Summary: Adam is awake now and ready to tell his story.
Rated: K+ (1,685 words)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Adam looked up at the ceiling of his room. It looked different but strangely familiar. Yet it was not the high ceilings of the European hotels he had been staying at. Nor was it the teepee of the Indian girl who had rescued him almost six months before. The room looked like the one that he had grown up in. the room that faced him every day until he decided to go to Europe. He sighed and smiled. Outside he could hear someone whispering and then the door opened and his father and youngest brother entered the room. Ben looked at his son. Adam was pale, the suntan almost completely gone from his finely chiseled features. But his smile was still the smile that Ben had always known and the man suddenly felt glad to see his boy again.
“How are you feeling, son?” He inquired bending over his Adam’s bed and brushing one stubborn lock out of Adam’s face.
The young man smiled. Poor Pa always did worry about him. “I’m fine, Pa.” he answered. “Just hungry. And my head hurts a little.”
“How did it happen?” Ben asked.
“It was silly really.” Adam laughed foolishly. “But tell me. How have you all been? Where’s Hoss? And what has gone on since I left home?”
Ben looked over at Joe then down at the floor. There were many things to tell the oldest Cartwright son. Tell him about Candy—the tall good-looking foreman at the ranch, Griff’s arrival, Jamie’s adoption, Joe’s marriage and the death of his bride, Hoss’ death. So many memories. Some happy some sad.
“Tell you what,” Ben smiled and avoided Adam’s inquiry about Hoss. “Tell us how you got hurt and we will tell you all about the doing while you were away.”
Adam smiled. “‘A long sad tale is about to begin.'” he quoted then smiled. “All right, Pa, Joe. Sit down and I’ll tell you everything.”
“I was in London when it started.” Adam began as his father and brother arranged themselves comfortably. “It was early spring and the trees had just started to bloom. Well I started thinking of home and how nice it was here and suddenly I decided that it was time to come home. That was a mission easier said than done, however. I had so much business piling up that I was afraid I would never be done. My original plan was to surprise you and come home for Easter but I knew that could not be accomplished so I went on with my work. The six months ago I really started to yearn for home. I wanted to see the Ponderosa again, wanted to breathe in the fresh scent of the pines, wanted to feel the leaves crushing under my feet. So I settled my business in London and moved to Paris where I talked to Joe Peters, a friend of mine from college who was my colleague in Europe.
“He had a new assignment for me but I told him I could not take any more jobs and of course he wanted to know why. ‘I ‘ve seen the world,’ I told him, ‘while we’ve worked together. England, France, Spain, Greece, Germany they are all beautiful places, lovely places just as I imagined they would be. But they were all lacking something and I finally know what it is.’
“Joe looked at me and frowned. ‘What is it lacking?’
“I looked at Joe for a moment before I answered. ‘It’s not home, Joe.’ and then I left his office.
“I booked passage on the first ship out of Paris and stopped in London one last time. I had one final business matter to settle. She was young, beautiful, and an heiress and we had to say goodbye. London may be known for its thick fog but there was none that night when I kissed her goodbye. The next day my ship left London to arrive in New York.
“I never wrote to you that I was coming because I wanted it to be a surprise but I was the one that was surprised when I arrived in the states. Joe had wired ahead to the head office that I was coming back and Nick Walters the owner of the business was at the port to meet me. ‘So you’re going home, Adam.’ he started. ‘Are you sure you will not change your mind?’
“’Positive Nick.’ I answered. ‘I’m tired of Europe. I just want to go home. There was a girl I knew back there. She said she would wait for me. I wonder if she still is.’
“Nick sighed. ‘I’m losing the best architect I ever hired, Adam, I don’t mind telling you that. But you know what’s best for you. Go home with my blessing.’
“’Thanks, Nick.’ I smiled. ‘You know my Pa always used to say that there was no place as beautiful as the Ponderosa but I did not believe him. Now I’ve seen other places for myself. And you know, my Pa was right.’
“Nick laughed. ‘You had better tell your Pa that. He’ll never believe his stubborn son ever admitted that he did anything right.’
“I smiled and we parted. I took a train out of New York the next day. I would arrive in Virginia City in about a week, taking into consideration all stops made. And then I planned to ride over to the Ponderosa and surprise you all. But just as the train was crossing into Nevada an accident happened.
“I’ll never forget that moment. Feeling the train lurch and the sensation as though a huge monster had picked me up off my feet and slammed me against the far wall of the train. All around me I could hear people screaming and praying and I wanted to help them but I was pinned under something and could not free myself. Then a rescue party came and hauled us out of the wreck. I stood near the overturned car barely breathing. Many people had died in that wreck. Their necks broken when the car flipped and overturned. But somehow for some reason I had been spared and I knew that I was meant to come home.
“I did not stay for medical help in the town. Instead I rented a horse and headed towards home again. That was perhaps a mistake. I did not know it but my head had slammed against the wall of the car and I had hurt my neck. As I was riding home fever and chills set in and I knew that I should stop. But I was stubborn and I wanted to get home so I kept pushing myself on.
“I stopped at a town, I don’t remember where, and bought some food. The people there were very nice and when they saw my condition they begged me to stay and see the doctor who was currently out of town. But I could not stay. I wanted to get home. And I pushed on.
“I was about a day’s journey away from home when it happened. I was hotter than I had ever been, already the fever had gone to my head and I could barely see in front of me. But I knew you could help me, Pa, and I pressed on.
“I remember riding through a field and telling myself to watch my horse since the field was doted with rocks and gopher holes. But I guess I did not watch him well enough because he stumbled and I flew through the air.”
Adam paused for breathe and frowned. “The rest of it is a little hazy.” He admitted. “I dimly remember standing up and walking toward what I thought was home. I remember walking into a tribe of Indians holding a council and they took me prisoner. The men locked me in a teepee with several rough guards and I lay on the floor and passed out.
“I remember hearing a girl’s voice speaking when I awoke. It was a soft voice like the coo of a dove and I opened my eyes to look at the figure of a young Indian girl bending over me. ‘Are you all right?’ she asked and I nodded.
“‘They would have killed you out there.’ She smiled and passed a cool rag over my burning forehead. ‘You interrupted an important council.’
“‘I’m sorry.’ I managed to whisper.
“‘But I convinced them that you were too sick to do them any harm so they released you to me.’
“‘Thank you.’ I replied as she held glass of cold water to my lips.
“Try to get some sleep now.’ She answered standing up. ‘I’ll be back in to check on you.’
“I fell asleep and when I woke up a terrible fever had set in and I was delirious. I don’t remember anything that happened during that time. I do know that the Indian girl took good care of me and I recovered.
“I was still weak but I had to let you know where I was. So I gave the girl my knife and asked her to bring you to me. I’m so glad you came, Pa. I was so worried and so tired.” Adam closed his eyes and sighed.
Ben and Joe looked down at the sleeping man. Ben smiled. There would be other days to tell Adam what had gone on while he was away. But now he was home and Ben was truly happy. If only Hoss…But Ben shook his head. Two sons are better than none. And they would always cherish and revere the memory of the “Gentle Giant of the Ponderosa.”