Perseverance (by Cheaux)

Summary:    Little Joe wants what he wants when he wants it.
Category:  Bonanza prequel
Genre:  Western
Rated:  G
Word Count:  545


 Four eyes and two noses were pressed against the steamy windowpane, sixteen fingers clinging to the sill, eight of them struggling to maintain a grip.

Under threat of corporal punishment, twelve-year old Hoss and six-year old Little Joe had been banned from Hop Sing’s kitchen, but that didn’t stop them from gazing longingly at the delicacies the cook was making for the party that evening.

Hoss was tall enough to see the petit fours, but even though Little Joe stood tippy toe on the seat of the rocker he had dragged beneath the window, he couldn’t see through the fogged edges of the glass. “Rub the window, Hoss. I can’t see.”

“Won’t do no good no how, punkin’,” Hoss said. “Steam’s on the inside.”

“But I gotta see, Hoss. I gotta see which ones have nuts inside. I don’t like nuts,” protested the youngster.

“Aw, you’re not gonna get any, so quit your fussing.”

“Are too!” Little Joe climbed like a monkey and perched precariously on the head rail of the rocker to get a better view through the center of the glass.

“Pa’s not gonna let you go to the party. It’s past your bedtime,” Hoss smirked.

“Is not! ‘sides, Pa’ll want to show me to the peddlers. They done seen you lots a times, but they never seen me!”

“Pedersons, not peddlers. An’ I ain’t seen ‘em since I were your age, so they’ll wanna see me first!” Hoss poked his chest with a thumb to illustrate his point, but in doing so, his elbow grazed Joe’s arm throwing him backwards off the chair and crashing into the cistern face first. He did not move.

“Punkin’!” Hoss yelled, turning his brother over. The snow was bright red.

*****

“How is he, Pa?” asked Adam as his father came down the stairs.

“He’ll be all right; it was just a baby tooth. Scared him more than anything,” Ben said. “Hop Sing is tending him. Where’s Hoss?”

“You sent him to his room without supper.”

“Well, he can just stay there for a while. What was he thinking letting his little brother stand on the back of a rocking chair? Joseph could have been seriously hurt!”

“Papa…” A plaintive cry was heard from upstairs. Ben took the steps two at a time.

“What is it?” Ben said, tilting his son’s head up so he could see the full extent of the damage now that Hop Sing had cleaned him up.

Big tears rolled down the boy’s face. “It hurts, Papa,” Little Joe sobbed, his lower lip sucking in and out.

Ben held the boy in his arms and rocked him to and fro. “Shush. Papa’s right here. I’ll have Adam bring you some soup and then you can come down to the party for a little while. Would you like that?”

“Y-yes, pa-pa.”

“Would you like anything else?”

“C-could I have some d-dessert, too?” Little Joe said with a hiccup.

“I think that can be arranged.”

“No nuts,” the boy sniffed.

Ben ruffled the head of his poor, suffering boy and left to get dressed for the party.

Alone, Little Joe smiled a toothy grin.

***The End***

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