Ben’s Boy Little Joe (by DJK)

Summary:  Six vignettes and a poem giving glimpses of Ben Cartwright’s youngest.

Rating: General   Word count: 2,412

Titles:  “Wild Horses”   “Complications”  “Breathe”  “Never Tell”  “Turning Point”  “Fire”   “If Only”

(Theses vignettes  are  basically prequels.)

Ben’s Boys Series:

Ben’s Boys
Ben’s Boy Adam
Ben’s Boy Hoss
Ben’s Boy Little Joe

One ~~~  Wild Horse 

The horse was wild, but it was also lame.   It could snort, shake its head, even slowly and awkwardly back away, but it most definitely could not run or rear or leave behind the boy that was inching closer step by step.

“It’s all right, boy, it’s all right.  Let me help ya.  It’ll be all right.  It’ll be just fine.”  The words became a mantra, and it’s soothing, steady rhythm calmed the animal enough for the boy to move within an arm’s length.  His hand brushed the stallion’s side lightly and then touched the black back in several gentle strokes.  “Are ya gonna let me help you now, boy, are ya?”

The stallion shook his head sharply and snorted.  Finally he bared his teeth, and the boy backed away slightly to avoid a bite.

“Ya should, you know.  I can help you, really I can.”  He fixed his eyes on the equine orbs and then dropped them away.  The horse thrust his head forward, but the boy silently stood his ground.   Then with exquisite care he closed the gap between himself and the animal.  He eased himself to his knees, took in a deep breath, exhaled, and reached for the horse’s right foreleg.   His hand made contact for only moments before the pain seared his shoulder.   He curled in on himself as the stallion back away again.  Their eyes met once more before the horse managed to turn and begin a slow departure.

The child rose to a sitting position his left hand clutching his shoulder.  He sighed.  You’ll be gone before I can bring you some help.   He got to his feet, and sighed again.  Pa or whoever’s up to the house in gonna make me see to this bite ‘fore they let me come back.  His lips twisted.  Pa’s gonna have a fit if I tell him.  He chewed his lower lip.  Hoss, I’ll just get Hoss without nobody else seeing.  He’ll make me see to my shoulder, but he won’t tell Pa, and he’ll help me track you; ‘sides he’s the one who’ll be able to help ya most.  Satisfied with his decision, Little Joe Cartwright smiled and called out, “We’ll be back.  Don’t worry now!”  The nine-year-old set off walking in the direction of his home and after a few minutes he was whistling softly to himself even though his hand still clutched the bleeding bite on his shoulder.

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