Baptism by Fire (by Storm)

Chapter 6:

Adam was coming home. That’s what his pa had told him. That meant they could be brothers again. Not just in words in letters but real flesh and blood brothers like him and Hoss were.

********

“Joseph you have to have patience.”

“I know pa but two days is a long time.”

“Yes I suppose it is.” While normally Ben would consider two days not enough time to do all he had too this time he had to agree with his youngest son. With the death of his wife Marie so close to Adam’s leaving for college he hadn’t been up to giving his son the kind of send off he had wanted to so he was going to give Adam a celebration like Nevada had never seen in honor of his homecoming. They had been planning for months and Ben still felt as if something had been forgotten.

“Pa ya think Adam’ll remember me?”

“Of course Joseph, you’re his bother.”

 

“Yeah but I’ve gotten bigger since he last saw me.”

“Maybe but you make the same amount of noise ya use too.”

“I do not! I ain’t no baby no more. Pa tell Hoss I ain’t a baby no more.”

“Hoss you’re brother’s not a baby. Now Joseph why don’t you go see what Hop-Sing has planned for supper.”

Joseph ran to do as he had been asked hoping Hop-Sing would let him lick the frosting bowl.

“Pa do you think Adams changed?”

“No more then you or Joseph, but Hoss no matter how much your brother has changed he is still your brother and he loves you. Surely you could read that in the letters he’s sent to you.”

“Sure pa but these last few letters weren’t like the ones before.”

“Hoss you know your brother has been very busy these past few months. He’s had exams to study for and a graduation to prepare for. That is what these years away have all been leading up to. It’s the culmination of your brother’s dream.”

“I know pa. I just hope Adam’s dream ain’t made him outgrow us.”

“Don’t worry Hoss. Now why don’t you go before your brother finishes off all the icing.”

Hoss ran hoping he wasn’t already too late. Maybe he was too old for licking the icing bowl but Hop-Sing made such tasty icing.

Ben smiled after his son the sat down and found himself hoping that Hoss’ fear wouldn’t prove true.

********

“Pa! Pa! Wake up! We gotta go get Adam.”

“Joseph it’s not even dawn; but I’m just as anxious as you so why don’t you go wake up Hoss and we’ll get an early start. Tell him we’re going to make a day of it. We’ll have breakfast in town then look around a little.”

Joe ran out of his father’s room yelling his brother’s name. He got to Hoss’ room to find him nowhere in sight.

“Pa Hoss is gone!”

“I ain’t gone I just got up early. You think you’re the only one who can’t wait to see older brother.”

********

Ben watched the man as helped the ladies off of the stage. Was that imposing figure his son? Ben would swear he was a foot taller then when he’d left. He’d also grown broader in the chest. He’d become a man.

“Pa that’s Adam! ADAM!”

Joe took off running and Hoss was close behind. Ben smiled to see his eldest son pull his brothers close. Adam had never been one to show his emotions publicly but it did Ben’s heart good to know the joy of seeing his brothers again was one Adam couldn’t control.

After the hellos were finished being said for now Ben watched his three sons walk towards him side by side and he prayed that it would always be that way. He knew that most considered him to be the thread that held this family together but he knew better, or maybe he only hoped that the thread was strong enough to last even after he were gone. In his heart he knew it was because even if his boys were only half brothers he knew they were closer then most full blooded kin he knew.

“Hey pa.”

Two simple words but they almost brought a tear to Ben’s eyes. “My God you even sound more grown up.”

“Excuse me pa?”

“Nothing son, nothing.”

Adam knew what was coming and he welcomed it. Ben pulled his son to him and held on to him for longer then he had intended.

“AH-HEM”

Ben let Adam go and turned to see who had helped to end his son’s embarrassment. He found his friend Roy Coffee standing there.

“Welcome home Adam.”

“Thank you Roy.”

“Well Ben he’s done some growing up hasn’t he.”

“Yes he has Roy.”

“So tell me Adam are you still a bachelor?”

“Yes Roy.”

“So not one lady back east thought you’d make a good husband?”

“I didn’t say they didn’t try Roy.”

“That a boy. Still too much fun to be had at your age. The kind of fun a wife don’t like her husband to have. Leastways not with anyone but them.”

“The kind of fun a father doesn’t need to hear about his son having either.”

“What kind of fun pa?”

“The kind you don’t need to know about Joseph.”

“They’re talking about girls Little Joe.”

“It seems as if I’m not the only one who’s done some growing up pa. Since when do you know about girls Hoss?”

“Hoss knows about girls. He’s even kissed one.”

“JOE.”

“What Hoss? You said ya did.”

“I also said not to tell no one.”

“Sorry Hoss. I got so excited I forgot.”

“Well why don’t we get your brother home. I’m sure he must be tired after his trip.”

“After all this time away it’ll be good to get home.”

********

Ben drove the wagon and Adam sat beside him. Hoss and Joe, after having run out of questions to ask their big brother for now, were quietly lying in the back.

“They sleeping?”

“It’s not you son, it was a very early start this morning. Joseph was so anxious to come and get you he woke us up before dawn. Perhaps I should say me because Hoss was already up, dressed and had the wagon ready to go.”

“Pa I’d forgotten how green it was here. I can’t remember there being this many different shades.”

“There is green back east son.”

“Yeah but they don’t exist so close together like here. And those mountains, I’d forgotten how majestic they are. They stand there watching over us like guardians.”

“Yes, maybe that’s one reason I thought this a good place to settle. I felt that if we took care of them they would always watch over us.”

A comfortable silence settled between father and son and remained there for a while.

“Pa I missed being home.”

“I know son but you accomplished what you set out to do.”

“Yes I guess I did. I learned a lot and not just from books.”

“I know I could read that in your letters. I also believe you taught a few lessons as well. Adam your future is full of so many possibilities. You have a lifetime of promise ahead. I am secure in the belief that you will always conduct yourself in a dignified and noble way. I know you will always let your conscience guide you.”

“I know pa because to do otherwise would betray your trust and how you raised me.”

“Pa we home yet?”

“Almost Joseph.”

********

The wagon had barely stopped when Joe jumped out.

“HOP-SING! Hop-Sing! Adam’s home!”

“I see that no need to go yellin it. Welcome home Mr. Adam.”

“Thank you Hop-Sing.”

“You bring great honor to father’s name.”

“Hop-Sing, I hope that never changes.”

“Hop-Sing better go inside and get back to food or it be no good.”

Hoss and Joe followed Hop-Sing in and Ben did the same. When he realized Adam wasn’t behind him he turned to see him standing in the entrance to the house.

“Is something wrong son?”

“No pa I just didn’t realize how much I missed passing through this doorway.”

********

The night of the party quickly approached and Ben’s fears that he had forgotten something were forgotten.

“Did you have fun Adam?”

“Pa where’d all those people come from?”

“Is it all the people or just all the pretty new girls you’re wondering about.”

“Paaa.”

“Virginia City is growing up too son.”

“I guess so and it is for the better. At least now a man’s fair share is up to four or five.”

“What?”

“I’ll explain another time pa. Now I think I will follow my brothers’ example and go to bed.”

“Can you wait just a little while longer Adam?” Ben took the gift he’d held back on giving is son. He’d given him one at the party but this was a private one. A gift that wasn’t as expensive as the some of the ones his son had received this evening but he knew it would mean a great deal to Adam.

“Pa you’ve already given me enough. This party the horse and saddle and the journal, pen and ink well.”

“The journal, pen and ink well were from you brothers.”

“But I bet they were your idea.”

“Not really. The journal was Hoss’ and the pen and inkwell were Josephs.”

“Hoss’?”

“Yes. He said that he knew I kept one so you had to keep one too. Said all men with interesting lives should.”

“His life is just as interesting.”

“I’d agree but he doesn’t like writing near as much as you do.”

“He doesn’t have to write a lot. Just what he does each day or what he thinks.”

“Maybe that’s a discussion you should have with him. For now I want you to have this.”

Adam carefully untied the string that held the paper around what his father had handed him. Even though he had suspected what it was he was still surprised to see it in hand.

“Pa…”

“Open it Adam.”

Adam did and as the strains of music drifted out of his mother’s music box he took hold of the ring that lay inside.

“Pa I can’t take this.”

“Yes you can. I have my memories of your mother but these are the only physical things I have left to give you. It’s time for you to watch over them now. Time for you to keep them close.”

“Pa why don’t you keep the ring and I’ll keep the music box.”

“No son. They go together and they are both your’s now.”

“I promise I’ll keep them safe.”

“I know you will son.”

********

As the days and weeks passed Adam settled back into the routine of ranch living but he couldn’t seem to settle into the routine of being a big brother again, at least now where Joe was concerned. Maybe that was because ranch chores never change.

********

“Pa maybe it’s best if I go back.”

“Adam…”

But before he could hear anymore of what his father or brother said Joe ran upstairs.

“Pa all we do is argue. Every thing I tell him to do is cause for conflict.”

“Maybe that’s because you tell him to do things. Adam he’s not the little boy he was when you left.”

“I see, so now he’s an adult.”

“No he’s still a kid but one who is growing up. You can’t treat him the same way you did when you left.”

“But pa I don’t know any other way to treat him.”

To Ben’s ears Adam sounded so lost. “I know son but give it time. You two just have to get to know each other again.”

“He’s my brother pa.”

“Yes which means most likely you’ll both like what you find out.” Ben returned his son’s smile. “Adam just give it time.”

“Goodnight pa.”

“Goodnight son.”

********

Adam walked into his room and began to get ready for bed.

“Boy you’ve sure gotten hairy.”

“JOE. What are you doing in here?” Joe lowered his eyes and Adam heard him mumble something. “What?”

“Don’t go.”

“Go where?”

“I heard you tell pa you was goin back. I don’t want ya to go Adam. I know you don’t like when we fight, neither do I but I can’t help it. I don’t know why we fight so much. I don’t understand why sometimes when you tell me things to do I get so mad.”

“I do.”

“Why?”

“Cause we’re both a lot like pa so that means we’re both a lot like each other.”

“So being like pa ain’t bad.”

“No Joe it’s not but it means we both want to be in charge.”

“Yeah pa can be kinda bossy can’t he.”

“Yeah but he’s usually right too.”

“Yeah. I guess that’s cause he’s older.”

“Yeah he sure is.”

“I guess so are you.”

“I’m not that old little brother.”

“No one’s that old big brother.”

Ben paused on his way to his room at the sound of his sons’ laughter and breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe things wouldn’t be the same as they had been but then life was change. He only hoped it would be a change for the better.

“Adam tell me how you first me Mr. Carson.”

“Again Joe? It’s late.”

“Come on Adam.”

“Well okay but you had better not tell pa we stayed up this late.”

“I won’t I promise.”

Ben continued on his way to bed knowing in the morning he would find his youngest son asleep in his eldest son’s bed. Maybe things wouldn’t really change too much.

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Author: storm

1 thought on “Baptism by Fire (by Storm)

  1. Excellent story with characterizations of Adam, Ben, and Marie that help understand not only their behavior but their relationships too.

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