Summary: What could drive a man to leave?
Words: 1326 Rated: G
It still looked the same. But then of course, not much ever really changed in Virginia City. Adam Cartwright stepped down from the Overton Stage Coach, seated his hat on his head and stretched out his cramped muscles. Glancing around, he watched as the towns people moved from the General Store to the Bank, and some to the saloon. The corners of his mouth turned up into a smile and he thought to himself ‘It’s good to be home’.
“Just two bags, Adam?” The stage coach driver called down from atop the stage.
“Ah, three, Charlie. Those two browns ones and that paisley one there.”
Charlie stopped mid step and looked down at Adam. “Paisley?”
“Yes Paisley Charlie. It’s that sort of purple one with flowers on it
“How’d you ever come to have a paisley satchel, Adam?”
“I bought it in San Francisco and the person who sold it to me told me it was paisley. Now are you going to hand me down my luggage?”
“What kind of word is paisley?” Charlie said under his breath.
“Just think, Charlie. Next time you pick up some fancy ladies, you’ll be able to impress them knowing what paisley looks like.”
Charlie thought for a moment. “Guess you’re right there, Adam!” He grinned and threw down all three pieces of Adam’s luggage.
“Hey, Adam! Adam Cartwright!” Sheriff Roy Coffee called out as he stepped from the jail house. “Holdup a minute, will ya”.
Adam was just putting his last piece of luggage in to the buckboard he had rented.
“Hi Roy, how are you? Adam reached for a handshake.
“Doing fine, Adam. Say, why didn’t your Pa and brothers meet you?
“I didn’t really know when I would be coming in. Finished my business in San Francisco and scheduled the first stage out.”
“How long were you gone this time? More family business?”
“No, Remember I went out there with Sally Cass. She took Ed Payson’s death pretty hard.”
“Such a shame. Will Cass wasted away from a broken heart after Sally left”, Roy offered. “She couldn’t get past the fact that her Pa did nothing to stop Billy from shootin’ Payson. I sure never did think that they wouldn’t hang Billy. But I guess the jury thought sending Billy to prison for the rest of his life would be more punishment for him, cuz’ he’d have to think about it all the time. “
“Sally didn’t want to be here for the trial. She needed a fresh start. Pa knows the headmaster of the Finishing school there and arranged for her to attend. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, so I was able to take care of Ponderosa business. I do like visiting San Francisco.”
“You have the ‘wander lust’, Adam,” Roy laughed.
Adam laughed as well as he swung a leg over in to the buggy. Seating himself and grabbing the reins he asked. “Any idea who the new merchant will be for Cass’s store? I saw the sign in the window that it had been sold, when I was walking to the Livery.”
“Nope. Not yet.”
Hop Sing was ecstatic that Number One Son was home again and set about making all of Adam’s favorite foods. After dinner Ben took his coffee cup with him and headed for his maroon chair. After taking a seat, he cleared his throat and said, “Boys. I’d like to talk to you about something important.” Hoss, Adam and Joe looked at each other as they threw their napkins in their plates. Grabbing their own cups of coffee, the three joined Ben in front of the fire place, Adam sitting in his blue chair, Joe on the settee and Hoss on the fire place hearth.
“Adam you started me thinking when Ed Payson first came to Virginia and you had that incident with Will Cass.” Adam immediately became nervous. “It’s not what you think,” Ben continued noticing Adam’ uncomfortableness. “You said then that the ‘Ponderosa business was not yours to take away. Well, that may be true for this house and the Cartwright business.” Ben paused and sipped his coffee secretly hoping the hot liquid would give him the courage to continue. “ Each of you already have a piece of land to build a house, make a home. But I think that each of you should have a place where you can do whatever you want. Sell it. Give it away. I certainly have given away a great deal of land these last few years. Let’s look at the map tomorrow afternoon after we get home from Caleb Welch’s wedding.”
There was casual conversation as Adam brought everyone current on the dealings in San Francisco. Hop Sing served everyone Brandy before heading to the kitchen to clean up. Adam said he was anxious to get back to San Francisco and get the contracts signed on the deals he had completed. It was easy to see that Ben was a little unfordable with the idea of Adam leaving again so soon. He excused himself and headed up to bed. Joe quickly followed.
“How come you always thinkin’ ‘bout leavin’, Adam?” Hoss blatantly asked. ‘You know how it upsets Pa.”
Adam sipped his Brandy slowly. Then putting the glass down and sighing, he addressed Hoss’s question.
“Hoss, it’s not that I think about leaving all the time. It’s just that leaving is the only thing I know how to do.” Seeing the confused look on Hoss’s face, Adam continued. “Ever since I was a little kid, Pa and I have traveled this country. We’d stop in some town and live there a little while and then when things got comfortable, we’d have to move again. We’d stay some place no more than a couple of months. I learn to anticipate the time when we’d be leaving our current place and I tried to prepare myself mentally for it. That meant breaking friendships with other kids I met, leaving teachers in schools and preachers in churches. I just stop allowing myself to get to close to anyone. Because as sure as ‘shootin’, I’d get that feeling about moving on and then Pa would confirm it by announcing we’d be moving on.”
Adam reached for his Brandy glass and took another sip, this time he didn’t set the glass back down.
“Ah, Adam, I never’ed think you felt like that. Thought maybe you jest didn’t wanna be round me and Joe all the time.”
Adam laughed, threw the rest of his drink down his throat and set the glass down hard on the table. Looking Hoss straight in the eyes, he responded. “What you don’t realize is that is not just me thinking about leaving, what I’d really enjoy is all of us together traveling on a journey, to, well, to who knows where.”
Hoss smiled as he thought how much he’d enjoy traveling as well. “Well I’m glad that it ain’t us that you trying to get away from.”
Adam laughed again. “Sometimes Hoss, I would.” He paused. “Roy Coffee calls it ‘Wander Lust’. I don’t know about that. Who knows if I’ll ever leave or if, as you say, find a gal to marry up with. For now, I’m happy here.”
“What are you two still doing up? “a voice boomed down from upstairs. “Don’t you have an early day tomorrow?”
The two men smiled at each other as they stood. “I think you’ve got fences to fix,” Ben continued.
“Yes sir’re, Pa. We do. We’re heading over to fix those fences down by the Double D farm.”
“Isn’t that Frank Dayton’s place? I’m surprised he’s still around.”
“I think he comes and goes on business quite a bit.” Adam answered and then leaned over and whispered to Hoss. “Maybe Frank Dayton has the ‘Wander Lust’!” They both laughed as they headed up the stairs to bed.
Written for the Ponderosa Paddlewheel Poker Tournament.
My words were: stage coach, jail, restaurant, merchant, wedding