Summary: Do ghosts exist? Well, Little Joe is about to find out and Adam and Hoss are ready to teach him a lesson. A BW Fanfic story.
Rated: K+ (3,260 words)
Dedication: To my little sister who challenged me to write this story. It’s all for her.
“Come on, Little Joe, you ain’t scared are you?” Seth Fletcher teased.
“Course I ain’t.” Little Joe Cartwright defended himself with a will.
“Then why won’t you come with us?” Johnny Chapman demanded.
“My Pa don’t like me being out late.” Little Joe honestly replied.
“Awww, you’re just giving ‘cueses ‘cause you’re a fraidy cat.” Seth replied.
“I ain’t neither.” Joe answered angrily.
“Shore ya are.” Johnny smirked. “Come on, Seth, we’ll go alone.” And he and Seth turned to go.
“Wait!” Little Joe called grabbing Seth’s arm. “I’ll show you that I ain’t scared. I’ll go with you tonight.”
“Good.” Seth replied. “Johnny and me will be at you house at eleven thirty and we’ll go to the graveyard at midnight.”
“Must we go so late?” Little Joe quaked.
“Yes, we must.” Seth replied seriously.
“Why?” Joe asked.
“’Cause we want to see the spooks, don’t we, Johnny?” Seth asked.
“Yeah.” Johnny answered. “And my Pa says spooks only come out at midnight.”
“Must we see the spooks?” Joe asked.
“Yes.” Seth replied seriously. “We must.”
“Adam,” Little Joe asked his brother that night after supper. “Adam, do you believe in spooks?”
Adam put down his book and looked at his little brother. “Whatever made you think of that?” he inquired.
“Some of the boys were talkin’ about it.” Joe answered.
Adam smiled. To young boys spook hunting was a fascinating thing. He had done it often himself as a child. Granted, he never found any spooks but then spooks were only make-believe things. “No, Joe.” He finally answered his brother. “I don’t believe in spooks.”
Little Joe smiled happily. He hero worshiped this older brother of his and anything Adam said was all right with him. Except when it came to getting spanked—then Joe tended to disagree with Adam. “So if a person goes to the graveyard at midnight the spooks won’t get him?” Joe wanted his brother’s assurance.
It was on the tip of Adam’s tongue to laugh at his little brother. Then he wondered what had brought on Joe’s strange question. The young Cartwright lad had never mentioned such things before. Then a realization hit him. The only thing that could bring on such thoughts was one of Joe’s friends. And the only friend that could think such things was Seth Fletcher.
Adam smiled to himself. Seth must have a graveyard visit planned and talked Joe into joining. What those boys would not do! Slowly a plan started forming in his mind. Joe had been told not to go out at night. If he did he would receive the shock of his life!
“Well,” Adam finally replied choosing his words carefully. “I don’t believe in spooks but some people do.”
Little Joe’s eyes grew wider. “So we might find spooks?”
Adam smiled. The boys were going to the graveyard! “You might.” Adam responded. “One never knows what will come out at midnight. One just never knows.”
“Hoss!” Adam crept into his brother’s room. “Are you asleep?”
“Aw was close to it.” Hoss sat up and rubbed his eyes. “What’s wrong, Adam?” he asked turning up the lamp.
“It’s Joe.” Adam whispered sitting on his brother’s bed. “He’s sneaking out tonight to meet some friends.”
“Kinda young to be calling on gals.” Hoss smiled at his brother and Adam laughed. Many nights the middle Cartwright son had covered for his older brother when Adam decided to play Romeo to some lucky Juliet.
“Not girls.” Adam replied. “Ghosts.”
“Ghosts?” Hoss gulped.
“You know spooks.” Adam answered. “The type that haunts the graveyard.”
“Do they ‘xpect to find spooks in the graveyard?” Hoss inquired.
“That’s where Joe’s sneakin’ off to?” Hoss continued.
Adam nodded again.
“Well, he’s been told not to go out at night.” Hoss yawned. “Ifn’ they catch any spooks they deserve getting’ scared.” Hoss leant back on the pillow.
“Hoss, there’s no such things as ghosts.” Adam started.
“So?” Hoss closed his eyes.
“So how will they get scared?” Adam asked.
Hoss opened one eye. “I dunno.” He answered.
“Well, I do.” Adam answered. “I have a plan for those naughty boys to see spooks.”
“Whatcha goin’ do?” Hoss asked opening his other eye. “Walk down to the graveyard and call ‘Oh, Mister Spook, would ya come out and scare my brother?’”
Adam laughed softly. “Of course not. There’s no such things as ghosts, remember? I thought that we’d teach the boys a lesson by dressing up as ghosts ourselves and scaring them into staying home at night.”
Hoss sat straight up. “Only ya could think of such a nasty but fascinating plan.” He admired his brother. “Whatca thinkin’ of doin’?
Little Joe sat in bed fully clothed huddling under his blankets. He just wanted to sleep but he was going to prove to his friends that he was not a sissy. That and the thought of the spooks waiting for him in the cemetery kept him awake. He heard the clock strike ten and his heart started to beat faster. Just a few hours now and he would be in the graveyard.
Suddenly all the things he had ever heard about the cemetery came back to him. He remembered the time last year when the town decided to build a stone wall around the graveyard. He had asked one of the workers why they were building the wall. Now the man knew it was for a good appearance but he thought he would have a little fun with the boy so he answered mysteriously, “It’s to keep the dead people from gettin’ out.”
Little Joe shivered. He remembered the legend in Virginia City of Captain Jesse Kettler. Captain Kettler had been one of the founders of Virginia City but then he was attacked one night. His last words to the Sheriff were, “I will never rest until my killer is brought to justice. My ghost shall haunt the graveyard until I am avenged!”
Little Joe ducked his head under the blankets. Would they see the ghost of Captain Kettler? And what about Lucy Parker’s husband, Tom? He was a wicked cruel man that was killed when his horse threw him. Still the townspeople said that Tom Parker’s ghost haunted the graveyard. They said that Tom would chase his victims with a knife and a whip never stopping until he caught them or until they managed to escape into a building.
Little Joe’s teeth started chattering. There was no way he could go through with this. He did not want to get chased by Tom Parker or Captain Kettler. He was going to tell his friends that he would not be going with them. But already he could hear Seth and Johnny calling him a sissy. Well, he was a Cartwright and the Cartwright’s were not sissies. So he swallowed the large lump in his throat, threw off the blankets, and tiptoed to the window. He would wait for his friends in the chair by the window.
The clock struck eleven o’ clock and Little Joe heard something bounce against the window. He opened it and looked down below. Seth Fletcher and Johnny Chapman were waiting for him. “Come on down!” Seth whispered as loud as he dared.
“’Tain’t eleven thirty yet.” Joe leant out his window and whispered back.
“We got some way to go to the graveyard.” Johnny replied. “We must hurry if we want to be there by midnight.”
“All right, then.” Joe replied climbing out his window and slipping to the ground next to his friends. “Let’s go before my Pa or brothers see us.”
The three boys slipped away from the house into the shadows unaware that they were being watched from the front porch.
As soon as the boys disappeared Adam and Hoss silently stepped off the front porch and walked towards the barn. There, away from the house, they had a consultation. “Give them ten minutes.” Adam whispered to Hoss. “We want them to get there before us.”
Hoss shone a lantern on his brother’s pocket watch. “You takin’ the same route they did, Adam?”
Adam shook his head his eyes never leaving his watch. “No. I don’t want them to see us. We take the shorter route.”
Hoss started to have misgivings about their mission. He was a kind hearted boy and did not want to hurt anyone. “Adam?” he started.
“What?” Adam asked.
“Are you sure we’re doin’ the rite thing?” Hoss wanted reassurance.
“Of course we are.” Adam replied. “Hoss, Pa has told us time and time again not to go out late at night. Anyway any person going to a graveyard at midnight is an utter fool. This will teach those young kids a lesson.”
“I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts.” Hoss commented.
“I don’t.” Adam put his pocket watch away.
“Then what about goin’ to a graveyard?” Hoss demanded.
“The imagination works strange tricks on young minds sometimes.” Adam replied, taking the lantern from his younger brother. “Well, let’s go.”
“Shhh!” Seth Fletcher whispered. “We’re passing Mrs. Parker’s home.”
“Tom Parker’s wife?” Joe Cartwright started to shake.
Johnny Chapman nodded and dimmed the lantern.
“What’d you do that for?” Joe demanded.
“Don’t want old lady Parker to see us.” Seth answered.
“But Tom Parker’s ghost might find us!” Joe gasped.
“Well, we’re spook huntin’, ain’t we?” Seth looked back.
“Yeah, I guess so.” Little Joe gazed anxiously around him.
“How do you know which way the boys went?” Hoss inquired.
“Only one route they know about.” Adam replied. “But my way is shorter.”
“Adam, do you reckon they’ll believe us?” Hoss asked.
“Why shouldn’t they?” Adam looked over at his brother.
“Well, ‘tis seems so stupid.” Hoss replied looking at the sheet he carried over his arm.
“Exactly.” Adam agreed. “That’s why they’ll believe it. They’re still young kids, Hoss. It’s amazing what an overactive imagination can teach young boys.” He shifted his sheet from one arm to another.
“I hope ya know what ya’re doin’.” Hoss murmured after a moment.
“I’m teachin’ Joe to stay home at night.” Adam replied.
“Pa tole us to stay home at night, too.” Hoss reminded his brother.
“We won’t get caught.” Adam reassured his brother. “Come one, we have to walk faster.”
Joe kept gazing around anxiously. The sounds of the night kept disturbing him. Seth, walking just in front of him, stepped on a stick and Little Joe jumped. Johnny laughed. “You gettin’ cold feet?” he teased Little Joe.
The Cartwright boy spun around to face Johnny Chapman. “A Cartwright never gets cold feet.” He answered in a hoarse whisper.
“What’s bein’ a Cartwright got to do wit this?” Johnny whispered back.
Joe was about to tell his friend that a Cartwright is a very brave person who never runs from anything or anyone when Seth suddenly grabbed Joe’s arm. “Listen!”
The three boys stood stock still straining their ears. “You sure you ain’t hearin’ things, Seth?” Johnny asked bravely. “I don’t hear nothin’.”
“I coulda sworn I hear a ghost.” Seth replied.
Joe’s eyes grew wider and his heart started beating faster.
“A ghost?” Johnny moved closer to Joe.
“Yeah listen.” Seth ordered.
The three boys fell silent once again. Somewhere they heard a sound and the boys jumped. “WHOOO!” something flew over their heads and the boys ducked.
“It’s just an owl.” Joe told his friends suddenly becoming braver at the sight of his friend’s cowardice.
Then they heard something else. It was a low mournful cry and looking towards the sound Joe, Seth, and Johnny saw something coming towards them. It had two hands and one held a stick while the other held what looked like a whip. It was actually just an old sheet that Lucky Parker had pinned on the clothesline and forgotten to take down. The way she hung in, though, it did look like two hands. And one hand did appear to be holding a stick. But it was really only the shadow of the tree branches growing slightly beside the clothesline. The other thing that looked like a whip was only the shadows of more clothes that Mrs. Parker had neglected to take down.
But the boys had no way of knowing that they were just clothes, and so they looked very real, and very alive. “It’s Tom Parker’s ghost!” Seth Fletcher almost screamed. Here was brave Seth who had called Joe a ‘fraidy cat’ scared before the sight of this apparition. But Little Joe was not thinking of that now. He was seeing that ghost and he was thinking about how he should have stayed at home in bed.
“Let’s go home!” Johnny did scream. “It’s only safe at home!”
Seth and Joe did not argue and turning they ran quickly towards Joe’s home. Sometimes the boys looked back over their shoulders afraid that Tom Parker’s ghost was following them. No ghost appeared though and as soon as the boys reached the Ponderosa Joe scurried up into his bedroom and Seth and Johnny, still very scared rode to their own homes.
“Here we are.” Adam whispered to Hoss. The wind had started to pick up and it whistled through the trees and around the gravestones. “Ready?”
“Wael, I still ain’t shore ‘bout this.” Hoss answered. “Disobeying Pa and all jist to teach Little Joe a lesson.”
“Hoss, Pa wouldn’t teach Joe this lesson.” Adam replied stopping behind a large tree to drape the sheet over his tall frame.
“Ya mit be rite.” Hoss admitted remembering times that the youngest Cartwright lad had gotten away with things that he or Adam would have been punished for. He shrugged his broad shoulders and slipped the sheet over himself. “I jist hope Pa don’t ever find out ‘bout dis.”
Adam almost shivered in spite of himself. He would have sworn that it was the wind. It was certainly not the atmosphere. But deep down inside Adam knew it was the penalty he and Hoss would pay is Pa ever learned about their midnight trick.
“Lookee, Adam.” Hoss grabbed his older brother’s arm. “By the gravestones over there.” He pointed toward a group of grave markers. “Ain’t that the boys there?”
Adam looked where his brother was pointing. Sure enough three figures were bending over one of the gravestones. “Let’s go over.” He whispered. “Come on.”
“Chris, I don’t think this is such a great idea.” a figure spoke softly. “Are you sure this is where you buried the money?”
“Do you think I’m stupid?” the taller of the three figures snapped. “Of course this is where I buried it, Abe.”
“Well, I don’t know, Chris.” The third figure spoke. “It was pury dark when we came through here last week. How can we be sure that this is the spot?”
the man called Chris grabbed the speaker’s collar. “You listen to me, Paul, and you, too, Abe. We took this money from the bank in Carson City last week and I marked the place well. Now shut up and get to work.”
An owl flew over their heads. Abe jumped and whispered, “I wish we had buried the money somewheres else. This graveyard is awfully spooky and anyways theres talks of spooks that haunt the graveyard.”
“Do you believe in ghosts, Abe?” Paul whispered.
“Yes.” Abe replied looking around the graveyard. “Don’t you?”
“No.” Paul scoffed. “Ghosts don’t exist.”
“Will you two shut up?” Chris demanded. “Come on and help me dig!”
“So whata thinkin’ of doin’?” Hoss whispered as he and Adam crept closer to the three figures.
“Just follow my lead.” Adam replied. They were almost right behind the three figures. Adam knelt behind a tombstone and pulled Hoss down next to him. “GO HOME!” he moaned in his worst possible voice. “GO HOME!”
The three figures looked up. “What was that?” Abe asked nervously.
“GO HOME!” Adam repeated. “GET AWAY FROM HERE! GO HOME!”
“Chris, there’s something out there!” Abe whispered nervously.
“I have ears!” Chris snapped back. “Who is it what do you want?” he called.
Adam stopped mid-moan. These three figures were definitely not his brother and his friends. These were two very grown men with very real guns. Adam swallowed the lump in his throat and realized that these must be the bank robbers from Carson City come to retrieve their loot. He realized that he and Hoss were in big trouble if they were caught. There was only one thing to do. He had to keep up the bluff.
He stood up and Hoss followed his example. They started swaying in rhythm with the wind. “GO HOME!” they repeated. “LEAVE HERE AND LET ME REST!”
Abe stood stock-still staring at the apparitions. “Let’s do what they say!” he begged.
“Nonsense!” Chris replied. “I came here for the money and I’m not leaving until I get it.”
Adam bent down slightly and picked up a big stone that lay at his feet. It was going to someday be a new headstone but he had plans for it. He hoisted it into the midst of the three men and it splintered little chips of the rock flying in all directions. To the three men it felt like a gunshot. Abe and Paul dropped to the ground. Chris could not believe his eyes. Nevertheless there it was. His men were dropping at the sight of the ghosts. Chris could hardly believe his eyes. He bent down to pick up the money when another stone caught him on the head and he fell. Paul and Abe had not seen the rock, however, and they believed that the ghost had gotten him so they turned and fled.
Adam and Hoss rushed over to the die of Chris. Adam retrieved the man’s gun then he turned to Hoss, “Get back to the house and ride into town to get the Sheriff.” He ordered. “I’ll watch this man here.”
Hoss nodded and dashed off towards home. Adam perched himself on a large gravestone and settled down for a wait.
He did not have too long to wait. Although to him it felt like an eternity it was not really that long before Hoss returned with Sheriff Coffee and a posse of men. They had met Abe and Paul trying to sneak back into town and had arrested them, too. Chris was sitting up, leaning against a tombstone, staring down the very business like barrel of the gun Adam held carefully between his legs. Sheriff Coffee was so grateful to Adam and Hoss for catching the crooks and promised them the one hundred dollar reward offered for the arrest of the bank robbers. But as Hoss sais, “Ah’d hate ta know what Pa’ll say when he hears ‘bout this.”
Pa said very little. His eyes burned with a fire that was a mixture of admiration for his boys’ bravery and the fact that they disobeyed him. In fact the only thing he said was, “You are restricted to the ranch for two weeks.”
Adam and Hoss did not mind. And neither did Joe. His brothers never said why they had gone out that night. The fact that Joe had gone ghost hunting never even came up. As far as Ben knew, Joe had spent the entire night in bed.
Other Stories by this Author
- Concerning Teeth and Fairies (by deansgirl)
- The Man in Black (by deansgirl)
- College Days (by deansgirl)
- The Man In Black Rides Again (by deansgirl)
- The Christmas Surprise (by deansgirl)