A Friend Indeed (K.K. Shaulis)

Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rated: G
Word Count:  900


Cochise, Little Joe Cartwright’s painted Indian pony, couldn’t believe his eyes. “Oh, my gosh!” He shuddered as he spied the bundle of books on the ground beside the fence. “He’s going to be in so much trouble with Pa now, he’s never going to be allowed to ride me again.”

Cochise, as well as every one else in the surrounding territory, couldn’t help but hear Ben Cartwright lay down the law to his youngest just yesterday about his responsibilities and the consequences that would be swift and painful if he once again did not meet those responsibilities, especially when it came to school. Cochise shuddered again.

“Well, like Pa always says, ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ so there’s only one thing to do,” he sighed. “Hold on, Little Joe…I’m coming.” He took off like a shot, grabbed the book bundle in his teeth as he passed by the fence post and headed out of the yard and down the road toward Virginia City and his ‘friend in need.’


Little Joe couldn’t help but squirm in his seat. How could he have forgotten his books after the lecture he got from Pa? Maybe Hoss or Hop Sing would find them and bring them…but… He gulped as another thought popped into his head. Maybe Adam or Pa would and then I better start working on a good story…but… Miss Jones will want to know why too so I better work on that story first before I worry about a Pa or Adam story…Please God… He squeezed his eyes closed tight and prayed for a miracle.

“Are you all right, Little Joseph?” Miss Abigail Jones had been studying the youngest Cartwright boy for sometime now. He, like the rest of the students, was supposed to be working on the arithmetic problem that she had written on the blackboard but he seemed to be sleeping.

“I’m fine, Miss Jones.” Little Joe snapped out of his prayers to answer and smiled innocently at the schoolteacher.

“Hmmm.” She frowned at him suspiciously. When he was up to something, she always got that smile from him. “Why don’t you come up here to the blackboard please and work out this problem for us then?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Joe took a deep breath, got to his feet and shuffled up to the front of the room. He smiled innocently at her again, took the chalk from her and turned to the board to figure out how many times 16 “goes into” 496.

As she intently watched Little Joe puzzle over the problem to the point of using his fingers, Miss Jones thought she noticed out of the corner of her eye something going on in the back of the room between Amy Sue and John Loy. Not taking her eyes off the youngest Cartwright, she pushed back her chair and got to her feet to investigate.

Suddenly from outside came a loud crash which caused almost everyone to jump at the sound…that is, except Little Joe, who was used to loud noises thanks to his father’s voice.

“What in the world…?” Abigail picked up her skirts slightly and ran out of the schoolhouse to see what was going on as did all of rest of the class. Joe, however, did not move, figuring if he figured out the arithmetic problem, Miss Jones might not be as mad about him forgetting his…

A sharp snort at the window caused him to jerk his head around to find Cochise with his head resting on the windowsill to his right.

“What the heck are you…?” Before he could ask his beloved horse the question, Cochise supplied the answer by reaching down and tossing Little Joe’s bundle of books through the open window.

“Thanks, fella,” he whispered patting the horse’s snout. He quickly raced to his desk, dropped the books on his seat and came back to the blackboard. “You saved my life,” he giggled and without thinking, picked up the large red apple that was sitting on Miss Jones’ desk and tossed it to the paint pony who disappeared just as…

“… hard to believe, class, but it must have been the wind that knocked over the teeter-totter, that’s all,” Miss Jones led everyone back into the classroom. “Let’s just settle down and get back to …”  She paused in mid-step…frowning at the empty spot on her desk where the apple had sat just a minute ago, then shifting the frown to Little Joe who again was smiling innocently at her. “Little Joseph, what happened to my apple?”

Joe shrugged his shoulders. “Search me, Miss Jones. I was working on my problem. Maybe it was the wind.” He smiled innocently at his teacher again. After all, that’s what she had just called Cochise who had to have been responsible for the loud crash, so why not? “Anyway, the answer’s 31.”

Miss Jones looked at him skeptically. “Thank you, Joseph. Take your seat, if you please,” she growled at him. “Now everyone open your history book to page 64.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Joe giggled, strolled back to his desk and picked up the bundle of books. He was never so glad in his whole life to open a book to page 64. And really he was never so glad as to have a ‘friend indeed’ like Cochise.

***The End***

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