Adam’s Little Angel (by Trish)

Synopsis:  When a friend of Ben’s arrives on the Ponderosa with his seven-year-old daughter, Adam wonders why he agreed to look after her.  A prequel.

Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rating:  G
Word Count:  7,890


 

The bright moonlight shone into Adam’s bedroom as he lay there making the most of the peace and quiet, and wondering what the next few weeks held!! How could he have agreed to look after the 7-year-old daughter of his Pa’s friend Seth, along with his two younger brothers — Hoss who was almost 11 and Little Joe coming up to 6? But Pa had that look on his face and Adam knew that this was an argument he wasn’t gonna win. Pa needed to go to San Francisco with Seth to sign some contracts and that was that.

As they watched Pa and Seth get on the stage for their journey, Little Joe had a temper tantrum and Adam had to hold him tight and threaten to warm his britches if he carried on the way he was. It hurt little Joe the most when his Pa left, but it was only for a few weeks. After the stage pulled out, Adam suggested they go to the International Hotel for a spot of lunch and maybe some ice cream, which went down really well especially with Hoss. Joe just sulked and kicked the ground, saying he didn’t want anything.

After lunch, they took a walk round town looking into the different stores. However, Little Joe was still sulking and he kept this up all day; nothing they done pleased him, even when they took him to see the new ponies at Old Jack’s livery yard. Adam once again thought, hat had he let himself in for!! As they were spending the night at the International due to Seth’s daughter arriving next day, Adam decided to head back to the hotel around 8:00 pm.

Once back in their room, Adam told Hoss and Joe to wash up and go to bed as they had to be up bright and early. Little Joe stated that he wasn’t tired (as was expected of him) and that it was still light outside. He was acting up very badly, and told Adam that he WASN’T going to bed and that Adam wasn’t the boss of him Pa was….

Adam had tried everything to persuade him and promised to read him a bedtime story, but nothing worked. In the end, he grabbed Little Joe by the arm, and handing him his nightshirt, told him to get undressed and put it on!! Little Joe threw the nightshirt on the floor and stomped his foot on it, then he sat on the floor and refused to move. Hoss was watching the antics of his little brother from his bed and his mouth flew open when he saw what Joe had done. Pa would have had his hide for that kind of behavior.

That was the final straw. Adam lifted Joe up and started to undress him himself, which was no easy feat as Little Joe was kicking and yelling. Adam warned him that if he carried on this way, he was he would be one sorry little boy. Joe yelled he WASN’T going to bed and WAS HE DEAF!!” With that, Adam landed two hard swats to Joe’s small backside. After putting the nightshirt on Joe, Adam lifted him into bed. Joe made to get out, only to be met with another stinging swat. Adam told him to stay put and get to sleep or he could expect more of what he just got, Adam was at his wits end and this was only day one!!

On seeing Cassie, Adam was struck by how pretty she was — almost like an angel, with long blonde hair and the brightest blue eyes he’d ever seen, even brighter than those of Hoss. After getting her things from the stage, they walked over to Hoss and Little Joe, and decided to spend some time in town before the ride back to the Ponderosa. On the journey home, Cassie and Little Joe seemed to be getting on well and Hoss was talking to Adam about the new stallion, Polo. He was also telling Adam about “Diggers Ridge” and that he heard talk in town that they were gonna blast it tomorrow to close the entrance. “It’s a good thing,” Adam said. “It’s a danger to man and beast.”

It was early evening when they pulled into the yard. Hop Sing greeted them and said that dinner would be ready in an hour, Adam asked Little Joe to show Cassie to his room, as she was to share with Joe. Adam and Hoss took care of the horses

After dinner, Adam relaxed and read a book. Hoss was teaching Little Joe to play checkers, but not doing a good job at it. Cassie was playing with her doll but was getting rather bored. She went over to Hoss and Little Joe and, at first, just watched, but then she hit the board, knocking the pieces on the floor. Little Joe saw red and hit out at her. She hit him back. They both started fighting and hitting each other. Jumping up from his chair, Adam yelled at them to stop it this instant!! “She started it!!” yelled Little Joe. Adam asked Cassie if this was correct. She shrugged her shoulders. He told her that wasn’t a very nice thing to do and to go and play with her doll. Hoss and Joe went back to try again with a game of checkers. Once calm was restored, Adam returned to reading his book but kept a watchful eye on Cassie.

After about fifteen minutes, she was bored again, so she decided to explore her new surroundings as everyone was pre-occupied, or so she thought, and no one would notice her get up and go outside. Wrong! Adam had seen her. He waited till she got outside and then he followed her. As she walked up to the corral, she could see the new stallion that Adam and Hoss had been talking about.

Such a beautiful animal she had never seen before, so she decided to get nearer to him. Just as she put her leg climb over the last rail, she was grabbed around the waist by a very angry Adam, who pulled her to the ground and asked her what exactly she thought she was doing and why did she sneak out of the house. She told Adam in a sassy tone that she didn’t have to answer to him and her Pa would let go and see the horses. Adam couldn’t believe what he was hearing and told her that if she ever spoke to him again like that, she would be in big trouble.

Adam then warned her that ON NO ACCOUNT was she to go near that corral again, as it was dangerous. She said that she just wanted to see the horse he and Hoss had been talking about on the journey here. Adam told her that Polo was a wild horse, and although he was partly tamed, he was not to be trusted, plus she could get hurt. In a huff, she turned her back on him and folded her arms in front of her. He grabbed her arm and turned her around to face him and told her she would live to regret it if she disobeyed him on this point — had he made himself clear? She nodded her head. By this time Joe and Hoss had appeared, wondering what was happening. Little Joe had a smirk on his face because someone else was getting told off by Adam and not him. As Cassie passed Joe, she gave him a kick. Adam saw it; he grabbed her by the hand and headed back to the house. She looked around at Joe, who stuck his tongue out at her, resulting in Hoss giving him a push and telling him to quit it.

Just as they got inside, the big clock struck 9:00pm. Adam told Little Joe and Cassie that it was time for bed, as it had been a long day, (especially for him). Little Joe said he wasn’t sharing a room with “her”  and couldn’t he just stay up a little while later, Adam told him no, Joe started whining, saying, “Ahh… but Adam………I’m not tired and I ain’t got school…..and ……”

“JOSEPH!! Do you remember last night when we had this same conversation or do l need to have another ‘little talk’,” Adam said in a tone that little Joe knew only too well. Joe muttered no; he said goodnight and went upstairs, still thinking it was unfair, Adam turned to Cassie and told her to follow Joe upstairs. She declared in a sassy tone that she wasn’t going to go bed THIS EARLY!!

By now, Adam had had enough. He grabbed her by the arm and guided her towards the stairs and told her to get!!!! Some angel, he thought.

After making sure everything was locked up, he had finished reading and then he went upstairs. As was the routine in the Cartwright household, he checked on his little brothers, not that he needed to with Hoss as his snoring was legendary. He looked in on Little Joe and Cassie, who were sharing a room; both were fast asleep. Joe had kicked the blankets off his bed as he was a restless sleeper. Adam fixed them up and turning to leave looked over at Cassie, thinking to himself how could two little people cause so much strife.

*****

Adam decided next morning that, after everyone had finished their chores, he would take his brothers and Cassie up to the lake with a picnic and do a spot of swimming and fishing. While they were eating breakfast, he told them all what was planned. Little Joe was over the moon as was Hoss; they loved going to the lake. But Cassie just looked at Adam and said that was just boring, and could they not go to the corral instead and look at Polo… Adam told her no and that they were going to lake; if she didn’t like it, he was sure he could find her some extra chores and she could stay home.

Everything was going well at the lake, although Cassie was not joining in with anything they were doing. Adam asked if she was ok; she nodded her head. Little Joe had caught enough fish for tea and had a smile as big as Texas on his face. As they finished eating lunch, Hop Sing came along; he had been in town getting some supplies. Joe was telling him about the fish he had caught when Cassie came along and was sassing Joe about them saying they were too small to feed anyone. Joe said she was just jealous. With that, she kicked his bucket hard, knocking it and the fish back into the lake.

Little Joe started wailing — as only he could. On hearing his cries, Adam and Hoss ran over to see what was causing their little brother such distress. Hop Sing explained that “naughty girl kick bucket into lake.” Adam was furious and looked at Cassie and asked her for an explanation. She just stared back at him. Hoss tried to calm Adam down but to no avail as Adam grabbed hold of Cassie. He asked again what exactly she thought she was doing; she just shrugged her shoulders…and said she was bored.

“That’s no answer little girl!!” Adam roared at her. Adam had had enough and said to Cassie if she didn’t behave for the rest of the day, she would find herself on restriction to the yard and with extra chores…was that clear? She nodded her head.

Later that afternoon, as Hoss and Little Joe were swimming, Cassie went up to Adam and asked if she could pick some flowers from the other side of the lake. He agreed but told her not to go to far. With that, she headed off

Adam watched her and shouted to her not to go any further; she waved back at him and started to collect the flowers. After a few moments, she looked around to see if he was still watching her. Adam had his back to her and was loading the buckboard up. That was it — she took of at great speed and headed towards “Diggers Ridge” to do some exploring of her own. After loading everything up, Adam told Hoss and Joe it was time to go. He looked round and could see no sign of Cassie. He asked his brothers if they had seen her, and Hoss said she was picking flowers over there and pointed the spot out to Adam. They called her name but got no answer.

Adam, thinking to himself, vowed that when he got her, he would… Hoss broke into his thoughts and asked, “She wouldn’t have gone to ‘Diggers Ridge’ ….would she?”

Adam’s face paled. He told Hoss and Joe to stay put as he got on his horse and rode as fast as he could. Sure enough, there was the small figure up in front of him and that’s exactly were she was headed. Adam took her by surprise and pulled her onto his horse. This startled her and she started to sass him, but he told her to hush up if she knew what was good for her. She knew he was real mad but didn’t care. When they reached the lake, Adam placed her on the ground and told her to get on the buckboard.

Arriving at the house, Adam told Cassie to go straight up to the bedroom.

“WHY?” she asked in a sassy tone.

Adam repeated the instruction and she stomped off in a huff. Little Joe whispered to Hoss, “Now she’s in for it.” Hoss nodded in agreement; she was definitely gonna get what, in Adam’s view, every spoilt child should get,

After sorting the horses out and putting the buckboard away, Adam told the two of them to get washed up. He then went into the house and climbed the stairs. As he entered the bedroom, he had calmed down a bit; he called her over to him and asked why she had run off today. She looked at him with those “puppy dog eyes” and said she didn’t run off and that hadn’t realized she had walked that far away.

Adam said that she knew exactly what she was doing, and for that, she would be punished. But he also wanted to know why she was so disobedient since she had come to stay at the Ponderosa. Again she shrugged her shoulders. Adam told her that she was restricted to the ranch for one week and would have extra chores and also help Hop Sing when needed. She started to speak, but the look on Adams face made her stop and she nodded her head.

Little Joe couldn’t believe it that night when they were in bed when she told him she didn’t get spanked for her behavior, saying that if that was me or Hoss our tails would be burning by now. In his six-year-old mind, he said it’s cos she is a girl!!!

Next morning after breakfast, Cassie thought it would look good if she apologized to Adam for her behavior the previous day and hoped he would fall for it. Later that day she walked over to him and looked at him with those “puppy dog eyes”. She promised him she would be good from now on. Adam smiled and said she was forgiven, YES! He fell for it!! She then asked if she could go outside and play, as she had done all her chores. He said she could but to remember she was restricted to the yard. She promised that she wouldn’t wander off, and with that, she went outside to find Little Joe.

When she found him, she asked Joe if he wanted to go on an adventure with her. But when she told him what she had in mind he said NO WAY!! Was she mad? He knew that Adam would be furious and they would get more than a spanking if they were caught. Cassie called him a chicken and said he could please himself as she would go on her own anyway. She wasn’t scared. Well that was it; his temper got the better of him and he told her he was no chicken and he would go. So it was agreed. They planned to leave early the next day and head over to “Diggers Ridge” for their little adventure.

The more Cassie and Little Joe talked about it, the more excited they became. Adam noticed all the whispering and laughing between the two of them throughout the day and was suspicious they might be up to something, especially as they hadn’t been getting on lately, but then dismissed the thought. It was just two small kids playing….wasn’t it?!

The rest of the day passed without incident, and much to Adam’s surprise, he enjoyed spending time with his brothers and Cassie. After supper that night, he read them all a story. He smiled to himself seeing three sets of eyes listening intently to every word he said. As he was playing his guitar for them, he noticed Little Joe and Cassie yawning; he suggested they wash up and go to bed. He was surprised when they both agreed and went upstairs without argument. Something didn’t feel right but he couldn’t put his finger on it……maybe they were really tired as it had been a long day. Little did he know this was part of the plan for their little adventure ……..

Cassie and Joe were up bright and early next morning and crept downstairs, careful not to step on the creaking part of the stairs, taking some food from the kitchen, which Little Joe knew was a real No-No and Hop Sing would sure be mad! Once outside, they walked their ponies until they were a safe distance from the house and just beside the corral to mount them. It was then Cassie decided she wanted to ride Polo. Joe tried to persuade her not to take him and that Adam would be hopping mad and warm her britches real bad and maybe even take her to the barn, even tho’ she was a girl!! She chose to ignore him, saying that she didn’t care what Adam would do. With that, she got on Polo and held him as tight as she could, then they were off. It was harder than she thought but somehow she managed to keep hold and stay on the horse.

*****

Back at the house, Adam was up and drinking a coffee when Hoss came down for breakfast, wiping the sleep from his eyes. As they sat waiting for Little Joe and Cassie, Hoss started to pile his plate with ham and pancakes. Adam smiled and told him to leave some for the others. Hoss said,”Gosh Adam, l’m as hungry as a big old bear.” Adam asked him what he had planned for the day; Hoss replied that, after he had done his chores, he wanted to build a new coop for the chickens. Adam thanked the lord that Hoss was so much calmer than Joe,  Adam began to wonder what was keeping Little Joe and Cassie, so he went upstairs to get them up. When he entered the bedroom, he went over to Joe’s bed and said in a low voice, “Hey little buddy, don’t you thinks its time to get up?” As he bent down to touch Little Joe, he found pillows in the bed instead, same thing in Cassie’s bed. “HOSS!! HOSS!! Get up here,” he shouted. Hoss raced upstairs, pancake in hand, and asked, “What’s wrong? Where’s the fire!!!!” Then looking around, he asked, “Where’s  Joe and Cassie?”

“That’s what l want to know,” Adam said in an angry voice.

Adam asked Hoss if he knew where they would have gone. Hoss said he didn’t…but then said, “You don’t suppose they would have gone up to “Diggers Ridge”?”

Adam said if they knew what was good for either of them they better not have.

Hoss was thinking to himself, NAH! Little Joe knows better than that — but then Cassie was different story. She had been interested in it and tales about the old mineshaft since arriving. Adam broke Hoss’ thoughts when he spoke and told him to go get the horses saddled up and he would meet him in a few minutes. Adam headed toward the kitchen to tell Hop Sing where they were going, only to be met by one very angry little Chinese man who was yelling that someone had stolen cookies and food from his kitchen. Adam was now sure that’s where those two imps were headed.

Adam and Hoss rode as fast they could; they had decided they would take the road which went to the back of the mine as neither Joe or Cassie knew this way, plus it was lots quicker — but more dangerous — and they could take them both by surprise. Twenty minutes later, they spotted the two small figures making their way toward the entrance of the old mineshaft. Joe had got off his pony and was walking but what they saw next shocked them both and they couldn’t believe their eyes. CASSIE ON POLO!! Adam was livid and pinched the bridge of his nose. He closed his eyes. “Those two WILL NOT be able to sit down for a week when l get through with them,” he said through gritted teeth, and the normally mild mannered Hoss agreed with him. Adam told Hoss to ride as quick as possible into town and tell Jake Simmons to hold up on the mine blasting for an hour. Although Jake agreed, he wasn’t a happy man; time was money. When Hoss arrived back, Adam had decided not rush up on the two imps as that was a sure thing to spook Polo. They would have to wait till Cassie dismounted. They didn’t have to wait long when she got of and ran over to Little Joe, both could be heard laughing as they walked over to the entrance to the mine.

Adam and Hoss crept up just beyond the entrance and hid behind a boulder. Neither Cassie nor Joe heard them, as they were too busy arguing about who was going in first. Little Joe declared he would as he was the “man” and he had to make sure it was a safe place for a girl!!! Cassie was shouting that as she was 7 and older; it should be her. However, they quickly agreed they should go together, so holding hands, they stepped forward. Oh lord no!! A loud crack could be heard; it was part of the old mineshaft collapsing. Quick as a flash, Adam jumped over the boulder grabbing Little Joe just as they were about to go in. On seeing him, Cassie started to run toward Polo but this only resulted in the horse running off.

Seeing the look on Adam’s face, Cassie decided to do the same; she ran as fast as her little legs could carry her. Adam handed Little Joe to Hoss; he told them to stay put till he got back. He then went after her. “What in damnation were you thinking?” Hoss shouted at Little Joe, and then turned him round and landed a very heavy swat to his small backside. Little Joe stared in shock. Hoss had never ever laid a hand on him…and boy, did it hurt.

Adam ran as fast as he could and it didn’t take long to catch up with Cassie. He picked her up and carried her back kicking and screaming to where he left Hoss and Joe. He also landed a heavy swat to her small backside and told her to be quiet

Little Joe didn’t dare look at Adam but could feel his brother’s eyes staring into him. “What do you think you were doing?” Adam yelled.

“Nothing,” Joe muttered.

“Look at me, boy, when I’m talking to you. What the hell were you thinking, coming out here?”

Little Joe looked at Adam and told him he shouldn’t be cussing and that Pa would be mad…

Adam stared at him and asked, “HOW MANY TIMES have I warned YOU and Hoss about this place.”

“L-lots,” Little Joe replied.

“YES lots!” Adam said, “but still you come out here. Why? Can you tell me that, Little Boy!!!”

Joe’s big green eyes filled up and he said he was real sorry.

Adam told Hoss to get Little Joe home. He then turned to face Cassie. “WHAT do you think YOU were doing, Little Girl!! I told you not to come anywhere near this place or the corral, yet you have done both. Well, I promise you this — you won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon,” With that, Adam grabbed Cassie and put her up onto Sport and then climbed up behind her. She shouted that she ain’t no baby; Adam told her to keep still if she knew what was good for her.

When they arrived back at the Ponderosa, Hop Sing met them and asked “Evellybody OK, Mister Adam?”

Adam replied they were and asked Hop Sing to take the two children into the house to wait for him. Hop Sing did so, but as they were walking in, he landed another hard swat to each of them with the wooden spoon he was holding and told them, “Me velly angry you take food from kitchen.” They both looked up at him in surprise.

Hoss asked Adam if he was ok.

“Hoss, do I look it! They could’ve both been seriously hurt or even killed out there today had they stepped into that mine. You know that as well as I do.”

On entering the house, Adam told Little Joe to go to his room and wait for him.

Adam went to Little Joe’s room. Walking in, he noticed Joe look terrified, but this had to be carried out, he thought. On seeing him, Little Joe put his hands behind his back to protect his backside as he often did; Adam had to suppress a smile. He asked Joe to come to him and explain why he had disobeyed him. Joe put his eyes to floor but Adam lifted his chin and again asked him to explain why he had left the house early and gone to the mine when he knew that it was out of bounds. Joe went onto say that Cassie had called him a chicken and that he wasn’t and he weren’t having any girl say that about him. By this time his big green eyes were filled with tears again and he was saying he was sorry.

Adam told him that was not a good enough reason for his disobedience and he was as much to blame as Cassie as he knew what he was doing was wrong. “You were told never to go near that mine weren’t you, little boy?” asked Adam.

“Yes sir,” Joe replied.

With that, Adam led Little Joe over to the chair and pulled down his trousers and undid the seat to his underwear, exposing his little backside.

“N-noo, Adam, P-please….”

SWAT…SWAT “Well, you are going to learn today…” SWAT “… that what l say

l mean.” SWAT…SWAT…SWAT…

P-please…Adam…not…s-so….” SWAT “…h-hard! Ouch! ooow… P-please stop.”

Adam ignored his pleas and administered a spanking Joe wouldn’t soon forget. After the spanking, he took his brother downstairs and told him to get washed up for supper.

Cassie heard the footsteps on the stairs and had also heard the spanking Joe had got. When she saw Joes’ tear-stained face, she looked over at the door. Adam caught her looking and told her she had better not move one inch from that spot. He asked Hoss to help Joe getting washed up and ready for supper. Adam then asked Cassie to go upstairs. She froze to the spot. He asked again. Still no movement. With that, he went over to her. She came to her senses when Adam reached for her arm. She kicked him good and hard in the shin.

“Ouch!” He cried out. “Why you little brat.” He landed a hard swat to her backside.

He then dragged her toward the stairs and started walking up to the bedroom. Once inside the room, he sat her down hard on the bed and asked her to explain why she had ignored everything he had warned her about. She looked into eyes and shrugged her shoulders.

“NO WAY, Little girl. I want answers and NOW!” said Adam.

She said what did it matter he was gonna whip her anyway. l’m a big disappointment…

He was taken back with what she said, and told her yes, he was disappointed in her behavior and disobedience, and yes, she would get a much deserved spanking but pointed out it was because one, she was told not to go near “Diggers Ridge”, and two, not to go anywhere near the Corral, let alone ride Polo. She had broken both. Did she realize that she could’ve been killed by both? And THAT was the reason she was been punished.

Adam then lifted her of the bed and once again walked over to the chair. He put her across his knees, and as with little Joe, started to give her spanking she would never forget. As he landed SWAT after SWAT, she cried and fussed. “Ouch! Ouch! That hurts, stop it! Ouch!” she sobbed, kicking and yelling. Adam told her to keep still and that it was meant to hurt and that maybe she would behave herself from now on. SWAT…SWAT. …SWT…

She then cried out. “Oh, please, P-pa, don’t… P-please….P-pa, stop,” she begged, “P-pa, P-please stop, l-l w-won’t do it a-again, P-pa! P-please don’t…N-no N-no more!” she wailed,

Adam stopped when he heard the words she was saying. He lifted her up to face him and looked into her sobbing eyes. She was shaking and trembling with fear. He held tight until the sobs stopped. Although he knew the spanking was hard, he also knew there was something else behind the crying and the pain he had seen in those blue eyes. He decided he would find out after supper.

As they sat down for supper, Joe and Cassie were very quiet. Hop Sing had placed pillows on the chairs at the table to ease their sore behinds. Both children weren’t very hungry and picked at their food. Adam said if they had finished, they were to go upstairs and get ready for bed, that he would be up later. Cassie looked at him with fear in her eyes…… then she ran out the house.

Hoss looked at Adam and asked what was going on. Adam said he was unsure but was definitely going to find out what was troubling that little girl. He asked Hoss to take care of Joe.

Adam found Cassie once again at the corral. “What is it with that girl,” he said to himself.

On seeing him, she made to run but couldn’t run very fast due to her sore backside. Adam caught up with her and got hold of her by her arm. She was sobbing again, but this time it was heart-wrenching sobs, begging him not to whip her. “P-please D-don’t whip me. P-please. I’m s-sorry. I-I’ll be good. P-please. N-no more.”

He told her he WASN’T going to whip her. She looked him in the eyes and knew he was telling the truth. He led her over to a tree stump and sat down, lifting her onto his knees. She made to get of as it hurt, but he positioned her so that she was as comfortable as she could be. After getting the sobbing under control, he asked her why she thought he was going to whip her. At first, she wouldn’t say, but looking at him, she knew she could trust him. She told him that’s what always happened at home, that she was a big disappointment and didn’t deserve to live. She put her eyes to the ground.

Lifting her chin, not believing the words, he had heard he spoke softly and asked who had said that to her.

“M-my P-pa,” she replied

Adam asked her to tell him everything, that it would make her feel better, and maybe he could help.

For the first time, there was a sparkle of hope in her eyes. She went on say how it was at home and how she hated her Pa; he was always saying that she shouldn’t have been born, she was a big disappointment and that her Mama should have lived. She went on to tell Adam that she use to be a good girl but that didn’t matter as he’d whip her even then, so she decided she would behave bad!! Once again she started to cry. Adam held her close and started to rub her back to calm her down. As he touched her back, she jumped off his knee and tried to run. She tripped and fell. He went over and picked her up and tried to calm her down, but by now she was hysterical. He sat back down on the tree stump and held her, rocking her gently, until she fell asleep in his arms.

He headed back to the house and on entering, Hoss asked Adam if she was ok. He shook his head and said no she’s not, but he’d explain when he came down from putting her to bed.

As he walked into the bedroom, he looked over at Little Joe who was fast asleep on his tummy with his little red backside showing. He smiled to himself at the sight. Joe never woke once he went to sleep. Adam lay Cassie on the other bed and went over to fix Joe’s nightshirt and pull up his blankets. He then kissed him on the forehead and whispered, “Goodnight, Little Buddy.” He turned round to attend to Cassie. She never stirred as he started taking of her boots, he then undone her dress and managed to get that off without waking her. He decided to leave her camisole on. He lifted her gently and pulled back the blankets on her bed; he guessed she would also have a better nights sleep if he put her on her tummy. He stared in horror at what he saw next. What he could see of her back was laced with dozens of scars, obviously left by the whippings she had told him about. He gently lifted her top and saw the scars some still fresh. He covered her up gently and gave her a kiss and whispered, “Goodnight, sweetheart.”

When he got downstairs, he was as white as a sheet. He headed straight for the door, and once outside, he was violently sick. Hoss came running after him. “Adam! Adam! What’s wrong?” he asked.

Adam never spoke. After composing himself, they both went back inside. Adam asked Hoss to get him a drink. He went over to the water pitcher but Adam told him, “Brandy… get me a brandy.”

“But Adam……” Hoss said.

“HOSS, do as I say!!”

Hoss obeyed. He bought the brandy over and watched Adam knock it back in one. Then he asked, “What’s the matter? Is Joe alright?”

Adam cleared his throat and reassured him Joe was ok. It was Cassie.

“What’s that little gal gone and done now?” Hoss asked. “She’s been nothing but trou….”

Adam held up his hand, stopping Hoss speaking. He went on to tell everything she had told him and the marks he had seen on her back.

*****

The remaining days went relatively smoothly. It was if a weight had been lifted off the little girl’s shoulders. She was well- behaved and caused no major upsets, but was very clingy to Adam. She was unaware that he had seen the marks on her back.

However, Little Joe was beginning to get jealous of her hanging round Adam and he started to act up. Hoss took him to the side one day and explained what had happened to Cassie, that he had to be nice to her, but not to let on he knew about the whippings, or HE would warm HIS britches!! Joe promised he would, as he didn’t want another swat from Hoss since the first one had hurt real bad. “Good boy!!” Hoss said.

Putting them to bed on one of the last nights of Cassie’s stay, Adam noticed she was very quiet and subdued. He saw to Joe first, and no sooner had his head hit the pillow than Joe was fast asleep. Turning to Cassie, he asked if she was ok. She just nodded her head. He went to tuck her in when she grabbed him around the neck and started to cry. “P-please, Adam, l don’t want to go back.”

Adam held her and promised they would sort something out when his Pa came home tomorrow. He then kissed her goodnight.

She whispered, “Goodnight, Adam…..I-l love you!”

Adams dark eyes filled…..

*****

As Ben and Seth rode into the yard around noon next day, Little Joe ran toward his father. “Pa! Pa! You’re home,” he shouted.

Ben picked him up and kissed him. Laughing, he said, “That I am, son, that I am.”

Cassie stared at Seth. He didn’t even make an attempt to speak to her, just nodded his head. She held Adam’s hand tight. He looked down to her and winked, assuring her everything would be ok.

At supper that night, Ben was telling his sons about his trip but had noticed Adam was offish with Seth. He didn’t wish to make a scene at the table but promised himself he would have a word with his eldest son about his manners. After the young ones were tucked up in bed and Ben had showed Seth to the to the guest room, he walked over to Adam. With his hands on his hips, Ben said, “Right, young man. Do you want to tell me what’s going on!!”

Adam didn’t know where to start, as each time he thought of Seth and the damage he had inflicted on Cassie, his blood began to boil. It was all he could do at supper not to lash out at that poor excuse for a man. Adam rose up from his chair. Ben could see the anger in his eyes. Putting his hands on Adams shoulders, he softly told him to sit back down and explain exactly what had happened while he was away.

Adam told him EVERYTHING that had gone on. Ben thought to himself he would have a “little talk” with Joe about his disobedience; however, that could wait. He was shocked and surprised at what he was been told about Cassie and asked Adam was he sure.

With that, Adam jumped up, shouting, “AM I SURE! AM I SURE!!” He grabbed Ben’s hand and pulled him upstairs. On entering the bedroom, he carefully went over to Cassie and lifted her nightdress to show Ben the wounds on her back. “She didn’t do that to herself, Pa!!”

Ben gasped in horror, and leading Adam out of the room, assured him he would deal with it.

Next morning after breakfast, Ben suggested to Hoss that he take Little Joe and Cassie up to the lake.

“Really! Pa, can we go really!” Little Joe asked.

“Yes, son.” Ben smiled then looked at Cassie and asked if she would like that. She nodded her head.

Seth roared at her, “Speak up, child. Answer!”

Mr. Cartwright, y-yes sir. T-thank you,” Cassie said.

With that, they were excused from the table. Cassie looked over at Adam with fear in her eyes. Adam said he would help them sort out the horses and left the room. Once outside, he went to Cassie, who was standing by the barn. The sparkle that had been in her eyes the last few days now gone. He promised her she would come to no harm and was safe with them. She gave him a hug, and skipped over to Hoss and Little Joe, looking forward to the days adventures.

Adam then headed back to the house.

Adam was furious with Seth, and when he walked back into the room seeing him sitting there all smug, he could no longer hold his temper. He grabbed Seth and was just about to land a punch to him when Ben walked in and yelled, “ADAM STODDARD CARTWRIGHT!! STOP THAT!! STOP THAT!! RIGHT NOW!!”

“BUT PA!” Adam replied, “This poor excuse for a man has this coming.”

Ben grabbed Adam and pushed him down onto a chair, then told him to calm down or HE would calm him down!! Adam did as he was told but stared at Seth and yelled, “How could you!!! That little girl is terrified of you. You, her own father.”

Seth tried to make out he didn’t understand what Adam was saying, which only made Adam madder. “WHY did you whip her? For god’s sake, she is only 7 years old”

“ADAM!” Ben roared.

But Adam continued, “You are nothing more than a bully, a worthless excuse for a man.”

“ADAM!! I will not tell you again,” shouted Ben.

“But Pa….”

“ADAM!! I will handle this from now on. YOU will go and do your chores.”

With that, Adam pushed pass Seth, looking at him in disgust.

“Well Ben, I don’t know what has got into that young man of yours but if he was my son, he would be getting the whipping of his life right now,” said Seth.

“IS THAT how you handle everything?” Ben yelled.

Seth was taken aback that his friend had spoken to him in such a hard tone. “W-what do you mean?”

“Seth, I KNOW. I know what you have done to that little girl. WHY?!! Why would you scar your own child like that?”

Seth said she was a disobedient child and had to be punished. Didn’t he do the same to his own sons?

“Yes I do, when justified,” Ben answered, “but it’s normally over the knee with my hand or at worst my belt. But NEVER! NEVER! would I use a whip. NEVER!!!”

Seth looked at Ben and announced, “I DON’T WANT HER! She’s a disappointment. SHE should have died!!”

Ben could not believe what he was hearing. “How can you say that! SHE is your own flesh and blood she is your child!”

“SHE IS NOT!!  She is nothing more than a killer,” Seth said in a cold tone. “She killed her Ma and I will NEVER forgive her for that.”

“Seth, man! How can you blame her? Her mother died in childbirth, as did Adam’s mother but l would never blame Adam for his mother’s death.”

“WELL I DO!!” Seth sneered.

Ben was shocked to the core. How could someone he felt as a true friend have such hatred toward his own child?

Unbeknown to both men, Adam had heard everything. He stormed in and said he needn’t worry. He was never gonna get Cassie because she was staying with them.

Seth spat out, “Fine with me, son. You’re welcome to that brat. Watch out she don’t end up killing you and yours.”

He got up to go but Adam pushed him back down and said, “Oh No you don’t! You are going nowhere you worthless little man, except to jail…..

“OH! YOU THINK SO, young man!” Seth said as he pulled his gun on Adam.

“PUT YOUR GUN DOWN!!  NOW!!” It was Roy Coffee, the sheriff; he had entered via the kitchen. He arrested Seth not only for child abuse but also for the mental cruelty he had inflicted on Cassie in her seven short years. He told Seth he would be locked up for along time to come. With that, the sheriff took him away.

After Roy and Seth had left, a bewildered Ben looked at Adam and asked, “How did Roy know what was going on?”

“Hmmm… W-well P-pa! You W-won’t like this…”

“Go on,” Ben said.

“W-well, when you sent me to do my chores… I-umm… I-I rode into town instead and picked up Cassie on the way. I explained to her that she had to be brave and tell the sheriff all the things her Pa had done to her and show him her back, WHICH, may I add, she was surprised at. She didn’t know anyone had seen the scars. Anyway, Roy said if we agreed to be her guardians, she could stay with us. W-well P-pa, you see, I sorta…s-said…t-that…W-we…”

Ben smiled at his eldest struggling for words and said, “Son, you did the right thing. Yes, we will be her guardians…..but you will have to take full responsibility for her….and you will have to tell her.”

“Yes Sir!” Adam said and hugged his father.

That evening, Adam asked Cassie to go for a walk with him. She held his hand as they walked. She stopped, and turning to Adam, she looked into his eyes and said, “I guess I have to go home.” She then started to cry. She sobbed, “P-please, A-Adam, I don’t want to go. Can’t you DO anything?”

He sat down and, lifting her onto his lap, he told her to listen to him carefully. In her mind, however, nobody wanted her; she got up and ran off. Adam caught her, and when he picked her up, she started kicking and yelling at him. He told her to stop but she was way past listening, so he turned her round and landed a hard swat to her behind and told her to calm down. He then pulled her onto his knees and explained she was going nowhere, she was staying at the Ponderosa. Her eyes widened and she stared at him in disbelief. “A-are Y-you S-sure I don’t have to go with my, Pa?” she asked.

He said he was, but if the behavior he had just witnessed is anything to go by, he might just change his mind.

“.I- I – P-promise, Adam, I’ll be good, honest.”

“l know you will, sweetheart,” he replied and hugged her real tight.

In the following months, they all saw a dramatic change in Cassie. She was a delight to have around, always laughing and giggling with Little Joe and Hoss. She was doing well at school and had made new friends, but there was a ‘special bond’ with Adam. Maybe it was because both their mothers had died in childbirth. Who knows? But she was happier than she had ever been. She knew he wasn’t her father, and for that she was glad. Although he had at times punished her, she knew it was out of love and not hatred. It was to teach her right from wrong. For the first time in seven years, she was truly a happy little girl — Adams little angel.

*****End*****

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