Defying Logic (by Robin)
Years later, no one could really remember how it all started but Patrick Manogue was forever grateful that it all ended just the way it did. Probably most of the people in Nevada territory were happy as well. It involved obtaining a thousand dollars, a top hat and a mahogany clock that helped put him on the right path for the rest of his life.
Was it luck or coincidence? Or, as Patrick sometimes wondered, perhaps it was a miracle?
Patrick would never quite know. Some things defy logic and demand faith. All he did know, in his heart and soul, was that it was easy to make a fortune but a lot tougher to make a difference.
Outside Virginia City
Enos Milford was thoroughly amazed at his unexpected good luck.
The rancher never dreamed of owning such a fine horse, not even in his wildest dreams. He had the horse on his ranch for less than a month, but her reputation had already got around the territory. He turned down quite a few offers to buy the mare because this beauty was going to be used to improve the blood lines of the stock on his own ranch.
Enos sincerely hoped his beloved wife never got wind of the entire story of how he came to own this remarkable horse. Cora really would be angrier than a wet hen to discover he had been sitting in the Silver Dollar Saloon gambling at cards all that afternoon instead of being held up at the freight terminal like he claimed. It wasn’t his fault that he got sidetracked breaking up some brouhaha outside the school house. Passing by on his way to the freight terminal, Enos saw Little Joe Cartwright and Eden Saunders rolling around on the in the dust, pounding on each other like there was no tomorrow. The two boys were going at it hammer and tongs while bits of torn paper blew around them like a snow storm in the Donner Pass. The minister’s boy, Billy, and a couple of the school girls were shrieking and hollering and trying mighty hard to gather up the scraps of paper. The late spring gusts blew the flotsam and jetsam half way to Carson City so the children weren’t having much success.
The new young school marm was trying valiantly to sort out the chaos. Feeling that he had to step in to help out the poor little school marm, Enos jumped off his horse and hollered at the children. “What’s going on here, you kids? Quit this, the both of you! Joe! Eden, Stop!” He and young Billy attempted to pull the two boys apart but didn’t have much success until two of the older girls heaved buckets of water on the two scrappers like they were breaking up a pit bull fight in a back alley.
The second bucket of water hit the boy while he was on top of Eden, shoving his face into the school yard dirt which was quickly turning to mud. Joe may have been close to winning the brawl, but Joe’s prize was getting more than his share of the buckets of water. Eden jumped on his horse and took off like a band of Paiutes on the warpath. Poor Little Joe Cartwright was covered in muck and soaked clear to the skin. After a brief discussion, the sodden boy quickly pushed a stack of school books at Billy Felcher and headed for home, soaked to his long johns. The teacher called after him but Joe ignored her and just kept going like he was shot out of a cannon.
By the time Enos helped the sort things out, the freight office was locked up for the day. Seeing that the freight office had already shut down, Enos Milford decided that it made no sense to let the trip into Virginia City go to waste. He had worked up a quite a thirst hollering at the school kids, so he headed for the Silver Dollar.
One beer led to another and another. Before he knew what he was doing, Enos was playing card with a table full of strangers. He sat at that hot poker game until well past suppertime.
Cora Milford sincerely hated the idea of anyone gambling, especially her husband. Enos was positive that his wife would be mighty angry, even though he had won and won big. He left the saloon with more than five hundred dollars in cold hard cash, the deed for piece of land up in a place the fellow who lost it called Elm Grove, and the wonderful sorrel that ran like the wind.
Enos easily explained how he obtained the horse. He told Cora that he had slickered Lobo Michaels, the horse trader, and picked up the fine horse real cheap. She hadn’t even thought to ask about the freight depot. Enos had quickly decided he wouldn’t mention a word about having the extra cash or the deed for the land but decided to leave them wrapped in his slicker secreted in his saddle bag. Cora would never go poking through his gear, especially if he kept it all in the barn. She would be none the wiser that he had this deed or an extra bit of cash that he could use as he saw fit. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
Now, he was heading back into Virginia City to see if his run of good luck would continue at the freight auction. Perhaps he could pick up some furniture or a something Cora would like to fancy up the house for a few dollars.
Just as Enos galloped down the hill and passed the turn off to the Saunders ranch, he saw a pair of riders coming towards him across the ridge. He slowed his horse up a bit. The glare of the bright noon day sun was right in his eyes as he tried to make out who they were. He thought he heard them calling to him but he wasn’t quite sure. Was it someone he knew? Saunders? One of the Cartwrights? Or were they travelers looking for the Virginia City road?
He pulled up on his reins and slowed his horse to a walk figuring the riders could catch up to him. Two other riders approached, and then another pair of riders surged out from behind a cluster of trees. Before he knew it, he was surrounded by four, belligerent armed men.
“Get off that horse!” one of the men ordered in a gruff voice. “Get off your horse or I’ll shoot you off.”
That was the last thing Enos Milford remembered until he woke up in Doc Martin’s office late the next day.
“Isn’t that Enos Milford’s horse? The one you was interested in buying?” Hoss said pointing to a long legged sorrel mare being tied up in front of the Silver Dollar. The lanky rider strode towards the saloon with the brisk step of a thirsty man.
Adam nodded. “Now that you mention it, I think you are right. Looks like a stranger riding it though.”
”Must be his new hired man,” Hoss decided. “Pa said that Mr. Milford was gonna get some new men to work out there on his place. It was more than he could manage without more help.” He fanned himself with his hat.
Adam Cartwright wearily leaned on the hitching post outside of the freight station and fanned himself with his black hat. He was hot and sweaty and he needed to catch his breath for just a moment. It was about ninety five degrees in the shade but at least there was a bit of a cool breeze blowing off the mountains. Inside the boarded up freight depot, it was like the devil’s own blast furnace. He and his two younger brothers had spent most of the hellishly hot, early summer morning endlessly searching through the crammed, disorganized warehouse of the soon to be bankrupt Western Territory Freight Company. They were hunting for the long overdue blades and machine parts that the Cartwrights needed to get their saw mill up and running.
Little Joe stumbled out the door of the dark depot and gasped for air in the glaring sunlight. Then and there, he decided that staying in the schoolhouse would have been a far better idea than working with his older brothers. He was filthy from head to toe and his clothes were in tatters. One knee of his pants was torn and his sleeve was ripped just above the elbow where the fabric had snagged on a nail. The boy took a deep breath and started to choke again. He coughed up all the dust he had inhaled ferreting through the cellar and attic of the ramshackle building.
Joe rubbed the throbbing knot on his forehead. The boy had injured himself when he bashed his head on a splintering beam as he climbed over a teetering stack of wooden packing cases. One was labeled Waltham Clock Works, Waltham, Massachusetts. The other was stamped “Fragile Handle with Care! Glass” and a third was addressed to Lowell’s Hardware which had closed up years earlier. Clearly, none of those were the machine parts for the Cartwright’s saw mill.
Little Joe should have known he was in for it when Pa gave him permission to miss school. “I’m mighty tired of pawing through this miserable stuff!” Joe declared loudly.
“Me too,” agreed Hoss. He was also coated with sweat and filth and had a good sized sliver stuck in his right hand. The husky young man picked on it until he removed most of the splinter.
”The sheriff will be padlocking the place at sundown so we better find those crates by then, boys,” Adam reminded his brothers. “When Roy Coffee says sundown, he isn’t fooling.”
The owners of the poorly run freight company had gone bust. Before they disappeared, they left the ramshackle building in the hands of the illiterate, drunken freight clerk who was part of why the business failed miserably. All the creditors had demanded that the contents of the depot should be auctioned off. Sheriff Coffee gave everyone until sundown to claim any of their property in the place. Then, what remained would be seized and auctioned off to the highest bidders.
Most of the freight was unlabeled or addressed to customers in other towns. A few packages were for folks who once lived in Virginia City but who had moved on. That made the search even more grueling. Trying to find the crucial shipment of machine parts in the chaotic jumble seemed completely impossible but Adam was determined to succeed. At first, Hoss thought they would have to move every single box, crate and barrel to find the one addressed to the Ponderosa. It was their father’s clever idea to get agile Little Joe to squeeze in all the tight spaces to hunt for their booty. Ben was so desperate to get the vital gears that he even gave permission for Joe to miss school to do the job.
Adam uncorked the half-empty canteen and handed it to his youngest brother. Joe took one long swallow of the tepid water and then another. He offered the canteen to Hoss who waved it away.
”Finish it yourself. My throat is mighty, mighty dry but I’d much rather to go over to the nice cool saloon for a nice cold, wet beer,” Hoss said, wiping his face with his bandana, then he smiled hopefully at Adam. The Silver Dollar was right across the dusty street.
Little Joe quickly looked at Adam. “Aren’t you thirsty, Older Brother?”
”Now that you mention it, a beer sure would cut the grit in my throat,” Adam nodded.
Joe coughed once more for good measure and echoed, “A beer would be mighty fine. Mighty fine. My throat is really gritty.”
“Are you buying, Little Brother?” Adam teased knowing what the answer would be.
“You know I don’t have any money,” the slender boy shrugged. Not one to let an opportunity slip through his fingers he quickly replied, “How about if you lend me the money and I pay you back when Pa pays me for all this important work.”
” You still owe Pa for the money you borrowed to replace those school books that disappeared last week.”
”Hey, that warn’t my fault,” Little Joe defended himself. There was no way he was going to let anyone know what really happened to his books. “How was I supposed to know they… they… would fall into the creek when I was… I was… fishing? The bank is real narrow there and drops off sort of sudden,” Joe hoped that his brother believed his lie. Then he added a bit of the truth. “Besides, Pa told me to avoid getting into any more fights in school and I figured if I wasn’t in school, I could be sure to avoid getting into any scraps.” It wasn’t Little Joe’s books that accidentally wound up falling the Truckee River, but his friend Billy Felcher’s books that were ripped to shreds by Eden Saunders. Eden didn’t like the idea that Billy studying with Jennifer Biel, the pretty new girl that Eden had claimed for himself. Little Joe jumped into the scrap and gave Eden a shiner. Then he generously gave his own books to poor Billy to replace the ones that were destroyed.
Joe knew Reverend Felcher would not be as understanding as his own Pa when it came to ripped trousers, bloody noses and, most importantly, destroyed school books. Joe was fairly sure Eden would keep quiet, especially when Joe said he would make sure Mr. Saunders would see his son with two black eyes instead of only one if Reverend Felcher got wind of what had happened. Eden was far more afraid of his father than Billy ever was afraid of his.
“I can’t believe you let your books fall into the river,” Adam chastised his brother for the fourth time. When he was Joe’s age, Adam would have given his right arm and ten years off his life to own a fine set of school books. Little Joe just took his books for granted.
“At least he jumped in after them, Adam,” Hoss defended his little brother. “You should have seen him when he came home, soaked to the skin, covered with mud and stinking to high heaven and shivering like he was going get swamp fever.”
Too weary to debate another round with his irresponsible little brother and the brother who faithfully defended him, Adam just rolled his eyes and wiped his brow.
“So does that mean we ain’t going for beers?” Joe gave his suggestion one more try.
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Adam glared at him.
”Besides, you know Pa would skin you alive if he found out you was drinking beer, Joseph!” Hoss reprimanded the boy. He fanned himself with his hat.
”And Pa will skin the two of us if we let Joe have one,” Adam reminded his middle brother in case his resolve got swayed by Joe’s skillful persuasion.
”Heck, then we all would be skinless!” Hoss quickly nodded in agreement and put his hat back on his head.
“Then you buy the beers. I won’t tell, Pa. Not one word, Adam. You can trust me. Let’s go!” Joe grinned and took two steps in the direction of the saloon.
“Joe, you are barely twelve years old. No beer,” Adam said. He firmly grabbed the boy by his shirt collar and spun him around.
“Where did that goldurn clerk go? He was supposed to be giving us a hand looking for those goldang crates,” Hoss grumbled. He squeezed out the last fragment of the splinter in his palm and wiped his dirty hand on the front of his shirt. “If we ain’t getting a beer, then give me that there canteen.”
“I bet that clerk is over in the Silver Dollar drinking his lunch and won’t be back anytime soon,” Adam said.
“Want me to go hunt for him?” Little Joe said hopefully. “I got real sharp eyes. You said so yourself, Adam.”
“The only hunting you’ll be doing with your sharp eyes is with us for that missing crate.” Hoss said firmly. Once Joe was out view, he would find something interesting, get distracted and forget to come back to work.
“We can’t go anywhere until we find that big crate,” Adam reminded his brothers. “We’re wasting day light.”
“That’s true,” Hoss sighed. He took the canteen from Adam and finished off the tepid contents. “I sure wish this was beer.”
”Heck, you have me doing the hardest part of the work, climbing down into that hot, dusty store room, squeezing in between those dangerous tight spots between all those tipping boxes and splintery barrels and looking for that stupid big crate.” Joe complained again.
”But you are so well suited for the job, Little Joe. Only you can fit in between the crates and boxes and barrels in that stacked up mess. And you bragged you have sharp eyes. You are the logical candidate,” Adam cajoled. “I have faith in you.”
“And the two of us have to move all that stuff so you can squeeze in,” Hoss pointed out.
“Can’t we just go on home?” Joe pleaded. The three brothers were all hot and dirty and disgusted. “I found this really good spot for fishing on the river last week. It’s where the bank is sort of narrow and drops off a bit. …”
“You just have to be careful not to knock anything in the river like school books? “ Adam said pointedly.
Joe pretended that he hadn’t heard Adam’s remark about his books falling in the river. That was the lie he told his family when he came home soaked and without his school books. He couldn’t tell them what really happened and that he gave his own books to Billy Felcher.
”We can go as soon as we find that crates. We need those gears and the blade for the lumber mill. Did you check that back corner under the eaves, Joe?” Adam asked.
”Yes, I checked the back corner, Adam. Remember! That’s how I got this!” Joe held up his scraped hand. “And the front corner and all the corners upstairs and down. No great big crate addressed to Pa. And the cellar and under the stairs too. No great big crate addressed to Pa. Under the stairs where there were a couple of great big fat rats like the two of you! I looked at their beady red rat eyes and said ‘Howdy, Hoss! Howdy Adam!’.”
“Here, let me wrap that up for you,” Hoss said digging out his bandana. He was feeling badly. He knew the kid was working hard and getting the worst of things squeezing into the awkward, tight spaces that he and Adam couldn’t manage.
“This is like looking for a needle in a hay stack,” Joe grumbled as Hoss bound up his hand.
“That might be easier than this is. Hay is easier to move,” Hoss said
“And you know that needle is there. Why the heck would someone put a needle in a haystack? That sure don’t make much sense to me,” Joe muttered.
“Maybe that big crate ain’t even there?” Hoss said, tying up the bandana on Joe’s hand. Even easy going Hoss was getting discouraged by this situation.
Suddenly Adam got a brilliant idea. ”Maybe we are going about this the entire wrong way.”
”Yeah, maybe we are. Maybe it isn’t even there Maybe we should just go home. Hoss can tell Pa that we tried and that big box just wasn’t there,” Joe griped.
“Hush up, Joe. What do you mean we’re going about this the wrong way, Adam?”
”We all keep assuming the parts were all shipped in one big crate so we are looking for a big box. What if they were shipped in a few smaller parcels?” Adam pushed his hat to the back of his head and smiled for the first time since they had started on this job. “Isn’t that logical?”
”It sure makes sense. There were a whole bunch of small crates and kegs up in the loft that we didn’t even check because we were looking for one great big crate,” Hoss said. “And a few down in the cellar too.”
“Bet that’s where those crates are, in the loft. Sometimes things are right in front of your eyes and you don’t see it because you are looking for something else,” Adam decided.
“Maybe you are right, Adam,” Hoss agreed. “They shipped the parts in a few smaller crates, not one big one.”
“You’re a genius, Adam. You got to be right,” Joe exclaimed.
”I’m always right. It’s about time you learned that, Little Brother,” Adam grinned.
Within ten minutes, the Cartwright brothers had uncovered the missing crates in the loft and made quick work of loading them into their wagon.
“They were right in front of our eyes!” Joe exclaimed.
”It’s amazing what happens when change your point of view,” Adam smiled. He was delighted to be able to successfully accomplish the mission Pa had sent them on.
“Now let’s go get some grub. My stomach is so empty it thinks my throat was cut,” Hoss declared.
Just then a wagon rattled up.
“Hey Hoss! Adam! Where’s the doc at?” called Otis Massey from the back of the buckboard. “We got us an injured man here.”
”What happened, Mr. Massey? Who do you have there?” Hoss asked. They all could see someone lying unconscious in the back of the buckboard covered over with a horse blanket.
“It’s Enos Milford!” Adam said recognizing the man.
“Mr. Milford!” Little Joe’s jaw dropped. “What happened?”
“Someone must have bushwhacked him,” Otis explained. “Me and Patrick found him on the road into town. We were headed in to buy things at the freight auction and spied him just lying there in the gully.”
“He told us someone took his money and his horse and knocked him down in the gully when he tried to fight back. It looks like the poor fellow broke his leg,” said the driver, a husky, broad shouldered man with an Irish brogue. Patrick was in his late twenties and had black hair and dark eyes.
“Poor fellow passed out from the pain jest as we got here into town,” Otis said “Where’s the doctor’s office?”
Adam quickly took charge. “Little Joe, you jump in the wagon and show them how to get to Doc Martin’s office. Hoss, you come with me.” He checked to see if his gun was fully loaded. Hoss and Adam strode across the street to the saloon to grab the stranger who rode in on Milford’s horse.
The horse thief didn’t put up much of a struggle with Hoss calmly holding a gun in the small of his back while Adam questioned him about having a bill of sale for the Milford’s sorrel. The stranger made absolutely no fuss as they walked him down the street to the sheriff’s office. Thanks to Adam and Hoss, the bushwhacker was quickly caught and locked up in Sheriff Coffee’s jail.
Adam knew that they had to get word to Cora Milford about her husband’s mishap. She would be worried sick if he didn’t show up at home. On the other hand, work was completely stopped at the Cartwright’s saw mill until the missing machinery parts were brought up there. The mill was in a completely different direction from Virginia City than the Milford spread. Adam quickly solved the problem. He and Hoss would go to the mill. Little Joe could go by the Milford Ranch and tell Mrs. Milford what happened. If she needed, he could stay the night with her to help with chores. Then he could bring her into town to fetch Enos home when Doctor Martin said he could make the trip.
“Are you sure you know your way up there from town, Little Joe,” Adam asked.
”I’m sure, “Little Joe insisted.
”Are you really sure?” Hoss asked again. Joe might have known how to go to the Milfords from the Ponderosa but he had never traveled there on his own from Virginia City. “Make sure you don’t miss that turnoff just past the Saunders place and wind up in the desert and bump into those renegade Paiutes.”
Joe argued. “I sure know how to get to the Milford’s. The turnoff is just past the Saunders and if I…” He caught himself before he said that if he saw Eden Saunders, he would be glad to gallop over him and trample his miserable face into the dust for all the trouble he caused for Billy Felcher. “And if I know the way to go, I know the way. Don’t fuss over me like a mother hen, Brother! Besides, Hoss, Kapusta ain’t been seen a real long time.”
“The lad is right,” Patrick Manogue agreed. “Those poor Indians haven’t been seen in months.”
“Poor Indians?” Adam wasn’t quite sure if this Patrick fellow was sympathetic to the Indians or just being sarcastic.
“Last time anyone spotted Kapusta, he was half way to Canada. He was spotted in the north country,” Patrick added. None of the others noticed his fingers were crossed.
“Not Mexico?” Hoss asked. “I thought them defiant Paiutes would head south.”
Patrick and Otis both shrugged and said absolutely nothing more about Kapusta.
“Why don’t I just come along with you, Little Joe? It would be real nice to take a trip in that direction. Perhaps I can see if there is good prospecting down that-a-way,” Otis quickly suggested. “Patrick’s claim is pretty much played out. It’s getting time for me to be looking for a new place to find my fortune.”
Hoss smiled. He was relieved and nodded appreciatively at the prospector’s offer. He felt much better knowing his little brother wasn’t totally on his own. Joe had to not only manage the sorrel and carry the bad news to Cora Milford but also take on ranch chores and then bring Cora back to Virginia City to fetch Enos home. It was a lot for the young boy to manage on his own.
“Sounds like a fine idea, Mr. Massey. You go with Joe out to the Milfords,” Adam agreed.
Even though he felt bad about Mr. Milford’s injury, Little Joe couldn’t be more delighted with the plan. He loved hearing Otis Massey’s tales about prospecting. Not only was he being given permission to miss more school, no one fussed over him better than Cora Milford. She would tell him how she and his Ma were good friends and cook up anything he liked. The boy was sure he could convince her that she needed him to help out for at least a week, maybe more, and stuff himself on her fine cooking. How could Pa deny poor Mrs. Milford the willing help of a fine hard working boy?
Never one to miss an opportunity for a good meal, Otis suggested that they all should eat before leaving Virginia City. “It wouldn’t be fair to poor Mrs. Milford if a couple of hungry men showed up and she felt that she had to give us a meal when she was upset about her husband being all busted up?”
“A couple of hungry men?” Hoss asked. He turned his head left and right as if he was hunting for the other man who would be accompanying Otis out to the Milfords.
“Well a hungry man and a starving boy who is almost a man,” Otis clarified, patting Little Joe on the back.
“Yes, sir. I’m sure starving! “Joe agreed. He was flattered that Mr. Massey noticed how he was growing up.
Before Joe could bring up something about going to the Silver Dollar again, Hoss quickly suggested they could eat at the new café that had just opened down the street from Doctor Martin’s office and that was where they all headed.
The crowded café was filled with noisy, hungry men demanding to be fed. There were a few merchants and ranch hands having lunch but most of the customers had come into town for the freight auction hoping to score a treasure for pennies on the dollar. The two waitresses, one stout and blond and the other tall and skinny, were trying as best as they could to serve the demanding customers.
A crudely lettered sign was nailed on the wall next to the entry. The sign declared, “Picks Penn. There are two cherces for lunch, and two cherces for supper and Sunday dinner 2. Beaf stew and beaf stew and if U do nott like our beef stew, git the hell out.”
“Pick’s Penn? Or pig’s pen?” Hoss pondered.
“The place looks pretty clean to me even if there spelling isn’t,” Patrick said as the group found a round table across the room. “And they do have two choices. Beef stew or beef stew.”
“I suppose we’ll all have beef stew,” Adam told the waitress. The busy waitress quickly slapped a chipped plate of steaming stew in front of each of them.
“Seconds are half price,” she explained. “Pickles are free.”
“I sure hope Mr. Milford is ok,” Hoss said. “I can’t believe he got bushwhacked right near town.”
“What kind of place is this territory where a hard working man gets set upon by outlaws for his few hard earned dollars? Have folks abandoned their religion, leaving their souls on the plains and desert like trunks deemed too cumbersome for the journey.” Patrick sighed. He hungrily dug into his hearty food.
“Sadly, some folks have,” Adam agreed. “It’s a mighty harsh country out here and not everyone has come west with the most upright intentions.”
“And if they did have good intentions, a lot of folks loose them along the way,” Hoss sighed. He bit into his biscuit. “A lot of folks are blinded by trying to find gold instead of building ranches and farms and decent towns for raising families.”
“’All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue’,” Manogue quoted.
“Or silver too,” Hoss added, passing the small crock of pickles to Little Joe. The boy carefully eyed each pickle in the container before spearing the largest one with his fork with the precision of a mate harpooning a whale.
As famished as he was, Adam paused. He leaned back in his chair and took a long considering look at this stranger who had arrived with Otis Massey. Patrick Manogue was about his age, broad shouldered but huskier than Adam. His hair was just as dark, but bushy and straight, combed straight back from his broad forehead. Adam was pleasantly surprised to meet someone else here in Virginia City who knew the classics and could quote them as well “Is that Plato you are quoting?” Adam asked even though he knew it was.
The mine superintendent smiled modestly. “It is, indeed, sir.”
“You sound like an educated man, Mr. Manogue,” observed Adam.
“I studied classics and mathematics in a college in Callan County Kilkenny before coming to America,” Manogue explained. Then he added proudly, “I was a Latin scholar, Mr. Cartwright.”
“You were?” Adam smiled. “I am quite impressed.”
“Thank you, sir. When I came to this country, I attended the University of St. Mary of the Lake, in Chicago, where I followed a course of theology and philosophy but, unfortunately, I interrupted my studies.”
”What happened?” Hoss asked. He could tell Patrick must love books and learning as much as Adam.
“Tis a long story. Sadly, I couldn’t afford any more tuition, and even more important than my studies was my family. I truly wanted to bring my sisters and brothers here to America. Things are terribly hard back in Ireland. Their well being is far more important than finishing my studies.”
Hoss nodded. “Family is important to us too.”
”I’d quit school in a flash to help my brothers,” Joe declared.
“You’d quit school to help Mrs. Milford’s three legged pig turn into bacon,” Hoss teased.
“So, what did you do, Patrick?” Little Joe asked. He wondered if Patrick was a riverboat gambler or a gun fighter.
“Thinking I would find my fortune, I set off for the gold fields.”
“Along with everyone else, “Adam sighed.
“Just like Mr. Massey,” Joe grinned at the man sitting to his right. “And he’s going to find more gold and silver than anyone else ever did. Maybe diamonds and rubies and emeralds too. Aren’t you, Mr. Massey?”
“I sure hope so, Little Joe,” Massey smiled. He was quite fond of the all Cartwright boys, the youngest in particular. Little Joe still believed all the tales he told and was enthusiastic to receive the bits and pieces of worthless iron pyrite he gave the boy.
”But not very many of the prospectors were Latin scholars,” Patrick winked.
“Our brother Adam went to college back east, Mr. Manogue,” Joe boasted. He pointed at his brother with the same fork he had used to spear the pickles.
“Did he now?” Patrick Manogue smiled. He took a healthy bite of his stew. “It’s not often I meet a man of letters out here on the frontier. What did you study, Mr. Cartwright? Classics? Literature?”
“Call him Adam,” Little Joe interrupted. “Mr. Cartwright is our Pa.”
Manogue hesitated, not wanting to be impolite to a man he just met based on the suggestion of an enthusiastic lad.
“Joe’s right. Call me Adam.”
”Adam it is. Call me Patrick. What did you study?”
”My degree is in engineering but I tried to take as many courses in literature and the arts as I could,” Adam explained.
The second waitress set a pitcher of beer and glasses in front of the men. “I brought cider for the boy.” She patted Little Joe on his head and rushed away to the kitchen.
“No need!” Little Joe called but no one paid him any mind.
”Well ain’t this something? Here I am havin’ dinner with probably the only two fellers who been to college in the entire territory and me with barely any education at all,” Otis chuckled. He took a swallow of his beer. “Now, ain’t that something, Hoss?”
Hoss nodded. “Adam is mighty smart.”
“Adam is real smart and reads books all the time. He teaches me all sorts of things,” Little Joe bragged. He took a long swallow of the cider and drained half the glass before he came up for air.
“And when I find my gold mine, I’ll get him a set of fine books bound in leather and gilt and a shiny sterling silver ink well and a fine silver pen to match…” Otis promised. “And some books for you too, Patrick.”
“Adam is mighty smart!” Hoss repeated in a voice that was just a bit too loud, too forced. He wanted to interrupt before Otis started in on his gold mine rants and Adam said some hard-hearted logical thing that hurt the man’s feelings. Why squash Mr. Massey’s dreams with granite-headed logic?
The two shopkeepers seated at the adjacent table quickly turned around to see who was speaking so loudly. They both knew from sad experience that loud voices, beer and a café crowded with gun toting men could easily explode into a brawl or worse. Neither of them wanted to be hit by a stray bullet.
“Adam is mighty smart,” Hoss smiled and waved at the storekeepers. The two relieved merchants smiled back and continued eating their lunch.
“I know some Latin,” Little Joe interrupted from the far side of the table. He quickly chewed the food in his mouth, swallowed and smiled knowingly. “I really do.”
”Do you now, lad?” Patrick asked with an encouraging smile.
“You sure don’t know Latin, Little Joe,” Hoss challenged. “Quit your lyin’.”
”Sure I do! Adam taught me!” Joe argued. Adam just rolled his eyes in disbelief and devoured another biscuit, dunking it into the abandoned puddle of gravy on Little Joe’s plate.
“Adam is real smart but you sure don’t know any Latin, Little Joe. You barely know how to speak English.” Hoss took a long swallow of his beer.
“I’ll bet you half of your beer that I know Latin!” Little Joe’s eyes twinkled mischievously.
“Which half of the glass, Little Joe? The top half or the bottom half?” Adam asked. He glanced around the room coolly.
“Huh? Top half or bottom? The part with the beer,” Joe stammered.
Positive that his young brother was just boasting, Hoss challenged “Then say something!”
“Semper ubi sub ubi” Joe proclaimed snaking out his hand to snag Hoss’ beer.
Adam and Patrick laughed loudly and Adam swatted Joe’s hand. “Good try, Little Brother. Good try. You get the top half of the glass. The part with the air.” He pushed the glass towards Hoss and making sure it was just out of Joe’s reach.
“What did he say? What did he say?” Hoss asked, swiveling his head around to the others. He wanted to be in on the joke too but certainly not give a drop of his beer to his kid brother.
“Yeah, what did the boy say, Patrick?” asked Otis.
“Well as close as I can translate Little Joe said ‘always wear underwear’,” Patrick laughed.
“That’s just what I said,” Joe agreed, eyeing Adam’s cold beer and wondering if he could sneak a quick sip or two of the golden nectar without getting noticed.
Patrick reached across the table, pulled the boy’s hat down over his eyes with one hand and quickly moved Hoss’ beer beyond Joe’s reach with the other. “Just like my own little brother! And don’t ye go doin’ what your own older brother told you not to do. Lord knows, you aren’t getting away with this sort of mischief so fast, lad.”
Little Joe looked sheepish realizing he couldn’t easily put one over on this friendly stranger.
The waitress brought the men another round of beers and handed Little Joe another glass of cider. “To Enos Milford’s good health and fast recovery!” Otis said hoisting his beer into the air.
“To Enos!” they all toasted boisterously.
Being with the three Cartwright brothers reminded Patrick of how terribly much he missed his own treasured his brothers and sisters. “Tis nice that you boys are so proud of your brother,” Manogue said. “I do long for my own brothers and sisters quite a bit. I think I stayed here seeking what I shouldn’t have been looking for in the first place.”
“Are you a prospector like Mr. Massey?” Hoss asked.
“Yes, sir. I’ve been a prospector. A miner too. I’ve held a drill when, at every strike of the hammer, the fire flew from the quartz like it was a flint. For now, I own a share of the mine in Moore’s Flat but I’ll be more than glad to sell that and be done with it all. “
“That’s where we met, out in Moore’s Flat,” explained Otis. “I had a claim not far from Patrick’s diggings. He wasn’t afraid to use his physical strength and smart head to help others and to sort out disagreements and make those men act decent.”
“The men feared my size far more than they feared hell fire or damnation,” Patrick explained how after he got the men settled in, he promised that someday he would find a way to make sure they could have mass each Sunday.
“Size, strength, do have a way of convincing people,” Hoss pointed out.
“And goodness. Folks know Patrick is a good fellow. He even leads folks in prayers most Sundays. I could hear them singing hymns from my diggings across the hills and I couldn’t help but quit my work and go over and join them,” said Otis.
“After all, it is the Lord’s day, Otis,” Manogue chided his friend. He didn’t share that he promised some of the miners that he would come back some day and conduct a real Mass for them.
“Did you get much gold from there, Mr. Massey?” Little Joe asked hopefully. He was far more interested in getting a fortune than in being pious on Sundays. “Did you get your big strike?”
“No, not this time, Little Joe,” Otis Massey shook his head. “No treasure.”
“Just a bit of religious faith and to some that is a treasure,” Patrick pointed out.
“Indeed. Anyways, my claim went belly up but I saw that Patrick’s claim was doing pretty well so I went to work for him and his partner. And I sure liked not having to take that long hike acrost the valley to get to the hymn singing. I was right there. Maybe I’ll get lucky the next time.”
“Lord knows,” Adam muttered.
“Too bad about not getting a strike, Mr. Massey,” Hoss sighed. “Better luck next time. Keep hunting.”
“What brought you two into Virginia City?” Adam asked.
“I’m looking to sell my share of the mine and move on to other things. My partner said one of the other mine owners he knew here in town would be interested. Mr. Fischer or Mr. McKay or a rancher named Saunders. And the freight auction too.”
“We know Mr. Saunders. He’s a good man. He and our father are close friends. I’m sure he would give you a fair deal if he is interested in a mine investment,” Adam explained. “And his boy Eden is a good friend of Little Joe’s.”
”Eden? Not really,” Joe muttered but no one paid him any mind.
“Me and Patrick came into Virginia City hoping to bid on some tools and the like. I need to get me a grub stake so I can move on too. Someday, I’ll find gold. I know I’ll find a fortune someday and I’ll pay your Pa back for everything he lent me over the years. Every red cent. And I’ll give some money to charity too. Patrick gave me that idea. Maybe I’ll set up an orphanage or take care of the miners’ widows. ”
“Or both?” Hoss suggested.
”That’s a good idea!” Otis agreed.
“And help the Paiutes too,” Patrick added. “They are the Lord’s children too.”
“The Paiutes?” Joe argued. “Are you crazy?”
Adam kicked him under the table. “Mind your manners, Joseph.”
“Charity is a good idea. Pa likes the idea of being generous and gives lots of charity,” Adam rolled his eyes. Otis Massey was oblivious to Adam’s pointed remark.
Hoss gave his brother a sharp elbow in his side. “Lots and lots. But he invests in good things too. He invests generously too, Adam. Pa has faith that folks will succeed if he gives them a hand. Folks helped Pa when he was starting out and he’s just doing the same. You got to have faith in folks.”
“You just gotta look in just the right place, Mr. Massey. It could be right under your nose. Like we did with the crates that Pa sent us for. They were right there. Right there! When we stopped looking for the wrong thing, we found just what we wanted,” Joe encouraged. Both he and Hoss were terribly fond of Otis Massey. Despite Adam’s claim that the man was just a foolish dreamer and took unfair advantage of Ben Cartwright’s generosity, his two younger brothers were absolutely positive it was only a matter of time before Otis struck gold.
“You jest have to keep on hunting,” Hoss agreed with a nod. He pushed aside some of the bowls and plates on the table. “Any of them pickles left?”
Adam shook his head.
“I had the last one, Hoss,” Otis Massey confessed. “Sorry!
“For some people out here in the west, gold has become their god,” Patrick observed. “That’s why I am thinking of letting someone buy my share. Mining isn’t for me. I surely miss my family like a miner misses the sunshine when he is digging beneath the earth.”
“I sure would pick my family over gold.” Hoss readily agreed.
“No question in my mind on that choice either,” Adam agreed. “Gold fever can destroy families.”
“Look how some of them miners left their kin back East and never sent for them and just never went back,” Joe said.
“Some of the big mine owners live over in the hotel and don’t care one bit that they have wives back East. They act like they are bachelors, if you get my drift,” the stout waitress said as she started to clear off their dirty dishes. “We call them Washoe widowers. One of our girls what used to work here… well, she don’t need to work here or no where no more since she met up with one of them Washoe widowers, if you get my drift.”
Joe wasn’t quite sure what the waitress was talking about but he could see both Hoss and Patrick Manogue turn bright red.
“And lots that have their families out here let their children starve or wives die from lack of a roof over their heads in the snow to dig for gold,” Adam shook his head in disgust. “Nothing worse than gold fever.”
“Or they try to cut each other’s throats for a wee bit of riches. Or they bushwhack someone like the fellow we brought here.” Manogue added. “I’ve broken up many a brawl between miners fighting over a mine claims or a few cents on the gambling table. Quite a few fellows died and us with no doctor near.”
“Good thing the doctor was here to help Enos,” Otis sighed. He and Hoss had to help hold Mr. Milford down while Doc set his broken leg.
”Good thing,” Little Joe nodded. He held up his right hand as a bid for sympathy. Doc Martin had replaced Hoss’ bandana with a nice clean bandage.
Thinking the boy was signaling her, the stout waitress brought another round of beers over to them. “Anyone interested in some pie? We have fine pie, three kinds. Apple, blueberry and rhubarb.”
“Pie? Me and my brother Hoss would like some pie. I sure worked hard today!” Joe answered. “Bring us one of each kind and a knife to cut it and ….”
“Don’t be so greedy, Joseph,” Adam reprimanded the boy. “Just bring each of us each a slice of blueberry, Miss. That is, unless my rude baby brother is picking up the tab for the rest?”
“Me pay for it? “ Joe shook his head. “One slice of blueberry pie would be fine, thank you, Ma’am.”
“Our father saw what that greed did in Sutter’s mill and to his friend John Sutter’s land and will never, ever let that sort of wild greed destroy our ranch.” Hoss explained.
“Never!” Adam said firmly.
“Ben Cartwright is a mighty good man,” Otis said. “Smart too. And generous. I’ll pay him back every cent when I make my fortune.”
“Pa’s mighty charitable,” Adam repeated once more. He leaned back in his chair. “Generous to a fault sometime.”
“That slice of pie would be mighty fine right now,” Joe said, looking for the waitress.
“Otis told me about your fine charitable family and how stubborn you all are is about protecting your fine land. He said your father is limiting the sale of all your timber to the miners. There is quite a fortune to be made from all that lumber. I was hoping to strike a deal with him but Otis said that I might not be able to if Mr. Ben Cartwright, himself doesn’t like the idea. I don’t need the large quantity that the mines here in Virginia City want. Just a wagon load and my partner, Mr. Biel, can pay top dollar.”
At the mention of the name Biel, Joe’s eyes widened. “Mr. Biel is your partner?” Jennifer Biel was the source of all the conflict between poor Billy Felcher and Eden Saunders. Billy was fond of strawberry blonde Jennifer but too shy to do anything about it. Eden was sweet on Jennifer too. He found out and teased Billy mercilessly, and when Billy wouldn’t fight, he ripped up Billy’s school books.
“It’s not about the money. Our father is adamant about not cutting down too many trees just to please the mine owners in the short term and destroying our ranch in the long run. Without those trees, the hills will wash away when the snow melts and the spring rains come and we won’t have any pasture land for grazing. We are building a ranch for the long term, for the future.”
“Our Pa makes us plant a little sapling or two for each big tree that gets cut down,” Hoss explained.
Little Joe added. “There are trees my brothers planted when Pa a first started cutting timber. There are trees Adam and Hoss planted before I was born first that we are going to cut down in the fall.”
“So, your Ponderosa is a fine big forest of tall trees?” Patrick asked.
“No sir, it’s not just trees. We raise cattle and horses too, and can’t do that without good grazing land,” Hoss added. “He won’t let no miners dig up the Ponderosa and ruin our ranch or cut down all our trees or spoil our water.”
“Some men love gold and what it will bring; others, their land,” Adam pointed out. “We love our land. Denique non omnes eadem mirantur amantque. ‘All men do not admire and love the same things’.”
“Horace?” Manogue correctly identified the quote from the Roman poet who fought in Brutus’ army.
“Horace,” Adam smiled in agreement. It was not often he met such a well educated man in Virginia City and he was thoroughly enjoying his company.
“Horace? Big Horace, the wrangler over on the Winslow ranch? Or that big yapped fellow who runs the saloon over in Gold Hill, Horace Brewster?” asked Hoss.
“Nah, bet it’s the sneaky kid Horace that works for Lobo Michaels, the horse trader. That kid has backdoor trots for brains,” Joe said, wiping his chin with Adam’s napkin and tucking it back on his brother’s lap. His own napkin had long since disappeared under the table. Otis had picked it up and pocketed it.
“It’s the ancient Roman poet, Horace,” Adam explained.
“Oh,” said Hoss, turning red. “I shoulda guessed that it weren’t no saloonkeeper or fool kid working for a horse trader who would bilk his own grand mama. You know, Lobo Michaels wanted to buy that horse from Mr. Milford?”
“I told Enos to steer clear of that flannel-mouthed liar Lobo and I would give him double anything Lobo offered whenever he was ready to sell that mare. He said he wasn’t interested in selling it to anyone,” Adam said.
“It’s a mighty fine horse,” Hoss added. “Fast, long legs.”
“Mighty fine,” Patrick agreed, even though he wasn’t much of a judge of horses. Patrick Manogue was a better judge of men than horses. He judged that the Cartwrights were fine fellows, just as Otis Massey had told him. He had a notion that Milford’s sorrel resembled the horse owned by one of the Paiutes who came around Moore’s Flat but that seemed highly unlikely. The brave treasured that horse and claimed it had helped him out run danger many times.
“She sure is,” Little Joe agreed. “Think I could be the one to ride it back to the Milfords?”
“Maybe,” Hoss said. “What do you think, Adam? Think the kid can manage the trip out to Milfords?”
The victory of finding the missing crates and the pleasant conversation over lunch and the cold beers put Adam in an amiable mood. “If Little Joe says he can manage, Hoss, I have faith he can, even using Enos Milford’s saddle. After all, the boy claims he learned everything he knows from us.” Adam drained his beer glass and set the dirty glass directly in front of Little Joe. “Just make sure you adjust the stirrups properly before you set off, Joe. And check the cinch.”
”Yes, sir!” Joe agreed.
“Only the good Lord in his own sweet time can make a piece of fine green ranch land filled with meadows and trees and blue lakes,” said Manogue. “I surely miss that working below ground in the mines. It’s an awful life and not what I want to be doing for much longer.”
“Sounds like you don’t really have your heart in mining, “Hoss observed.
“I suppose you are right, Hoss. Sometimes I think this whole territory is an absolute moral abyss. The men I meet are tempted by saloons selling rotgut, hoodwinked by card sharks dealing monte and enticed by prostitutes in brothels.” Patrick sighed. “Tis sinful what becomes of folks.”
“What brought you out here if you feel so strongly against the way folks live out here?” Adam asked.
Manogue then explained how had hoped to finance his own education and bring his brothers and sisters to America by mining. He hadn’t really found a fortune in cash but he might have found other things about his true calling “I must admit it was the lure of gold, and then silver, like many of others. I made some money but I remained in this occupation too long. I want to help folks to find a pathway to decency. To regain some civility in this brutal land. Sometimes you come looking for one thing and find another. Perhaps it is time for me to follow my heart.”
”My heart is in the Ponderosa,” said Hoss. He grabbed the last biscuit with his long reach before the waitress could take the basket away. “After all, we all own the Ponderosa.”
Adam turned to Patrick Manogue and explained. “Our Pa says he’s building the Ponderosa for all of us, for our future.”
“Mine too,” Little Joe agreed. Then not to be outdone by anyone, he added. “And the Ponderosa is in my blood too. Every single drop.”
“Just like Pa,” Adam said matter of factly, not revealing what his own heart’s desire was. He wasn’t quite sure what his heart’s desire was but he was sure it wasn’t ranching like his brothers or being content to stay on the Ponderosa for the rest of his life like Pa and his brothers. The Ponderosa was beautiful, so beautiful, so complete, so much in their blood that it was their entire world.
The Ponderosa was only part of Adam’s world. He certainly loved the Ponderosa. It was his home but it wasn’t his whole world like it was for his two brothers and their father. Adam knew there was more out there than the Ponderosa and would never be content to remain there forever.
“The Ponderosa is a mighty beautiful place,” Otis agreed. “You should go see it, Patrick. It’s like heaven right here on earth. Tall pines that touch the sky like church spires, blue lake, green pastures as far as the eye can see and Ben Cartwright has a fine, grand house with soft beds and a big grandfather’s clock. I’m gonna get me a clock like that when I make my fortune. Ben sets a mighty fine table too.”
“We have the absolutely finest ranch in the entire territory!” Joe bragged. “In the entire country! In the whole wide world.”
“The entire world? Well, this I must see, Little Joe,” Patrick answered.
”Please, come be our guest, Patrick. Pa would be glad to meet you and show you the Ponderosa,” Adam graciously invited.
“And let you sleep in one of our soft beds and tell time with our grandfather clock. You can sleep in my bed if I stay to help Mrs. Milford. It’s a real soft bed,” Joe offered.
“Yeah, Little Joe has a real, real soft bed. It’s so soft that many a morning we can’t roust him til noon,” Hoss teased. “And that’s on school days. He don’t care what time it is on Pa’s big clock. Joe sleeps to noon.”
“The boy doesn’t sleep until noon,” Adam said. He took a bite of his pie.
“Yeah, I don’t sleep until noon!” Joe was surprised that Adam was defending him from Hoss. It was usually the opposite.
“He only sleeps until eleven; he just takes until noon to figure which feet to put his boots on,” Adam responded.
“Hey! I work real hard!” Joe defended himself. “And I know which feet my boots go on!”
“Do you? You can sure fool me,” Hoss grumbled. “We should really be hitting the road. It’s getting late.”
“Time’s money,” agreed Otis. “Up at dawn and work until it is too dark to see what you’re doing. That’s why I want me a fine big clock to tell me how many hours I spend working. “
“Won’t matter what time it is to Joe,” Hoss grumbled. He tossed his napkin at Joe.
“Don’t pick on our hardworking little brother, Hoss.” Adam waved to the waitress to bring over their check.
”Hardworking? Hardly working, I would say. Only thing Little Joe works hard is on sleeping until noon. That big clock chimes right on the hour and it don’t matter one bit to Little Joe if’n it chimes ten or twelve or hundred.” Hoss elbowed Joe.
“Don’t pick on your brother. He does his share,” Otis defended Little Joe as the boy had defended him many times.
“I suppose he does,” Adam agreed. He winked at Little Joe who smiled back.
“You should hear the sound that big clock makes, Patrick. Just like church bells,” Otis explained. He pocketed the last piece of pie wrapped in Hoss’ napkin.
“Really? Sounds grand,” said Patrick. “I miss hearing the sound of church bells.”
“Real heavenly,” Otis sighed. “Back East, when I was a boy, we had fine bells in our church steeple. A fine big clock too. Your Pa has that fine clock on the Ponderosa but this was a real big one in the church steeple so everyone could see it from all over. “
“Maybe when you find gold, you can get a big clock just like that one or one like the one Pa has,” Joe suggested. “Not only does Pa’s clock have a real pretty sound, there’s a little door and a shelf where you keep the key to wind it, like a secret compartment.”
“Before Pa got the safe, he would hide valuables in that little compartment in the clock,” Adam recalled.
“Right there, under your nose but no one would have thought to look,” Hoss said.
“That is unless the clock needed winding,” Adam laughed.
“Time is money, boys. You have to get up early. If you get up before dawn, you might just make your fortune,” Otis pointed out to Joe. “Time is money. And I sure do like that big, tall clock your Pa has in the house. It chimes the hours and has that real pretty case on it. You know it’s a sign of having lots of money when you can have a big tall clock like that in a big fine house. I don’t know which your Pa loves more, showing off his fine ranch or bragging about his boys”
“Bragging about us, of course,” Joe answered without hesitation. “Adam is mighty smart and Hoss is mighty strong and I can do everything they can do!”
”Really, Shorty?” Hoss laughed. “Everything? Can you see over the top of that big tall clock in the house? That’s where Pa hid your birthday gift for the last three months.”
”My birthday gift is there for three months? On top of the clock? You are joshing! What did Pa get me that’s hid there?” Joe sincerely was hoping for a rifle and that sure wouldn’t fit up on top of the grandfather clock without him seeing it. What could Pa have hidden on top of the clock?
Picking up on Hoss’ joke, Adam said “What did Pa get you? Oh, pair of silk underdrawers and a fine volume of poetry by Horace. Pa knows how much you love reading all the classics since you can do everything me and Hoss can do.”
“Underwear? A poetry book? Pa got me a book?” Joe’s jaw dropped. Then when Adam and Hoss started to laugh, the boy realized his brothers were just teasing him again. “Quit your joking. Pa wouldn’t buy me a book of poetry for my birthday. Maybe I can’t see the top of the clock yet but I sure can do almost everything you can. I’m real good with horses and cattle and I know how to use every tool in the barn and in the tool shed and I’m getting to be a pretty good shot… well, maybe not quite everything, not quite yet but I will someday because you and Adam and Pa are teaching me everything you know and…and …”
“And?” Adam stared at his enthusiastic kid brother.
“And I even know a bit of Latin too!” Joe puffed out his little chest. “And you have faith in me too!”
The men laughed at the boy’s exaggerated boast and rapid attempt to save face.
“Ab ove maiori discit arare minor,” quoted Patrick.
“What did you say, Patrick? Is this something else about wearing long johns or washing behind your ears once in a while?” Hoss asked. He gave Little Joe a little poke and pulled at the boy’s ear.
”’Ab ove maiori discit arare minor’ means ‘from the older ox the younger learns to plow’,” Patrick translated.
“Yeah, you big ox!” Joe returned the poke Hoss gave him. “Show me how to plow!”
“Well, in that case, since my little brother has been such a good student, Joe, you and Otis can surely manage helping out Mrs. Milford between the two of you. Even if there is plowing to do. Joe’s invitation still holds. Why don’t you come along to the Ponderosa with me and Hoss, Patrick,” Adam decided.
“I accept!” Patrick Manogue said.
Adam reminded Little Joe of the correct route to travel from Virginia City to the Milford Ranch and reminded him not cross over onto Duprey land to take a shortcut. “No need to stir up trouble,”
Joe nodded. “No need.” The boy was determined to show his brothers he was responsible and would handle the job just as well as they would.
“Mr. Duprey has a grudge against our Pa,” Hoss explained to Patrick Manogue.
“Mr. Duprey has a grudge against Pa and a shotgun that he won’t hesitate to use against trespassers without giving a warning,” Adam said ominously.
When Adam was finished lecturing their brother, Hoss reminded Little Joe to be polite and helpful to Mrs. Milford. “Don’t wait for her to ask you to help out, Little Joe. You just go do the chores like you know they should be done.”
After the older Cartwright brothers finished giving their little brother marching orders, Joe’s brothers and their new friend, Patrick Manogue, set off towards the Ponderosa with the crates of machine parts for the saw mill.
Finally free of his brothers, Little Joe eagerly led the way to the livery stable to get Milford’s sorrel. Even though it was late in the afternoon, they wanted to head out to his place to tell Mrs. Milford the bad news and bring the stolen horse back to the Milford ranch.
“Milford’s saddle and bridle is over there on top of the feed bin. Don’t you forget his saddle bag, neither. It’s hanging on that hook over there,” Nate, the livery owner pointed to behind Joe. “And you owe me two bits for the stall and the feed.”
”Hurt your hand, boy?” the livery owner asked. He eyed the fresh white bandage on Little Joe’s hand.
“A bit. My brothers forced me to go scrambling up in the freight office looking for some crates for Pa. They just let me do all the hard work while they sat back and watched.”
”Did they now?” Otis asked but Joe ignored the question.
“Mr. Massey here and his friend Pat found Mr. Milford. Doc Martin bandaged up my hand after he took care of Mr. Milford’s broke leg. Doc said if it was a bit worse, he might have had to amputate it.”
”No, that was just broke. My hand was hurt real bad,” Joe claimed.
“Well, you better take good care of yourself, Joe. Do you think them Injuns jumped Milford? Kapusta could have done it,” Nate asked.
Otis Massey quickly shook his head. “Wasn’t any Indians. It was some drifter cowpoke. The Cartwright boys saw him ride in on that there horse and they grabbed him in the Silver Dollar and hauled him off to the sheriff. That cowboy ain’t Kapusta. Not by a long shot. He ain’t even Kapusta’s son.”
“Ok! Don’t get so huffy, Mister. I was just surmising. And I didn’t know Kapusta had any wolf pup son.”
”Besides, I heard Kapusta was seen all the way east, in Ohio or Kentucky,” Otis said quickly changing the direction of the conversation.
“You don’t say? Will you be back for Milford? He’s staying with the doc.”
”Doc Martin has Mr. Milford resting up in his office at least until tomorrow,” Joe nodded. “Me and Mr. Massey will help Mrs. Milford with the chores and bring her back to town to fetch Mr. Milford when Doc says he can come back home. I might just stay out at the Milfords a few weeks to help out Mrs. Milford.”
”What about school, Little Joe?” the livery owner asked. He leaned against the side of the stall and spat out some tobacco juice into the hay. “And your poor tore up hand?”
“Helping a neighbor is far more important than me going to school,” Joe sincerely hoped his father agreed.
“Horse don’t look like she wasn’t too happy being stuck in a stall all day either,” Otis observed. He hoisted the saddle onto the sorrel’s back.
“And I’ll just have to tough it out best I can with one bad hand,” Joe said trying to sound blasé.
“If you say so.” Nate scratched the back of head. “Having your hand almost cut off ain’t nothing to sneeze at. And, you owe me two bits for the stall and the feed.”
Little Joe carefully counted out the coins from the money Adam had given him to settle the livery bill.
“Four bits?” Otis closed one eye and stared at the livery owner. “Didn’t that horse come in this afternoon?”
“I took good care of her. Fed her my best feed too,” Nate said defensively.
“I heard this is one mighty fast horse,” said Otis.
“Yup. She’s real fast.” Little Joe gave the horse an appreciative pat on the rump as Otis finished adjusting the cinch on the saddle. Then, knowing that Mr. Massey wouldn’t think to protest, the boy added confidently. “I’m going to give this horse her head and let her run for a bit. My brother was interested in buying her and I said I would tell her how she ran.”
“Sure, Joe. Give her a try,” Massey agreed with a careless shrug. The prospector didn’t even consider that the horse might be more than the boy could manage. Little Joe grew up riding horses. Otis remembered hearing that, even before Little Joe could walk, Ben Cartwright would proudly ride around the Ponderosa with his youngest son perched in front of him in the saddle.
Little Joe led the sorrel out of the shadowy livery into the searingly bright sunshine and climbed into the saddle. The prospector flicked the reins on the back of his team and headed the buckboard down the bustling main street. Joe trailed behind on the sorrel. They passed the freight office just as Sheriff Roy Coffee elbowed aside a knot of curious folks. The sheriff padlocked the front door. Then he nailed up a sign saying, “Foreclosure Auction Tomorrow.”
As Little Joe and Otis Massey came to the edge of town, the traffic disappeared. Joe’s horse started moving faster. Soon the boy was galloping far ahead of the buckboard. Massey could see boy leave the road, then cross the open field at a fast clip. He raced past a man and a boy digging out stumps. The two stopped working and watched as Joe galloped past them and quickly out of view.
John Saunders paused for a minute. He watched the sorrel race past. The boy rode with bravado and confidence.
Eden leaned on his shovel and angrily complained. “Well, look at that, Pa! Joe Cartwright is riding on our property!”
”That boy surely can ride well.” John admired. “Beautiful horse! I think that is Milford’s horse. Do you think Ben Cartwright convinced Milford to sell it to him? Joe sure looks fine on her back. He rides mighty well.”
Eden quickly countered. “I can ride just as well as Little Joe Cartwright. Better! I just don’t have a good enough horse, Pa.”
His father ignored his envious comment. “If it was up to your mother, you would. I’m not your mother, Eden. You have to earn a better horse. Finish this work and maybe we can discuss how you can manage to secure a better horse.”
“Little Joe probably just stole the horse. Everyone thinks Joe is so special but he’s just a low down dirty horse thief.” Eden grumbled. He angrily kicked a clod of dirt that hit his father’s leg.
“A horse thief? Little Joe Cartwright? ” John shook his head and brushed off his pants. “I sincerely doubt that, Eden.”
”You always stick up for him!” Eden yelled sullenly. He stomped off toward their buckboard and threw his shovel in the back. “I’m done working.”
“When you are finished acting like a spoiled child, you can pick up that shovel and finish digging out the rest of these roots,” Saunders growled.
Eden glared defiantly at his father. “No! Are you going to buy me a new horse, Pa? We can’t let Joe have a better horse than me, Pa. You don’t want to have the Cartwrights make us look bad. How would that look?”
“It would look like Ben Cartwright made his boys work for what they wanted, Eden! Get back to work, you lazy, spoiled good for nothing! I bet Ben Cartwright never has to stand over his boys tell them to work harder,” John Saunders roared at his irresponsible son.
“I sure would work harder if you got me a fine horse like that sorrel,” Eden muttered sullenly under his breath. He avoided looking directly at his father, and as slowly as he could manage, went back to digging out the tree roots.
A few minutes later, Joe rode back into sight. He crisscrossed the Saunders pasture and rode back onto the dusty Virginia City road. For the next hour, as Otis Massey in the buckboard followed the dusty, rutted road, Joe galloped back and forth on the high-spirited sorrel horse up the pastures and fields and down. The boy didn’t even notice the two other riders who were trailing them, but Otis did.
Cora Milford was thoroughly resigned to the fact that she would have to handle the evening chores on her own. Enos was the one meandering to Virginia City on his long-legged sorrel hayburner and she was the one who would do the evening milking. There was absolutely no doubt in her mind. No matter what her husband promised about getting home for supper, Cora knew that was entirely wishful thinking on his part. She was the sensible one and he was the one with his head in the clouds.
Enos was a good man, a hard worker, even though he was sometimes a foolish dreamer. Dear sweet Enos always meant well and had the best intentions but he was a dreamer. She had a knack for loving dreamers. No matter how much she argued with him, Enos insisted that they had the spare cash to bid on some abandoned freight at the auction. She was adamant that they needed the extra cash to tide them over until they sold their herd but, as always, Enos wouldn’t listen to her logic and reason.
Cora stomped her foot and demanded to know her where all this extra cash had come from. Enos just hemmed and hawed. He told his wife that she should quit her worrying and he would be home for supper with some fine surprise he would get at the freight auction in Virginia City. He said there were treasures to be snapped up for pennies and he was going to fetch home some fantastic treasure like a marble topped dresser or crystal lamp or a Dresden china figurine for the mantle or a bolt of dress silk. He would get something remarkable for her even though she didn’t want him to be so frivolous.
She asserted that if they had all that extra cash for foolishness and were doing so well, maybe he should hire a few extra hands right now instead waiting for the end of the summer when they were facing round up. The brash young fellow they had working for them since late winter wasn’t much help. A few days earlier he had up and quit when Enos caught him poking around in the barn instead of tending to the fences.
There was absolutely no doubt in Cora’s mind that her husband would never be home early enough for supper. The woman resigned herself to doing all the evening chores. Privately, Mrs. Milford was looking forward to a quiet evening on her own. She wouldn’t mind being alone to savor the peaceful solitude of the warm spring evening. Without her husband to accommodate, she could eat a quick quiet meal of crackers and cheese instead of cooking a big, hearty evening meal. With only one dirty dish and no pots and such to clean up, she had more time to finish the eyelet collar on her new Sunday dress. She spread her fabric out on the kitchen table and began to work while there was still a bit of day light coming through the kitchen window.
She moved closer to the window where the light was better to thread her needle. Some movement outside caught her eye. Something, perhaps a deer, darted through the clearing and disappeared into the trees, a swift rustling of the branches on the line of aspen saplings the only evidence of its presence. She looked harder, further away. Something else was moving in the distance past the fence line. Then she spotted someone riding across the crest of the hill beyond the corral. Perhaps that is what startled the deer? She moved the calico curtain aside trying to see if it was Enos finally returning home. It wasn’t. It was two Indians on horseback.
Even though things with the Paiutes had been peaceful for quite a long while, Cora held her breath until she saw the Indians were moving away from her home. They looked to be riding over the hill towards Cherry Creek. She assumed they were just a pair of Paiute braves out hunting for deer. Kapusta and the few rebellious braves who were stirring up trouble had been expelled from the tribe by Chief Winnemucca. Enos heard that the defiant faction had headed south to be as far from the cavalry in Fort Churchill as they could.
Folks around the territory were blaming Kapusta and his followers for several raids on nearby ranches. Cora told Enos not to believe everything he heard. Lots of people exaggerated stories as they passed them on to other folks. It was impossible for Kapusta to be responsible for all the trouble in all the places that people said they saw them. Every strayed calf, hen that got eaten by a fox and misplaced pair of reading glasses got chalked up to being stolen by Kapusta’s thieving band of renegades. One small band of braves couldn’t possibly have stolen everything folks claimed. They would need wagon train to haul off all their booty and a town full of warehouses to store all the liquor and household goods and a few corrals to hold all the livestock folks claimed Kapusta stole.
She knew very well how to use the loaded rifle hanging near the door and wouldn’t hesitate to use it. Just the same, Cora was relieved when she saw that the pair of Indians were riding away from her home.
As the prospector and the boy passed the fence marking the far boundary of the Saunders place, Little Joe reined his horse in next to the buckboard and kept pace with the team. He was quite proud that he had taken on the job of guiding Otis Massey and returning the sorrel and was doing so just as responsibly as Adam or Hoss or even his father would have done.
“We’re most of the way to the Milford ranch. This here is the turn off that my big brothers were worried I wouldn’t remember. If you keep going straight this way, you head out to the desert,” the boy explained. He pointed towards the flat lands. The trees and lush green pasture lands quickly became sparse in that direction. The land in a distance was grimly desolate, rocky and gray.
”Good prospecting territory out there?” Massey asked. He squinted his eyes and looked out to the horizon. He glanced over his shoulder to see if the two riders he had previously noticed were still trailing them.
“Maybe. But I bet it’s also good territory to run into Kapusta,” Joe warned. “Lots of caves and boulders and good hiding places for someone who don’t want to be found.”
“Kapusta?” Massey shook his head. “I’m not scared of Kapusta. He’s headed straight for Texas.”
”I thought you and your friend Patrick said he was up north in Canada,” Joe challenged. “Then you told the livery owner he was in Ohio or Kentucky.” The sorrel tried to surge ahead but Joe reined her in to keep pace with the sluggish team pulling the buckboard.
“Texas or Canada or Ohio. Not much difference.” Massey quickly caught himself. He shifted his weight on the hard wooden seat of the buckboard.
Joe shrugged. “Not how I learned it in school, Mr. Massey. Canada is that way.” Joe pointed north, the direction they traveled to the Milford Ranch. Anxious to pick up the pace, the sorrel stomped in the dust. Again, Joe pulled back on the reins. “And Texas is that way.”
“Kapusta is not around here. So, you been learning about maps and such in school, Little Joe? Good boy. I’m always interested in maps. Drew me quite a few of them in my time. Where I looked for gold. Where I found water.”
“I’ll tell you, if you don’t have drinking water, all the gold in the world won’t help you from dying of thirst,” Joe said.
“Even Eldorado?” Otis teased.
”Huh?” Joe cocked his head to the side. “What’s that?”
”It’s the lost city of gold that the explorers hunted for in the old days. They all spent years trying to find the city. Every time those fellers asked for directions, the Indians would say ‘It’s not here fellers. Keep on going. It’s straight ahead’.”
“Really? A city of gold? “
“Eldorado. Lost city of gold. That’s why I put springs and creeks and places I prospected and such on my map, boy. I keep them with all my important papers. Any water left in that canteen? All this talking about springs and creeks and gold is drying up my throat.” The prospector quickly changed the subject. He glanced around to check on the two riders who had been trailing them from a distance. They had evaporated into thin air. Massey didn’t mind one bit. There was no need to even mention them to the boy now that the two had gone on peaceably on their way.
Joe reached behind him on the saddle and grabbed the canteen that was tied next to the saddlebag. He gave it a shake. “No, sir. It’s empty. I should have filled up a second one before we left town. Don’t worry. We’re not too far from the Milfords. But if you are really thirsty, we aren’t too far from Cherry Creek.”
”Good. I’m thirsty and I bet the horses are too,” Mr. Massey said.
“I’m real thirsty too. And hungry and hot.” Joe tugged at his shirt collar and then unbuttoned one more button. Then he fanned himself with his hat. Otis Massey kept his battered top hat right on his head and his shirt button right up to the top button. Joe figured the prospector wasn’t bothered by the heat as much as he was. Then again, he had been racing the horse back and forth while Mr. Massey just sat in the high buckboard seat and rolled along. “I sure am thirsty.”
“And tired?” Massey asked.
“We’ll sleep real sound tonight. That is, after we tell Mrs. Milford about her poor husband’s mishap and then help the lady with her chores. How’s your almost amputated hand, Little Joe?”
“My hand? Still attached to my arm, Mr. Massey.” The boy smiled weakly in an attempt to seem brash. He shifted his weight in the uncomfortable borrowed saddle and tucked the dangling end of the bandage back in place. Little Joe suddenly realized that riding Mr. Milford’s long legged sorrel was getting to be far more work than fun. The long day had started too early and hand was starting to throb. The boy was too worn out to enjoy battling with the skittish horse who only wanted to gallop full out ahead of Mr. Massey in the buck board.
As soon as they came over the crest of the hill, Milford’s sorrel recognized she was getting close to home. She raised her head and started to pick up speed. Her only desire was to leave the road, head cross country again and race home as fast as she could. Little Joe tried unsuccessfully to rein her in and keep her on the road. The third time the horse tried to take off cross country over the hills towards the Milford Ranch rather than staying with the buckboard, Little Joe got furious. Unfortunately, his temper got the best of him. The bandage Doc Martin had wrapped around the boy’s hand quickly loosened up and then untied completely. The flapping strip of white cloth waving against her face just served to stir the horse up even more. She pulled back her ears and ran harder. In an instant, Joe lost the bandage and a wind gust caught it. The cloth fluttered across the range like a dying dove with a broken wing.
The spirited, long-legged steed was considerably stronger and quicker thinking than the exhausted, impatient boy. It wasn’t that Little Joe Cartwright was inexperienced in dealing with horses. The boy knew that you control a horse by controlling its mind and that you control a horse’s mind by controlling your own first. His own weariness coupled with his anger at the disobedient sorrel simply got the best of him. Normally, Little Joe knew if a horse starts to run away, the rider is better off hanging on and riding his mount, rather than trying to stop her. Unfortunately, the exhausted boy was impatient and acted in the heat of the moment without a thought to what he knew he should be do with a runaway horse .
Joe hung hard to the back of the horse as it rounded the curve that swept around the bluff overlooking Cherry Creek. To compound his troubles even more, as they approached Cherry Creek, the thirsty horse took off like a shot. She galloped through the thick underbrush with the boy hanging on the horse’s neck. The mare knew perfectly well which of the two of them was in control, and it sure wasn’t the boy on her back. The horse ran even faster. Joe ducked to avoid a low hanging tree limb. His had got knocked off fell into the brush.
Otis Massey chased after them as far as he could on the buckboard. When he couldn’t take the rig any further into the thicket, he halted the team, jumped off and gave chase on foot. He spotted Joe on the run away horse heading towards the brush.
”Whoa! Damn horse! Whoa!” Joe bellowed. “Stop!” As they came to Cherry Creek, the runaway horse galloped down the steep bank and splashed across the rushing stream. Bracing his feet in the stirrups, Joe angrily grabbed the left rein in both hands, leaned back in the saddle and hauled on the bit with all his strength until the mare’s nose was almost to his knee. Pulling the runaway horses head around to one side and locking it there created real balance problems for the horse.
Off balance, the long legged horse stumbled up the steep, uneven bank. Half way up, she reared in fright. Joe struggled to keep his seat on the unmanageable animal. He grabbed for the saddle horn but his injured hand slipped and he couldn’t hang on. The horse easily tossed Little Joe off her back. He plunged into the creek with a huge splash. The cold water was just deep enough to break his fall and soak him to his skin. Joe was hopping mad. He spit out a mouthful of water as he struggled to his feet. As soon as he regained his footing, the angry boy, cursing a blue streak, scrambled up the bank and chased after the sorrel.
The horse spun around and struggled to continue running but was slowed by the thick underbrush tangle of willows that side of the creek. The trail narrowed along the steep bank of the creek. A cluster of angular boulders, surrounded by dense brush and a grove of trees restricted an easy escape. The horse saw she was being pursued by Little Joe. Skittering on the bank, she stopped to look over her shoulder to judge his progress.
Joe froze where he stood. He was afraid if he raised his hand to wipe his eyes, the horse would bolt. Cold creek water ran from his hair into his eyes and sluiced down his neck. He took a deep breath and tried to get a handle on the situation before he approached the horse. He knew if he got too upset and started yelling and screaming he would just scare the horse and that would make her bolt again. He made a conscientious effort to relax. If he was calm and confident, the horse would settle down as well.
By now Milford’s horse was ready for a rest. She lowered her head and drank from the creek. Joe watched from ten feet away, biding his time, taking it slow. He was determined to not let the sorrel run off. The horse raised her head and paused for a minute to see if he was going to come closer. Joe just stood his ground. The horse took a few steps away from the bank for a few bites of grass around bend in the trail.
Mr. Massey pounded through the brush on the far side of the creek. At that point, the bank was a steep rocky drop and Massey wasn’t sure he could get across fast enough. It probably would scare the sorrel and make her run off before he could get up the far bank. He tried to catch his breath and leaned on a tree trunk. He looked back and forth to see if there was a place for him to get across the creek quickly to help Little Joe. There was none.
“Joe! Joe! Get her hemmed in near those rocks. You go left and I’ll try to go around the other way back near the road!” Otis called from the other side of the creek. He quickly headed back the way he came.
The horse stopped once again. Little Joe cautiously circled wide and landed himself between the horse and the narrow gap between the trees and boulders. His heart pounded as he forced himself to stand stock still. He was too weary to act quickly, too angry at himself for letting the horse get the better of him. He sucked in a deep breath and took a careful step towards the skittish sorrel. He slid his foot forward slowly. Joe took one small, cautious step and then a second and then a third. The horse shuddered and bobbed her head. Her nostrils twitched, catching the scent of water mixed with the scent of the boy who had ridden her all afternoon. Joe backed off for a few minutes and gave the horse time to calm down before he made another attempt to approach her. He grabbed a handful of long, green grass from the edge of the creek.
Joe slowly approached her speaking softly. He kept his head a bit down and didn’t look the horse directly in the eyes.
“Come here girl, look what I have, look what I have for you, girl,” the boy murmured. “Come here, girl. “ A few slow deliberate steps and he quickly reached up and snagged the dangling reins. The drenched boy had the sorrel by the reins once more. One leap and he was back in the saddle, riding out of the thicket toward the buckboard to show Otis his success.
“Good job, Little Joe!” Otis shouted. ”I think you better tie her to the back of the rig and ride with me, Joe,” Massey suggested. The boy was glad to get out of the saddle. He was soaked to the skin and he was too tired to argue.
Between the two of them, they calmed the horse down enough for Joe to tie her reins onto the back of the buckboard. They unsaddled her, then stowed the saddle and saddle bags in the back of the buck board.
Little Joe wearily climbed up on the seat of the buckboard.
”Well, she sure does run fast, but she goes whichever way she wants.” Joe grumbled. “Damn, stupid horse.” He was glad his father and brothers didn’t see him let a horse get the best of him.
“You are soaked right down to the skin, Little Joe,” Otis Massey observed. He poked around in the back of the buck board for something that the boy could use to for drying himself off.
”It’s good to cool off a bit, Mr. Massey. Besides, my brother Adam told me to wash up real good before we got to Milford’s. Mrs. Milford don’t like folks coming to the table all dirty from working.” Joe joked wearily. He leaned back in the high buckboard seat and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m hungry and tired and ready to call it a day. Even worse, I lost my almost new hat that I bought with my own money. I wish I was anywhere but here with that stupid horse.”
“Even in school?”
“Maybe. Even in school. Maybe.”
“Maybe there is something in here you can use to dry off a bit,” Otis opened Milford’s saddle bags and poked around. Joe was so worn out that he didn’t bother turning around to watch as the prospector took off his battered brown hat and rearranged things behind him.
“The new girl in with strawberry blond hair said I looked real good in that hat,” Joe sighed. Her name is Jennifer Beal.”
“The mine owner’s daughter? I was once in love with a gal with strawberry blond hair when I was not much older than you. She had more red haired than yellow haired. I heard that she married another fellow after I left to go hunting for gold. I guess I can’t blame her for not waiting as I never wrote or nothing. Don’t know where they wound up. Someday, when I strike it rich, I’ll settle down and marry me a fine wife with red hair.” Otis finished sifting through the saddle bag and set his hat back on his head. “Too bad you lost your new hat, Joe. Especially if a young lady complimented you wearing it.”
“Too bad your gal married another man, Mr. Massey. My friend Billy Felcher is sweet on Jennifer and so is Eden Saunders. Billy was helping her study and Eden got real jealous. He has a real nasty temper when he don’t get what he wants. Don’t tell my Pa but that’s what happened to my schoolbooks.”
”What does any of this have to do with your schoolbooks, Little Joe?” Otis asked as he made sure the sorrel was tightly tied to the buckboard.
“Well, Billy’s a good friend. His Pa is Reverend Felcher so he ain’t allowed to get into any scraps being the preacher’s kid and all. Reverend Felcher said that the good Lord don’t want Billy to engage in any fisticuffs. He should turn the other cheek, the reverend says. So when Eden tore up Billy’s schoolbooks, I just had to jump in and wallop Eden a bit.”
“Just a bit?”
”Just a bit,” Joe yawned and then added, “The Lord didn’t say that that Joe Cartwright couldn’t engage in any fisticuffs.”
“Not that I know of, Little Joe,” Otis Massey smiled.
“And then I gave Billy my books. He’s a good friend.” Joe yawned again. The boy sagged into the seat.
“So you said. Your Pa would be proud that you stood up for a friend. The Lord too.” The prospector glanced towards the thicket and was surprised to see the man who had been trailing him standing watching them. The tall dark man with raven black hair and high cheek bones was hidden in the dark green shadows behind a tall pine. He stepped forward and gestured for Otis to come closer. Then he waved the hat Little Joe had lost while riding the runaway sorrel.
The prospector reached for his rifle. “Little Joe, you stay here in the wagon and take it easy for a bit. I’m going to… to…see if I can shoot us a rabbit or two to bring to Mrs. Milford for dinner. You just stay put where you are, boy.”
The exhausted boy immediately dozed off where he was sitting his chin against his chest. Little Joe slept so soundly that he didn’t even realize less than five minutes had passed when the prospector returned without firing a shot. Otis hoisted half a deer carcass into the back of the buckboard. He yanked the Paiute arrow out of the deer and quickly tossed it into the underbrush. Then Otis plopped Joe’s hat back on the sleeping boy’s head without even waking him. Joe didn’t open his eyes until Otis stopped the buckboard in front of the Milford house.
The hot dusty road paralleled a fast running, meandering creek as it wound down from the mountains. Patrick Manogue looked left and right not knowing which vista to enjoy first. He waved his hands turning his head forward and back looking at the amazing, vibrant landscape surrounding them. “All this is yours?” Patrick asked the two Cartwright brothers as the three men in the buckboard traveled towards the mill.
“Yup, all of it” Hoss said proudly.
“All of it? This is wonderful! It’s so green, so green. I never realized there were so many shades of green.” Patrick Manogue could see colossal evergreens and immense hardwoods extending for miles and miles in a vast, leafy emerald swath up the sides of the hills and mountains. It was broken only by an occasional blossoming glade or a broad open meadow filled with grazing cattle.
Silhouetted against the cloudless blue sky, the uneven crowns of sugar pines had a ragged quality to them. Each one had a unique shape. Some of the other tall conifers had straight, massive trunks with craggy brown bark. Hoss identified these lofty trees as sugar pines. Others were taller, even more stately, with straight, massive trunks and relatively long, symmetrical crowns. Their numerous huge cones were bee hive shaped, like nothing Patrick had previously seen.
Those enormous, towering trees, Adam explained were the Ponderosa pines. “Pa decided to name our ranch after those trees. That’s how impressive they were to us when we first saw them.”
As the heavily loaded buckboard rounded the bend, Patrick saw the watery blue shimmer of a huge water filling the horizon. Dark green pines and tall oaks were mirrored on the sparkling surface of a huge body of water. “Is that the ocean?”
“The ocean ain’t nowhere near here. That’s Lake Tahoe.”
“Lake Tahoe? It looks like an ocean. It’s so big! Everything here is so big.”
Adam pointed to the west. ”The Pacific is on the other side of that mountain range, about a hundred miles away.”
“The water in Lake Tahoe is so clear you can see the fish swimming near the bottom.” Hoss pointed out proudly. “And so cold…well it’s so cold I wish I was one of them fish swimmin’ in it right now.” He fanned himself with his hat.
“All this is yours? All of it yours? And that blue water. And the wide sky! It’s like heaven on earth.” Patrick was astounded.
“Yup! It’s all Cartwright land. The Ponderosa goes right down to the shore of Lake Tahoe,” Hoss called proudly from the back of the rattling buckboard. The husky young man sat squeezed in between the wooden packing crates and heavy sacks filled with flour, sugar, potatoes and corn meal for the loggers’ kitchen.
It didn’t take long for the deep, clear, blue waters of Lake Tahoe surrounded by the snow capped mountains to capture Patrick Manogue’s heart. “All this fine flourishing land is yours?” Manogue repeated with amazement. “It’s all so cool here. So green! I haven’t seen so much green since I left home in Ireland.”
“It’s legally Pa’s ranch on the deed but we all own it,” Adam explained. “Even Little Joe.”
“The only land my dear father ever owned in Ireland was the six feet of ground that formed his grave. And the only land I can call my own in America is my share of the diggings with Mr. Joshua Biel.
Adam pointed to the hills towards Mount Davidson. “And that’s part of our land too. All up that slope to where that stand of timber ends at that granite cliff.”
Manogue was awestruck by his surroundings. “Goodness gracious! There’s enough timber in those forests to… to… build a tower to reach clear to heaven and a bridge to come back. Remarkable!”
”But not all at once,” Adam laughed. “We cut only what we need and then let nature renew itself or make sure we replant enough to replace what we cut.
“But you have so many trees, Adam. Hundreds, thousands,” Manogue pointed out.
“If we cut them down, the spring rains will wash those hills down to the lake and all we’ll have left will soon look like a mud hole or the desert out by your diggings.”
“And you can’t graze cattle on swamp land or dust and rocks,” Hoss added.
“That’s part of the dispute we have with the mine owners. All they are interested in is our timber, not our land. Just the timber.”
”And they’re not building no tower to heaven, neither. Just shoring and braces for the silver mines to make them rich silver barons richer. And they don’t care one bit about our land being ruined as long as they get their timber,” Hoss added. “The mill is just around that bend.”
“Pa will be mighty glad to get these crates and finally get the mill up and running again.” Adam cautiously drove the team pulling the heavily loaded buckboard down the last steep slope to the mill.
The Ponderosa sawmill stood on a swiftly flowing stream that emptied into Lake Tahoe. Adam Cartwright had designed the Ponderosa timber mill to be built right in the forest. It was powered the current of the stream as it rushed from the mountains and emptied into the lake.Three small buildings had been constructed out of logs. The larger one, closer to the rushing stream housed the saw mill. Another structure, served as a bunk house and kitchen for the loggers. The smallest shelter was storage for the some of the logging equipment and barn.
The trees were cut and trimmed by the loggers. Next, the logs were either floated down the stream or skidded to the mill by teams of horses or oxen. During the previous winter, when there was some snow to provide lubrication, the loggers managed to slide down an enormous amount of timber from the mountain side. The trimmed logs were neatly stacked in massive piles ready to be finished into planks. Unfortunately, earlier in the spring, some of the machinery that was essential to the operation of the mill had broken. Production had fallen behind schedule as the Cartwrights waited for the arrival of the new parts from the now bankrupt freight company.
Virginia City was booming. Stores, hotels and houses were being erected. The mine owners desperately needed the Ponderosa timber to brace the mines digging out the Comstock Lode’s mountain of silver. The demands for lumber far out stripped the Ponderosa’s ability to provide it. That didn’t stop the mine owners incessantly demanding more Ponderosa lumber than Ben Cartwright was willing to provide. One of the most persistent mine owners was Joshua Biel.
“Let’s unload these crates and then I’ll introduce you to Pa,” Adam told Patrick Manogue.
“Patrick, it looks like your partner is in there having his regular set-to with Pa,” Hoss as he shouldered a heavy wooden crate and headed into the mill. “That’s his rig over there near the bunk house.”
“Mr. Biel?” Pat was surprised to cross paths with him at this location.
“That’s his rig and that’s his daughter sitting in it waiting for her father to finish spouting off. She goes to school with Little Joe,” Adam pointed out. He and Patrick carried the larger crate between them.
The elegant surrey with a fine pair of horses sat in the shade of a tall Ponderosa pine. A beautifully attired little girl strolled nearby indifferently picking a bouquet of wild flowers under the watchful eye of the uniformed driver, Peter Ripp. “Now don’t go wandering off, Miss Jennifer,” Ripp warned sternly as he polished the seats. “There are wild animals and savage Indians in these forests. Outlaws too. Crude loggers with axes. And hungry wolves!”
Rather than being frightened by the warning, Jennifer’s eyes lit up. “Wolves! Maybe we can find a wolf pup and keep it as a pet! That would be so exciting.”
”Just stay right here near me. Your father will be right out after he talks to Mr. Cartwright. That shouldn’t be very long. It never is. Then we can ride down to the lake where it is cooler and you can have the refreshments that Cook packed.” Ripp was an ambitious man and wasn’t going to let being a driver or minding his spoiled daughter be the pinnacle of his career for Biel. He hoped to be a silver baron too.
“How boring!” the girl declared and she started feeding the flowers to the horses.
“Joshua Biel or one of the other mine owners comes by a couple of times a week to pester Pa for more timber, and if that don’t work, the mine owners threatens him that he’ll take their business elsewhere. Biel is the worst and comes by the most but they all must take turns.” Adam explained.
“Like a conspiracy?” Patrick had no idea that any of this was going on.
”Sort of. Anyway, Biel threatens to go by timber somewheres else but Pa or Adam tells him to go right ahead, go somewheres else, like over to the Dupreys or Saunders or Winslow Ranch or Oregon Territory. Or Canada for all we care.”
“But none of them have the quality or quantity of timber we have. Duprey might come close but he doesn’t have the manpower nor the mill and won’t negotiate price with the mine owners, especially any of them who might trade with us.”
“Any friend of a Cartwright is an enemy of old Carl Duprey,” Hoss pointed out. “And Canada is a mite too far.”
“A mite,” Patrick laughed. “Oregon too.”
“Jest a mite,” Hoss smiled.” So Mr. Biel just comes back and starts up pestering Pa and offering more money and if that don’t work, he offers to buy the Ponderosa. Of course, that don’t work neither because we’ll never sell the Ponderosa.”
Adam set his end of the crate down near the office door. He started to look for a pry bar and a hammer on the tool bench. “He can threaten all he wants but we will never, ever sell, not for all the silver in the Comstock Lode.”
“So Biel goes off in a snit by dinnertime or when his daughter starts up whining more than he can tolerate.” Hoss laughed. He handed his brother the pry bar that was leaning against the log wall of the mill. “Let’s get these parts inside to Pa. He’s gonna be mighty happy to see them.”
Years later, no one could really remember how it started but Patrick Manogue was forever grateful that it ended the way it did. The only part Manogue could really recall was that the argument started shortly after he was introduced to Ben Cartwright at the mill and quickly escalated to a fever pitch. When it was done, just like when a fever breaking, Patrick Manogue’s path in life was forever changed.
First, Mr. Cartwright asked after Little Joe. Adam quickly explained to his father about the Enos Milford being bushwhacked, the wonderful sorrel horse being stolen and then recovered, and giving permission to Little Joe to accompany Otis Massey out at the Milford place to lend Cora a hand. Patrick Manogue explained how he and Ben Cartwright’s old prospector friend were working together. When Patrick made an off-handed remark about Otis attending the Sunday services he ran at the mine and that Otis sang louder than the Paiutes who also attended, suddenly, Joshua Biel was thoroughly enraged that Manogue permitted the Indians to come anywhere near his miners’ Sunday worship. “How can you let that happen? I forbid you!”
“I encourage them. Why not?” Manogue explained. “Some of the Paiutes even bring their friends and families. Some of them come every Sunday and one of them even brings us fresh meat, venison and the like every time he comes by. And you know how hard that is to get out in the diggings.”
”How dare you let any Indians anywhere near my men when they are praying! They are blood thirsty savages.”
Patrick responded calmly “The Bible I read preaches brotherhood for all of God’s children.”
”Suppose their skins weren’t white. Are they still God’s children? “Joshua Biel argued.
”My Bible says absolutely nothing about the pigmentation of their skin. The Indians may worship different then we do, but they are still God’s children” said Patrick Manogue.
Biel shook his head. “You’re a crazy man, Patrick. Why would you side with those blood thirsty savages? Why let them lurk around! And on Sundays to boot! They are murdering heathens! Look at all the trouble they make! Kapusta alone has rampaged through the territory and things are not safe for anyone. “
“I highly doubt if Kapusta is to blame for everything folks say his does.” Manogue didn’t mention that Kapusta was the brave who brought them venison almost every week.
“I say he is!” Joshua Biel pounded his hand on the packing crate.
“Why don’t we simply slaughter all of the Indians and get them out of the way of decent civilization?” Adam interjected with a look of disdain on his face. Hoss was stunned for an instant at his brother’s horrifying remark but quickly realized that Adam was just cynically mocking the mine owner.
“Why not?” Biel agreed. “Just kill them and get them out of the way. I call that progress.”
”Progress? And while you are at it, clear cut all the timber you need from the Ponderosa?” Ben added.
Biel smiled like the cat that swallowed the canary.
Hoss couldn’t believe his ears. Was his father agreeing with Joshua Biel? Pa always wanted peace with the Indians. He forever told his sons to respect their ways but there was something about Kapusta that made Pa’s hackles rise. A few years earlier the Cartwright family were passengers on a stage coach that was attacked by Kapusta and his band. “What are you saying, Pa?”
“What am I saying? Let’s clear cut all the trees. Chop them all down and then blast out the stumps with black powder. There sure won’t be any trees for those awful, blood-thirsty heathens to hide behind if you do! And you and the other mine owners can expand your mines much easier if you strip mine all the mountains too!” Ben growled. He spread out his arms gesturing to the surrounding hills covered with towering green pines. Then, with a loud bang, he pounded his fist on the rough table that was serving as his desk. “Blast it all clear and flat. Flat as this table top! Strip mine it too! Then move on with a fortune to invest in grand homes and fine carriages and fancy clothes.”
“And spoiled children, and fancy women,” Adam muttered under his breath but only Patrick heard him.
”Exactly what I’ve been saying, Ben. Time is money. Now you see it clearly. There is a fortune to be made for all of us. You included.”
“And certainly the Lord would agree with every word you are saying.” Patrick Manogue was finally seeing his partner for what he was and realizing that he had to put his own life on a very different path.
“Certainly!” For an instant Biel’s eyes lit up, thinking that Ben Cartwright was offering him all the timber he needed for the expansion of his own mine and the mines owned by McKay, Fischer and Fair and all the self-serving interests of the rest of the greedy mine owners.
“And certainly the road to heaven certainly is paved with the shiny silver you pull from the Comstock Lode?” Patrick stepped closer to Adam’s father. Suddenly, Manogue had no doubt what path he should follow, which way was his calling.
“Time is money,” Joshua Biel repeated. “Let’s write up this contract right now, Ben. Why waste time? Ride back into Virginia City with me tonight and I’ll arrange for the transfer of cash to you. Then you can have your loggers commence cutting that hill first thing in the morning. Cut all the way up to the stand of fir near that granite faced cliff.”
“Time is money, you say? Well, Joshua, I’m building the Ponderosa over time for the long haul, not a quick buck. Not just to make a fast fortune and cut and run. I’m investing my time, my sons’ time to build the Ponderosa for them and their children after I am gone. If I cut down all the trees and strip mine, there won’t be anything left worth having. “
”But you’ll have a bloody fortune!”
“That fortune won’t buy another Ponderosa, ever or another legacy for my sons. Time may be money. And you can’t buy time. And you, Mr. Biel, can’t buy the Ponderosa.”
“If you have money, you can buy whatever you want. You can possess anything under the sun. You make your boys work like ordinary cowhands, Ben. Are you a lunatic? Even you Adam, with all your education! You won’t have to sweat another day in your life.” Then Joshua Biel looked into Ben Cartwrights angry dark eyes and Biel quickly recognized that the formidable rancher was pulling his leg and had absolutely no intention of selling him so much as a twig or a blade of grass.
“There’s nothin’ wrong with doing an honest day’s work and raising a good honest sweat, Mr. Biel,” Hoss interjected.
“Maybe for someone like you…” Biel looked disdainfully at the husky young man who was sweaty and soiled after his long day of hard work.
“Maybe you should try it someday, Mr. Biel,” Manogue suggested.
Joshua Biel turned to Adam Cartwright. “What about you, Adam. You are an educated man. Aren’t you ashamed to be filthy with calluses on your hands and be breaking your back on such a hot day?”
“I’m extremely proud to work side by side with my father and my brothers. And for your information, Mr. Biel, I sincerely wish I could accomplish as half as much in a day as my younger brother, Hoss, is able to do. I’m never ashamed of doing an honest day’s work, Mr. Biel. Even with my education.” Adam stared at the mine owner.
“Maybe you should be, Adam,” Joshua Biel spat back. Then he turned to Ben and said, “With the money you can get by selling your ranch, if you follow my lead, you and your family can live a life of ease and comfort any where you want… New York! St. Louis, Boston, San Francisco! Even London or Paris. My daughter will be able to do all those things with the money from my silver mine. Who needs to stay here?”
”I do, Joshua. My sons do.”
Biel leaned forward as if he was confiding a secret to Ben. “It’s easy to make a fortune, Ben. Think about it.”
“I have all I need right here on the Ponderosa. And I would thank you to leave my ranch. On your own or with my help.”
“Or mine,” added Hoss with a quick smile. “I wouldn’t mind working up a bit of a sweat hauling you off the Ponderosa.”
Biel glared at Ben. “You must be joshing, Mr. Cartwright. And this big ape threatening to man handle me? Heathens and trees are more important than doing business with me? I don’t appreciate your attitude or the underhanded tactics you are using.”
”And myself as well,” declared Patrick. He threw back his broad shoulders and stood as tall and as straight as one of the cloud piercing Ponderosa pines.
“And with my partner, Mr. Manogue, as well,” Biel added. He incorrectly assumed that his business partner, Patrick Manogue shared his opinions. The mine owner threw his arm around his partner in a companionable fashion.
Patrick stepped away from Biel. “No, you misunderstand me Mr. Biel. I’m agreeing with Mr. Cartwright. And I’ll help Hoss toss you off their property if he needs a hand. We need to be stewards of the world that God created for us, not destroy it or abuse His children. Any of them.”
”But you are my partner, Manogue! You can be rich too. Enormously rich.”
”There is more to life than money, Mr. Biel. What would you give me for my share of my diggings?”
”Right now? Right this minute?” Biel smiled slyly. He was a risk taker, a gambler and was not going to waste time to dicker over a potentially rich strike with anyone. If he could shove out a wearisome partner and own it entirely for himself, so much the better. Biel quickly reached inside his expensively tailored coat and pulled out his calfskin bill fold. He hastily counted what was in the wallet. Then, he estimated what was the minimum he could offer Patrick Manogue for a total buy out. “Would two hundred dollars satisfy you, Patrick?”
“Why not five hundred?” Ben urged. Manogue might be total stranger but for some reason, Ben Cartwright was determined to lend him a hand in the negotiations. He took an immediate liking to the earnest young man his boys had befriended.
Looking over Biel’s shoulder, Adam peered at the silver baron’s thick wallet. He quickly made some mental calculations. “How about a thousand dollars, Biel? Five hundred dollars right now and your note for five hundred more payable in cash when you get back to Virginia City. Tonight.”
“Tonight?” Biel raised his eyebrow.
“Tonight,” Ben said firmly. He had no doubts that Biel had that much cash or more on hand in his office safe.
”And that top hat on your head,” Hoss added pointing to Biel’s expensive top hat. “I think our friend Otis Massey had been eyeing a fine hat like yours for a mighty long time.”
“Well I don’t know…give me a minute to ponder on this,” Biel wasn’t quite sure if he was being hoodwinked or being made into a fool or if he was making a shrewd bargain by pushing Patrick Manogue out of the partnership.
“Time is money,” Ben smiled repeating Biel’s oft used phrase. He was enjoying having the upper hand with the irritating mine owner. He was even more amused at the idea of his old friend Otis getting an expensive top hat out of the deal.
“And throw in that nice mahogany clock you have in your parlor. The one with the chimes and the fancy gingerbread carvings,” Patrick added following the brazen lead of his new friends.
“My new parlor clock?”
“Otis would certainly be fond of that as well,” Patrick decided.
“Otis sure would, “Hoss grinned widely. Adam couldn’t help but smile at his brother’s enthusiasm.
”Time is money,” Patrick reminded his partner. He appreciated the support the Cartwrights were giving him in the conflict with Biel. After all, they had just met that very morning. It was like God had orchestrated the entire sequence and the Cartwrights were the Lord’s designated angels to set him on the right path. “Do we have an agreement, sir?”
”Yes, yes, certainly, Patrick. Time is money. Five hundred cash it is.” Joshua Biel smiled. He drew the bills out of his wallet and counted them out into Patrick’s open hand. “I hear my daughter calling to me. She must be getting impatient with how long this is taking. I promised to take her for a cool ride down by the lake.”
Adam tilted his head and held up his hand to signal for quiet. “Gee, I don’t hear Jennifer calling. Do you, Hoss? You ears are far sharper than mine.”
Hoss shook his head. “Uh huh, I don’t hear Jennifer calling, Mr. Biel. All I hear is some birds singing in our trees. Sounds pretty don’t it?”
”She’s a wee girl but she has a mighty loud voice and I most certainly don’t hear her calling, Joshua. Peter Ripp will tend to her. Don’t worry. Peter always takes very good care of her.” Manogue told his partner.
“I don’t hear your daughter calling either. Just birds and the rush of the mill stream. Adam, give me a bit of paper, and Hoss, hand me that pen and ink. I want to draw up an agreement for Mr. Manogue and Mr. Biel.”
Hoss quickly handed his father the ink well and the pen from the small wooden desk in the corner of the mill house. Adam looked around for some paper but found none. He reached into his shirt pocket and fished out the folded shipping receipt from the case of machine parts.
“Use the back of this, Pa,” Adam said smoothing out the piece of paper.
“Five hundred cash now and five hundred within twenty four hours to Patrick Manogue.” Biel dictated as Ben wrote out the agreement on the back of the packing sheet.
“And that hat on your head, Mr. Biel,” Adam reminded them.
“And the clock,” Patrick Manogue added. “The mahogany parlor clock, specifically. Not some broken time peace from the trash heap behind some saloon.”
Biel hesitated. His wife and daughter particularly liked that clock. He had it shipped from Switzerland. It chimed the hours and impressed visitors to their new mansion.
“The price is going up the longer you hesitated Biel,” Ben declared firmly.
“And so is my temper,” added Hoss. He stepped a bit closer to the mine owner and glared at him.
“That’s fine, that’s fine. The hat and the clock too. Write it down, Ben, and give me the pen and I’ll put my signature on it. I’ll buy my daughter and wife a new clock if they protest. A better more expensive clock.”
“The money, the hat and the clock. Time is money,” Patrick Manogue smiled.
That morning he had not more than a dollar in his pocket and the part ownership of a struggling mine. By afternoon he had rescued a stranger, Enos Milford who had been bushwhacked, met some wonderful new friends and by the time he would go to sleep on the Ponderosa, he would have enough money to finish his education and bring his family from Ireland.
Most importantly, Patrick had decided on the pathway for the rest of his life. Spontaneously, Patrick started to recite the poem he had learned in school.
“God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm,”
Adam Cartwright smiled at his new friend and recited the next verse of the familiar poem.
“Deep in unfathomable mines,
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.”
“It’s easy to make a fortune but much harder to make a difference,” Patrick said. He pocketed the five hundred dollars and the contract with Biel and then shook hands with each of the men. He knew what he wanted to accomplish with the rest of his life was going to be very hard, but the difference he could make was going to make it worthwhile.
Was it luck or coincidence or was it a miracle?
Patrick would never quite know.
Joshua Biel and his daughter Jennifer are fictional characters who were mentioned in the episode “The Abduction”. Eden Saunders and his family were fictional characters featured in the Bonanza episode “My Son, My Son”. The Milfords, Enos and Cora, were characters in “Hay Burner”.
Otis Massey, Kapusta, Peter Ripp, Biel’s driver and most of the other characters are also fictional.
On the other hand, Patrick Manogue is a very real historical person of the Comstock era. In researching the history of Cartwright era Nevada, I read a bit about him and decided that he might just fit into a Bonanza Fan Fic.
From Online Nevada (http://www.onlinenevada.org/Patrick_Manogue):
“Father Patrick Manogue is one of the most widely celebrated figures of the Comstock. Born in Ireland in 1831, Manogue immigrated to the United States at seventeen and began his studies of priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary of Chicago. Unable to continue financing his education, he left the seminary and joined the California Gold Rush. He labored in the mines of Moore’s Flat for two years when he met Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, who persuaded Manogue to continue his studies at the seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris, France.
After receiving his priestly ordination on December 21, 1861, Father Manogue returned to California. There, he received instructions from Bishop Eugene O’Connell to travel to Virginia City and set up a ministry encompassing a territory that included what is now the state of Nevada. O’Connell apparently chose Manogue for this task because his previous experience as a miner would be instrumental in attending to the needs of the mining community. First-hand accounts report that the popular priest often traveled the entire Nevada territory to minister to his flock.
Perhaps Father Manogue’s most well known accomplishment is his role in the construction of one of the first Catholic churches in Virginia City, which was dedicated Saint Mary in the Mountains by Bishop O’Connell in 1864. The church still stands close to its original location today and is ornamented with tributes in memory of Manogue.
In 1881, the Archbishop Alemany of San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral ordained Father Manogue a Bishop. He returned to Virginia City to continue his service as pastor of St. Mary in the Mountains and was named coadjutor (assistant) bishop to Bishop O’Connell of the Grass Valley diocese. In 1884, Bishop Manogue was permanently called away from Virginia City to replace the aging Bishop O’Connell in his role as the Bishop of the Grass Valley diocese, which became known as the Sacramento diocese in 1886. Bishop Patrick Manogue became the first Bishop of the new Sacramento diocese, where he served until his death in 1895
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