Saints Preserve Us (by Patina)

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Rating: K

Word Count=1851

Summary: WHN for The Auld Sod. How did Nellie Lynch get Hoss out of the well?

Disclaimer: I don’t own the Cartwrights or Bonanza. No copyright infringement is intended against Charles Lang’s script. Original plot is property of the author. This story is for entertainment and no money was made from it.

Reviews from the Old Library are on the last page.

 

Saints Preserve Us

Nellie Lynch hobbled around the corner of the barn, wishing she’d told the driver to bring her up to the house rather than let her off back a ways down the road. She stopped in her tracks at the sight of the grand house and leaned heavily against the sturdy walking stick to take it all in. Ten of her humble little abode could easily fit inside the manor with room to spare. The only lack was an ostentation of peacocks strutting about the yard. 

A shout followed by a splash brought her out of her reverie. A voice deep within the well called out for help. Her eyes bulged in disbelief as the rope unwound until the spool snapped in half with a loud crack. 

“Dadblast it!” was followed by pleas for help.

Nellie set her satchel down and gathered her skirt. Her jaw set in determination as she shuffled over to the well. She placed her walking stick against it and then set her hands on the lip of the cool, damp stone so she could lean over in safety. A glimpse of white against the darkness caught her eye. Unable to make out the depth, she leaned further, balancing her midsection against the rim, her petticoats fluttering as she kicked her feet to keep her balance.

“Hallo down there!”

“Ma’am? Could you fetch some help?”

“There’s no one about, boy. You just sit tight.”

“I ain’t going nowhere,” the voice assured.

Nellie pushed away from the stone until her feet were planted firmly on the ground. She took in her surroundings, eyes narrowed in scrutiny. Maybe that’ll do, she thought, looking at a large tree nearby. She picked up her walking stick and hobbled over to the tree, testing it with a few taps from her stick. Satisfied, she returned to the well.

“Throw the rope, boy.”

A chuckle boomed from the darkness. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I don’t think you can pull me outta here.”

She pursed her lips in disapproval. “Do you want to stay down there?”

Water splashed as the man moved around. The rope flew up then bounced off the rocks and fell back.

Nellie balanced against the well’s lip again, holding tight to the stone with one hand. A flash of white caught her eye and the rope sailed up. Her fingers clutched it and she threw her weight back, falling on her backside. With a loud harrumph, she gathered her legs beneath her and reached out for her walking stick. Gaining her feet, she dragged the rope to the tree and wound it around the trunk several times before tucking in the loose end. With a pleased sigh, she admired her handiwork.

Returning to the well, she shouted, “Pull yourself up!”

“You sure about this?”

The doubt in the man’s voice raised Nellie’s hackles. “Would you rather stay down there with the creepy crawlies until a parliament of owls comes up with a better idea?”

Her ears caught the sound of boots scraping against stone.

Fingers as large as sausages emerged and gripped the outer edge of the well’s mouth. 

Nellie gulped and clutched at the cameo pinned at her throat. Faith and begorra! Saints preserve me and keep me from harm.

Sandy hair appeared followed by a florid face. The giant paused for a brief moment, both arms over the edge of the well. Then he pulled himself up and over so he was sitting on the ground, his back to the stone. Blue eyes sparkled with gratitude as he smiled up at her.

Nellie’s cheeks puffed out as she loosed a breath and she relaxed her grip on her walking stick. She tsked and shuffled over to the young man.

“Are you all right, boy?”

“Yes’m.” He got to his feet, shook his arms, and then ran a hand through his thinning hair.

Nellie looked him up and down then said, “I thought my Danny ran a tight ship. How did he ever make this ranch a success with the likes of you working for him? If none of you have the sense of a smack of jellyfish, my Danny must have to shoulder most of the work himself.”

“Your Danny?” asked the man, nose scrunched up as if he were confused.

Nellie drew her shoulders back to stand at her full height of far shorter than the man before her. Her steely gaze lent her an air of authority. “Don’t pretend you aren’t employed by Danny Lynch. He wrote me, told me how he built this ranch with nothing but his bare hands and a strong back.” Her chin jutted forward in pride. “You should be grateful Danny took in a big lunk like you with so much bloat about the middle.” She harrumphed and pointed the end of her walking stick at the man’s substantial girth. “What would your name be?”

The man looked down at his boots and fingered the seams of his vest. Looking up through his lashes, he said, “Hoss, ma’am. Hoss Cartwright.”

“Well don’t just stand there. Go tell Danny his mother is here all the way from Ireland.”

The man scuffed the toe of his boot through the dirt, raising a small puff of dust. “He . . . he ain’t here, ma’am.”

Nellie sighed and her shoulders drooped. “When will he be back?”

“I don’t rightly know, ma’am. How about you come inside and rest up. I’ll go look for him.”

Hoss picked up her valise, took her elbow, and steered her to the kitchen door. He let her in and hunched his shoulders, nose wrinkled up and teeth clenched at the invective that streamed forth from her mouth.

“Why never in my life! A dray of squirrels along with a prickle of hedgehogs couldn’t have made a bigger mess! I bet my Danny has too soft a heart to dock your wages for leaving his kitchen in such a state.” She picked up a pot, inspected it, and shook her head. 

Hands on hips, she turned to Hoss and said, “You fetch my Danny and I’ll get to cleaning this pigsty.”

Hoss gulped, opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it without a sound coming forth. It won’t take a Pinkerton Agency sleuth to figure out Danny Lynch isn’t the true owner of the Ponderosa

Nellie plucked up a wooden spoon covered in the remnants of a past meal and said, “Now go, or do I have to smack you until the sense comes back into your head?”

“N . . . no, ma’am.”

Hoss ran from the kitchen, relieved to be out of Mrs. Lynch’s arm reach. Oh Lordy, wait ‘til she sees the rest of the house

Nellie pulled an apron from a nearby hook and tied the strings around her waist. Unloading all of the pots and pans from the sink, she reached up for the lever and pumped until she was satisfied with the water level. She hummed a merry tune while scrubbing the pots and pans until they gleamed as if brand new. Next were the delicate plates and cups with their cattle motif. A contented sigh escaped her parted lips as she proudly looked around the sparkling kitchen. 

With free work space and clean utensils, she rummaged around until she had the makings for a hearty stew. After the pot was bubbling and things again put away, she removed the apron. 

Entering the big room, her lips tightened into a frown and she shook her head at the dust and cobwebs. “Oh, Danny, you need a wife to keep your house,” she said aloud as she returned to the kitchen for a damp cloth and the mop. 

She carefully inspected each knick-knack as she dusted, admiring the craftsmanship as well as her son’s taste in décor. 

Finishing downstairs, she grabbed up her walking stick and valise before heading for the second floor. More cleaning awaited her in each bedroom. She made the beds, dusted the furniture, and neatened the curtains. 

Entering the last of the bedrooms, she paused in the doorway and admired the portrait of a young woman that was hung over the desk. She cocked her head, wishing her son had married pretty young lass back in Ireland and stayed home. If he’d done that, he wouldn’t live on such a fine estate, she thought.

Shuffling over to the window, she gazed over the front yard. Yawning, she went to the bed and lay down. Just a short rest before Danny arrives home.

She nestled into the pillows, her body giving into the weariness from travel and cleaning. 

My Danny’s a successful rancher. He’s more a man than his father ever was, saints preserve him

Nellie fell asleep, her lips curled in a smile. 

The End
March 2013

Other Stories by this Author

Author: patina

I'm a historical archaeologist who loves westerns and Bonanza is my favorite. I wrote my first Bonanza story in 2006 and the plot bunnies are still hopping. The majority of my stories include the entire family and many are prequels set during the period when Ben and Marie were married.

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