Summary: This is a continuation of sorts to “Emily”. Hoss & Emily’s first child is indeed a “special delivery”.
Rating: G (2,350 words)
In this sequel of sorts to “Emily”, Emily and Hoss’s baby is truly a “special delivery”.
Emily – Special Delivery
Ben Cartwright wasn’t sure what woke him from sound sleep; if it was the pounding on the solid front door or the shouting that followed. Leaping from bed Ben pulled on his dressing gown and thrust his feet into his slippers, grabbed the small pistol he kept in his bedside drawer and rushed into the upstairs hallway. A nightshirt clad Joe, boots in hand, was descending the stairs two-at-a-time; while Adam, in an unbuttoned black shirt hanging over his pants was already downstairs and trying to calm an unusually agitated and very wet Hoss.
“The baby’s comin. I know it ain’t due for a month yet, but it’s comin now! Somebody needs to go fetch Doc Martin, Shaughnassey too. She told Em to let her know and she’d be here so Em would have a woman there with her. Dadburn, but I hate to get everybody out in weather like this, but,….oh lordy !”
Ben reached the front entry where his middle son was standing dripping on the rug and put his hands on the big man’s shoulders. “Hoss, calm down. Remember how early Joe was born? Everything turned out all right then, and it will now. You get back to your place and be with Emily,. I’ll be there as soon as I get dressed. Adam, you go for Doc Martin, and Joe you go get Shaughnassey. And be careful. It looks like its still coming down pretty heavy.
“We’re on our way.” Adam acknowledged their father’s orders as he and Joe flew up the stairs to get dressed, while Hoss bolted out the door to get back to Emily, who he had to reluctently leave alone while he made the half-hour round trip ride to his father’s house from his and Emily’s home by the meadow Hoss had dubbed “Hoss Heaven”.
Ben, heading for the stairs, almost ran head-long into Hop Sing who had emerged from the kitchen wing, speaking rapidly to himself in Cantonese while shrugging into a rain slicker. At the sight of his employer, Hop-Sing switched to English. “Hop Sing go to Mr. Hoss’s . Make good broth for Missy Em’ly for after baby come. Make coffee and breakfast for rest of family. Mr. Hoss always want plenty to eat when nervous.”
Just then, the grandfather clock by the door struck 5:00, reminding Ben that it was indeed almost breakfast time. Also, everyone would welcome Hop Sing’s good hot coffee after their early-morning rides in the cold rain.. Besides, a herd of wild horses couldn’t keep Hop Sing away . The Cartwrights were his family, and “Missy Em’ly” a cherished part of it to Hop Sing as well as to all the Cartwrights.
Ben rushed upstairs to finish dressing, excited at the realization that by the time the clock struck 5:00 again, there would be a new generation of Cartwright on the Ponderosa. Would it be a boy or girl ? Ben didn’t care which it would be; he was already anticipating the feel of his first grandchild in his arms.
Ben and Hop Sing were cold and wet despite their rain slickers and the horses were coated with mud when they finally rode into the yard of the yellow house at “Hoss Heaven”. The two men were alarmed when they saw that Chubb was still hitched to the hitching rail by the front porch. Something must be terribly wrong for Hoss to neglect his horse and leave him still saddled and hitched out in the cold rain.
Hoss burst out the fromt door. “Pa, Hop Sing, am I ever glad to see you fellas. I saw you ride up from the bedroom window. Pa, would you take care of Chubby? Em’s pains are comin awful close together. I was afraid to leave her alone any longer. And Hop Sing, maybe you better get some boiling water going.”
Hop Sing headed off to the kitchen with a glare at Hoss. “Hop Sing know more what to do when baby on way than Mr. Hoss. Mr. Hoss not worry. Missy Em’ly be all right; baby too. Mr. Adam get doctor here in time for baby. Hop Sing boil water, make coffee and sandwiches and nice broth for Missy. Hop Sing bring bricks. Hot bricks make cradle nice and warm for baby.”
“Thanks, Hop Sing” Hoss gave Hop Sing a pat on the shoulder and quickly started back up to the bedroom where Emily was calling for him.
Dr. Paul Martin stared out of his kitchen window at the dreary, cloudy, wet morning as he sipped his coffee, putting off for as long as possible leaving his house to make his far-flung rounds; if it was even possible to get to some of the places he needed to that day because of the mud and the possibility of flooding. The littlest Johnson girl had scalded her arm and hand while her mother was doing a tub of laundry 2 days ago and the dressing needed changing; 10 miles from her, one of the hands on the Bennett ranch had a broken collar bone that needed checked on; 5 miles from there, old Mr. Crenshaw’s heart was acting up, and a good 15 miles from there, the Widow McIntyre was recovering from cutting her arm open with the hatchet as she was chopping kindling. And who know where else he might have to go before the day was over. Thankfully, the downpour that had continued all night had slacked down to a steady but light drizzle.
Dr. Martin, hearing a knock on the front door and voices in the entry, set his coffee cup down and pushed back from the table just as his wife rushed into the kitchen. “Paul, Adam Cartwright is here. Emily is having the baby early. He said Hoss was pounding on their door at 5:00. It took him that long to get here from the Ponderosa, in this weather.”
Grabbing his black bag, hat and rain slicker, Dr. Martin hurried to the entry where Adam was waiting. “Morning Adam. My wife tells me that Emily is getting started early.”
“Morning, Paul. Yes, looks that way, and Hoss is having conniptions”, Adam replied with a grin, shaking the doctor’s outstretched hand.
Stepping through the front door, Adam gestured towards the two horses tied by the doctor’s front porch. “The road is practically impassable by buggy. I brought you a horse.”
Doctor Martin, dubiously but gamely, mounted the horse while Adam held its bridle. “Well, it’s been a long time since I had to make a call by horseback, but let’s go.” And the two men set out into the drizzly morning.
Ben Cartwright entered his middle son’s house just as an ear-splitting shriek reverberated down the stairwell from the second floor. He climbed the stairs two at a time and tapped lightly on the bedroom door. “How’s it going in there Son? How’s Emily doing?”
The bedroom door opened and a white-faced and perspiring Hoss slipped out. “Pa, that youngun’s in a hurry.
Em’s bein mighty brave. Ain’t hardly heard a peep out of her till now. Dang, I wish Doc Martin or Shaughnassey would get here.”
Ben put a reassuring hand on his son’s shoulder. “Hoss, I wouldn’t count on it. You know your brothers will do their darndest to get through to them, and Paul Martin has never let the weather keep him from a patient, in all the years I’ve known him, and I’ve seen Shaughnassey brave weather, epidemics and Indian attacks to help a friend in need. You can count on both of them to get here, but with the roads in the condition they’re in, I wouldn’t count on it to be in time to do the honors. Now, you delivered that Shoshone baby up on that mountain, in a lean to. Emily is here, in your house, in that big comfortable bed. Hop Sing has a big pot of hot water going and everything you need is at hand. Hop Sing and I are here if you need us, but knowing Emily, she’d be mortified for us to see her like that. You’re it son.”
Hoss’s white face got even whiter, if that were possible. “Pa, this is different. This is Em and my baby.”
Ben’s chocolate brown eyes locked with Hoss’s blue ones. “That’s right. It’s Emily and your baby. They’re counting on you. You can do it. Doc Martin or Shaughnassey might make it in time yet. But if you have to, you can do it.”
Hoss opened his mouth to reply, but his name screamed by Emily cut off any words before he could speak them, and he bolted back to his wife’s side.
Ben made his way back downstairs to be helpful in any way he could, but first he stopped at the little window on the stair landing and looking out at what he could see of the sky, offered a prayer for his son, daughter-in-law and first grandchild.
Having been thrown out of Emily’s kitchen by an irate Hop Sing who insisted he was in the way, Ben Cartwright was wearing a path around the sitting room and trying to keep his mind off of what was going on upstairs by reminiscing to himself about other Cartwright babies, especially a rather large, blonde, blue-eyed one.
He was jarred out of his reverie by two simultaneous sounds; an insistant knocking on the front door and a baby’s wail.
He opened the front door to reveal two wet, mud-spattered, bedraggled men, who turned out to be his oldest son Adam and Doctor Paul Martin.
Stepping into the house, Dr. Martin didn’t waste any time. “Ben, sorry it took so long. I don’t have to tell you I’m not much of a horseman. Let me get to the kitchen and wash up quick and I’ll get right up there. How’s she doing?”
Dr. Martin’s question was not answered by Ben, but by a very dazed, but happy Hoss who appeared at the bottom of the steps. “Pa, you were right. I did it, I delivered my son, with my own two hands. My son, Pa! I have a son! Pa, he’s beautiful. Emily’s fine, he,s fine, everything’s fine!”
Hoss finally noticed his gaping older brother and Dr. Martin. “Adam, did you hear me. I’m a father and I delivered him myself. I didn’t think I could do it, but Pa told me I had to do it, Emily and the baby were depending on me, and dad-burn, I did it. Em told me afterwards that she wasn’t a bit worried, that she had all the confidence in the world in me. I knew when Em and I got married that I was a lucky man to be getting her, and I feel twice as lucky today.
“Well, Hoss” Dr. Martin said, “show me where I can wash up and then I’ll go check on our new mother and her son. Then I could do with some of that coffee I smell; and knowing Hop Sing, I can count on there being something to eat to go with that coffee.”
No sooner than Hoss and Paul Martin disappeared up the stairs, then another knocking on the door haralded the arrival of Little Joe and Shaughnasey, who looked much the same as Adam and Paul Martin had on their arrival. “Pa, we couldn’t get here any sooner. Cherry Creek* is flooded and we had to ride clear around to the bridge on the stage road. But I see that Doc. Martin made it. How’s Emily? How much longer till the baby comes?
“Hey, what’s so funny?” Little Joe looked in puzzlement at his laughing father and brother.
“Come on ‘Uncle Joe’, let’s see to the horses and I’ll fill you in.” ‘Grandpa’, I’ll leave you to explain everything to Shaughnessey.” Adam grinned at his father and draping his arm around his youngest brother’s shoulders, steered him towards the door.
Later, that day, the four Cartwright men and Shaughnassey, who was going to stay for a few days and look after Emily and the baby, were gathered around the fireplace in Hoss and Emily’s sitting room, catching their collective breath and having a bite to eat.
“Hoss, I must say, I am very proud of you.” Ben beamed at his middle son, who blushed furiously.
“Pa, I sure don’t want to have to go through that again,” Hoss sighed wearily. “If we have another youngun, Shaughnassey, we’re gonna have you come and stay at least a month beforehand, so you’re here when everything starts.”
“You just better, Hoss Cartwright”, Shaughnassey retorted. “I hope for Emily’s sake anymore babies you have are smaller than that boy. Land sakes, he’s the biggest baby I’ve ever seen.”
“You didn’t see his father when he was born”, chuckled the proud grandfather. “This fellow is a little smaller than his pa was, believe it or not. Looks like him though, except Hoss was bald as a doorknob. Maybe the little fellow will have red hair like his mother.”
“Hey Hoss, what are you and Emily going to name him? Or are we going to just call him “the little fellow”? Little Joe asked.
“Well, Emily wants to name him Eric. She says it’s a perfectly good name going to waste since I don’t use it. And she like the way Adam’s mother’s maiden name is his middle name – Adam Stoddard Cartwright.** So she wants to do that with Eric – Eric Tucker Cartwright. So, whatever Emily wants. Emily, said too, to tell you that anyone who calls him anything but Eric is going to get clobbered personally by her.”
Hoss got the laughter from everyone he expected for his last remark. They all knew Emily very well, and knew that she would do just that.
* Thank you to Robin for letting me borrow Cherry Creek from her “Cherry Creek Saga”
** Adam’s middle name of Stoddard is strictly the author’s invention.