you’d better lurk around the Irish caravan. He’s been constantly hanging around these trumps gang, recently.”

Mad, Hoss got out not without throwing back a replica over his shoulders :“We’ll see what Pa will think of your attitude. He sent me to ask for your help. Think of it.”

As he was approaching the O’Connors’ wagon, he saw a kind of a clergyman coming to him :“Hello ! Don’t you recognize me ? I’m Thomas O’Connor. I assume you’re looking for your brother ?”

“Yes. Do you know where he is ?”

“I’m afraid I do. I should have killed him for what he did but I’ve a liking for him… Ah, it’s difficult to reconcile friendship with the sense of family !”

Hoss was concentrating as much as he could but couldn’t figure what this Irish boy meant.

“Listen, I don’t know what Joe did to you but, please, tell me where he is. I promise that you’ll get rid of him and if it’s proved he caused you some prejudice, Pa will give you a compensation.”

Thomas shook his head.

“He did nothing to me personally. He harmed the family by taking my sister’s virginity. That’s what he did. And you know as well as me how to avenge such an offence.”

“In… b-b-blood ?” Hoss stammered.

“Exact. If my father learns about it, it will end this way. He’ll send me, since I’m his eldest son, to fight to death against Joe.”

“But it’s fearsome !” Hoss gasped. “How can you be so bloodthirsty ? Is there no other mean to deal with this problem ?”

Thomas got closer and whispered to Hoss’ ear : “Yes, there’s one. I have no wish of confronting your brother in a fight to death.  If you want it, we can find our lovebirds and take them to the nearest convent. If they’re married in a Christian way, my father will throw a curse on his daughter but nothing else. So, what do you decide?”

Hoss sighed : “Let’s go and do it”, he said.He let Thomas lead him obediently, worn out, lost in his thoughts and didn’t anticipate the blow that sent him in the dreamers’ country.

*****************************************************************

While Hop-sing  was speaking highly of the dinner’s menu, Ben was listening distractively at his cook’s chatting. Neither Hoss nor Joe had reappeared and he could find no plausible explanation to this double disappearing. Joe roaming in the shallow and chasing the loose women, well, it was possible, there’s a first time for everything. But Hoss, launched on the searching of his younger brother, what on earth was he doing? Hoss was strong, good at shooting, he knew the country perfectly but he previously had demonstrated he wasn’t very sly.At the great despair of Hop-Sing, Ben put on his belt, checked his guns and went outside without having eaten a tiny bit. Hop-sing ran after him with two parcels, one being double-sized comparing to the other.

“Mistah Cartwright, at least, take sandwiches. As usual, one small for Joe and you, one big for Hoss. And this time, not lose it in bolstehs…”

Not worrying about the late hour, Ben went directly to the sheriff’s house. The latter was savouring an omelette with bacon. Seeing the Cartwright patriarch’s head, he turned lightly pale, remembering the way he had dismissed Hoss on the morning.

“Hello, Ben “ he said in a tone that he tried to make jovial, “did you find your son ?”

“Which one ?”

“Well, Joe, of course. Wasn’t he the one Hoss was looking for, this morning ?”

“I sent Hoss to you to ask for help, Auguster. But I can perfectly see that you didn’t do anything. And there you are, quietly eating your dinner, without worrying a bit about my sons’ disappearing.”

“Your sons ?”

Auguster croaked, with a crimson face.Ben tried hard not to handle roughly the policeman. After having taken a deep breath, being apparently calm, he required from Auguster a complete narration of what had happened. Relieved to get off so lightly, the sheriff obeyed :“… and he left me after I had given him the advice to investigate in the Irish caravan direction. This is the whole story.”

Ben took a while to think. Clearly, the nub of the problem was to be found at the Irish home place. He didn’t know much about these people, only that they had a blue-eyed blonde daughter who had gone to Joe’s head. Hotheaded as usual, maybe Joe had underestimated the finicky sternness of an Irish father. Girls’ virtue wasn’t for them a matter of jokes. Marriage was a delicate question, closely linked to the dowry issue. The best thing to do was not to beat about the bush and go to father O’Connor.

With a faraway look, Patrick O’ Connor was rocking in his rocking-chair while smoking a pipe. His wife was busy cleaning the dishes. There was nobody else in the wagon. Taking his hat off, Ben approached and coughed to be noticed. At last, Patrick decided to favour him with a glance.

“Who are you ?”, he asked, grumpy.

“I’m Ben Cartwright and I…”

O’Connor didn’t let him go on. He stood up, trembling with anger.

“So, it’s you, the father of the brat who dishonoured my daughter. What are you doing here ? Probably, you want to feast your eyes on our sorrow…”

Ben was rolling wild eyes. His dark pupils were passing from the husband brandishing his pipe as if it was a sword, to the wife crying in her apron.

“I don’t understand. What are you criticizing my son for ? And first, which son ?”

“Oh, don’t play the innocent. Next minute, you’ll be telling me you know nothing about  what your son is up to. Yes, your son, the guy with such eyes that you never know if they’re dark blue or black.”

“Joe ?” What did he do ?”

“What did he do ? What did he do ? He slept with my daughter !” O’Connor groaned, “with my little Margaret who was a pure lamb before the arrival of your seducer.”

Ben thought that the old fox had read too many cheap novels. “Lamb”, “seducer” weren’t samples of the language spoken by a farmer coming from a poor country.

“Calm down, calm down”, he lectured. “I’m sure there’s a way to sort the matter out.”

“So, Master Cartwright thinks he can find a way to make my daughter a maid again. In a moment, he’ll say there’s not much damage ! I’m telling you, Master Cartwright, there are only two ways for sorting the matter out, as you say, either we will kill him or we marry them. You can be grateful to my son Thomas who chose the second way.”

“You’re planning to marry them ?”

“We’re not planning. Presently, they’re on their way to the Augustinian convent, near the Mexican border where they will be married following the catholic liturgy, after of course, going to confession.”

Ben was amazed : “And you didn’t go with them ? Your daughter is marrying a man, miles away from here and you don’t accompany her ? What kind of parents are you ? And my son, who will his witness be ?”

“His brother, by Jove ! As for Margaret. Only her eldest brother is accompanying her and this is pure kindness from him. We’re not accustomed to celebrate the wedding of a fallen girl with the whole family.”

Ben went red : Maybe, but me”, he said going forward in a threatening way to the Irish man that he was beginning to hate, “me, I’m attending this wedding. And I can assure you I will see to it that nobody will put pressure on Joe. Tell me immediately which road they’re following.”

O’Connor looked down to the gun that had appeared in Ben’s hand as if by magic. This man looked like one who aimed accurately.

“Hang on a minute. Don’t get angry. Brian, Brian”, O’Connor called out. “Where is he ?”

“Splitting wood outside”, his wife answered. She went out and came back with the boy.Ben saw coming into the wagon, the young replica of O’Connor.

“Brian, saddle a horse and show the way to Mr Cartwright who wants to join the wedding party”, the fox ordered with a little wicked laugh.

Ben went out without adding a word and followed the teenager. It was pitch dark, now. The boy broke into a gallop and then, a quarter of an hour later, catching sight of the arch bridge, he slowed down…

“If you don’t mind, Mr Cartwright, we’ll make a stop here. My cousin is sleeping in this shack and he knows the way better than me. He’s the one who found the convent. We didn’t know where there would be one.”

Quite unsuspecting, Ben went into the miserable shack (a shack has to be miserable) and had just the time to think he had fallen in a trap.

When he woke up, he was lying, bound hand and fast at the far end of a wagon. Not far from him, two giant sausages were lying and shouting: “Pa !”

“Boys, are you here ?”

“Yes Pa.”

“So, you too, you were caught ? What is going to happen to us ?”

It was Hoss’s voice.

“Maybe Auguster will look after us…” Joe whispered.This suggestion made Ben smile : “That would surprise me. But what I’m wondering is what’s all that stuff about ? What’s the reason of this naughty prank ?”

“I’ll tell you”, a gas lamp with O’Connor’s voice retorted.

The gas lamp went down to the ground bringing a whitish and unsettled light into the wagon and revealing a sardonic O’Connor, with, behind him, the beaming faces of his three sons.

“Well, boys, we’ve made a good catch. A big fish every haul ! Well done, sons. Ha, ha, ha, it’s hilarious : the whole Cartwright family tied up in a bundle and wriggling at my feet.”

“What do you want, O’Connor ?”, Ben asked with a commanding voice as if he was not in the precarious position of a prisoner. “I assume you didn’t capture us just in order to have a good laugh.”

“No, no”, O’Connor answered, banging his thighs, but the laugh is the bonus. A free bonus to be added to the properties you’re going to give up.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do I mean ? Do you own anything else than the Ponderosa ?”

Ben straightened up on his elbows.

“You… you want me to give the Ponderosa to you ? You’re crazy !”

Suddenly O’Connor stopped laughing and squatted down to find himself face to face with Ben.

“Think about it, Mr Cartwright, think about what is the most invaluable to you, your sons or your land ?”

“Which means ?”

“Which means that if you don’t sign immediately a transfer of your land to me, I’ll throw your young Joe in the torrent, with a stone tied to his feet. And if you still hesitate, your eldest will follow…”

******************************************************************

Adam Cartwright kicked his mount, a beautiful bay horse with four white stockings. He felt happy for two reasons : first because he was returning to the fold after having spent three months in San Francisco, second because he was bringing good news : they had won their case. Pa would be pleased.

With pleasure, Adam looked at the Ponderosa’s high cluster of trees that provided the wood for the sawmill. He liked the powerful figures of the pines and their resinous mixed with honey-suckle scent. Certainly, the city had its pleasures and charms. Adam still had in his shirt’s pocket a rose fragrant handkerchief, wet with tears, that Rosalyn, his temporary girlfriend, had left him as a memory. She was a no shrinking violet lingerie shopkeeper. He’d gone into her shop, precisely to buy handkerchiefs and she had such a tender look in her eyes that he had tried his luck.

Better for him not to have staid too long in Rosalyn’s arms. She had responded to his attentions so quickly that he could hardly believe to her constancy and, hadn’t he torn away from her spells, it could have ended in an inopportune wedding. A few days riding and a few lonely nights, sleeping under the stars, had cooled down his spirit and as soon as he was getting closer to the nourishing land, the picture of the chestnut haired beauty was fading and replaced by three virile and familiar faces, those of his brothers and father.

He would certainly find Joe again with a new passing love affair (three months, he had time to change several times). As for Hoss… Who could tell in which good Samaritan venture, in which soup he would have landed ? Adam smiled while the moon, escaping a black cloud’s attack, brought a subtle light on Ponderosa’ s roof.

He was surprised not to see any light across the windows. It was hardly ten and, generally, there was at least one of the members of the family still awoken at this time in the Ponderosa.

He dismounted, led his horse to the barn, woke up the guarding lad who was sleeping on the straw, ordered him to rub up Sport and went out after having seen the guy take out a brush.

He walked a few steps towards the door and heard, behind it, a muffled growl. “certainly Hoss’s dog, he thought.

“It’s me, Prack”, he said. Instantaneously, the animal calmed down and then started moaning.

Adam entered and the dog came to him.

“What are you doing here at this time ? Why aren’t you in your kennel ? Where’s your master ?”

As if he wanted to answer, the dog moaned again. Adam lighted up a lamp, saw the chimney filled with chopped wood, ready to be set on fire. More and more puzzled, he went upstairs and had to admit the house was empty. He went back downstairs and knocked at Hop-Sing’s door, next to the kitchen. The Chinese man appeared, his eyes blinking.

“At last, you there ! Hop-Sing happy because father and brothers vanish. Simply vanish.”

“Since when ?” Adam snapped impatiently.

“You not get angry. Father, it’s in a short. Hoss, this morning. Joe, yesterday.”

“Tell me all what you know.”

After Hop-Sing had done his best to explain what he knew – not much – Adam sent him to bed, took down his rifle, loaded it and sank down in his father’s armchair.

“First and foremost, let’s think.”

“You right !” Hop-Sing’s voice sounded. Instead of going back to bed, he had prepared a tray with a teapot and a cake. “If father think and eat dinner quietly as Hop-Sing say, father still there.”

While eating, Adam was thinking : “Clearly, someone wanted to lure my family into a trap and they rushed into it headlong. It’s not the first time, though. I remember the day a woman had come home pretending she was Ben Cartwright’s bride. Instead of taking her to town and have this wedding cancelled, we all threw ourselves together into the lion’s jaws. We left the ranch and went chasing the impostor, doing exactly what our opponent wanted us to do. Apparently, none of them learnt from that. I must admit that Pa cares so much for us that he loses his head when it comes to his children. But me, I will not fall into the trap and I will wait for the enemy, whoever he is, here, on home ground. And for a start, I’ll sleep here with my rifle on my knees.”

No sooner said that done but the night passed without any incident. Early in the morning, Hop-Sing brought to the only master he had left, a copious breakfast that Adam wolfed down.

He had just finished when the door opened bluntly and a red-haired, middle-aged man, followed by a handful of youth of all kinds, entered the house. Auguster was accompanying them.

“So, this is my new home”, the man declared, staring at the ceiling and thus, not seeing neither Adam nor his rifle pointed on his belly.

“Hands up everybody or  I shoot ! You too, Auguster. Drop your guns.”

The red fox offered a show of resistance by making a step forward. A bullet tore his left big toe. He screamed and seized his boot with his two hands while dancing a jig with the other foot.

“This is only a warning. Next time, the bullet will go upper.”

The man fell down on the settee.

“Arrest him, sheriff, what are you waiting for ? I come into my property, this guy snipes me and you keep still, doing nothing !”

“It is… it is…”, the sheriff stammered, obviously ill at ease, “he doesn’t know you’re at home. He still thinks he is home.”

“Who are you ?”, the redhead asked, speaking directly to Adam, “Cartwright’s foreman ?”

“No, his son. I’m Adam Cartwright.”

A young man, looking like a clergyman, who had staid silent so far, shouted :“You’re a liar. There’s no more Cartwright here, we capt…” He suddenly broke, blushing and finished : “We counted them.”

Adam’s eyes went black : “What did you do to my father and brothers ? And how dare you come in, flanked by the sheriff, acting all high and mighty ?”

“It is… it is…”, Auguster, at last, dared to say, “Mr O’Connor is now the owner of Ponderosa.”

“Really ?”, Adam retorted, mocking. “What gives him this right ?”

“It is… It is… He has a paper signed by your father.”The red fox took out a crumpled piece of parchment and called his eldest son :“Hey, Thomas, show him but don’t give him.”

“You, the clergyman”, Adam warned, “approach slowly by my side. Don’t forget that my rifle is pointed on your father.”

Regretting that Hop-Sing could not read English, “Auguster, come here!” he called.

The sheriff, obediently, came to him.

“Be kind enough to read what is written on this piece of paper.”

“The undersigned Benjamin Cartwright certify that my property in Nevada is transferred to Mr Patrick O’Connor. 1862, April 22nd. And it’s signed, Benjamin Cartwright. And that’s why, Adam”, the sheriff added, “I’m obliged to invite you to drop your gun and leave the house.”

“On the contrary, Auguster, I invite you to lead me a hand for evacuating this rabble. This paper is of no value. Long time ago, we registered in our lawyer’s office a notarial deed providing that we can’t sell Ponderosa without both signatures, my father’s and mine. Pa could sign without worrying. This paper is fit for the dustbin.”

Auguster’s face enlightened with a broad smile.

“Aaah, but this is perfect ! We just have to withdraw. I’m really glad, Adam. I had a heavy heart seeing Ponderosa change hands.”

“Hold on”, Adam interrupted, “don’t leave this way. You have to arrest all these people.”

“It is… it is… Why?”

“Well, sheriff, either you’re the most naïve man in the world or you’re their accomplice. You’re not telling me that you find it natural from Pa to sign, without any reason, a transfer of a domain he took thirty years to build up… It’s obvious he did that under threatening. So, either you arrest them or I confine everybody, including you, until I’m clear in my own mind about it.”

“No, no”, Auguster answered hastily. “I’m sorry, Adam. I think I didn’t see further than the end of my nose. I’m arresting them. Keep them at bay until I come back with reinforcements because, one against five, I will not be able to take them back to town.”

“Don’t worry, I’m helping you. Hop-Sing, ask Tramp, Jack and Ted to give us a hand. They must be outside, looking after the cattle. They will accompany us to town.”

******************************************************************

The O’Connor family was led under escort to jail. Nobody spoke a word. Adam tried vainly to have them reveal where his father and brothers were hidden. Giving up, he turned to the sheriff : “Auguster, take out the bible, I want to swear an oath. You’ve got a new assistant from to-day.”

More and more stupefied, Auguster obeyed and pinned a badge at Adam’s vest lapel.”

“It is… It is… Are you intending to hold an inquiry ?”

“Not at all. I still don’t know if you acted treacherously or stupidly. I don’t rely on you for being a good jail keeper. So, I’m settling in the jail and becoming a jailer until somebody appears. As for you, do what you want.”

“It is… It is… Adam you’re hurting me by taking me for a traitor. I swear you I just didn’t understand there was something wrong. They had a certificate of property.”

“But before they came waving this certificate under your nose, nothing happened ? Didn’t you see my father ?”

Auguster hung his head : “Yes, but I was so ashamed not having taken Hoss seriously… I was so afraid that he would complain to the Marshall… When I saw he was thinking of sorting the problem out alone, I was relieved.”

Adam sighed : “We could as well have appointed a donkey as our sheriff. All right, take out a deck of cards. I don’t know how long we will have to wait.”

The poker game was interrupted by Mrs O’Connor’s visit. Apparently no more upset than she would have been coming to see what was going on in the bunkhouse of a boarding-school, she asked if she could talk to her husband, which Adam accepted but making clear that he would be present and listen to the conversation. After that, he informed the lady that she had only two ways to have her family getting out of jail : either she would lay down a guarantee of five hundred dollars per person, or she would manage to make the Cartwright reappear.

Three hours later, Adam who, beneath his calm appearance, was eating his heart out with worry, screamed with relief when he saw his father and his brothers enter, dusty, in socks, obviously exhausted, but alive.

“So, it’s thanks to you”, Ben noticed, sinking down in a chair. “Thank God, you came back on time. We had been rotting in this wagon for I don’t know how long when a girl with a mask came and untied us. Alas, she didn’t give us back our boots but rode away, leaving a trail that led us here. I think we’ve walked at least ten miles without water and shoes.”

“Quick, Auguster, water, food!”

“It is… It is…”, the sheriff answered, “my wife is on her way with all that.”

*****************************************************************

The O’Connor’s family was judged two months later. The father was sentenced to five years imprisonment, Thomas and Johnny to one year. Brian, being so young was discharged by allowances ot the jury; the same for cousin Paddy whose complicity could not be proved.

Pretty Margaret insulted Joe all during the trial and called Auguster a flabbergasted toad, which didn’t improve her family’s case. Then, she began to make sheep’s eyes at Adam with so much affectedness that her mother had to call her to order.

“She certainly hoped you would intercede on their behalf because of her spells, Adam”, Ben commented at the end of the trial.

“Anyway, that’s settled then. Undoubtedly, the Ponderosa will go on forever attracting covetous looks !”, Adam retorted, laughing. “Don’t you think so, Auguster?”

“It is… It is… Thanks to the notarial deed you registered in your lawyer’s office, you’ve got a good protection. Good idea, Ben, that countersignature stuff.”

Adam scratched his head with an embarrassed look. He quickly thought. Nothing else to do than facing Pa with the truth.

“Well, huh, Pa, as I didn’t intend to let them take the place, I told Auguster that you couldn’t sell the Ponderosa without my countersignature. Fortunately, he didn’t go to the lawyer to verify.”

“It is… It is… You dealt with the matter so quickly that the decision was no more mine”, the sheriff answered, guffawing.

“Tell me, Auguster”, Hoss asked. “Where did you catch this new habit to begin all your sentences stammering “it is, it is ?” You didn’t do that before.”

“It is… It is…”. Auguster blushed : “Your brother impresses me. Before, I was terrified by your father but now, when I see Adam, I have the impression to see my boss.”

Ben retorted : “Please, please, don’t tell him that ! His head is already so swollen that you could swear his hat shrunk. Besides, he didn’t give back his badge to you. He’s still you assistant. Send him out to accomplish a very boring task. For example, collect Mc Ravatt taxes. When he comes back, he’ll be the one stammering.”

Then, hitting his eldest son’s shoulder : “Come on, sheriff. I must admit that you have good reasons to be proud. But even so… Your countersignature to allow me the selling of any piece of land… You don’t go in for half measures !”

He made a few steps and then stopped : “But I’ll think of it. To-morrow, we’ll all go to the lawyer. And now, Joe, from now on, I forbid to woe any Irish girl having brothers or sudden changes of mood. Understood ?”

 

The End

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Author: ViveAdam

Age : 62. Married, 4 children and 7 grandchildren. French, living next to Paris. Profession : lawyer, journalist and publisher. I've been watching Bonanza for 25 years. Favourite character : Adam

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