Surprise! (by AC1830)

Summary:  Young Hoss and Joe have decided that Ben deserves a day off so they plan a special day with him, but Ben soon discovers it’s more special than anyone anticipated.

Rating K  Word Count 678




On a warm Saturday morning in late June, Ben Cartwright was working feverishly on his log books, trying to finish so Hoss and Little Joe could take him on a picnic and fishing trip.  The boys had been planning this day for their father for quite a while.  They said he deserved to get away from the ranch work for a few hours.  He readily agreed but had to catch the books up first.

Suddenly loud, rapid boot steps and the bang of the front door against the credenza broke the silence of the house.

“Pa!  Hey Pa. Come quick!”  Little Joe Cartwright skidded to a stop in front of his Pa’s big desk.

Ben stood up, concern on his face over the sudden pronouncement by his ten year old son.

“Joseph, what is it?  Is Hoss hurt?”

“No Pa.  But it’s somethin’ wonderful.  Somethin’ you gotta see.”  Little Joe grabbed his father’s hand and pulled him out the front door toward the barn.

“Little Joe, I’ve already seen the new kittens.  Your brother showed them to me yesterday.  This needs to be quick.  I have to finish those books before we go on our picnic.  You boys said you wanted to take me fishing today.  This will only slow us down getting our special day started.”

“It’ll be quick, I promise.  Hoss told me to come get ya as fast as I could.  So I ran my fastest and, oh sorry about banging the door, but Hoss said to be quick so I was.  Wasn’t I Pa?  Was I quick to get ya to come?”

Ben stopped outside the barn and steadied his youngest son.  “Joseph you need to calm down and tell me what’s happened.”  He looked sternly at his son as Little Joe gasped for breath.

“Pa it can’t wait.  Come on, I just gotta show ya.  You’ll see.”  The boy tugged on his pa’s arm and pulled him into the barn.

“See, what’d I tell ya.  Are you surprised Pa?  Didn’t I tell ya it was important?  Pa? Ain’t ya gonna say nothin’?  You okay, Pa?  You don’t look so good.  Pa, why are ya crying?”

Ben didn’t hear a word Little Joe was saying.  He couldn’t take his eyes off the tall, dark headed man standing in front of him with a big grin on his face and a fishing pole in his hand.  He hadn’t seen him in four very long years and didn’t expect to see him for another two weeks.

“Hello, Pa.  Want to go fishing?”

Hoss and Little Joe wore grins the size of Nevada as Ben and Adam hugged and broke into tears of greatest joy.

Late that evening, long after Little Joe and Hoss had finally gone to bed, Ben and Adam sat in front of the fire, sipping brandy.  Adam had to remind his father he was old enough to have the strong drink.

“Son, I still can’t believe you planned all this without me finding out.”

Adam chuckled with a twinkle in his eye.  “When I found out I could come home earlier than planned I wired our neighbors, the Bakers, and asked if they could help me and Hoss surprise you. They handled all the communication with Hoss and even picked me up in town.  They didn’t tell Little Joe I was coming until the last minute so the surprise wouldn’t get spoiled.  I suggested the fishing trip so we could have some fun together.  Hoss wrote and told me how busy you’ve been with the ranch so we decided you needed a break and a surprise.”

Ben raised his glass toward his son.  “It was a nice surprise and gift, son.  Thank you for this special day.  It’s good to have you home.”

Adam raised his glass too.  “It’s good to be home, Pa.”

20 thoughts on “Surprise! (by AC1830)”

  1. What a wonderful surprise for Ben! And for Joe. Adam and Hoss were right not to share the secret with him. He was still too young to keep it from his Pa. A great moment with the family. Thanks, AC1830.

  2. I like the understated moment. It was much more of a surprise than a telegram or meet and greet in town. I don’t it mattered if any fish were caught or not.

  3. Oh, I loved this! Most “Adam gets back from college” stories are semi-formal meets in town with Adam returning on a stagecoach and the whole family turning out to meet and greet. This was way more original. Nice idea, too, to not tell Joe until the last minute. If I were Ben, I would have been energized as heck after that!

    1. Thank you Sandspur for your wonderful comment. I’m blown away. I felt Adam would do this as a gift for his father after receiving Hoss’ letter. And we all know Joe, right? He can’t keep a secret worth a darn. I imagine Ben fairly floating on air the rest of the day with his sons. Don’t think he’ll sleep much that night.

  4. This was really sweet. I laughed that they didn’t tell Joe until the last minute as he couldn’t have contained himself and would have let the cat out of the bag. Ben’s reaction was priceless.

    1. Thanks Questfan. I’m pleased you enjoyed Ben’s reaction. Yep, Joe had to be kept in the dark a long as possible but then he got to be part of the surprise as the messenger.

  5. This gave me a few very pleasant moments in my busy day!! This story is small but mighty, and so heartfelt from all sides. No matter what you write, it always drives the point home and shows just how much you love the whole Cartwright family, and Adam especially. Thank you!!

    1. Thanks so much MK for your lovely comments. It pleases me that it brightened your day. Yes I love the family dearly and enjoy it most when one of the special moments comes along.

  6. A sweet story, and you nailed the characters too with the hard working Ben, the Little Joe who was so excited and couldn’t keep a secret, Hoss working to do something special, and the droll Adam. Wonderful Father’s Day tale.

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