A Son And Heir (by Deborah)

Series:  Adam in the Outback (6 of 16)

Summary:  This is the sixth story in my “Adam in the Outback” series. After four daughters, will Adam and Bronwen finally have a son?

Rating: T  WC 29,000

Adam In The Outback Series:

My True Love Hath My Heart – Part 1
My True Love Hath My Heart – Part 2
My True Love Hath My Heart – Part 3
Family Reunion
Cartwright is the Name
A Son and Heir
The Country of the Heart
To Bloom in Another Man’s Garden – Part 1
To Bloom in Another Man’s Garden – Part 2
In Memoriam
The Marriage of True Minds – Part 1
The Marriage of True Minds – Part 2
The Marriage of True Minds – Part 3
The Joys of Parents
Grow Old Along with Me
The Best is Yet to Be

Not part of the Adam in the Outback Series, but set in the same realm:

The Adventure of the Gooseberry Pie Eating Bear

First, I want to thank Joan Sattler for her help in all matters Australian. At the end of the story, I am providing a glossary of Welsh and Australian words or phrases I used. In this story in addition to Adam, Pa and Joe, I am also using some characters introduced in the Bonanza sequels since that’s where I got my idea of Adam settling in Australia: Buckshot, Jacob and three new members of the Cartwright family-Annabelle, Benj and Sarah. (Actually, there is a fourth member but that person shall remain anonymous until you meet him/her in the story.) Finally, I feel I must add that I have never been to Cloncurry, which is a real town in Queensland. I’ve been able to discover some facts about it, but in many cases I’ve used my imagination so I do ask for a willing suspension of disbelief.

A Son and Heir

“Mama! Daddy! Can we come in?” The treble voices were accompanied by a vigorous knocking on the bedroom door. It was a Sunday morning, the only day of the week Adam and Bronwen Cartwright allowed themselves to sleep an extra hour. Twelve-year-old Beth and eleven-year-old Miranda were happy to take advantage of the extra hour, but the two younger girls, who had to be rousted from bed on school mornings, were always the first ones up on Sunday.

Bronwen reached for her spectacles on her bedside table as she felt Adam get out of the bed so he could unlock the bedroom door after first slipping on a cotton nightshirt and a robe. Nine-year-old Gwyneth and six-year-old Penny bounced into their parents’ spacious bedroom, which was still dark since the first streaks of light could be seen through French doors leading to the upstairs verandah. Adam lit the lamp on his bedside table and then the three of them got into the large four-poster bed with Bronwen.

“Tell uth a thory, Daddy. Tell uth a thory about when you wath little,” Penny, who had recently lost both front teeth, commanded imperiously as Adam lifted her onto his lap.

“And about Grandpa and Uncle Hoss,” Gwyneth chimed in moving to sit between her parents.

“And Uncle Joe,” Penny added but her sister said, “Don’t be a Drongo. Daddy wasn’t a little boy when Uncle Joe was born.”

Penny scowled and Adam said, “Gwyneth,” in that certain tone of voice all his daughters recognized so Gwyneth said quickly, “I’m sorry, Penny,” and Adam nodded before saying, “Gwyneth’s right, Kitten. I wasn’t a little boy when your Uncle Joe was born. I was the same age that Beth is now.”

“I want a thory about you when you wath the thame age ath me,” Penny demanded.

“And how old are you? Let Penny answer, Gwyneth,” he added seeing Gwyneth was ready to blurt out the answer.

“Thith,” Penny replied with a smile that displayed her missing front teeth and Adam hugged her saying,

“That’s right, Kitten.” He hoped he didn’t play favorites, but Penny was the image of what Bronwen must have looked like at her age-small and delicate with enormous violet eyes-and he couldn’t help responding to that likeness. Gwyneth, on the other hand, bore a strong resemblance to him. She was taller than either Beth or Miranda had been at her age and her legs were long and slim like his. She had also inherited some of his traits, for she was a serious, reserved child.

“Will Grandpa and Uncle Hoss be in the story?” Gwyneth asked quietly.

“Yes, they will,” he replied giving her neck an affectionate squeeze.

Bronwen put her arm about Gwyneth’s shoulders and watched as her daughters listened raptly to their father’s story. She loved all of her daughters dearly, but she couldn’t help feeling a little sad that she hadn’t given Adam a son, and she knew that although he would never admit it to her, he felt the same. Four years ago she had convinced him to stop using French letters. Before she had always conceived easily-too easily since Beth and Miranda were not quite eleven months apart-but the months turned to years and still she failed to become pregnant. She was forty-one now and the chances of her conceiving were virtually nonexistent. It was all for the best, she told herself, since she and Adam, who would turn fifty-one that November, were the age to be grandparents not parents.

At least she no longer felt she was letting Pa down as well because four years earlier Joe had married a young woman from Boston named Annabelle Alden. Although she and Adam and the girls weren’t there for the wedding, they had visited the Ponderosa not long after. Adam liked Annabelle very much and so did Bronwen, but she wondered if Annabelle was really the right woman for Joe since she was so interested in music, art and literature, none of which held much appeal for Joe. Still, Joe seemed happy and thirteen months after their wedding Annabelle gave birth to a son they named Benjamin Eric Cartwright. Annabelle was pregnant again and they were expecting news from Nevada about the baby any day.

Bronwen’s musings (and Adam’s story) were interrupted when Miranda stuck her head in the room saying, “May Lady and I join the party?”

Adam smiled and nodded while Bronwen asked, “Where’s your sister?”

“It’s her turn to milk Blossom,” Miranda replied while Adam and Bronwen shared a smile. When it came to getting up in the morning, Beth reminded Adam of Joe. Miranda sat at the foot of the bed, followed by Lady, their little blue and tan terrier. (She was a descendant of Belle, their first terrier, who had died the previous summer when she’d been bitten by a brown snake. The girls had been heartbroken but they’d already decided to keep Lady, who’d been the runt of Belle’s last litter, and that had eased their grief. Actually, Bronwen and Adam had been just as sad at Belle’s passing, for she’d been a part of their family ever since they’d moved from Sydney to Cloncurry eleven years earlier, but they hid their grief from their daughters not wanting to upset them further.)

“I didn’t hear any screaming, so I take it you got her up without resorting to a pitcher of water,” Bronwen remarked and Miranda grinned.

“Daddy ith telling uth a thory about Grandpa and Uncle Hoth,” Penny announced, “and you interrupted.”

“You were telling us how you used to help take care of Uncle Hoss,” Gwyneth added helpfully.

“That’s right,” Adam agreed with a smile. “After your grandpa built our cabin near Lake Tahoe, one of the next things he did was to make a highchair for your Uncle Hoss, who wasn’t quite a year old yet. Grandpa would fix the pap for Uncle Hoss and put him in the highchair. Then it was my job to feed him. The pap looked awful to me, but your Uncle Hoss liked it just fine, and your grandpa told me that I ate it when I was a baby, too.”

“And you weren’t any older than Penny when you took care of Uncle Hoss?” Miranda said somewhat doubtfully.

“I just helped to watch him,” Adam replied with a slow smile. “And by that time I was seven and not six. We were lucky that he was such a good baby. Now, if it had been your Uncle Joe, I couldn’t have done it. I had a hard time helping to take care of him when I was Beth’s age. That first year we lived in our cabin whenever your grandpa set his trap lines or went hunting, he’d carry Uncle Hoss on his back like a papoose and I’d follow along behind. It was a lucky thing Uncle Hoss didn’t cry much or we might have starved. By the next winter, Grandpa would leave Uncle Hoss and me alone in the cabin when he hunted for meat or checked his trap lines. I know he didn’t like doing it, but Uncle Hoss was too big to carry and too young to be able to walk that far. When we were by ourselves, I’d tell Uncle Hoss all the stories I could remember your grandpa had told me or we’d play with my Noah’s Ark or look at the picture books my grandfather had sent me.”

“Didn’t you ever get scared being there all by yourself?” Gwyneth asked slowly.

“Sometimes,” Adam admitted, “but I tried not to show it because I didn’t want to scare Uncle Hoss. And I knew your grandpa was counting on me.” He glanced at the girls. While they all showed interest, even Miranda who’d heard these stories many times, Gwyneth’s expression was so serious and intense it make his lips quirk up for he could hear his father’s voice in his head. She’s exactly like you were at that age.

“Now, I’ve told you that winter in Nevada where I grew up is much colder than winter here in Queensland.”
“How much colder?” Penny asked.

“Cold enough that the water in ponds and little creeks freezes solid.”

“And cold enough for snow!” Gwyneth said. “I sure wish I could see some. Could we go visit Grandpa when it’s snowing there?”

“I don’t know, Punkin. Right now things are so busy at the mine that I couldn’t leave your Uncle Rhys to handle it all by himself for that long. It wouldn’t be fair.”

“I don’t think it’s fair that the only time I got to see Grandpa and Uncle Joe I was so little I can’t even hardly remember,” Gwyneth objected with a pout.

“Me, too,” Penny added.

“We’ll pay Grandpa another visit, but it won’t be this year. For now you’ll have to be satisfied with his letters. Now, do you want me to go on with the story?” They both nodded.

“One winter morning we woke up and discovered it had snowed and there was a foot of snow on the ground. Grandpa had to go check his trap lines. He told us to stay in the cabin where it was warm, but I wanted to make a snowman. So I put two undershirts on Uncle Hoss and all three of his frocks and three pairs of socks and his shoes, which had been mine when I was little. Then I put on two pairs of woolen drawers and undershirts and two pairs of breeches, two flannel shirts and three pairs of socks and my boots. Uncle Hoss didn’t have a coat of his own so I put my old coat on him and rolled up the sleeves and put my old cap with earflaps on him and tied it under his chin and let him wear my old mittens. Then I put on the new coat Grandpa had gotten me in Placerville the winter before. I had grown so the sleeves were short but I hadn’t said anything to Grandpa because I knew he couldn’t afford to buy me a new one that year. Anyway, I put on my cap and mittens and then Uncle Hoss and I went out to play in the snow. First, I showed him how to make snow angels.”

“Like thith, Daddy?” Penny said jumping off the bed and lying on the hardwood floor moving her arms and legs in circles.

“That’s right, Kitten. When you do that in snow it looks like an angel with wings.” He held out his hand and she got back on the bed and sat on his lap. “Uncle Hoss had lots of fun making snow angels, and so did I. After we made angels, we started on the snowman. It was so cold outside that we had to quit before we finished. We’d been outside so long that the fire in the fireplace had gone out because I wasn’t there to add wood. I knew Grandpa and I were going to have a necessary talk when he got home. If I tried to start a fire I would be in even worse trouble. Poor Uncle Hoss was really cold so I took off our coats since they were wet from the snow and his shoes and my boots and then we crawled into our bed under the sheets and blankets and I held Uncle Hoss to try and help him get warm. It didn’t help very much. Grandpa got home just before dark and he could see that I had disobeyed him and gone outside so he wasn’t very happy with me. He was even more upset when he walked into that cold, dark cabin.”

“So he gave you a necessary talk,” Gwyneth interjected.

“Yes, he did,” Adam replied, deciding to ignore the fact that she’d interrupted. “Even worse than that, Uncle Hoss and I both got bad sore throats and fevers and we were sick in bed for over a week. I felt really bad knowing that it was my fault Uncle Hoss was sick.”

“And poor Grandpa,” Bronwen said quietly, “with two sick little boys to look after all by himself.”

“It must have been awful growin’ up with no mama,” Gwyneth said pensively, snuggling closer to Bronwen, who hugged her and dropped a kiss on her black curls.

“Grandpa did the best he could but you girls are really lucky to have such a wonderful mama,” Adam said smiling at Bronwen.

“I wish I’d got to meet Uncle Hoss,” Gwyneth said sadly.

“I wish you had too,” Adam said softly, stroking her curls. “He was a wonderful man and he would have loved you and Penny so much. I remember how much he loved Beth and Miranda.”

“I wish I could remember,” Miranda replied longingly.

“It’s time for all of us to be getting up,” Bronwen broke in with a smile. “Daddy, Beth, Miranda and Gwyneth have to do their barn chores and Penny needs to feed the chickens while I gather the eggs. And then we have to eat breakfast and get ready for church.”

As she was dressing, Bronwen noticed that although her monthly flux should have started the two days earlier, there was still no sign of it. Probably just late she told herself and then forgot about it.

While the Cartwrights went about their morning chores, Nell and Mary, their two maids, began fixing breakfast in the large, airy kitchen with its white plaster walls and cheerful red and white gingham curtains. Actually Nell, a widow who’d been with Bronwen and Adam since their marriage thirteen years earlier, had gotten up as usual to make cinnamon buns for breakfast. After Bronwen brought in the eggs she’d gathered, she began frying them the way Adam liked them while Mary, a young Aboriginal woman who’d begun working for the Cartwrights after Penny’s birth, fried the bacon and the potatoes. On a cool June morning like this one, the large stove made the room comfortably warm. On a sweltering January afternoon it was another story.

It was Penny’s and Gwyneth’s job to set the table so once the chickens were fed, Penny hurried to the large dining room at the front of the house, with its pale apricot walls, and began setting out the silverware and napkins on the large dining room table. The French doors leading to the verandah were closed since it was such a cool morning as was the large window on one wall and the drapes of amber velvet were drawn. Gwyneth came in the backdoor a few minutes later having taken care of her pony and, after washing her hands at the kitchen sink, she ran down the hall to the dining room and began taking the blue and white Wedgwood china from the china cabinet along one wall and setting it on the table. By the time the others had finished their chores and washed up, breakfast was ready and Nell and Mary were setting the food on the table and Gwyneth tied back the drapes, allowing more of the morning sunshine to illuminate the room.

Once Nell and Mary had finished setting out the food, the Cartwrights gathered around the table, with Adam at the head and Bronwen at the foot, the two older girls on one side and the two younger on the other. They held hands and sang an Elizabethan grace in canon, and then everyone concentrated on eating since they still had to dress for church. Cloncurry now had Anglican, Catholic and Methodist churches, and since Bronwen was a devout Methodist, they attended Chapel Bethel.

Adam found himself looking around the table as he finished his cup of tea (coffee just wasn’t available in the outback), a faint bemused smile on his face. There is a definite irony in the fact that except for a few happy years in my childhood and adolescence the first thirty-seven years of my life were spent in an exclusively male household, yet now, I’m the only male among five females-no, seven if I count Nell and Mary.

In the beginning he’d thought raising daughters would be easier than raising sons, but he soon learned his mistake. For instance, Gwyneth was more accident prone than any of the Cartwright boys had been. At the age of eighteen months she’d fallen off the verandah and cut herself so badly on a protruding nail that Dr. Brooke had to put six stitches in, and she now had a faint scar on her forehead. When she was four, she fell down the stairs and sprained her left wrist. Back in January, she had been climbing a gum tree with her cousin, Llywelyn, fallen and broken her left leg. In addition, Beth had a fall from her pony and broke her left arm when she was nine. Still, he could cope with broken bones after having helped his father raise his younger brothers. (Although he discovered it was somehow different when it happened to your own child as opposed to a sibling.)

If he’d had sons, then he’d have taught them to use a gun, to fish and to play the ballgames that boys loved. Bronwen could teach the girls to sew and cook, but he didn’t fit in that feminine world. He loved his daughters and he wanted to be part of their lives, but it wasn’t that easy. He’d had to work to find things they could do together. He taught each of the girls to ride and took pride in their skill. Beth had an artistic flair and expressed an interest in photography so he instructed her in the rudiments and praised her initial efforts. Miranda shared his love of mathematics and he planned on teaching her algebra, geometry and trigonometry since he knew those subjects were not available to her at the local school. While all the girls enjoyed singing and Bronwen gave them lessons, only Gwyneth had expressed an interest in learning to play the guitar and so he spent special time with her giving her lessons. Penny had invited him to countless tea parties and he’d played the girlish game of Graces with its ribbon-bedecked throwing rings with her. (That last he had never mentioned to his father or brothers because he was embarrassed, but Penny had enjoyed it so much that he swallowed his manly pride.)

Adam and Bronwen both came from close, loving families and they wanted the same for their children so evenings were family time. Sometimes they played games together, such as Old Bachelor, Dr. Busby and The Errand Boy. Other times they sang together: Adam would sing bass, Bronwen would sing tenor while Miranda and Penny sang alto and Beth and Gwyneth sang the melody. Then every night they’d all gather in Gwyneth and Penny’s room for a bedtime story.

Being a father, Adam discovered, didn’t leave him as much time as he’d like to be a husband. By the time they’d tucked the girls in and kissed them goodnight, he and Bronwen often were too tired to do more than fall asleep. Luckily they were both early risers, for the hour just before dawn was sometimes their only chance to talk. They were not only lovers-they were friends who’d initially been drawn together by their mutual love of literature, art and music. They needed to talk about ideas and not just domestic matters, but it was often an uphill battle finding the time and energy to do so.

But I am indeed a fortunate man, he told himself. Bronwen and I have had thirteen years together, and God willing, we’ll have many more. I don’t understand how Pa could bear to lose the woman he loved not once, not even twice, but three times. To lose Bronwen would be to lose a part of myself.

After breakfast, he dressed quickly in a frock coat, waistcoat and trousers of charcoal gray broadcloth, a crisp white shirt and a crimson Oxford tie. Then, as he did every Sunday, he waited by the front door for the rest of the household, leaning against the doorframe. Nell and Mary left to attend the Anglican service, hiding their smiles at seeing him-arms folded across his chest, hands tucked under his arms. The two younger girls bounded down the stairs first. For Sunday, Bronwen always wrapped Penny’s hair around rags to give her ringlets. Gwyneth’s thick, naturally curly hair refused to be tamed into ringlets. No matter how carefully she brushed it, it still had a mind of its own and formed a nimbus of black curls around her face while the rest tumbled wildly down her back.

“We’re ready, Daddy. May we go now?” Penny asked.

“Not until your mother and sisters are ready,” he replied with a smile.

“May we sit on the swing?” Gwyneth asked.

“As long as you don’t start playing with Lady, you may sit on the swing. We want to keep your dresses pretty.” He watched fondly as they skipped outside.

After a minute or two, Bronwen and Miranda came down the stairs. Miranda’s dark hair curled more loosely than Gwyneth’s so she wore hers in ringlets that hung down her back to her waist. Bronwen continued to wear hers in a long braid, coiled and pinned at the back with her front hair curled in a fringe. Seeing her husband’s eyebrows drawn together, she said quickly, “Beth is almost ready, Cariad. She’s just finishing her hair. Are Penny and Gwyneth on the verandah?”

Adam nodded and added, “I’ll give her two minutes and then she can walk to church by herself.”

Bronwen smiled inwardly, for they went through this every Sunday morning. Poor Adam bach would never get used to the time it took women to dress.

Almost exactly two minutes later Beth came down the stairs, with her hair in carefully arranged ringlets. Since she and Penny had inherited their mother’s straight ebony hair, they both suffered through sleeping with their hair wrapped in rags. When he saw his four lovely daughters dressed in their best Sunday clothes, all Adam’s irritation vanished as it always did. “All right, ladies. Let’s be off,” he said offering Bronwen his arm, which she accepted with a smile.

Rhys, Matilda and Llywelyn Davies had been waiting for the Cartwrights as they did every Sunday so the two families could walk together. Ten-year-old Llywelyn with his father’s thick black hair and his mother’s slightly protruding brown eyes, looked uncomfortable dressed in his Eton suit with its short black jacket, long gray pants and the large stiff white collar. After a quick, “G’day,” to his aunt and uncle, he and Gwyneth walked together with Penny tagging along.

“Girls kept you waiting again, did they?” Rhys asked with a grin. Like his brother-in-law and business partner, his waist had grown a bit thicker during the twelve years he’d lived in Cloncurry but unlike his sister, his black hair was now liberally streaked with white.

Adam sighed and then said with a wink, “It’s always worth it though. I shouldn’t brag, but I do have four beautiful daughters.”

“And of course, he takes all the credit,” Bronwen said teasingly causing the others to smile. Just then Gwyneth and Llywelyn came running back.

“Daddy, Llywelyn says he and Uncle Rhys are going fishing after our picnic. May we fish, too?”

“I don’t see why not,” Adam replied with a slight grin. “Are you going to be able to bait your own hook this time?”

“Do I have to?” Gwyneth asked, looking at him pleadingly.

“I can do it for you?” Llywelyn offered.

“No, I’ll do it for her,” Adam stated with a smile. “I just wanted to see if she’d do it herself.”

“I don’t like to touch the bait,” Gwyneth replied with a slight shudder that made her father and uncle smile broadly while her cousin shook his head in bewilderment. She and Llywelyn ran to rejoin the others while the four adults strolled along in a more leisurely fashion.

They were in the midst of Cloncurry’s dry season so the tufts of grass were brown and sere. Only one or two houses had flowers in the yard. Water was precious now, although in a few months it would be summer and there would be monsoonal rains, so it was hoarded. Most yards had at least one gum tree to offer shade in the merciless heat of summer when the temperature sometimes reached 120 degrees. This time of year, it usually never got above 80 degrees and now in the early morning it was still pleasantly cool. Adam had grown up in the high country of the Sierra Nevadas but he’d learned to appreciate the gentler beauty of the hills surrounding Cloncurry-hills that provided the minerals that made Cartwright & Davies Mining Co. so profitable. Of course, Adam was too astute a businessman to let his family’s financial security be totally dependant on one business venture. He was also a silent partner in a local stud farm and he had his one-fourth interest in Cartwright Enterprises plus various other investments he’d made over the years. As each of his daughters was born, he had opened a trust fund in her name and made regular deposits over the years. He was confident that each would be financially independent by the time she was twenty-one. Since he was a prudent man, he had also made a will so that if anything should happen to him, Bronwen and the girls would not have any financial worries.

They all separated when they reached Chapel Bethel. Matilda taught Sunday school and the three younger children went with her while Beth and Miranda were deemed old enough to attend church with Adam, Bronwen and Rhys. After the service was over, the Cartwrights and the Davies hurried home to change. Adam, Rhys and Llywelyn changed into calico work shirts. Llywelyn changed into a pair of knickerbockers while Adam put on a pair of Levi Strauss & Co waist overalls. Matilda changed into an everyday dress of muslin while Bronwen and the girls wore knickerbockers since they were going riding. Rhys and Matilda drove the Davies’ buggy with the picnic hamper Nell and Mary had prepared before church while the six Cartwrights and Llywelyn rode to their favorite picnic spot along the banks of the Cloncurry River. Miranda, Gwyneth, Penny and Llywelyn all rode Welsh Mountain ponies while Adam and Bronwen had given Beth a Welsh Cob like Bronwen’s for her twelfth birthday. She and Gwyneth were the most accomplished and enthusiastic equestriennes in the family. Gwyneth was already hinting that she was outgrowing her pony but her parents had told her firmly that they wouldn’t consider giving her a horse until she was twelve. (Although Adam privately suspected they might have to reconsider if she kept growing at the same rate. A pony only twelve hands high soon would be too small.)

They spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon. After they finished the delicious food Nell and Mary had prepared, the two men, Llywelyn and Gwyneth fished while the others sat up the croquet game Rhys had packed in the buggy with the hamper. Llywelyn and Gwyneth each caught one fish and then they decided to join the croquet game. Adam and Rhys dozed and fished companionably until Penny came to beg them to join in the final game.

As Adam and Bronwen rode home side by while the children raced ahead, she asked him quietly, “A penny for your thoughts.”

He smiled gently. “I was just thinking what a lucky man I am. I have you, our girls, a good friend in Rhys and a successful business.”

“I can think of one thing that would make our happiness complete,” she said wistfully.

“Sweetheart,” he said softly. “We have four beautiful, intelligent and healthy daughters. Isn’t that enough?”

“I know it should be, but I still wish we had a little boy,” she replied forlornly. “I’m not pining about it. You know that; I just can’t help wishing.” She smiled at him brightly then. “Do you want to sing after we eat the fish for supper?”

“That sounds like a wonderful idea.” He then added thoughtfully, “You know, I think that it’s also a blessing that all four of our girls have lovely voices, and it’s lucky that we have two sopranos and two contraltos.”

“That reminds me,” she said. “I must tell Matilda that I’m taking Gwyneth out of Sunday school next week because she, Beth, Miranda and I are going to sing. All the girls have lovely voices, but Gwyneth’s has a power and sweetness none of the others has. While I struggle to reach high C, her voice soars effortlessly above it. She is definitely a lyric soprano.”

“She does have a beautiful voice; almost as lovely as her mother’s,” Adam replied with a wink.

The two families gathered at the Cartwright house and while the men cleaned the fish, all the children cared for their animals (Beth helped Penny who was too small to unsaddle her pony.) After supper, which Bronwen and Matilda prepared since Nell and Mary had the evening off, the Davies and the Cartwrights gathered in the drawing room, and while Adam accompanied them on the guitar, they sang their favorite songs.

~ ~ ~ ~

Bronwen forgot all about the fact that she’d had no monthly flow until the next month when once again there was no sign of any bleeding. She wasn’t sure if she were pregnant or if she could be going through the change, but when a week or so later she began to experience severe morning sickness she knew they were finally going to have a fifth child.

“Does this mean what I think it does?” Adam asked the third morning he barely got the wash basin to her in time.

“I think so, but I’ll go see Dr. Brooke today,” she answered listlessly. Then, in spite of her nausea, she added with more of her usual enthusiasm, “Maybe this time it will be boy, Cariad!”

“And maybe it will be a fifth girl,” he reminded her. “I’ll be fifty-one when this baby is born; old enough to be his or her grandfather,” he added shaking his head.

“But you are happy about it, aren’t you?” she asked anxiously.

“Right now I think I’m just surprised,” he replied. “I’ll be happy once I get used to the idea. Should we tell the girls now, or wait a month or so?”

“If Dr. Brooke says I am pregnant, then I think we should wait until I start to show before we say anything to the girls or Rhys and Matilda,” and he nodded his agreement. “However, I think we can tell Pa and Joe and Tad and Mam.”

One look at her radiant face when he returned home for supper gave him his answer. They kept the news a secret from the girls, but Nell and Mary figured it out almost immediately. “I think Missus Cartwright is gonna have another baby,” Mary announced to Nell one afternoon as they ate their dinner in the kitchen.
“I think you’re right,” Nell said with a half-smile. “I hope this time it’s a boy,” and Mary smiled her agreement. “We’ll just pretend to be surprised when they tell us.”

~ ~ ~ ~

One warm August evening Buckshot, the wall-eyed cook the Cartwrights had hired after Hop Sing’s unexpected death a year earlier, began bringing platters of food in from the kitchen and placing them on the dining room table. To Ben and Joe it still seemed wrong for anyone but Hop Sing to be preparing their food and they knew it always would. However, Buckshot was a decent cook and a decent man. He did his best to fit in with the household, for he understood Hop Sing had been more than merely a cook to the Cartwrights.

Ben, Joe, Annabelle and three-year-old Benj sat around the dining room table. Ben was seventy-four now and beginning to feel his age, although he wouldn’t admit it to anyone but Paul Martin. His hair had changed from gray to snow-white over the years and his face was now lined and leathery but he still stood straight and proud. Now he gazed fondly at his family. Joe was thirty-nine and his hair was as thick and curly as ever, but it was now more gray than brown. His face was still youthful but there were lines that hadn’t been there eight years earlier, for the loss of his beloved older brother and his first wife had aged him almost overnight it seemed to his father. However, he was as lithe and muscular as he had been at twenty. Ben let his gaze travel to his little grandson and namesake. Benj favored his mother and had inherited her blonde hair and large blue eyes. He had inherited his mother’s quiet, rather reserved nature as well. Ben then reflected on the family’s absent members. First, his thoughts turned to Hoss. How he missed his gentle, loving middle son. His loss was a wound that would never heal, just as the loss of the three women Ben had loved with all his heart. Then his thoughts turned to his firstborn and his family.

Ben was secretly amused that his youngest and oldest sons had married such different women. Joe’s Annabelle was five feet, five and a half inches tall with an hourglass figure. She had dark honey-blonde hair and classically beautiful features. Adam’s Bronwen, on the other hand, was barely five feet, slender and petite. Her hair was black as a raven’s wing and her features would be described as winsome rather than beautiful. The differences didn’t end with their physical appearances. Annabelle was cool, serene and sensible while Bronwen was warm, lively and impetuous. Ben loved them both, but even though he had lived with Annabelle four years and only spent a couple of months total in Bronwen’s company, in many ways he felt he knew Bronwen better than he did Annabelle.

As they passed the food around Joe said quietly, “We got a package from Adam.”

“Good,” Ben said with a smile that lighted up his whole face. “I hope that means he’s sent more photographs of the girls.”

“I guess we need to send him a photograph of Benj and Sarah,” Joe commented with an answering smile and he reached over to tousle his son’s blonde hair and the child grinned at him.

“Sarah is a little too young now, but we can have Benj’s photograph taken,” Annabelle stated. “It’s nice that Adam took up photography as a hobby so at least we can see his girls grow up in photographs.”

After they finished eating, Annabelle took Benj upstairs and put him to bed while Ben and Joe waited impatiently for her to return. As soon as she came down the stairs, Ben opened the package and found, in addition to the photographs, a letter from Adam and one from each of the girls. He decided to look at the photographs first. “Beth is growing up so fast,” he said wistfully as he looked at the image of his oldest grandchild.

“How old is she now?” Annabelle asked.

“Well, let me see. She’ll be thirteen in January, and that’s five months from now,” Ben replied, handing her the photograph.

“Thirteen is about the age little girls start becoming women,” Annabelle said reflectively. “At least it was true for me and most of my friends.” She didn’t notice the uncomfortable expressions on the faces of her husband and father-in-law.

“I wonder how many young men there are in Cloncurry,” Joe said as he looked at Beth’s photograph with a big grin. “It looks to me as though older brother is going to have his hands full in a couple of years.”

“Miranda looks more like her grandmother each time I see a photograph,” Ben said softly as he gazed at her likeness.

Annabelle moved to stand behind Ben. “Oh, it’s remarkable how much she looks like Adam’s mother.” She moved to Ben’s desk and picked up the daguerreotype of Elizabeth and then brought it over to compare. “Look, darling,” she said to Joe, beckoning him over. Joe walked over and he raised his eyebrows as he compared the two faces.

“Does it hurt you to see how much she looks like Adam’s mother?” he asked Ben cautiously.

“No,” Ben replied slowly. “Liz has been gone for over fifty years now. She was so young when she died. I lost all your mothers when they were much too young, but Liz wasn’t even twenty. Seeing how strongly Miranda resembles her only brings back happy memories-how young we both were and how much in love.”

Joe pulled out another photograph. “Well, if Miranda looks like Adam’s mother, Gwyneth sure looks like Adam.”

Ben looked at that photograph and grinned. “She surely does.”

“And Penny looks like Bronwen,” Annabelle said with a slight smile.

“Hey, Adam must have gotten Rhys to help because here’s one of the whole family, including their dog,” Joe said with a giggle as he examined the photograph of the six Cartwrights (and Lady) posed in front of their home. “Ol’ Adam’s definitely bald now. Got more hair on his face than on his head.”

“He may be bald but he is still a very handsome man,” Annabelle stated reprovingly. “What I can’t understand is how after four babies Bronwen has kept her figure. She is so slender.”

“Your figure looks just fine, honey,” Joe said putting his arm around her waist. “Bronwen’s always been a bit too thin for my taste.”

“Shall I read Adam’s letter now?” Ben asked, setting down the box of photographs, and they both nodded. However, just then they heard Sarah crying.

“You don’t have to wait for me,” Annabelle said with a sigh. “Joe can tell me what Adam wrote later.”

“No, we’ll wait,” Ben stated firmly.

Luckily Sarah was only wet, not hungry, so Annabelle returned in a few minutes and sat beside Joe on the settee. Ben put on his reading glasses and then began to read.

July 3, 1887

Dear Pa, Joe and Annabelle,

I have some surprising news to share. Sometime at the end of January or the beginning of February, our family will increase. . . .

“So Adam’s gonna be a daddy again,” Joe chortled. “Sure hope it’s a boy this time and not the newest member of his harem.”

“Joe,” Annabelle scolded and with a big smile Ben continued reading.

I’m still trying to get used to the idea of becoming a father again at my age. I thought midnight feedings and diapers were behind us. The thought of going through it all again is somewhat daunting. Bronwen, on the other hand, is excited because she is hoping that this time it will be a boy. I hope so, too, but I keep reminding her that it is just as likely to be a fifth daughter. Even though she is excited, she is having more problems with nausea this pregnancy. I worry about her because she’s having so much difficulty keeping anything down, and she tires so easily.

We decided to put off telling anyone here until Bronwen begins to show, but I’m sure Nell and Mary and probably Matilda have already deduced the truth. The girls are all doing very well. Beth is on the verge of becoming a young woman, which absolutely terrifies her father. She is already trying to convince us that she should be able to pin her hair up and lengthen her skirts. We have told her firmly that won’t happen until she is at least fifteen. (And older than that if I have my way!) There really aren’t very many boys her age here and young men are mostly miners or jackaroos (that’s Australian for cowboys). Still, Cloncurry is growing. We now have a small hospital, a school, three churches and a newspaper. Hopefully when our girls are old enough to begin thinking of marriage, there will be a larger population.

Unlike Beth, Miranda is happy that we now have a school and she is earning excellent marks. However, she is very disappointed that the school doesn’t teach higher mathematics. She is not even twelve, but she’s asked me to teach her algebra, and she is picking it up so easily. It is a crime that she can’t attend a college or university and earn a degree. . . .

“Oh, I must write him about Vassar, Smith, Wellesley and the Harvard Annex,” Annabelle broke in excitedly.

“What are they?” Joe asked her curiously.

“Women’s colleges here in the United States,” Annabelle replied. “Even if there aren’t any in Australia, Miranda could earn a degree here.”

“I doubt Adam and Bronwen would agree to Miranda attending school here. And I’ll bet those colleges are all back east,” Joe said firmly.

“Smith, Wellesley and the Harvard Annex are all in Massachusetts. Since Adam is a Harvard alumnus, he might like the idea of Miranda attending the Annex, and my parents or my brother and sister-in-law would be happy to act in loco parentis.”

“In what?” Joe repeated.

In loco parentis. It means in the place of the parent,” Ben said gravely. “I think Adam and Bronwen might be interested in the information, and I’m sure they’d appreciate your sending it to them, Annabelle. But let’s get back to Adam’s letter, shall we?”

Gwyneth and Penny are also attending school now. While they aren’t the scholars that Miranda is, they both enjoy their lessons. Gwyneth is proving to be a bookworm just like her older sister; however, she doesn’t share her love of mathematics. Arithmetic is the one subject that she struggles with. She is my quiet girl. I’m afraid she would have a harder time in a larger town or a city, but Cloncurry is small enough that she knew most of the children her age before she began attending school. For her ninth birthday we invited all the girls in her class to a party here, and they all seemed to have a good time so we’re going to do the same for the other girls. (Beth is hinting that she would like to invite the boys as well as the girls in her class; I’m against the idea but both Beth and Bronwen are trying to change my mind.)

Gwyneth’s best friend is still her cousin, Llywelyn. After their schoolwork is done, they usually go for a ride on their ponies with Lady and Cabal (Pip’s successor) trotting behind. That is changing, however. Llywelyn is now on the school’s cricket team and he doesn’t have as much time to play with Gwyneth. I know Rhys is relieved that Llywelyn is spending more time with other boys, but it’s hard on Gwyneth and she’s spending more time alone reading. (She devoured The Blue Fairy Book, by the way, and also the book we gave her for her birthday, Black Beauty. It took a little longer but she’s now finished True Stories from Ancient History, which was Tad and Mam‘s birthday gift. Tad doesn’t think she should spend all her time reading fiction.) Bronwen and I wish that she had a special friend among the girls her age but she’s just never been very interested in playing with dolls or learning to sew and embroider. Thank goodness she loves to play croquet. Often when I come home from the mine, I’ll find most of the children in the neighborhood playing a game in our front yard and Gwyneth is always there and having a good time.

I think the reason Penny enjoys school is that she can be with so many little girls her age. She is definitely the most gregarious of the girls and has made lots of friends at school. Her best friend is Kate Newkirk, who lives across the street. After school either Penny plays at Kate’s house or Kate plays at ours. (Penny isn’t too interested in croquet; it is mostly her older sisters and their friends who play.) Like Beth, Penny loves pretty clothes, and most of the dresses are too worn by the time they get to her so she gets as many new dresses as Beth. It’s lucky for me that Miranda and Gwyneth aren’t as interested in new clothes. Bronwen warns me that as they get older that will change. My little Penny is also growing up. She’s lost both front teeth at the same time so the poor thing lisps now but it’s really rather endearing.

This letter is getting long so I’ll conclude by sending you all our love and enclosing some photographs I’ve taken of the girls and one Rhys took of the entire family. (Gwyneth insisted on Lady being in the photograph. She really wanted to include all our mounts as well but Bronwen and I drew the line at that and I explained that the horses would spook at the flash going off.)

Affectionately yours,

“Would you all like to hear the girls’ letters?” Ben asked as he carefully refolded Adam’s letter.

“Sure,” Joe replied with a grin and Annabelle nodded.

“I’ll start with Penny’s.” He opened a sheet of paper covered with Penny’s large crooked printing.

Deer Grandpaw,

How are you? I am fine. I losted to teth. Gwyneth and me want to com see you and sno.


“They don’t have snow in Cloncurry?” Annabelle asked as Ben refolded the letter.

“No, even their winter it doesn’t get that cold,” he replied. “Maybe when the new baby is old enough, they will come for a visit although I doubt it will be during our winter. Now let’s see what Gwyneth wrote.” He unfolded a letter written in Gwyneth’s large sprawling handwriting.

July 4, 1887

Dear Grandpa

Happy Fourth of July! Daddy bought us some firecrackers we could set off to celibrat Americas independance, and we all sang The Star Spangld Banner. Lady did not like the firecrackers and she ran under the house. We have a school in Cloncurry now. I like everything but arithmetic. Mama says I need to work on my penmanship, but Daddy says I write just like Mama. What do you think?

Your grandaughter,

“I’m glad to see Adam is teaching them about our country just as he said he would,” Ben said with a smile.

“May I see the letter?” Joe asked and Ben passed it over. Joe chuckled as he looked it over. “Adam’s right. Her handwriting is like Bronwen’s.”

“Now Miranda’s letter,” Ben said taking Gwyneth’s back from Joe. As he unfolded her letter, he saw her neat handwriting.

July 4, 1887

Dear Grandpa,

I hope you and Uncle Joe, Aunt Annabelle, Benj and baby Sarah are well. We are all well here. Since today is America’s Independence Day, Daddy bought some firecrackers and he let us set them off. (All of us except Penny because she is too young.) Then Daddy read us the Declaration of Independence and we sang “The Star Spangled Banner”. We study history at school, but mostly just English history so Daddy teaches us American history at home. He said one of our great-great-great-uncles fought in the Continental Army and great-great-great-grandfather Stoddard was in the American Navy during the Revolution. He also told us that when he went to Harvard he saw Bunker Hill and Paul Revere’s house and the old North Church where the lanterns were hung to warn of the British troops. I hope that maybe some day I can go to Boston. Daddy said maybe the next time we come visit you we could ride the train to Boston. I’d like to see Harvard, too. I wish I could go to school there, but Mama and Daddy tell me colleges are just for boys. That is so unfair! I am as smart as any boy I know. (Smarter than most!) My best friend, Emma Lawrence, would like to go to college and study to be a doctor. I’ve read that there are women in England and the United States who are trying to get women the right to vote. If women get the right to vote, then Emma and I can go to college and she can study to be a doctor and I can study mathematics.

I shall end by saying that I hope we can visit you soon. (Daddy told us that things are too busy at the mine right now, but maybe next year we can come see all of you.)


“I think she really is a female version of Adam,” Joe said shaking his head. “A little girl who actually wants to study mathematics.”

“Well, if she meets a boy and falls in love, I imagine she’ll forget all about mathematics,” Annabelle said with an indulgent smile.

“I don’t know,” Ben said slowly. “Adam and Bronwen both say she’s as stubborn as the two of them put together. I have a feeling no boy is going to compete with her desire for a higher education.”
Annabelle looked skeptical but she suggested Ben read Beth’s letter. Beth’s handwriting was so fancy Ben found it difficult to read.

July 5, 1887

Dear Grandpa,

Everyone else wrote to you on Independence Day, so I decided to wait until today. I imagine Daddy told you that we now have a school in Cloncurry. It’s nice being able to see my friends, but I hate schoolwork! Yesterday my class had to write an essay about the advantages of receiving a good education. I told Daddy that I couldn’t think of any and he told me I needed to think harder. Miranda had already finished her essay and it filled the whole page, but she likes school. She and her friend, Emma, are the only girls in the school who like it! Most of the boys don’t like it either. I know how to read and write and I can do arithmetic (even if I don’t like it), so I don’t see why I need to go. Of course, I guess as long as my friends are in school, I wouldn’t want to stay home. (Especially since Mama says if I did stop going to school, then I’d be helping Nell and Mary with the laundry and the ironing and scrubbing the floors.) I like to help with the cooking. Mama has shown me how to make scones and biscuits and how to make pound cake. Daddy says my biscuits are as good as Mama’s. Cooking is something I can do better than Miranda. She made biscuits last week and she left out the baking soda and put in twice as much salt as the recipe calls for. Even Lady didn’t want to eat those biscuits! I like to sew, too. With help from Aunt Matilda, I made myself a new dress. (Aunt Matilda likes to sew and Mama doesn’t so that’s why I asked Aunt Matilda to help me.) It’s a beautiful dress of amber moiré with a sash of apricot silk. I wanted to make a polonaise with a long skirt but Aunt Matilda said I’d have to have Mama and Daddy’s permission. They said I couldn’t wear long skirts and pin up my hair until I’m fifteen. They treat me as though I were Penny’s age, especially Daddy!

Grandpa, would you please write Daddy and tell him you think that when I turn thirteen I should be able to pin my hair up and wear long skirts. There is a boy at school named Paul; he is fifteen and he is very handsome. I just know that if I could wear my hair up and long skirts that he would like me, but now I just look like a little girl so he doesn’t pay any attention to me, just this older girl named Flora. I’ll love you even more, Grandpa, if you can get Daddy to stop treating me like a little girl.”

“Poor Adam,” Joe giggled. “He is going to have his hands full with Beth.”

“I wonder if he and Bronwen know she is interested in this Paul. I’m certainly glad he views her as a little girl,” Ben said, his brow furrowed.

“I had my first case of calf love when I was about eleven,” Annabelle said. “It’s really not unusual and it’s perfectly harmless.” At her husband and father-in-law’s skeptical looks she said with a smile, “You wait. The next time Beth writes she will have forgotten all about Paul and it will be another boy she’s interested in.”

“You’re the expert, honey,” Joe said, putting his arm around her waist and drawing her close.

“Is there more?’ Annabelle asked.

“A little.”

Daddy says for me to hurry and finish so he can get our letters and photographs in the mail so I will close by sending everyone on the Ponderosa my love.


P.S. Don’t forget to write Daddy and tell him that I should be able to wear my hair up and my skirts down.

“I am glad we only have one daughter,” Joe said with a smile. “I don’t wonder Adam is going bald; I wonder he has any hair left at all.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“Girls, before you get started on your schoolwork, Daddy and I need to talk to you,” Bronwen said with a smile as the two older girls began clearing away the dishes and glasses while the younger two cleared away the silverware and napkins.

“All right, but I hope it won’t take long because we have a long history lesson,” Beth said anxiously.

“And you’re still going to check my algebra and give me some more problems, aren’t you, Daddy?” Miranda asked.

“I said I would,” Adam replied with a little smile. “You all hurry and do the dishes and then come to the library.”

“I wonder what they want to tell us,” Beth mused aloud while Nell and Mary exchanged looks as they finished their meal in the kitchen.

“Well, they seem happy so it must be good news,” Miranda replied.

“Maybe Tad-cu and Mam-gu are coming for a visit!” Penny said excitedly.

“Or maybe we’re going to visit Grandpa,” Gwyneth suggested with a big grin that displayed her dimple.

“Well, the sooner we finish the sooner we’ll find out,” Miranda said firmly so the two older girls concentrated on washing and drying the dishes while the younger two put them up in the cupboard and drawers. They hurried into the library with its paneled walls and built-in bookshelves and found their mother waiting in one of the brown leather armchairs while their father leaned against a bookshelf.

“Why don’t we all sit down,” Adam said.

“Can I sit in your lap?” Penny asked and smiling he picked her up and sat in the chair beside Bronwen. The older girls each sat in an armchair and Gwyneth perched on the arm of Bronwen’s chair.

“Daddy and I have a surprise for you,” Bronwen began when Penny interrupted.

Tad-cu and Mam-gu are coming for a visit!”

“Kitten,” Adam admonished her. “It’s very rude to interrupt someone else when they are speaking.”

“I’m sorry, Mama,” Penny said contritely.

“I think this surprise is even better than a visit from Tad-cu and Mam-gu. You’re going to have a new baby brother or sister and he or she will be born right around your birthday, Penny. You might even share a birthday like Miranda and Daddy.”

For a moment only dead silence greeted this announcement and the two older girls wore stunned expressions.

“I hope it’s a brother,” Gwyneth announced ending the stillness. “I’ve got enough sisters.”

“Me, too,” Beth added and Miranda said with a slight grin, “Me three.”

“If you get another sister you know you’ll love her,” Bronwen chided them.

“I still want a brother,” Gwyneth stated emphatically, which made her parents laugh.

“May we start on our schoolwork?” Miranda asked.

Adam nodded and added, “When you’ve finished, I’ll give you some algebra problems. I checked yesterday’s work and you didn’t have any errors.”

Miranda dimpled at those words and she and Beth sat at the big partners’ desk to work on their lessons.

“We don’t have any work except our spelling,” Gwyneth said.

“Well, I’ll go over your words with you,” Adam said, “but let’s go into the drawing room so we won’t disturb your sisters.”

“Okay,” Gwyneth replied, “and then you said you’d teach me to play a new song on your guitar. Remember?”

“Yes, I remember,” he replied with a slight smile quirking up his lips. He had begun teaching her basic chords a few months ago and she had practiced and was now able to play several simple songs. He had decided that for Christmas he would get her a guitar of her own.

“I have to catch up on the mending, so I’ll join you,” Bronwen said.

Once the others had gone Beth looked at her sister. When Beth had turned twelve Bronwen decided it was time for a mother-daughter talk and since Miranda was so close in age she talked to them both. Remembering that talk, Beth turned to her sister and said, “I thought Mama and Daddy were too old to-you know!”

“Me, too, but I guess not,” Miranda replied. “Mama said when a man and woman love each other it’s something they want to do. There are four of us, so they must really like to do it.”

“I can’t imagine wanting to do that,” Beth said with a shudder.

“Me either, but Mama must be right that when you fall in love you do because look at all the babies that are born.” Both girls thought about that and then Miranda added, “We’d better quit talking and get to work.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Adam returned home early one warm afternoon in late September to find Gwyneth sitting forlornly on the verandah steps, her chin resting on her hand.

“Hello, Punkin,” he said stooping over to ruffle her curls. He noted that she was dressed for riding in an old pair of her cousin’s knickerbockers and one of his old shirts. “How come you’re sitting out here all alone?”

“Llywelyn’s playing cricket, Beth is with Aunt Matilda sewing a new dress, Miranda and Emma are in the library doing something for school, and Penny and Kate are in our room playing with their dolls,” Gwyneth replied with a big sigh. “Beth said she’d go riding with me, but then she decided to sew instead,” she added with a sullen scowl. Then her face brightened. “Would you go riding with me, Daddy?”

Adam was tired after the long ride from the mine and he knew that his blood bay Waler gelding, Zephyr, was also, but he saw the longing in those golden-brown eyes so like his own and knew he couldn’t deny her. “Sure,” he said with a grin. “But it will have to be at a walk because Zephyr is tired; he’s not up to any gallops. Just let me say hello to Mama. Then I’ll be right out.”

Bronwen was now nearly in her fifth month, but looked more like she was in her sixth. She was in the kitchen with Nell and Mary preparing supper. He gave her a quick kiss and told her he was going riding with Gwyneth. “I’m worried about her, Sweetheart. She just seems so lost now that Llywelyn spends most of his time playing with other boys.”

“I know. The problem is that she’s never really been interested in dolls or hopscotch or jacks like the other girls her age. And unlike Penny, she’s not at all outgoing.” Bronwen sighed. “I wish Annie Dawson could come to school in town. She and Gwyneth are always as thick as thieves when Janet comes for a visit.”

“Unfortunately the distance between the Dawsons’ station and the town is too great for that. At least they can see each once a month when Janet comes into town for supplies,” Adam replied with a wry smile. “I don’t want to keep her waiting. We’ll be back in plenty of time for supper.”

Adam found Gwyneth waiting impatiently at the paddock. She had gone ahead and saddled Lucky, her chestnut pony. Her face lit up when she saw her father and she swung into the saddle effortlessly. Adam patted Zephyr’s neck and said softly, “I know you’re tired, but I’ll make it up to you, boy,” before saddling him again. At first they rode along in a companionable silence then Gwyneth spoke.

“Daddy, if the new baby is a boy, will you still come riding with me?”

Her question seemed a non sequitur to Adam and he said with a puzzled frown. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I?”

“I just thought if you had a son, you’d want to ride with him, not me,” Gwyneth replied, and Adam noted she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“I’m sure I’ll want to ride with your new brother or sister, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want to ride with you. I’ve always liked riding with you and your sisters. Besides, by the time your new brother or sister is old enough to ride, you’ll be fourteen or fifteen years old. You probably won’t want to ride with your old dad by then,” he added with a wink. He saw her grin slightly, but she still wouldn’t look him in the eye so he said carefully, “Even if the new baby is a boy, it won’t change how I feel about you and your sisters. I love you all very much and so does Mama.”

“One of the girls at school said you’d love a son more. She said that all daddies would rather have sons than daughters,” Gwyneth said quietly, keeping her face turned away from her father.

“That girl was wrong. Before Beth was born, I told Mama I hoped she was a girl. It would be nice to have another male in the family, though, because sometimes I feel outnumbered,” and he saw her smile at that, “but if the new baby is a girl, then I will love her just as much as I love you and Beth and Miranda and Penny.” She looked up at him then and he smiled at her. “I think Zephyr is getting tired, so how about if we head back home?”

As they headed back to the house he asked, “How’s school?”

“It’s all right. Except for arithmetic. I had to miss afternoon recess and redo the problems that I missed.”

“Did you get the correct answer that time?” he asked and she nodded. “You’re an intelligent girl, Punkin. I don’t understand why you have such a problem with arithmetic.”

She shrugged. “I just don’t like it.” She glanced at him through her long lashes. “Can we sing tonight, Daddy? I’ve been practicing Early One Morning on the guitar.”

“As long as you’ve all finished your schoolwork, we’ll sing after supper. Have you finished yours?”

She nodded. “Mama helped me study my spelling words and I finished my report on Julius Caesar.”

“If your sisters haven’t finished their work yet, would you like to play Old Bachelor with Mama and me?
She dimpled. “Too right!”

“We got a letter from Annabelle today,” Bronwen said to Adam as the family gathered for supper.

“I got a letter from Grandpa,” Penny interjected and before Bronwen could reprimand her for speaking without being addressed Beth spoke up.

“We all did. Grandpa wrote that I look prettier each time he sees a new photograph of me,” she added smugly.

“He wrote me that he was proud of me for learning algebra. He said I reminded him of you, Daddy,” Miranda stated happily.

“He wrote me that Uncle Joe said my handwriting is like yours, Mama,” Gwyneth said with a smirk. “And Grandpa said he didn’t like arithmetic when he was in school either.’

“Even if he didn’t like it, I’m sure he tried his best,” Adam said with a little frown. Obviously he was going to have to write Pa about encouraging Gwyneth to think poor work in any subject was acceptable. He added, “I know Uncle Joe was often in trouble because he didn’t do his arithmetic problems at all or didn’t put much effort into them when he did.”

Gwyneth looked sulky at those words and Adam sighed. Pa would say he was getting his just desserts. Although Miranda shared his love of mathematics and learning in general, Gwyneth was most like him in temperament just as she was in appearance.

“Grandpa wrote me that they had firecrackers for the Fourth of July and Uncle Joe and Aunt Annabelle wouldn’t let cousin Benj light any either,” Penny stated.

“Fair dinkum?” Beth asked condescendingly. “Benj is only three years old.” Penny stuck out her tongue at her older sister causing Bronwen to say, “Penny,’ in a warning tone.

“Gwyneth told me she’s finished her schoolwork; what about the rest of you?” Adam asked to change the subject.

“Mr. Thomas is making us memorize Marc Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral. I don’t know why he won’t let me learn one of Juliet’s speeches,” Beth said with a pout.

“Especially if Rob could be Romeo,” Gwyneth said with a giggle and Beth blushed a little, while Adam frowned.

“Are you talking about Rob Fisher?” he asked, his eyebrows drawn together in a scowl, for Rob Fisher was seventeen.

“Beth’s in love with Rob,” Penny said in a sing-song voice and Gwyneth joined in.

“Penny! Gwyneth! That will be quite enough from the two of you,” Bronwen said firmly. “Apologize to your sister right now.”

“I’m sorry,” Penny said but her eyes gave the lie to her words while Gwyneth’s expression was surly.

“I hope you aren’t behaving in an unladylike fashion, Elizabeth,” Bronwen said sternly to her eldest.

“Of course not, Mama,” Beth said indignantly.

Miranda decided to speak up. “You do moon over him.”

“I do not!

“Yes, you do,” Miranda contradicted.

“I do not! You take that back, Miranda!”

“Elizabeth Siân, Miranda Inger!” Adam said sternly. “Unless you want to be sent to your room for the rest of the evening, I suggest you apologize to each other right now.”

“I will not. She owes me an apology for telling lies about me,” Beth sputtered indignantly.

“It’s not a lie. You do moon over Rob. ‘Oh, Rob, you’re so big and strong’,” Miranda cooed in a syrupy voice while batting her eyelashes in an exaggerated fashion.

Before Adam or Miranda could react, Beth slapped her sister as hard as she could and a furious Miranda slapped her back. Adam jumped to his feet. “That will be enough! Miranda, go to your room and wait for me. Beth, come with me.”

“I bet they’re both going to have a necessary talk with Daddy,” Penny whispered to Gwyneth.

“Penny,” Bronwen said in a warning tone and the two younger girls ate the rest of their meal in silence. Beth’s reaction to boys lately had them totally puzzled. Bronwen asked Mary to take Adam’s plate and keep the food warm.

“Mr. Cartwright probably won’t eat it,” Nell said to Mary sadly, looking at the pot roast, carrots and potatoes. “Having to punish those girls takes his appetite away,” and Mary nodded her agreement.

“Daddy said he’d play Old Bachelor with me,” Gwyneth said worriedly as they ate their dessert of rice pudding.

“If he said he would play Old Bachelor then he will,” Bronwen said encouragingly. “Why don’t you and I play a hand first? And would you like to play, Penny?”

“Too right!” Penny exclaimed, nodding her head vigorously.

“All right, you help Nell and Mary clear away and I’ll find the cards,” Bronwen said with a smile.

When Adam finished his “necessary talks” with his two oldest, he found Bronwen and the younger girls playing in the dining room.

“I had Mary keep your tucker warm,” Bronwen said quietly.

“I’m not really hungry,” he replied in an equally quiet tone and a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. Then he said with forced brightness, “So may I play in the next game?”

The four of them spent a pleasant evening playing Old Bachelor and Dr. Busby and then singing their favorite songs. Adam hadn’t forgotten that Gwyneth wanted to play Early One Morning on his guitar.

“That was excellent, Gwyneth,” he complimented her after she finished.

“You played almost as good as Daddy,” Penny added and Gwyneth smiled happily.

“You did a marvelous job, Gwyneth, but now it’s time for you and Penny to go to bed,” Bronwen said with a smile.

After they’d tucked all the girls in and kissed them good night, Bronwen said, “Shall we see what Annabelle wrote? I’ve been curious but waited until we could read it together.”

“Let’s get ready for bed first. It’s been a long day,” Adam replied rubbing the back of his neck to relieve the tension.

He quickly removed his own clothing, slid between the sheets and watched Bronwen undress. Even after thirteen years of marriage, he still enjoyed watching her remove her layers of clothing. She’d already gotten out of her loose fitting wrapper and hung it in her wardrobe. The next to go were her petticoat and cotton stockings. Although there were maternity corsets, when she was pregnant with Beth her doctor father had advised against them and Adam backed him up, so Bronwen only wore a silk undervest and loose fitting cambric drawers. She removed them and went to get one of her cotton nightgowns from the chest of drawers. He drank in the sight of her body, swollen with his child, feeling a primitive surge of gratification at the evidence of his virility.

“Why don’t you forego the nightgown tonight,” he suggested.

“What, and deprive you of the pleasure of removing it,” she replied with a teasing glint in her eye and he chuckled. The last step in her evening ritual was to unpin her braid, so it fell down her back past her hips. Freeing her hair from its braid was something else Adam enjoyed doing as part of their lovemaking so she never did it herself.

After she got into bed beside him, she reached over and got the letter from her bedside table and handed it to him.

August 16, 1887

Dear Adam and Bronwen,

After we read your latest letter I felt I must write and inform you that here in the United States we have at least four women’s colleges: Vassar, Smith, Wellesley and the Harvard Annex. I thought that as a Harvard alumnus, Adam, you would be particularly interested in the Harvard Annex. Professors and instructors at Harvard give tuition to qualified young ladies. Courses are offered in Greek, Latin, English, German, Italian, Spanish, philosophy, political economy, history, music, mathematics, physics and natural history. Young women who complete the full four-year course of study receive a certificate. The college purchased Fay House in Cambridge and the Annex is housed there. Many of the young women who attend the Annex live in Cambridge or Boston, while others board in private houses. I know that either my parents or my brother and sister-in-law would be happy to have Miranda stay with them. She is only a year older than my niece Charlotte and Charlotte would be glad to introduce Miranda to her friends. It sounds as though the schooling offered in Cloncurry might not be adequate to prepare Miranda to attend college. You might want to consider sending her to the Girls’ Latin School in Boston for at least a year so she could acquire a good grounding in the classics.

I do know that Miranda wouldn’t be able to visit home while she attended college here, but she could spend summer vacations with us. (The railroad has improved travel so much that what was impossible when you attended Harvard, Adam, is now accomplished with relative ease.) We would all love a chance to get to know her better.

It is, of course, your decision, but I felt I must make you aware that there are colleges for women. (In fact, the University of Michigan and Cornell actually offer coeducation, but I’m sure you would prefer Miranda attend a women’s college. If you would like more information, please let me know and I will contact my brother.

With affection,

“I want Miranda to have a chance to attend college,” Bronwen stated, “but not to see her for four or even five years! That’s just too long.”

“It’s ironic,” Adam said slowly. “When Pa agreed to let me attend Harvard, he knew he wouldn’t be able to see me for at least four years. If Miranda really wants to go, I can’t deny her.”

“Oh, so I’m to be the villain,” Bronwen said tartly.

“Sweetheart,” he said, gently putting his arm around her and holding her close, “we have years before we need to make a decision, and we don’t need to mention the matter to Miranda yet.” He paused and said thoughtfully, “If she really is interested in attending college in the United States,” and Bronwen gave a little snort of incredulity at the notion that Miranda wouldn’t be interested, “then we should see about sending her to the Girls’ Latin School in Boston the year she turns seventeen. We can see how she fares away from home for one year. I must admit,” he added with a little grin, “the idea of Miranda attending the Harvard Annex appeals to me.” Bronwen just shook her head, her melancholy clearly evident on her expressive features. She knew she was going to have to resign herself to not seeing Miranda for years. If Pa could do it, then so can I, she thought to herself with a sigh.

“Let me see if I can make you feel better,” he murmured softly before capturing her mouth with his own and letting his hands cup her swollen breasts.

~ ~ ~ ~

Adam and Miranda’s joint birthday coincided with the beginning of the wet season, which lasted November through March, and November 14 began with a thunderstorm that showed no signs of abating as the day progressed. Bronwen was now well into her sixth month and she was definitely bigger than she had been with any of the girls. Adam, Nell and Mary conspired together to keep her participation in Miranda’s birthday party and the family dinner to an absolute minimum She allowed the other two women to handle the cooking, but insisted on baking the birthday cake since she was the best baker of the three, allowing Beth to help. She baked a triple layer cake with rich, butter cream frosting and decorated it with pink rosebuds.

The week before the party all the females, except Bronwen, had been pressed into service giving the house a thorough cleaning. The hardwood floors were all scrubbed. All the furniture gleamed from fresh applications of beeswax and there was not a speck of dust to be found anywhere. The green and tan Aubusson carpet in the drawing room had been taken outside and thoroughly beaten. (The girls had actually enjoyed that and luckily there was one day that week when it didn’t rain.) Because she could do it sitting down, Bronwen cleaned and polished all the oil lamps and the silver and Penny helped.

Since both the boys and girls were going to be invited to Beth’s birthday party in January, Bronwen and Adam (under protest) had agreed they should all be invited to Miranda’s birthday party as well. Miranda chose the games that would be played: Charades, Twenty Questions, Dumb Crambo and Taboo. Adam and Bronwen both noted with a smile that these games all involved thinking. Beth tried to persuade her sister to choose Blindman’s Wand or Deerstalker instead of Twenty Questions, but was told she could play those games at her party if she wished.

The afternoon of the birthday party, the rain was still pouring, so each child arrived at the party with a dripping umbrella, which he or she deposited on the verandah before entering the house. Miranda was there to greet her guests and Nell or Mary escorted them to the drawing room. Adam had designed all the rooms in their house to be light and airy and the drawing room was no exception with its white plastered walls and dark green trim. The large settee was upholstered in a green and white striped brocade that complimented the room as did the two dark green brocade arm chairs that faced the settee and the two wing chairs upholstered in the same green and white brocade as the settee. Since the rain was pouring straight down, both the French doors and the large window were open so the air could circulate, for the temperature had reached ninety-eight degrees.

By the time Adam and Rhys returned from the mine that evening, the rain had slackened somewhat. Adam stopped at the Davies house first to get Gwyneth and Penny, who’d spent the afternoon with their Aunt Matilda. The three of them walked Zephyr to the barn and the girls helped Adam care for Zephyr before they fed and watered the rest of the stock. (In addition to the girls’ ponies, the three saddle horses and two carriage horses, the Cartwrights kept a milk cow. Bronwen also kept a flock of chickens. Adam had originally purchased two lots: one for their house and one for a barn and paddock. Since then he had purchased ten additional acres to provide more pasture for the livestock. Their property was on the outskirts of the town proper so no one had complained about the livestock, and the Cartwrights were able to supply their own eggs, fresh milk and butter.) Bronwen also had a large vegetable garden and they had two orange and two lemon trees growing in their backyard so they were able to have plenty of fresh, sweet lemonade or juicy oranges in season.

As he fed and watered the animals, Adam felt the beginnings of a pounding headache, but he tried to ignore it. The party guests were exiting out the front door as he and the two younger girls entered through the backdoor into the kitchen, which felt like a steam bath in the heat and humidity. They hurried up the back stairs so they could change for the family dinner party. Adam found his stomach churned at the very thought of food. He hoped that with the Davies attending dinner as well, he’d be able to hide his headache and loss of appetite from Bronwen.

He dressed and checked on Gwyneth and Penny. They had changed to their best dresses and already gone downstairs, so he joined the rest of the family. The Davies arrived just as he was coming down the stairs and they gathered in the drawing room to converse while Nell and Mary finished readying the dining room for the birthday supper. Although no one else noticed anything amiss, Bronwen saw Adam pinch the bridge of his nose several times, a sure sign he had a headache. Even from the length of the dining room table, she observed that he played with his food rather than eating it. She had a good idea what was wrong, but knew better than to quiz him. He never admitted to being sick until he was so ill he couldn’t disguise it. In this particular case, if she were correct, there was nothing to be done now anyway.

“So, how was your party, Angel?” he asked, trying to ignore the sharp stabbing pain that centered behind his eyes and smile at his contented daughter.

“It was lovely. Everyone enjoyed playing the games,” and she sniffed at her older sister who shrugged her shoulders and tried to look blasé. “And the cake was delicious, Mama. They all loved it.”

“Is there any left for us?” Llywelyn asked apprehensively, for he had a sweet tooth and Aunt Bronwen was a better baker than his mother.

“Oh, my goodness yes,” Bronwen said with a laugh. “You can even have two pieces if you wish, Llywelyn bach.

“I’m sure one will be sufficient,” Matilda said firmly.

“I’m glad that your party was such a success, Angel,” Adam said and managed a real smile in spite of his agonizing headache and the chills he was beginning to experience.

After the supper, they all gathered in the drawing room so Miranda and Adam could open their gifts. The Davies’s gift for Miranda was a new dress Matilda had made of sea-green taffeta with a rose silk sash trimmed with ivory lace. Miranda’s sisters had pooled their money and bought her the tam-o’-shanter they’d seen her admiring in the town’s little dress shop, run by an impoverished widow. Her Uncle Joe and Aunt Annabelle sent her a copy of Little Women while Grandpa gave her An Old Fashioned Girl. Tad-cu and Mam-gu sent her The Heroines of History. Uncle Bryn and Aunt Victoria sent her a smocked frock of green and brown plaid cashmere. Adam and Bronwen gave her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

“Oh, thank you all. The dresses and the tam-o’-shanter are lovely and it’s hard to decide which book to read first,” Miranda exclaimed and her face positively glowed with happiness. “Now it’s your turn, Daddy.”

He managed a faint smile and hoped his complexion didn’t give away his nausea and that they couldn’t see he was shivering uncontrollably. He realized now what was wrong and knew he would just have to endure these symptoms. “All right, well, whose gift should I open first?”

“Open ours, Daddy. Open ours!” Penny said excitedly and he removed the wrapping paper revealing a bottle of his favorite bay rum cologne.

“Thank you very much, girls,” he said with a smile and only Bronwen observed the strain in his eyes. Next he opened the gift from the Davies and found a box of expensive, engraved stationary and thanked them. Joe and Annabelle had sent a leather-bound copy of the complete works of Shakespeare.

“Obviously my sister-in-law’s choice,” he commented and managed a slight chuckle. “Joe’s literary taste is pretty much confined to dime novels.”

“What did Grandpa send?” Gwyneth asked curiously. “It’s such a small box.”

“I’ll open his next and save Mama’s for last.” When Adam opened the small box, he found a silver signet ring, engraved with the Ponderosa’s pine tree brand. There was a note folded inside the box. “Pa writes the ring was made from silver mined on the Comstock. He had it engraved with our brand; it’s what we use on cattle and horses to mark them as ours.”

“He wrote me what he wanted to give Adam. I had to measure his finger while he was sleeping and it wasn’t easy,” Bronwen added and the adults all laughed. “Now, Cariad, my real gift won’t arrive for a couple of months but I bought you this that you could open tonight.”

Seeing her younger sisters’ puzzled expressions, Beth whispered in a superior tone, “She means the baby, drongos.”

Adam opened the package and held up what appeared to be a loose fitting shirt and trousers of brown and green striped silk. His expression was bemused and Bronwen explained, “They’re called pyjamas and they are for sleeping. Mam wrote me that they are replacing nightshirts so I asked her to buy a pair for me to give you.” She smiled sweetly but Adam saw the saucy glint in her eyes; however, he was becoming increasingly nauseated and rather than risk disgracing himself he said quietly, “I thank you all. I’m afraid I’m not feeling very well, so I’ll have to ask you to excuse me.”

“Oh, we should be getting home anyway,” Rhys said quickly but Adam said, “No, don’t leave on my account. Please.”

“Are you sick, Daddy?” Penny asked and all the girls wore fearful expressions, for they had never seen their father truly ill.

“I’ll go to sleep and I’m sure I’ll feel all right in the morning. Don’t worry, Kitten” he said in what he hoped was a soothing tone. He hurried upstairs and managed to grab the basin just in time. He was so sick he wasn’t even really aware of Bronwen entering the room and closing the door behind her until he finished vomiting and she firmly took the basin away.

“You’re having a recurrence of malaria, aren’t you” she asked calmly. He nodded, his jaw clenched to prevent his teeth from chattering. Now that the sun had gone down the temperature had dropped to the mid-70s, but he was freezing. She walked to their chest of drawers and pulling out the bottom drawer she took out a flannel nightshirt and laid it on the bed beside him. Then she removed his tie, unbuttoned his shirt and trousers and then pulled off his boots. He took off his shirt and trousers and then slipped into the nightshirt and crawled under the bedclothes.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes. See if you can sleep. Once you move from the chills to the fever I can give you the quinine.” She exited down the backstairs carrying the basin. She returned a few minutes later with the basin, now clean, and set it within easy reach. He was shaking with cold so she got a blanket from her cedar chest and placed it over him. “I left Rhys and Matilda with the girls, so I need to go back down. But I’ll be back shortly.” She dropped a light kiss on the top of his head and then left.

When she went downstairs, she discovered Matilda playing Old Bachelor with the younger children. Miranda was reading one of her new books while Rhys and Beth were talking quietly. Bronwen walked over to them and Beth asked quietly, “Is Daddy all right?” but Bronwen saw the fear in her eyes.

She smiled reassuringly and said in an equally quiet voice, “Yes. He and Uncle Rhys got malaria years ago when I was pregnant with you, and Daddy is having a recurrence. He is sick now but he’ll probably feel better tomorrow and for a day or two. Then he’ll get sick again. The cycle usually lasts a couple of weeks; that’s how malaria is. He had a recurrence once before when you were just a baby.”

“I’ve had two,” Rhys said calmly, “and you can see I’m fine, so your Daddy will be as well.”

Beth’s relief was palpable and she smiled brightly at her mother and uncle. “I think I’ll see if I can join the game.”

“Do you want us to go or stay, Bronwen fach?” Rhys asked.

“Stay, please. Adam doesn’t want to spoil Miranda’s birthday and it’s still early.”

Rhys looked at his niece, totally absorbed in her book, and grinned. “I don’t think Miranda fach would know if we’re here or not.”

Bronwen returned the grin and then added soberly, “Penny and Gwyneth would. Since they were too young to attend the party, I’d appreciate it if you could stay and play a few games with them so I can sit with Adam for a bit.” He nodded and she went back up the stairs.

She moved their rocking chair close to his side of the bed and took his hand in hers. She didn’t try to talk with him; she just held his hand and rocked gently. She rocked until she knew he was asleep and then she gently placed his hand back on the bed and went quietly downstairs. Everyone but Rhys and Miranda was playing Old Bachelor, and Rhys and Miranda were both reading. Miranda had decided to read Little Women first and Rhys was absorbed in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

“Is Daddy all right?” Gwyneth asked as she looked up and saw her mother.

“He’s sleeping right now. He’ll be all right, but he will be sick for probably a week or two. We’ll all need to be quiet so he can rest.”

“You’re sure he’s all right?” Gwyneth asked, obviously needing reassurance.

“Yes, I’m sure. He’s been sick like this before and so has Uncle Rhys. We just have to let the illness run its course. He’ll feel better some days, and then you can take turns visiting him. All right?”

“I want to visit first,” Penny insisted and the older girls shrugged their compliance.

“I think we’d best go home now. It’s getting close to the children’s bedtime,” Matilda said, standing up.

“Could I have a piece of birthday cake to take home, Aunt Bronwen?” Llywelyn asked hopefully.

“I’ll bet Nell or Mary already have a piece ready for you to take,” Bronwen replied with a smile.

She tucked the girls in and kissed them goodnight; it seemed strange to do it on her own. Lady must have sensed her disquiet because instead of jumping up and sleeping at the foot of Gwyneth’s bed as she usually did, she padded after Bronwen and lay down by the large four-poster bed so she could watch Adam. Bronwen couldn’t lie on her side now, but she lay on her back as close to Adam as she could, hoping to warm him with her body heat. She drifted off to sleep only to be awakened a few hours later by Lady’s whimpering and Adam’s restless tossing and turning. She felt his head and jerked her hand back, frightened by the heat emanating from his dry skin. She put on her spectacles, lighted her lamp, and mixed the dose of quinine, which she’d set out before going to bed. He was threshing about in delirium and knocked the glass from her hand. She felt a moment of panic and took some calming breaths. It was clear she was going to need help to give him the medicine so she headed down the stairs to wake Nell and Mary.

Nell, a light sleeper, woke at the first knock “Who is it?” she called.

“It’s Mrs. Cartwright, Nell.”

“Is it the baby?” Nell asked anxiously, jumping out of bed and coming to open the door in her nightgown.

“No, the baby and I are fine,” Bronwen replied quickly. “It’s Mr. Cartwright. He’s having a recurrence of malaria. It’s reached the fever stage but I need your help and Mary’s to keep him quiet so I can give him the quinine. He’s tossing and turning so in delirium that he’s already knocked one dose out of my hand and spilled it and we must get his fever down.”

“I’ll wake Mary,” Nell said calmly. “You go upstairs and prepare another dose. Try singing to him. That might help quiet him.”

She went back up the stairs. He was still thrashing about, muttering incomprehensible phrases. She quickly prepared another dose of quinine and then sat down in the rocker and began to softly sing Ar Hyd Y Nos. As she sang, she gently stroked his fevered brow. He gradually quieted and when Nell and Mary entered the room, clad in their robes and nightgowns, he was only tossing and turning slightly.

“Keep singin’, Missus Cartwright, and we’ll see if we can give him the medicine,” Mary suggested. Since Nell was the largest she was ready to hold him down if necessary while Mary held the glass to his lips. At the first bitter taste, he tried to turn his head away but she gently but firmly held the glass to his mouth until he’d drunk it all.

“Thank you,” Bronwen said tearfully.

“It was nothing,” Nell assured her with a smile. “I’m glad the singing worked though. He’s a big, strong man and I don’t know if we could have held him down. Might have had to go get Mr. Davies.”

The quinine worked quickly, and once Bronwen knew his fever was under control, she went back to sleep. She woke again a couple of hours later because his nightshirt and the bedclothes were sodden with his sweat. She didn’t want to disturb him so she lay on the chaise lounge and finally drifted back to sleep.

She sent the girls to church the next morning with their aunt and uncle and she stayed home with Adam. She woke him up so Mary could change the sheets, but the fever always left him enervated so he slept most of the day. He felt stronger in the evening, but Bronwen wouldn’t allow him out of bed so the four girls climbed up on the bed with him and the five of them played Twenty Questions while Bronwen prepared supper.

It took two weeks for the recurrence to run its course and on the days he felt stronger, Adam fretted at being restricted to bed. Bronwen threatened and cajoled by turns and managed to keep him confined. She amused him during the day by reading Tom Sawyer or playing cribbage and chess. In the evening if he felt up to it, the girls would tell him about their day at school and they would play a parlor game with him. It upset them profoundly to see him confined to bed, so they were as happy as he was when Dr. Brooke pronounced him fit and ready to return to work.

~ ~ ~ ~

The first week in December the temperature was over 110 degrees each day. The following Sunday morning once they were all gathered around the dining room table Adam said, “Since today is going to be another scorcher, how would you girls like to go swimming after church?’

“Too right!” Gwyneth exclaimed and was quickly seconded by her sisters.

“I’ll keep Mama company,” Adam said, smiling at Bronwen.

“Oh, I want you to swim with me and Gwyneth,” Penny pouted.

“How about if I spend some time swimming with you and some sitting with Mama so she doesn’t get lonely?”

“That’s fair,” Beth interjected, seeing the pout on her baby sister’s face. “You don’t want Mama to be lonely and she can’t swim now.”

“No, I don’t want you to be lonely, Mama. I guess it’s fair if Daddy spends some time with you,” Penny said magnanimously. She was affronted when Miranda snickered at her but she just tossed her head and ignored her, missing the look that passed between her parents.

As the girls ran upstairs to change, Adam walked from the head of the table to the foot to help Bronwen out of her chair and asked quietly, “You do feel up to the outing?”

She nodded saying, “At least it will be a little cooler at the river, but let’s see if we can take our wicker chaise lounge in the surrey. I’d never be able to get up off a quilt.” He smiled and gave her a quick hug. She added dolefully, ‘I don’t remember being this huge with the girls until the ninth month. If I keep on growing for two months, I won’t be able to fit through the doors.”

“Ah, but you’re only growing big in the front,” he said teasingly.

When they got home from church, the girls hurried to change. They put their bathing costumes on under their riding clothes while Bronwen changed into a loose fitting muslin gown and Adam also put his bathing costume on under his shirt and waist overalls. He hitched the team to the surrey and then carried the chase lounge from the upstairs verandah to the surrey. Meanwhile the girls had saddled their mounts (Beth had helped Penny since the saddle was too heavy for her) and ridden up to the house while he was placing the chaise lounge in the surrey. “Now girls, no mad gallops to the river. And that includes you, Beth.”

“Oh, Daddy,” she pouted. “You know I’m a good rider.”

“Yes, I do know that. I also know that even good rides can take a tumble. Don’t forget your broken arm,” he said, referring to a riding accident she’d had when she was nine.

“All right. No gallops,” Beth said sullenly and Gwyneth’s expression was equally sulky.

“And don’t get in the river until I get there. Understood?” And all four girls nodded reluctantly.

He kept the team at a walk for Bronwen’s sake. She sat close to him, resting her head against his shoulder as the baby kicked vigorously. When they arrived, the girls were waiting impatiently. As soon as they saw their parents approach, they began shucking their blouses, knickerbockers, shoes and stockings.

“I need to make a tent they can change in,” Adam said thoughtfully. “It just doesn’t look ladylike for them to be undressing in public even if they do have bathing costumes on underneath.”

He was in for an unwelcome surprise when he got a closer look at Beth. She was wearing the bathing costume Matilda had sewn for her the previous year but it was now too small and her budding breasts strained against the red flannel. In fact, he realized with a jolt, Beth was already as well-endowed as her mother, which made him extremely uncomfortable. Apparently the loose fitting sailor blouses and dresses little girls wore had hidden her developing breasts.

He was startled to hear Bronwen say in a matter-of-fact tone, “I think tomorrow after school I’ll take Beth to get her first corset. And I’ll give her my bathing costume. It will fit her better than this one.”

“She’s not even thirteen yet,’ Adam said forlornly.

“I think little girls mature before little boys,” Bronwen replied putting her arm around his waist comfortingly. “How old were you when your voice changed and you began to shave?”

“I think I was about fourteen when my voice changed and nearly fifteen when I began shaving,” he said slowly.

“I began to develop breasts when I was thirteen, but some of my friends were only twelve,” she replied. Poor Adam looked almost distraught, so she decided not to mention the fact that if Beth was beginning to develop breasts, it wouldn’t be long before she began menstruating.

~ ~ ~ ~

As it grew closer to Christmas, the temperatures soared and it rained for days at a time. One morning before their chores, the Cartwright girls met together in Beth and Miranda’s room to decide what they should get their parents for Christmas.

“I don’t have very much money,” Gwyneth said mournfully. “I spent most of it on Miranda’s and Daddy’s birthday presents.”

“Me, too,” Penny added.

The two older girls had a bit more to contribute but they couldn’t afford any of the gifts that they thought of.

“I know,” Beth said. “Let’s get something for the baby. They’d both like that. If we combine our money, we can buy some pretty yarns and I could crochet a new coverlet for the baby’s cradle.”

“Christmas is only two weeks away,” Miranda said doubtfully. “Do you really think you can finish by Christmas?”

“Summer vacation begins the week before Christmas so I’ll have more time to crochet then. And if you and Gwyneth help me with my barn chores, then I think I can do it. We need to go to the Broome’s shop today after school and pick out the yarn so I can start right away.”

“Wait,” Gwyneth said. “This is all the money I have. I won’t be able to buy any of you anything.”

“That’s right,” Miranda said. “None of us will have any money left.”

“She’ll be apples,” Beth said. “We just all agree that we won’t get each other anything this year. All right?”

They all agreed but Beth noticed Penny’s disappointed look so she said brightly, “Don’t worry, Penny. You’ll get nice presents from Daddy and Mama and all the other relatives.”

“And Santa Claus,” Gwyneth said sharing a grin with her older sisters, for Penny was the only one who still believed in Santa.

As they gathered around the table for breakfast, Beth announced, “We need to do some Christmas shopping after school today if that’s all right.”

“Of course. I’ll be ready when you come home.”

“No, you can’t come,” Gwyneth said loudly.

“Oh-ho, I think they must be shopping for your gift,” Adam said with a twinkle in his eyes and his lips quirked up in a little smile.

“Yours, too,” Penny stated.

“Oh, well, Nell or Mary can go with you,” Bronwen said but Beth interrupted.

“Miranda and I are old enough to go to shopping by ourselves. And we’ll watch Gwyneth and Penny.”

“I don’t need to be watched,” Gwyneth complained with a pout.
“I suppose you’re right,” Bronwen said after a pause. “Miranda is now twelve and you’ll be thirteen in a month. However, Gwyneth and Penny may only go if they promise to obey the two of you. Do you promise?”

“I promise,” Penny said solemnly and everyone looked at Gwyneth.

“I promise,” she said sullenly, sticking her lip out in a pout.

“You know, Punkin, if you leave your lip out like that, a Kookaburra is liable to come sit on it,” Adam said with a straight face and Gwyneth found herself grinning.

That afternoon the four Cartwright girls, all wearing sailor blouses and pleated skirts, walked into Cloncurry’s dry goods shop.

“May I help you, ladies?” Mr. Broome, the proprietor, asked with a smile. The Cartwrights were good customers so he knew the girls well. It was the first time he’d seen them without their parents though.

“Yes, thank you, Mr. Broome,” Beth replied politely. “We want to look at some yarn.”

“Beth’s going to crochet a coverlet for our baby sister.”

“Penny!” Miranda hissed, “it’s supposed to be a secret, remember?”

“And I hope it’s a baby brother, not another sister,” Gwyneth stated firmly while Mr. Broome hid his grin behind his hand.

“I can keep a secret, I promise,” he said with twinkling eyes. “Here, let me show you the yarn we have. Do you know how much you need?”

Beth bit her lip. She’d never crocheted a coverlet before and wasn’t sure.

“That’s all right. Mrs. Broome can probably help you. I’ll just send her over.”

Beth explained what she was going to make and Mrs. Broome was able to help her select the right amount. “But dear, I don’t think you can finish it by Christmas,” she said kindly.

“I know I can. Even if it’s all I do for Christmas vacation, I know I can do it,” Beth said resolutely. As they walked home she said, “If you can do my evening chores for me, then I’ll get started as soon as we get home,” and Miranda and Gwyneth nodded their agreement. They called a greeting to their mother, Nell and Mary and then hurried up to their rooms.

Miranda and Gwyneth hurriedly changed into knickerbockers and headed to the barn to muck out the stalls. (Adam took care of his Zephyr, Bronwen’s Welsh cob, Olwen, and the carriage horses, but the girls cared for their mounts and Blossom the cow.) As soon Miranda left, Beth began working on the coverlet.

When Adam arrived home about a half an hour later, he was surprised to find only three of his girls in the barn busily currying their mounts and feeding them. “Where’s Beth? Why isn’t she taking care of Duchess?”

“Now, Daddy,” Gwyneth replied earnestly, “you shouldn’t be a stickybeak this close to Christmas.”

He had to bite the inside of one cheek stop from laughing at her solemn expression. “I stand corrected,” he said assuming an expression as grave as hers. “If you girls give me a hand with Zephyr and Olwen, then we can walk to the house together, all right?”

As they worked they told him about their day. Miranda always did well at school, but he was relieved to hear that all Gwyneth’s arithmetic problems had been correct so she hadn’t missed any recess. “I knew you could do your work if you applied yourself, Punkin,” he said dimpling.

“But it’s so boring,” she whined.
“Boring!” Miranda exclaimed, one eyebrow shooting up in a perfect imitation of her father. “Mathematics is fascinating!”

“Not to me,” Gwyneth replied firmly.

“I got all my sums right, too, Daddy,” Penny interjected. “And I didn’t make any mistakes when I read my lesson either.”

“Good for you, Kitten,” he replied, picking her up and twirling her around to delighted squeals. “Miranda, did you finish the equations I gave you last night?”

“No,” she said with a frown. “I usually do them when I get home from school but there wasn’t time after we finished shopping.”

“Oh, I forgot to practice Silent Night,” Gwyneth added in dismay. Reverend Darnell had asked her to play for the Christmas Eve service and Adam was so proud Bronwen told him she thought he’d burst the buttons off his waistcoat.

“You both have time after supper,” he said reassuringly. “I guess Penny, Beth and Mama and I will be the only ones playing a game this evening.”

“Oh, Beth won’t be able to play either,” Miranda volunteered.

“Hurrah! I get to choose the game then!” Penny exclaimed clapping her hands in delight at the thought of having both parents’ undivided attention. “And I choose jackstraws.”

Beth knew she had to finish her homework every night, so during the last week before Christmas vacation she didn’t get as much done on the coverlet as she’d hoped, but she figured she could catch up during the next week when she didn’t have to go to school. However, Bronwen asked her to help with the Christmas baking since she was so huge and uncomfortable and just couldn’t bear the heat in the kitchen. Beth was proud that her mother trusted her to bake the Christmas cookies and the fruitcake, but that took a good deal of time that she couldn’t spend crocheting. She was beginning to worry that she wouldn’t be able to complete the coverlet by Christmas Eve when they put their gifts under the gum tree branch that served as a Christmas tree.

Adam came home one evening that week and found Bronwen upstairs on her chaise lounge looking exhausted and miserable. There were pronounced dark circles under her eyes since the restless baby didn’t allow her much sleep and the soaring temperatures were sapping her of whatever energy the baby left her. He felt a surge of panic seeing her. She was old to be having a baby and while there’d been no complications with her first four deliveries, she’d never been this huge before. He was actually reminded of Inger when she was carrying Hoss. Inger had had no problems, but she was a tall, large-boned woman not like his slender, fine-boned wife.

“Sweetheart, is there anything I can do for you?” he asked gently after dropping a kiss on her brow and pulling a wicker chair close.

“Oh, you’ve done your part!” she snapped, but then she instantly looked contrite. “I’m sorry, Cariad. I feel stuffed, but all I can do is endure for another seven or eight weeks. I’d prefer seven but eight might be better for the baby.”

“I’m more concerned with what’s better for you,” he added in a sharp voice. “This is definitely our last child. I’m not taking any chances that you might become pregnant again.”

“Oh Adam bach, I think you suffer more during my labor than I do,” she said with a teasing smile.

“I think I do,” he replied harshly. “If anything should happen to you . . . ”

“You’d grieve, but you would take care of our girls. Perhaps marry again.”

“Never,” he said savagely.

“What a morbid subject to be talking about anyway,” she said with a brittle laugh. “I don’t intend to die in childbirth, so put your mind at rest. I’m no great admirer of Mr. Browning, as you know, but I propose to prove the truth of his lines, ‘Grow old along with me!/The best is yet to be,/The last of life for which the first was made’.”

“I’ll hold you to that promise,” he said fiercely. Then in a more normal tone he added, “I think the girls can eat supper on their own tonight. I want to spend some time with you alone.”

“But the girls look forward to spending time with you,” she began but he put two fingers over her lips.

“I’ll play some games with them after supper. They may be disappointed that I’m not eating with them, but I know they’ll survive. It’s you I want to spend time with now. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

That evening after Adam and Bronwen had kissed Beth and Miranda goodnight and turned out their bedside lamps, Beth lay quiet for a few minutes before getting stealthily out of bed and re-lighting her lamp.

“What are you doing?” Miranda complained quietly. “I want to sleep.”

“Then turn over,” Beth hissed. “I need to work on the coverlet or it won’t be ready tomorrow evening.”

Miranda frowned but she turned over so her back was to Beth’s bed. Beth worked until she couldn’t keep her eyes open and she was harder than ever to wake up the next morning. Miranda very nearly resorted to a pitcher of water. Once she was up, she dressed as quickly as she could and began crocheting until her father called to tell her to come down for breakfast. Bronwen wanted to reward Beth for the hard work she’d done with the Christmas baking so she told her the day was hers to do as she liked. She expected her firstborn to go for a ride on poor, neglected Duchess or to go visit one of her friends. She was taken aback when after thanking her, Beth disappeared up to her room.

“I hope she’s feeling all right,” Bronwen said worriedly while Adam noticed the looks that passed between the other three girls and said with a smile, “I’m sure she’s fine. Remember, you don’t want to be a stickybeak this close to Christmas.” And then he winked broadly.

“Ah, yes,” she replied with a broad grin of her own. “No, I won’t be a stickybeak.”

Beth finished the coverlet with barely enough time to wrap it and take it downstairs to go beneath the gum tree branch turned Christmas tree, which they would decorate after supper. Over the years of their marriage, Bronwen and Adam had purchased several delicate glass ornaments which they placed on the tree while the girls hung little wooden birds and animals that Adam had carved out of Queensland maple and the girls had painted. Then Adam and Bronwen placed the gifts from their families and their own gifts for the girls under the tree and lastly, the girls placed their gifts. Adam’s eyebrow shot up in surprised when Beth placed one gift under the tree.

“Remember, Daddy, you promised not to be a stickybeak,” Gwyneth said gravely.

“So I did,” he answered and Bronwen smiled smugly. Just then they heard someone knocking at the front door. “Oh, that’s probably your aunt and uncle to go caroling. Since Mama can’t go this year, I’m going to stay home with her, but we want you to go with Aunt Matilda and Uncle Rhys.”

“I don’t want to go caroling without you, Daddy,” Penny said and her enormous violet eyes filled with tears and her chin began to wobble.

“Oh, Kitten,” he said, picking her up and kissing her cheek, “you’ll have fun and when you get back, I’ll recite The Night Before Christmas and Mama and I will read the Christmas story just like we always do. Then we’ll each open one gift and we’ll try some of Beth’s cookies and see if hers are as good as Mama’s. Okay?”

“Okay,” Penny sighed.

“That’s my big girl who’s almost seven,” Adam added hugging her. Bronwen watched and sighed. He was more demonstrative with Penny than with any of the other girls. Of course, Gwyneth had never tolerated hugs and kisses that well even when she was Penny’s age; Bronwen knew from conversations with Pa that was another trait she shared with her father. Now that Beth and Miranda were growing up, Adam was less inclined to give them hugs and kisses than he had been, particularly Beth. Bronwen understood why, but she hoped the girls didn’t feel rejected.

Once the girls were gone, she asked Adam if he’d read the Christmas Carol to her. “Be sure and do all the voices,” she commanded with a smile and he dimpled.

They were halfway through the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Past when they heard the sound of footsteps on the veranda and then Penny and Gwyneth burst through the front door calling, “We’re home!” Adam put Dickens down and went to the entry.

“Did you have fun?” he asked as the two older girls came in and shut the door.

“Yes, we did,” Miranda said with a glowing smile and the others all added their agreement.

“Now I want to hear about Santa Claus,” Penny said excitedly so he ushered them into the drawing room.

Bronwen was sitting in one of the side chairs since they were more comfortable in her condition. Adam sat on the settee with Penny on one side and Gwyneth on the other, while the older girls each sat in an armchair. Sitting in this room, with the decorated gum tree branch in front of the French doors and piles of gifts underneath, listening to their father recite The Night Before Christmas was one of their oldest memories, for he’d done it every year since Beth was born. After Adam recited the last line of the poem, he picked up their family Bible from the coffee table and read the Christmas story in Luke. When he finished, he walked over to Bronwen and handed her the Bible so she could read the Christmas story in Matthew. As soon as he sat back down, Penny crawled up in his lap and he put one arm around Gwyneth’s shoulders.

“Now we get to open a gift!” Penny exclaimed as soon as her mother finished. “I want you to open our gift, Daddy.”

“It’s for you and Mama both,” Gwyneth added.

“Then I think Mama and I should open it together,” he replied smiling warmly at his daughters. He got the gift from under the tree and then moved the other side chair by Bronwen’s.

“You have more of a lap than I do, so I think you should hold it,” she said with a grin and he chuckled. He maneuvered his chair so he could hold the gift and she could undo the wrapping. His eyebrow shot up and Bronwen gave a little gasp when she revealed a beautiful coverlet made of pastel shades of yarn.

“Beth fach, is this what you’ve been so busy with?” Bronwen asked, feeling her eyes fill with tears. “It’s beautiful!”

“It certainly is, Princess,” he added gently touching the silky soft material.

“We bought the yarn together and then I crocheted it. We thought you’d like a gift for the baby,” Beth said happily.

“It’s your brother or sister’s first Christmas gift,” Adam said with a gentle smile.

“And he’s not even born yet,” Gwyneth said with a grin. “I’ll bet he’s the only baby to get a Christmas gift before he’s even born.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Not long after Christmas, Adam began having to work late most evenings. The girls were disappointed because they missed spending time with their daddy, but he promised it would only be for a few weeks. Being observant girls, Beth and Miranda were surprised to notice that their mother seemed unconcerned.

“Usually Mama doesn’t like it when Daddy has to work late,” Beth commented pensively.

“Well, you and Penny both have birthdays coming up, so maybe Daddy’s busy just like you were busy before Christmas.”

“Maybe. We’ll find out soon enough,” Beth stated.

~ ~ ~ ~

The morning of her birthday, Beth entered the dining room with her hair twisted into a tall French knot, wearing one of Bronwen’s dresses. It had a polonaise of pale blue faille and a skirt of dove-gray cambric that fell below her ankles. Adam’s heart contracted, for she didn’t look like a thirteen-year-old girl; she looked like a young woman of sixteen or seventeen-a very beautiful young woman. In a harsh voice he barked, “Young lady, you have been told you can’t pin up your air and lengthen your skirts until you are fifteen. Now march back up to your room and change!”

“No!” Beth replied jutting out the dimpled chin that was a smaller, feminine version of his.

“Your party is cancelled as of this minute,” Adam said in a dangerously quiet voice, “and you’ve earned a necessary talk. I suggest you get up to your room now, or you are going to be very sorry.”

“I hate you, Daddy! I hate you!” Beth sobbed as she turned and ran from the room. The other three girls watched with white faces and round eyes while Bronwen frowned.

“Adam,” she began but he cut her off.

“We’ll talk about it later,” he said peremptorily.

Bronwen turned to the three younger children. “Go to the library right now; you can finish breakfast in a few minutes.”

Miranda, Gwyneth and Penny left with alacrity and Adam turned his scowling visage on his wife. “Am I going to be defied by every female in this family?”

“If you act a tyrant, yes, that’s what you can expect,” she said evenly. Seeing his scowl deepen, she added tartly, “If you send me to my room, I suggest you find somewhere else to sleep tonight.” She took a deep breath and said as calmly as she could, “Cariad, you overreacted and so did Beth. I know why; it hurts to see that your little girl isn’t a little girl anymore.”

She saw some of the anger fade from his expression and continued gently. “She was wrong to defy you, but canceling the party not only punishes her, but all the children who were planning on attending not to mention the fact that Nell, Mary and I have worked hard preparing for it. I am going to go upstairs and talk with her. When she comes down and apologizes for her behavior, I want you to tell her that she will still be having her party, but that for the next two weeks she is confined to the house and she is not allowed to play with her friends. That will be her punishment. I think it will be just as effective as canceling the party and a spanking.”

He was silent for a few moments and then nodded his agreement. “I’ll go talk with Beth, and you go tell the other girls to come finish their breakfast,” Bronwen suggested.

She found her firstborn lying prone on her bed, her shoulders shaking with her sobs. “Beth,” she said gently as she placed her hand comfortingly on her back.

“Go away and leave me alone!” Beth replied, shrugging off her mother’s hand.

“I’ve talked with Daddy, and now I want to talk with you,” Bronwen said firmly. “Turn around and look at me, Beth.”

“I hate him!” Beth sobbed as she rolled over. Her eyes were red and puffy and her nose was red and running. “He’s so mean!”

“No, you don’t hate him. You’re just angry with him. And he’s not mean. He’s scared,” Bronwen said calmly.

“Scared,” Beth scoffed.

“That’s right, Beth, he’s scared. Scared that his little girl is growing into a woman.”

“Why should that scare him?”

“I’ll tell you the same thing Mam-gu told me when I was about your age. Daddy is scared of you growing up because that means you won’t be his little girl anymore. You are going to fall in love and some other man will be more important to you than he is.”

Beth thought over her mother’s words. “You mean Tad-cu was scared of you growing up?” she asked in surprise.

“That’s right. All fathers are. Now, I’ve talked with Daddy and made him see that he was unfair when he said you couldn’t have your party. We agreed that your punishment will be that starting tomorrow and for the next two weeks you are restricted to this house except for church and your chores.” She saw the sullen look on Beth’s face and said firmly, “Beth, you did disobey us and you did defy your father. You know you must be punished for that.”

Reluctantly Beth nodded and Bronwen added sharply, “If you ever do anything like that again, I can promise you that it will be your sixteenth birthday before you’ll be pinning your hair up and wearing your skirts down. Now, wash your face and change and then hurry downstairs and apologize to Daddy.”

Bronwen went downstairs and rejoined the family, who were quietly eating their breakfast. Adam raised one eyebrow quizzically and Bronwen said with a smile, “She’ll be apples.”

They continued eating and the other girls finished and headed off to go riding after giving their parents a goodbye kiss. Beth came down a few minutes later-her hair carefully brushed and held back with a blue ribbon and dressed in a smocked frock of blue muslin. “I sorry I talked back to you, Daddy, and that I disobeyed you and Mama,” she said quietly. “And I’m sorry I said I hated you. I don’t.”

“Your apology is accepted,” Adam said quietly. He finished his own breakfast and gave Bronwen a goodbye kiss. He hesitated for a moment and then bent down and kissed Beth’s cheek. She startled him by flinging her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek.

“I love you, Daddy,” she whispered and he felt his eyes begin to fill with tears and said softly, “And I love you, Princess.”

When he came home that evening, after caring for Zephyr he stopped by the Davies’ house to get Gwyneth and Penny, who had spent the afternoon with their Aunt Matilda.

“Look, Daddy! Look, Uncle Rhys!” Penny said excitedly. “Aunt Matilda used her curling iron on my hair so it curls like Gwyneth’s and Miranda’s.”

“It’s very pretty, Penny fach,” Rhys said with a broad grin.

“Yes, it is,” Adam said, scooping her up so he could hug her and kiss her and she threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. “Where’s your sister?”

“She and Llywelyn went for a ride.”

“They should be back soon,” Matilda added. “I told them it would have to be a short ride since Llywelyn only got back from cricket practice half an hour ago.”

“Well, Penny and I need to go home and change for the birthday dinner,” Adam said. “We’ll see you all later. Please send Gwyneth home the minute she gets back.”

When he and Penny walked in the front door, they found Beth and her friends happily playing Blindman’s Wand.

‘Oh, it must be time to go,” one girl said when she saw him. The game ended abruptly and all the girls and boys thanked Beth for inviting them, and then thanked Bronwen as well.

“I take it the party was a success?” Adam whispered to Bronwen and she nodded happily. Beth ran over and threw her arms around him.

“Thank you so much for letting me have the party, Daddy. It was wonderful!”

“I’m glad, Princess,” he said dimpling. “Now, I have to go change for your birthday supper. And so does Penny.”

“I’ll help you with your buttons, Penny,” Miranda offered and the three of them headed upstairs. A few minutes later Gwyneth snuck in the backdoor wearing an old pair of Llywelyn’s knickerbockers and one of his old shirts.

“You better hurry and change,” Mary scolded and Gwyneth nodded and ran up the backstairs.

“You’re late,” Miranda said when Gwyneth ran in as she finished buttoning Penny’s high-waisted dress of green taffeta with a white silk sash.

“I know,” Gwyneth replied. “Could you help me with my buttons, too?” and Miranda nodded. Gwyneth quickly shucked her riding clothes and left them on the floor in a heap. She pulled a dress of rose faile with a sash of pale pink silk out of the wardrobe and put it on. Miranda buttoned it as quickly as she could but she wasn’t quite finished when Adam stuck his head in the door.

“Are you girls ready? Your aunt and uncle and Llywelyn should be here any minute.”
“We’re finished,” Miranda said as she buttoned the last button.

“No. Gwyneth needs to brush her hair and pick up her clothes. You two go on down and I’ll help Gwyneth,” he said. Gwyneth hastily picked up her clothes and hung them on the pegs on the wall. “Come here and I’ll brush your hair for you,” Adam said. He quickly undid her pigtails and then began brushing her thick curly hair.

“Ow! Daddy, you’re hurting me,” she complained.

“Sorry,” he replied. “But it’s your own fault I have to hurry. Now, where is your hair ribbon?” He tied her curls back and then examined her appearance critically. “I see you’ve grown again,” he remarked, noting that her dress barely came below her knees.

“I’m the tallest girl in my class. I’m taller than most of the boys.”

“You definitely take after me,” he said with a smile. “Now, let’s get downstairs before Mama wonders what became of us.”

The Davies arrived a few minutes later.  They had a pleasant family dinner, and Beth was delighted with her gifts.  Her sisters had pooled their money and bought her some pretty hankies trimmed with lace, and asked Matilda to embroider Beth’s monogram on them.

“They’re lovely,” Beth said with a smile.  “Thank you.”

“Now open ours,” Llywelyn said eagerly.

The Davies had given her a dress that Matilda had made of cream-colored taffeta with a crimson sash.  “It’s beautiful.  Thank you so much, Uncle Rhys and Aunt Matilda,” she said hugging each.  “And you, too, Llywelyn.”  She kissed his cheek and he squirmed away, blushing.

Dr. and Mrs. Davies had sent her a pair of new boots made of fine kid with tassels and French heels.  “You can wear these to church and on special occasions,” Bronwen told her firmly.  “They are not for school.”

“I know that,” Beth said with a little pout.  “I’ll open Uncle Joe and Aunt Annabelle’s gift next, then Uncle Bryn’s and Aunt Victoria’s and then Grandpa’s.”  Annabelle had picked out a pair of white kid gloves plus a small reticule made of white silk.  Bryn and Victoria had sent their oldest niece several pairs of clocked white and black cotton stockings.  Ben had sent Beth an expensive new set of hairbrushes.

“Now it’s time to open our gift,” Adam said, handing his first-born a small package.  Beth tore through the wrappings and discovered a little gold locket on a delicate gold chain.  “Thank you, Daddy.  Thank you, Mama,” she said hugging and kissing them in turn.  “Oh, it’s so beautiful!”

“It will look lovely with your new dress,” Bronwen said with a smile.


When Adam and Bronwen came to kiss Beth and Miranda goodnight, Beth asked shyly, “Daddy, would you do something for me?  Sort of an extra birthday present?”

“I imagine.  What do you want me to do?” he said with a little half smile.

“Teach me how to dance,” Beth said with shining eyes.

Bronwen saw the beginnings of a frown on his face and said quickly, “She will need to know, Cariad.  And who better to teach her than her father?”

“All right,” he said with a sigh.  “And I suppose you’d like your first lesson tomorrow?”  Beth nodded eagerly.

“May I learn, too?” Miranda asked from her bed.

“When you turn thirteen,” Adam replied firmly.


The next morning Beth came downstairs wearing a pair of her new stockings and one of her new chemises.  When she finished eating, she started to head out the front door to visit one of her friends.  Just as she put her hand on the doorknob, Bronwen said quietly,” You are confined to the house, Beth.”

“Oh, Mama,” she whined.

Adam said sternly, “It’s not too late for us to have that necessary talk, young lady.”

She pouted for a moment and then nodded her head.  Suddenly her expression brightened.  “You haven’t forgotten you said you’d give me a dancing lesson tonight, have you, Daddy?”

“No,” he replied while thinking, but I’d hoped that you had.  Bronwen knew exactly what he was thinking and grinned at him.  “Before I get home this evening, get your sisters to help you move the furniture in the drawing room so we have a place to dance.”

“You’ll need to roll up the carpet as well,” Bronwen added.


Beth rushed through high tea, too excited by her upcoming dancing lesson to be interested in mere food while Adam tried unsuccessfully to linger.

“I wanna watch, Daddy.  Can I?  Please,” Penny begged.

“Yes, you may,” he said reluctantly.  He saw Miranda’s and Gwyneth’s hazel eyes looking at him pleadingly and with a sigh added, “You may all watch.”

As they all gathered in the drawing room, which looked bare with the furniture all pushed against the walls along with the rolled up carpet, he said, “We’ll start with a polka because it’s very simple.  One-two-three-and-one-two-three,” he said demonstrating the steps as he twirled an imaginary partner about the room. “You see?”  Beth nodded, her expression rapt.  He put one hand on her waist and held out his other hand and she put hers in it.  “Now, this is as close as you should allow a young man to hold you,” he added gravely.

“But you hold Mama closer when you dance,” she said petulantly.

“When you have a husband, he can hold you closer.  Until then, this is the proper distance between couples,” Adam stated sternly.  “You want to make sure he knows you are a young lady and you won’t allow him to try anything improper.”

“Like what?” she asked in a puzzled tone.

“I’ll let your mother explain,” he retorted and Beth was surprised to see his cheeks redden with embarrassment.

“We’ll talk later, Beth fach,” her mother promised.  “Although,” she added with a saucy grin, “since your father was once a young man and grew up with two other young men, he could do a better job of telling you all the improper things a young man might try.”  Seeing her husband scowl ferociously, she decided she’d teased him enough.

Her eyes widened as she had a sudden insight.  Perhaps that was the reason he was so resistant to the idea of his daughters growing up and becoming women.  She knew her Adam well enough to be sure he was too intense and too serious-minded to break a young girl’s heart with a casual flirtation or seduction, but he would have known other young men who behaved just that way.  For instance, Joe was an incorrigible flirt who probably broke plenty of hearts without even realizing it.  None of Ben Cartwright’s sons would seduce an innocent young girl, but they would know other men who had no such scruples.  She shook herself mentally.  They still had years to explain to Beth, whom she feared was as flirtatious as her Uncle Joe, about proper and improper behavior between the sexes.

Setting her mind back to the task at hand she calmly instructed Beth, “Hold up your skirt with the other hand.”  She smiled as Beth complied.  “Daddy is an excellent dancer so just let him lead.  I’ll try and hum a polka for you.”

Beth stumbled once or twice at the beginning but she had a natural grace and was very light on her feet.  Soon he was whirling her about the floor until she was breathless.

“Oh, that was great fun,” Beth laughed and tried to catch her breath.  “Now will you teach me how to waltz?”

“We’ll save the slow waltz and the two-step waltz for our last lesson” he replied as he tried to catch his own breath.  A sure sign that I’m getting older, he thought sardonically.  “Tomorrow I’ll show you how to do a quadrille.  We’ll have to see if Aunt Matilda and Uncle Rhys can help since several couples dance a quadrille together.  You’re a quick learner, Princess,” he added with grin. “I can tell you’re going to be an excellent dancer.  Right now let’s get the carpet and furniture back where they belong.”


About a week and a half later, Adam was startled out of a deep sleep by a knock on the bedroom door.  He felt Bronwen sit up beside him as he called, “What’s wrong?”

“I need to talk to Mama,” Beth said anxiously.

“Light the lamp please,” Bronwen said to Adam as she reached for her spectacles.  “I’ll be there in just a moment, Beth fach.”

He lit the lamp and then watched her open a drawer in her vanity.  “What are you doing?” he asked curiously.

“Getting what Beth needs,” she replied calmly.

“How do you know what she needs?  You haven’t talked to her.”

“I’m her mother, Cariad.  I know.  I’ve been expecting this for weeks.”

He saw what she had in her hand and said sharply, “She’s too young.”

“She’s the same age I was the first time.”  His expression looked stricken, so she walked over and kissed his cheek.  “I’m sorry, Adam bach, but our oldest is becoming a woman.  In another five or six years, she could be married.”

“Eighteen is too young,” he said firmly.  “Even nineteen.”

“I was already an old maid when we married,” she replied with a little smile, “but that was only because I hadn’t met you yet.  My mother was eighteen when she married.  How old was yours?”

“Eighteen.”  His expression became morose.  “And she was dead before she was twenty.”

“It’s all moot at this point,” she said.  “Wait until Beth falls in love and the young man comes to ask you for her hand.”

“I will not allow any young man to court her until she’s at least eighteen,” he said firmly.

“That seems fair to me, but I have a feeling Beth is not going to agree.”

“Mama!” Beth called frantically and Bronwen said calmly, “I’m coming,” before exiting.  She was back about a quarter of an hour later.

“She’s embarrassed, so don’t say anything to her,” she cautioned Adam, and was surprised to see his cheeks redden.

“I hadn’t planned on it,” he said roughly.

She hid her smile and said softly, ‘I’m not sure if the baby will let me get back to sleep, but I’d like to try.”




As the time for Penny’s birthday drew near, Bronwen was so huge that Nell and Mary insisted she leave the arrangements for the party in their hands, and Adam concurred.  Bronwen was so tired and so uncomfortable that she only put up a token resistance.  Adam promised to come home early so Penny would have one parent at her party.

Beth and Miranda were spending the afternoon with friends.  Adam had wanted Gwyneth to attend the party but after enduring a week of her sulks he finally told her she could spend the afternoon in her room.  If it was meant as a punishment, it failed miserably because she curled up contentedly with a book.


The six little girls in Penny’s class arrived promptly at four o’clock in their best party dresses.  Adam escorted them into the drawing room.  “We’re going to play Cupid’s Coming!” Penny said excitedly,” and we’ll start with R.”  She turned to her friend Kate and said, “Cupid’s coming.”

“How is he coming?” Kate replied.

“Running,” Penny said with a grin so Kate turned to the next little girl and said, “Cupid’s coming.”  Adam watched the little girls try to come up with words beginning with R and ending with ‘ing’ until only one was left.

“All right, girls, who’d like to play Deerstalker?” he asked, and they all smiled and nodded.  “Helen, why don’t you be the deer and Alice can be the stalker,” he suggested.  He saw Penny pout and shook his head slightly at her and she quickly pulled her lower lip in.  He pulled out two handkerchiefs and tied them over Helen’s and Alice’s eyes.

“All right, Penny,” he said, “you take Alice to that end of the coffee table and, Kate, you take Helen to the other end.  Jessica, when I signal, you say, ‘Go!’”

Adam smiled as he watched Alice silently ‘stalk’ Helen while the other girls watched in total silence.  He had always favored this game because, as much as he loved his daughters, their shrill little girl squeals sometimes drilled right through his skull, giving him a terrific headache.  By the time each girl had a chance to be the deer or the stalker, Nell had come to the doorway to let him know the refreshments were ready.

He led the girls to the dining room where Nell had put one of the lace tablecloths on the dining room table.  In the center of the table was a triple layer cake with white frosting decorated with pink sugar roses.  Sitting by the cake was a tall blue-tinted cut glass pitcher filled with fresh lemon squash, their blue-tinted glasses, blue and white Wedgwood dessert plates, silver dessert forks and white damask napkins.

“All right, girls, if you’ll have a seat, Nell and Mary will serve you cake and lemon squash,” Adam announced with a smile.  After all the girls were served, Penny asked, “Aren’t you going to eat cake with us, Daddy?”

“Oh, I’m going to have some later when Uncle Rhys, Aunt Matilda and Llywelyn come for dinner.”

“But I want you to have a piece now,” Penny said, a wistful look in her enormous violet eyes, one that Adam had never been able to resist.  With a broad grin, Mary got another plate and fork, and then cut him a slice of cake.

They were just finishing the cake and lemon squash when the mothers began arriving to escort their daughters home, so Adam went to check on Bronwen.  She was lying on the chaise lounge on their verandah looking very uncomfortable.  He kissed her on the cheek.

“How are you?”

“I think this baby is a boy and he is going to be a football player because he is kicking me black and blue; that’s how I’m doing,” she said wanly and she saw a flash of his dimple.  With a sigh she added, “How did the party go?”

“It went very well.  The girls playedthe games you suggested and then had cake and lemon squash.”  He paused.  “I’d better go check on Gwyneth and tell her to start getting ready for dinner.  I’m curious to see what’s inside that large package from Pa, Joe and Annabelle.”

“Something extravagant, I’ve no doubt,” Bronwen grinned.


Penny was dancing with excitement when she saw Adam, Rhys and Llywelyn each carrying birthday presents, for they’d been hidden at the Davies’ house.

“May I open the big one now?”

“Gifts after dinner,” Bronwen replied

“I want to see what’s in the big one,” Llywelyn stated.  “I was going to shake it, but Mama caught me,” he whispered to Gwyneth, and they exchanged grins.

As soon as Nell and Mary cleared away the dishes, Penny skipped to the drawing room followed closely by Gwyneth, Llywelyn and Lady.  The others walked and Adam stayed with Bronwen, who could only waddle slowly.  Penny waited impatiently for Adam to help Bronwen onto the settee and then she ran for the largest gift and began ripping off the wrapping paper impatiently.  She opened the box and then with enormous eyes she breathed reverently, “Oh!”

“What is it?” Llywelyn asked curiously.

Penny held up a beautiful baby doll with a brown mohair wig and brown eyes dressed in a long cambric gown decorated with lace insets and a matching bonnet.

“It’s beautiful,” Beth said, while Gwyneth’s and Llywelyn’s faces registered disappointment.

As Penny held up the doll, a piece of paper fluttered down and Miranda picked it up.  “Dear Penny,” she read.  “Wind the key in the doll’s back and see what she does.  Love, Grandpa, Uncle Joe, Aunt Annabelle and your cousins.”  Penny found the key and wound it and the doll waved her arms and legs and then said, ‘Mama,’ while Penny clapped her hands in delight.

“I wonder how it does that?” Llywelyn said thoughtfully.

“Well, you won’t be taking the doll apart to find out,” Rhys said sternly and Adam added, “Or you either, Gwyneth,” while Penny looked alarmed and clutched her doll tightly.

“Aw, Dad, I wouldn’t do that,” Llywelyn protested.  “I wouldn’t, Penny.”

“I’ll hold her while you open your next gift,” Beth offered and Penny reluctantly gave the doll to her sister before selecting the gift from her tad-cu and mam-gu.  “Look, a paper doll!” she exclaimed, holding up a paper doll with moveable arms and legs and five crêpe paper dresses.

There were two more packages.  Penny opened the one from Broken Hill first.  Uncle Bryn and Aunt Victoria had sent her some pairs of clocked white cotton stockings.  “This one is from all of us, Mama and Aunt Matilda,” Beth announced as Penny picked up the last package.  Penny opened the box revealing a beautiful new high-waisted dress of lavender organdy with a sash of violet silk to match her eyes.  There was also a new petticoat trimmed in eyelet lace and a pair of shoes that laced instead of boots with those difficult buttons.

“Thank you,” Penny said with a huge smile.

“Your Uncle Rhys, Llywelyn and I worked together on our gift, and you’ll find it upstairs in your bedroom,” Adam said smiling broadly, and Penny leaped up and tore out of the room. (Rhys had carried the gift over from his house and then up the backstairs during Penny’s party.)

“The rest of you go on ahead,” Bronwen said. “I’ll just wait here.” The children left hurriedly while the adults hesitated. “Go on,” Bronwen urged. “I’ll be fine here.”

When they arrived, Penny had already discovered her gift: A doll-sized replica of the Cartwright home, complete with verandah and swing, had been placed by one of the windows and all the girls were examining the miniature furniture.

“I made the dining room table and chairs,” Llywelyn said proudly. “With some help from Dad and Uncle Adam.”

“You did an excellent job,” Adam said squeezing his nephew’s neck affectionately while Rhys said proudly, “Yes, you did, son.”

“Look, they even used the same wallpaper in the bedrooms. Here are the pink roses in our room and the violets in this room,” Beth said admiringly.

“This is what you’ve been doing when you were working late, isn’t it?” Miranda asked.

“That’s right,” Adam replied dimpling. “Your Uncle Rhys, Llywelyn and I have been working every spare minute to get it done on time. Except when I was giving dancing lessons.”

“Mama helped,” Llywelyn added. “She made the drapes and curtains.”

“Oh thank you, Daddy! Thank you, Uncle Rhys!” Penny said hugging and kissing each. She headed for Llywelyn who said in alarm, “You don’t need to thank me, Penny!” And the others all laughed.

~ ~ ~ ~

Adam woke, disturbed by Bronwen’s restless movements. “Can’t sleep?” he asked in a drowsy tone.

“I didn’t mean to wake you. I’ll go to the library so one of us can get some sleep.”

He grasped her hand then to prevent her from leaving. “I am awake now anyway,” he replied with a huge yawn. “Besides, I’m as responsible for the baby as you are, so why should I sleep when you can’t? I’m sure glad it’s due any day.”

“Not half as glad as I am. But are you forgetting we will have months of nighttime feedings to cope with?” she asked with a grin as she moved to a sitting position and he groaned, “You had to remind me.” Then he said ruefully, ‘Well, I survived it four times so I suppose will survive a fifth.’

‘You survived! You roll over and go back to sleep!” she said indignantly and he chuckled.

They continued to talk quietly until they saw the sun begin to rise. Bronwen said very seriously, “We really need to decide on names for this baby.”

“We already have one daughter named for a Shakespearean heroine. How about Beatrice or Rosalind or Juliet?” he suggested.

“I rather like Rosalind,” Bronwen said thoughtfully. “How about Anne for her middle name?” He nodded and she added, “If we have a son, I still want to name him after you.”

He shook his head and smiled at her. “I see hope springs eternal.”

She poked him in the ribs with her elbow and said indignantly, “That is all you know, Mr. Mathematician. After four daughters, I’m sure the odds are favor of our having a son this time.”

He kissed her cheek and said gently, “It doesn’t matter to me if we have five daughters or four daughters and a son.”

“I know it doesn’t, but I would like a son this time, and I still want to name him Adam Stoddard Cartwright, Jr.”

“All right, I give in,” he said with a wry grin. “However, I refuse to call my son Junior. It lacks dignity.”

“I agree,” she said with a smile. “It would be too confusing to call him Adam but we’ll think of something appropriate. Or maybe the girls will.”

He returned her smile and they lay side by side, holding hands, and watched the dawn lighten the sky. They both enjoyed these times in the morning when the children were still sleeping, for it was really the only private time they had. At last he said, “I’d better make sure the girls are up, and then I’ll bring you your tea and toast.” He put on the newfangled pajamas that she’d given him as a Christmas present and then his robe and kissed her forehead before leaving. He went to the room next door and knocked gently. “Time to get up girls.”

“I’m awake, Daddy,” Miranda answered in a sleepy voice.

“What about Beth?” he asked and Miranda answered, “I’ll get her up.”

“Without water, Miranda,” he cautioned and moved across the hall to the younger girls’ room. Gwyneth was sleeping on her stomach as usual while Penny slept curled in a fetal position.

“Wake up, Kitten,” he said, kissing her cheek. Her eyelids fluttered and then she stretched. She started to curl back up but he sat her up and her eyelids opened to reveal violet eyes just like her mother’s. “It’s time to wake up now, Penny,” and he lifted her out of bed and stood her up. Gwyneth was a much lighter sleeper and she opened her eyes and said, “Morning, Daddy,” with a huge yawn.

“Good morning,” he replied with a smile and reached over to tousle her black curls. “You know, if you’d braid your hair at night, Punkin, it wouldn’t get so tangled.”

“I know. I just forget. And it’s lots harder to braid than Penny’s is.”

“I expect it is,” he replied with a chuckle. “I’m going to get Mama her breakfast, and then I’ll see you girls downstairs.”

“Isn’t Mama going to eat breakfast with us?” Penny asked, tugging on his hand.

“She didn’t sleep very well last night, so I thought she should have her breakfast in bed. You can tell her good morning right after you eat breakfast, all right?” Both girls nodded.

He quietly reentered the master bedroom to trim his beard and dress, and he discovered Bronwen pacing the room, her hands pushing against her lower back. She stopped when she saw him and said quietly, “I just had a contraction.”

“I’ll get Dr. Brooke,” he said hurriedly.

Cariad, it’s much too early for that. The baby won’t be born for hours yet. You know that. You might just drop by his office and let him know we’ll need him later, and then let Rhys and Matilda know. Then I’d like you to come and keep me company. And bring my tea and toast, please.”

He nodded and dressed quickly, deciding his beard could wait another day. In the hallway he encountered Beth and Miranda, who were on their way to breakfast dressed in sailor blouses and pleated skirts.

“When your sisters come down, go ahead and start breakfast without me,” he told them.

“Is everything all right, Daddy?” Beth asked, a slight frown creasing her forehead.

“Everything is fine, but it looks like the baby will be born today.”

“Fair dinkum?” Miranda asked excitedly.

“Probably by this afternoon. I’m on my way to let Dr. Brooke know we’ll need him then.”

“If the baby’s going to be born this afternoon, then we don’t have to go to school, do we?” Beth asked hopefully.

“Oh yes you do. It would help Mama more to know that the four of you are in school.”

“But wouldn’t Mama like some company?” Beth persisted and Adam felt his nerves begin to fray.

“I am going to stay home and keep Mama company. Now, I don’t want to hear anymore about it. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, sir,” Beth replied sullenly.

When Adam got to Dr. Brooke’s house he learned that he had been called out to one of the stations. “But he should be back in four or five hours, Mr. Cartwright. I’m sure that will be plenty of time. Don’t worry.”

But Adam did worry. He hurried to the Davies’ house to share the news and see if Matilda could come over. She had at least had a child, which Nell had not. Of course, she’d never delivered a baby. He’d helped mares foal and cows calve, but that was a far cry from delivering his own child. Forcing down his rising panic, he reminded himself that Bronwen’s labors had always lasted at least six hours, and Dr. Brooke would be there by then.

Rhys was delighted at the news, but his cheerful demeanor vanished when Adam asked if Matilda could come over. “Oh, Adam bach, Matilda is sick. She has a fever and she’s been sick several times during the night. Daisy is taking care of her while I’m at the mine,” he stated, referring to the Aboriginal woman who was their maid of all work.

“I’m sorry to hear that she’s ill,” Adam replied. “I’m sure the doctor will return before Bronwen is ready to deliver. You know me; I’m always nervous until the baby is born.” He paused and said calmly, “Tell Matilda I hope she feels better very soon. I’m afraid you’ll be on your own today; I’m staying home with Bronwen.”

“Of course. Tell Bronwen fach that I’m hoping for a nephew this time.”

“From your lips to God’s ears,” Adam replied, remembering a saying of his old friend Aaron Kaufman and Rhys laughed.

When he returned, he saw the girls were finishing their breakfast. “Daddy, can we see Mama now?” Penny asked excitedly. “Beth says the baby is going to be born today!”

“Finish your breakfasts, and then we’ll all go up. Right now, I want to see about Mama’s breakfast.”

He went in the kitchen to find Nell fixing a tray for Bronwen. She was looking a bit harried since the week before Mary had left to go care for a sick relative’s children until she was recovered and Nell was swamped with housework, laundry and cooking. “Miss Beth told me the baby is on his way and that you were going to let Dr. Brooke know we’d need him to stop by later.”

“Unfortunately, Dr. Brooke was called out to one of the stations, but his wife said he’d be back before Bronwen’s ready to deliver.”

“She’ll be apples, Mr. Cartwright. Don’t you worry.”

Adam picked up the tray and walked back to the dining room where the girls were waiting impatiently. “I told them we were to wait for you,” Beth said and he smiled his thanks.

When he opened the bedroom door, Bronwen was pacing again, but she sat down in the rocking chair when she saw the girls crowding behind him and smiled at them.

“Morning, Mama,” Penny said as she skipped into the room. “Is the baby here yet?” she asked hopefully while her older sisters snickered.

“Not yet, Penny fach,” Bronwen replied with a smile. “Maybe when you get home from school you’ll have a little brother or sister.” Just then she had a really strong contraction and she couldn’t stop her grimace of pain. Penny looked fearfully at Adam for reassurance and he saw the uneasy glances Beth and Miranda shared so he said in what he hoped was a reassuring voice, “I think it’s time for you girls to be off to school. Mama needs to rest.”

The girls filed out, Penny and Gwyneth looking back at their mother anxiously. As soon as she knew the girls were out of earshot, Bronwen said, “I think this baby is in a hurry to be born. My contractions are getting closer and closer together. Maybe you’d better ask Dr. Brooke to come by now.”

“He’s out at one of the stations. They don’t expect him back for four or five hours,” Adam replied anxiously. “I was going to ask Matilda to be with you, but she’s ill. I could ask Nell . . . ”

“Nell’s never delivered a baby and neither has Matilda when it comes to that. You told me that you’ve helped mares foal and cows calve. At least you have some experience with the process.”

“You’re not a mare or a cow!” he retorted in an anguished voice.

She managed a faint smile and reached for his hand. “No,” she said quietly as she felt his hand enfold hers, “but the birthing process is pretty much the same, and I have gone through it four times already.” She saw how worried he was and smiled reassuringly. “I may be wrong and Dr. Brooke may get here in plenty of time. Why don’t you bring your breakfast up here and we’ll eat together. Then maybe you could read to me; I want to hear what happens next in The Mayor of Casterbridge.”

“I think tea and toast is all I can manage today,” he replied with a wan smile. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

He was back sooner than expected. “Nell said she’ll bring up a tray for me.” He sat in the armchair and sighed. “I hope that Mary’s sister-in-law gets well soon so she can come back to us. I’m afraid Nell is going to be overwhelmed with the cooking, housework and laundry.”

“The laundry is going to be the biggest task and the girls won’t be much help there or with the ironing,” Bronwen replied as she nibbled on a slice of buttered toast. “They already dust all the rooms and Beth and Miranda polish the furniture. If Nell is willing, Beth could help more with the meals. She’s a very good baker, and she could handle the breads and desserts so Nell would only have to worry about the cooking. Miranda and Gwyneth know how to churn butter so they could take care of that and gathering the eggs.”

When Nell came up with Adam’s breakfast, they discussed the arrangement with her and she agreed it was the best way to handle the household until Mary could return. As they ate, Bronwen had another contraction and Adam found he had no appetite. She asked him to read, and as he did so, she continued to pace the room. He’d only read a few pages when her water broke. Adam called to Nell to heat some water and be ready to bring it upstairs when he called. Bronwen continued to pace as the contractions increased in frequency and Adam tried to concentrate on Thomas Hardy’s novel. Finally she said, “Cariad, I think it’s nearly time.”

“Lie on the bed and I’ll check,” he said. He walked to the head of the stairs and called down, “Nell, I need that water now please,” while Bronwen lay on their bed. Since it was designed for Adam’s six feet, one and three-quarters frame, she lay toward the foot of the large bed, propping herself up on her elbows.

Nell ran up red-faced with a jug of steaming water that Adam mixed with the water in their pitcher. While he rolled his shirtsleeves up above his elbows and washed his hands and forearms, Nell sat behind Bronwen to help her sit up. When Adam finished washing his arms and dried them off, he walked over to the bed and lifted Bronwen’s nightgown out of the way.

“Yes, I’m afraid you’re right,” he said apprehensively. “Thank God, it doesn’t appear to be a breech presentation.”

He shoved his fear and anxiety to the back of his mind and concentrated on the task at hand. “I can see the head now, Sweetheart. Push. Good girl,” he said encouragingly as she panted and groaned. “All right, a little harder, love,’ he said as he eased out the head and then the shoulders. “One more push, Sweetheart, one more,” he commanded.

“It’s a boy, Bronwen,” he said exultantly. “We have a son!” and he held up the squalling infant.

“Oh, let me hold him,” she cried, tears running down her cheeks, and he laid the squirming infant on her chest. “Oh, he’s beautiful,” she breathed as she gazed lovingly at his tiny form. He sat down beside her and they smiled at each other, too full of emotion to speak.

After a few minutes they could hear someone knocking at the door so Nell went to answer it. She returned with a smiling Dr. Brooke.

“I got back sooner than I expected, but not soon enough it appears,” he said with a grin. “I see you’ve done my job for me, Mr. Cartwright.”

“I’m happy to let you take over,” Adam said with a matching grin. “I wasn’t looking forward to cutting the cord.”

“I understand,” Dr. Brooke said grinning even more broadly.

~ ~ ~ ~

The girls burst through the front door with Penny shouting, “Daddy! Mama! Is the baby here yet?”

They heard a thin, bleating cry coming from upstairs and then Adam appeared at the head of the stairs. “Quiet, please. You woke up the baby.”

“The baby’s here!” Gwyneth said excitedly. “Can we see her?”

“Yes, you may see him,” Adam replied with a grin.

“A brother! We finally have a brother!” Beth and Miranda began to dance around the room in delight.

“I wanted a baby sister,” Penny pouted. “Can we take him back?”

“Of course not, Drongo,” replied Beth. “Besides, I wanted a brother. Didn’t you, Miranda?”

“I sure did!” she replied and Gwyneth chimed in, “Me, too. I have enough sisters.”

“I’ll take you to see your brother, but you must be quiet. He and Mama are both tired.”

“Why? Is having a baby hard work?” Gwyneth asked.

“It sure is, Punkin. Harder work than Daddy has ever done, and Mama’s done it five times. Let’s go, but remember, quietly.”

The girls filed silently into the master bedroom and saw Bronwen propped up against several pillows holding a little bundle in her arms.

“Can I see him, Mama? Please?” Penny said coming up to her, and Bronwen folded back the blanket so the baby’s face was visible. “He’s all red and squished. My dolly’s prettier.”

Adam chuckled. “Babies always look like that when they are newborn, Kitten. You were just the same.”

“You were. I remember,” Beth giggled. “What are we going to name the baby?”

“I want to name him for Daddy, but Daddy doesn’t want him called Junior.”

“We could call him by his initials-A.C. How about that?” Miranda suggested

“A.C. A.C. Hello, A.C.,’ Penny crowed and the baby made a cooing sound. “He likes it!”

Adam and Bronwen exchanged glances over the girls’ heads. Adam mouthed, “It’s better than Junior,” to which Bronwen rolled her eyes.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Is Jacob back with the mail yet?” Ben fretted. “We should be getting a letter from Adam about the baby.”

“Not yet, Pa,” Annabelle said soothingly as she watched her year-old-daughter totter about the great room. Unlike her brother, Sarah favored the Cartwrights. She had her father’s short, straight nose, his sensual mouth and his curly brown hair. Her mother’s blue eyes and her father’s green had resulted in her having hazel eyes like her Australian cousins. Ben’s eyes were now full of impatience so Annabelle added quietly, “I’m sure he’ll be here any minute, Pa.”

Luckily for the rug Ben was pacing on, Annabelle proved correct. Less than thirty minutes later Jacob, a tall well-built black man in his late twenties, entered the house. He grinned when he saw Ben and held up a letter. “You got a letter from Australia, sir. Arrived just this mornin’.” Jacob had only met the oldest Cartwright son a couple of times when he’d brought his family to the Ponderosa for a visit, but he knew how much his letters meant to Mr. Cartwright and to Joe. This one he knew was special because it would contain news about the latest addition to the Cartwright family.

Ben hurried over and took the letter with a smile. “Thanks, Jacob.”

“Sure hope it’s good news. Maybe another grandson.” He smiled broadly before he walked back out in the yard.

“We should wait for Joe,” Ben said uncertainly.

‘He won’t be back from Placerville until tomorrow. He doesn’t expect us to wait. I’m dying to know if they had a boy or another girl,” Annabelle said enthusiastically.

Ben grinned sheepishly. “I am too. You’re right; I wouldn’t expect Joe to wait if I were the one away on business. Let’s sit down and I’ll read it.”

February 13, 1888

Dear Pa, Joe and Annabelle,

Adam Stoddard Cartwright, Jr. arrived about nine o’clock this morning. . . .

“Oh, how wonderful!” Annabelle exclaimed. “They finally have a boy.” She and Ben shared a smile while Sarah, who was now sitting on her mother’s lap, looked at them curiously and then grinned.

The doctor was away at one of the cattle stations so I delivered the baby. . . .

“Oh my goodness!” Annabelle interjected, her hands moving to her mouth and her eyes round.

It’s not something I’d recommend for an anxious father, and yet, actually helping to bring my son into the world is something I will never forget as long as I live. Bronwen was only in labor about three and a half hours but A.C., for that is what his sisters have decided to call him, is a bigger baby than his sisters were. Only Gwyneth came close. I hasten to add that he is nowhere near the size that Hoss was. He probably just seems big because all his sisters were tiny babies. It’s really too soon to know for sure, but I think he’s going to be tall like me rather than short like his mother. He has dark hair just like his sisters. (Since Bronwen and I both have black hair, that was pretty much a given.) It looks like he has his mother’s eyes and my chin. Apart from that, I don’t know whom he favors.

Except for Penny, all his sisters are delighted to have a baby brother, and even Penny is coming around to the notion that a baby brother may be as much fun as a baby sister. Matilda is ill but Rhys and Llywelyn have been by to see A.C. and Llywelyn is pleased as punch to have a boy cousin. He is already planning to teach him how to play cricket and he and Gwyneth together are going to teach him how to ride and to fish. That brings to mind the only melancholy thoughts I have. I just wish we could have had A.C. when I was younger. I hope the fact that I will be so much older than his friends’ fathers won’t create a barrier between us. Bronwen tells me not to be such a worrier and I know she’s right: ‘Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’ Now, she is absolutely ecstatic that we have a son. She’s nursing him right now and our boy has quite an appetite.

All of us here send our love to all of you. Hopefully in a year or so we can bring your grandson to the Ponderosa for a visit.

Affectionately yours,

Joe returned at dusk the following day and found the rest of the family sitting out on the front porch. Annabelle was reading a storybook to Benj while Ben was jiggling a giggly Sarah on one knee. As soon as they saw their pa, the children immediately ran to him and he tossed first one and then the other up in the air. He tousled Benj’s curls and kissed Sarah’s cheek.

“Any news from Adam?” he asked his familiar boyish grin lighting up his face.

“We got a letter yesterday,” Annabelle replied calmly while Ben was pokerfaced.


“And you have a nephew,” Ben replied, grinning from ear to ear.

“Hallelujah!” Joe shouted, swinging an excited Sarah around in a circle while Benj watched with big round eyes.

“Joe, you’ll make her sick,” Annabelle cautioned.

Joe put a laughing Sarah down and then asked, “Bronwen’s all right?”

“She’s fine,” Ben replied. “You’ll never guess who delivered the baby.”

“Not Adam?” Joe exclaimed. “I still remember how nervous he was when Beth was born.”

“The doctor wasn’t available, so I gather he didn’t have much choice,” Ben replied in a more sober tone. “Luckily, there weren’t any complications. In fact, A.C. arrived after less than four hours of labor.”

“A.C.?” Joe repeated quizzically, both eyebrows shooting up.

“That’s the nickname his sisters have given him,” Annabelle replied with a small smile. “He’s going to be christened Adam Stoddard Cartwright, Jr.”

“So Bronwen got her way,” Joe chortled. “I always figured that she would.”

“Did ya bring me anything, Daddy?” Benj interrupted, tired of all the grown-up talk.

“Benj,” Annabelle said sternly but Joe only grinned and tousled his hair.

“Sure did, Pardner. I’ll bet if we look in my saddlebags we’ll find something for you and Sarah.”

About three months later, Buckshot returned from a trip into town for supplies with a package. Since Ben was sitting at his desk working on the books, Buckshot brought it over to him.

“Come all the away from Australia so must be from Adam,” he remarked as he handed Ben the package.

Ben had to dig his way through layers of excelsior, but he found a photograph in an ornate silver frame. His face lit up as he viewed it. Bronwen was seated in an armchair holding A.C. in his christening gown and bonnet. Standing behind her, with one of his hands resting on her shoulder, was Adam. Standing on his right was Gwyneth, and Ben had to smile at the resemblance between the two. Beth stood on his left, only a couple of inches taller than her younger sister. Miranda and Penny each perched on one of the chair’s arms and Lady sat at Bronwen’s feet, grinning a doggy grin.

In addition to the photograph, he found a piece of paper, scented with Bronwen’s lily-of-the-valley cologne and covered with her sprawling handwriting.

April 30, 1888

Dear Pa,

I cannot thank you enough for sending us Adam’s old christening gown and mug. They meant so much to both of us. Adam will probably never admit it, but there were tears in his eyes when he learned you had kept them all these years waiting for him to have a son of his own. We wanted you to be able to share in A.C.’s christening in some fashion so Rhys took this photograph of all of us. (You probably realize it was Gwyneth and Penny who insisted that Lady be included, but she really is a part of our family so Adam and I didn’t protest.)

I know I am biased, but your new grandson is an amazing child. I think he is going to be just as intelligent and handsome as his father. I do wish he resembled Adam more closely. He actually looks a lot like Beth did at that age; however, he has inherited his daddy’s long legs just like Gwyneth. Doesn’t she look like Adam! When you see them together, it’s uncanny. She has his temperament as well. When her will is crossed, she sulks and Adam tells me that’s exactly what he did. (Still does if the truth be told, but don’t you tell him I said so.)

You know how much I love my daughters, but I’ve wanted to give Adam a son and heir ever since I married him. Now I feel our family is complete. We’re making plans to visit the Ponderosa next March. In addition, Adam wants to take Beth and Miranda on a trip to Boston to see where he was born and also to visit the Girls’ Latin School. We are considering sending Miranda there when she’s seventeen. Then if she wishes, we’d let her attend one of the women’s colleges that Annabelle wrote us about. (Adam is hoping she’ll choose the Harvard Annex, of course.) They also want to meet Annabelle’s brother and his family since he’s told Annabelle that they would be happy for Miranda to live with them while she’s attending school in Boston. While they’re in Boston, the rest of us will stay with you. Gwyneth and Penny are already excited about spending time with you and their Uncle Joe and Aunt Annabelle and seeing where their daddy grew up. And I’m looking forward to introducing you to your newest grandson.


Ben refolded the letter neatly, a little smile hovering on his lips. He sat the photograph on the other side of the daguerreotype of Adam’s mother, Elizabeth. “Well, Liz,” he said running his fingers lovingly over the daguerreotype’s gold frame, “our boy has a son. Bronwen is right: their family is complete now.”


Next Story in the Adam In The Outback Series:
The Country of the Heart
To Bloom in Another Man’s Garden – Part 1
To Bloom in Another Man’s Garden – Part 2
In Memoriam
The Marriage of True Minds – Part 1
The Marriage of True Minds – Part 2
The Marriage of True Minds – Part 3
The Joys of Parents
Grow Old Along with Me
The Best is Yet to Be

Not part of the Adam in the Outback Series, but set in the same realm:



For general information on clothing and fabrics in the era I used Fashion in Costume: 1200-1980 and a couple of web sites.

For information about Victorian toys and games and about Australia in general and Cloncurry in particular, I used several web sites.

The Welsh lullaby that Bronwen sings to Adam, Ar Hyd Y Nos, is known in English as All Through the Night.

Glossary of Welsh and Australian Words and Phrases:
Bach and fach – adding bach after a man’s name or fach after a woman’s is a form of endearment. Penny fach would translate as Penny dear or Penny dearest
Cariad – dear or darling
Mam – mother
Mam-gu – grandmother
Tad – father
Tad-cu – grandfather

Drongo – a stupid person
Fair dinkum – used as a substitute for “Oh really?” or “true”
I feel stuffed – I’m tired
She’ll be apples – It’ll be all right
Stickybeak – a nosy person
Too right – definitely
Tucker – food



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Author: Deborah

I grew up in Independence, Missouri, the starting place of the California, Oregon and Santa Fe trails west. I taught high school English and social studies for five years and since then I’ve had a number of jobs. Currently I live in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, with my two cats. I posted my first piece of Bonanza fanfic back in September 2002 on the old Writer’s Round-Up site. With my third story, I started my Adam in the Outback series. My plan is to cover Adam’s life from the cradle to the grave.

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