Common Traits (by Storm)

Summary:   This is another story I wrote for the November Chaps and Spurs challenge.  The truth be told, did Adam really say that to Pa?  And just what was it that Ben thought he heard?

Rated:  K+  1450


                                                                                             Common Traits

“You sound like a fog horn.” Ben smiled.

Every once in a while he remembered things one of his wives had said to him. This had come from his first wife and he supposed coming from the daughter of a sea captain, as she had been, one should consider the comparison a compliment. Each of the three had often spoke of love and family and it seemed fitting that as the first governmentally sanctioned Thanksgiving Day approached Ben should think of the things he was thankful for.

Some who did not know him might think it was the money or, as others called it, the empire he owned that he would be most thankful for, but those who knew him knew that Ben Cartwright would give everything up for one of his sons. He supposed that in order to give thanks for those sons it only proper he give thanks for the women who had given them to him, and he was thankful for each and every one of them.

“Quit it Adam!”

Ben let out a sigh; well he was thankful for each and every one of them most of the time. The door slammed open and his three sons came in. “What is going on Joseph?”

“Pa will you tell Adam to quit it.”

“Quit what Joseph.”

“It’s nothing pa, he’s just upset by something I said. Little brother I only say what I see.”

“And just what is it you’ve seen Adam.”

“Well pa I saw my little brother here with Molly Maine and I heard Molly offer to show your baby boy her…um shall we say the abundance of her harvest.” Adam grinned as the color came to Joe’s cheeks.

Joe didn’t care how embarrassed he felt he wasn’t going to let Adam get the better of him. “You’re just jealous because she didn’t offer to show you.”

“Little brother she has offered to show every man at one time or another. At least since she’s been old enough to harvest.”


“What pa it’s true.”

“Maybe it is but you should not talk about the young lady like that.” There was no maybe about it, Ben knew it was true but he would not have one of his sons speaking of a lady in such a way even if the lady did not behave very ladylike at times.

“If she didn’t want to be talked about like that then she shouldn’t…” Adam noticed the way his father was looking at him. “…I’ll keep quiet.”

“Good. I will count that among my blessings.”

The smirk on his youngest brother’s face annoyed Adam greatly so he went and did something he was not intending to do at the start. “Just one more thing you should know pa. Your youngest progeny there showed great interest in her crops. He offered to go and help her reap them tomorrow afternoon. He even said he’d help her store them away in the barn.”

Joe didn’t think his brother had heard that much. “ADAM!”

“Next time little brother you won’t look so smug.”

“It wouldn’t have mattered if your brother had said something or not Joseph. In case you’ve forgotten, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and we will all be here giving our thanks.”

“Thanks for what. Having an oldest brother who can’t seem to remember what it was like to be young?”

“Unfortunately for you little brother I can remember.”

Ben shook his head and looked to the one son who had stood silently by as he always seemed to do, at least until he was needed for one reason or another. Right now Ben needed him to answer a question. “Hoss has this been going on all day?”

“Truth is pa it goes on so much I don’t really notice any more when it starts or stops.” And that was the truth. To Hoss the disagreements and arguments were just a part of who his brothers were. He supposed if they ever stopped for any length of time he might start to worry.

“I just don’t understand. You’re mothers were so…” Ben thought about what he was just about to say and he recognized the truth for the first time.

“They were so what pa?”

“I was going to say so different Joe but that’s not true. They were very much alike. They were both strong willed and stubborn. They just went about it differently.”

“Well that explains a lot doesn’t it.”

“Hoss your mother was no different. She again just went about it in a different way.”

“Hey pa did you ever think it has nothing to do with the fact that we have different mothers who were alike but that we have the same father?”

“Adam I thought you were going to keep quiet.”

“Sorry pa I call it as I see it.”

“If you keep calling it you’ll be sorry that you saw it.”

“I don’t know pa. I think oldest brother there has a point.”

“Oh you do do you Joseph?”

“Yes. It seems to make sense that we would inherit similar traits from the one parent we have in common not the one we don’t.”

“Is that so. And Hoss what about you? Do you too think the stubbornness and strong will were inherited from me and not your mothers?”

“Well pa…um…”

“Come on Hoss tell pa what you think. Are we like our mothers or like our pa.”

“I guess Joe, pa, that we’re a little bit of both.”

“How very diplomatic Hoss. I wonder who you inherited that from.”

“And just what does that mean Adam.”

“Pa I remember Inger. I believe if I had to choose which one of you was the more diplomatic it would have to be her. She was the one who played peacemaker.”

“Guess that’s where I get that from.”

“Yes Hoss on that I will have to agree with you. Your mother couldn’t stand discord of any kind but that doesn’t mean she gave in to keep the peace either. She fought for what she believed to be right.”

“So do you pa.”

“Yes Hoss but your mother and pa go about it quite differently. You see your mother saw what was right and made others see it by doing it.”

“And just how do I go about making others see what’s right Adam?”

“You pa? As far as we’re concerned you usually go about it by telling us or lecturing us and if that doesn’t work we usually get a very loud earful.”

“And, as far as your concerned Adam, I usually get an argument about it.”

“Pa I never argue with you when you’re right.”

“Good see that it stays that way.”

“Of course pa. Hoss, Joe I think we better go get washed up.”

As his sons went up the stairs they left Ben wondering after them and the smiles they had left with. He then realized that he had just been insulted by his eldest son. If, as he himself had said, Adam always gave him an argument were true and Adam saying he never argued with his father when he was right were also true his son was in a sense telling his father he was never right. Ben should have learned to pay more attention to that eldest boy’s words. He had a way of twisting them. Ben smiled and began to wonder how many other times had he heard one thing when Adam had said another.


“What is it Joe? You better go get washed up.”

“Yeah in a minute. You really pulled one over on pa.”

“Oh he’ll catch on soon enough and I’m sure I’ll be called to task for it.”

“Adam do you really believe pa is never right?”

“Joe pa is usually right it’s just that as his sons it’s our job to make sure it doesn’t go to his head.”

“Yeah because we’re the only ones not afraid that we won’t survive telling Ben Cartwright he’s wrong.”

“True Joe but that’s because we’re the only ones who know what a real softy he is. As his sons we get to see the real Ben Cartwright not the strong façade he’s had to show most of the world.”

“I guess you’re right Adam. Pa does have most everyone thinking he’s hard and unbending.”

“But we know better don’t we Joe. We know that no matter how he fusses and fights or argues and disagrees with us he’s always there for us.”

“Kind a like us huh big brother.”

“Yeah little brother exactly likes us.”

Ben quietly made his way downstairs. Maybe those boys were like him after all.




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