Afterwards (by deansgirl)

Summary:  For the BB Chaps and Spurs Mega Challenge.  Started in August 2011.  What happens after Hoss dies and the storyline of Bonanza ends?

Rated: K+ (7,585 words)


“Ben Cartwright was a man loved by all.” Adam Cartwright could not believe what he was hearing. His father was invincible. He could never die. And yet as he looked down at the imposing coffin he had tears in his eyes. The realization that Pa had joined Hoss at last caused Adam to break down. He had been there, when his father died, you know.

Ben Cartwright was dignified to the end. He had been complaining of a headache the last few days. Adam did not think much of it. It was probably just the pressure of running the ranch. Adam had so much to do what with Joe’s wedding and the cattle drive that was coming up. But finally one night, that fatal night, he let himself rest.

Joe was finally married and he lay in the bridal suite with his bride Sarah. Adam had been busy since he returned home from his jaunt in Europe. He had an idea to expand the Ponderosa ranch house. He wanted to add some more rooms. Joe had come in when he was working on one. It was a large one with a sitting room. Joe had laughed and jokingly asked Adam if it was to be the bridal suite. The name had stuck.

But this warm August night Adam was resting. It was too warm to sleep and he wondered how Joe was managing it. Adam sank wearily into the settee and propped his feet on the table. He looked over at his father, sitting at his desk. For the first time in a long while Adam really looked at his father. Ben still had the noble face and powerful figure that set him apart from all the other men Adam had ever known. His eyes were old and tired and the wrinkles on his face were becoming more and more obvious. Adam had sighed sadly. They were all getting old. What with Hoss dead and Joe married again. Adam stood up suddenly. He looked down at his hands. They were still young looking and strong. But Adam was not fooling himself. Sophie may love him still. He looked towards the stairs. Where was Sophie? She was never this late. They always spent some time together before they went to bed.

Adam smiled. Sophie had been a sort of wild girl. But she was sweet and wonderful. He had met her in the East and when he returned home she followed him not long after. They were married in a ceremony like Joe and Sarah had just enjoyed. And although Sophie never had a chance to experience the bridal suite Adam promised that after Joe and Sarah went on their wedding trip Adam would let her spend the night there with him. He smiled again when he remembered the puzzled look in her black eyes as she asked, “Darling, what about the girls?”

The girls! Adam smiled. They were his pride and joy. He had two daughters, Faith and Victoria. Faith looked like her mother at three with red hair and black eyes. Her temper was almost as bad as Uncle Joe’s. Victoria was her daddy’s girl with his brown hair and hazel eyes. She was one year old and a true angel.

Adam looked up at the stairs again. Sophie was late. He thought the girls would be easy to put to bed with the wedding. But perhaps all that cake they ate was keeping them up. Adam looked at the clock. It was eleven o’ clock. The time was a fact that Adam would always remember.

He heard a light step on the stair and turned. Sophie stood at the foot of the stairs, looking majestic in the pink dress she had worn to the wedding. Adam smiled at her and was walking towards her when out of the corner of his eye he saw his father slump over his desk. He ran over to the desk, Sophie right behind him.

Sophie had worked at a field hospital in Virginia during the war. She knew what to do. While Adam grabbed his father’s wrist and massaged it, as though hoping that would do something, Sophie lifted her father-in-laws head and felt for a pulse. Hoping against hope she unpinned the watch she wore from her pocket and held it near his mouth. She sighed and placed her hand on her husband’s shoulder. “It’s no use, Adam.” She whispered. “He’s dead.” And indeed the clear watchglass confirmed her statement.

Doc Martin, almost as old as Ben, but still an excellent doctor agreed. “It was his heart, Adam.” He told the stricken man. “Ben died painlessly. It was the best way.”

Adam looked down at the coffin again. He was the only one still near it. The ceremony was over. Sarah was leading Joe away. Joe was taking it all right. He seemed to know. “Pa had not been the same since Hoss died.” Joe had told Adam that night. “I’m glad he saw me happily married.”

Adam looked around. The undertaker was talking to Sophie. She had made all the arrangements. Dear, sweet, Sophie who always had a level head. She was so beautiful in her black mourning dress and black hat. She walked towards him, them, and placed her hand on his arm. “Adam,” she whispered.

He came away with her, then. At the edge of the cemetery he turned and looked back once more. The undertaker’s boys were lowering the coffin in the ground. “Thank you, Pa.” Adam whispered. “Thank you for everything.”

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Author: deansgirl

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