Word Count: 1200
“Joe, where have you been” exclaimed Adam as Joe came into view by the wagon outside the store. Adam was trying not to show too much displeasure as he knew his brother would react badly if he got too angry. The Cartwright family had noticed how touchy Little Joe had been over the past few weeks. At the age of 15, he thought he didn’t need supervision from his big brother. His father Ben Cartwright had thought otherwise, and so Adam had been given the job of driving the wagon into Virginia City for provisions, taking Little Joe along.
“Have you seen the sky?” exclaimed Adam. He grabbed Joe’s arm roughly. Joe tried to avoid his brother’s gaze.
The worsening weather had already been a worry for Adam and his father before Adam and Joe had left the Ponderosa ranch, but the need for provisions before the winter weather really set in had been apparent from Hop Sing’s constant mutterings about the lack of provisions in his larder.
Adam had volunteered to go to obtain them and Joe had been sent along to keep him out of mischief. However, once they had arrived in Virginia City Little Joe had disappeared from Adam’s view and Adam had been looking for him for some time.
Little Joe couldn’t understand what all the worry was about. His youthfulness and his cheery disposition always expected the best from life. “You’re hurting me!” exclaimed Joe. “Let me go”.
“Get on that wagon now,” said Adam angrily, having lost any patience he had had. “We are going home now”.
“Can’t I go and finish what I was doing?” asked Joe.
“No,” said Adam firmly, “you certainly can’t. We need to get going before the snow starts or else the horses will suffer pulling this heavy wagon.”
Joe, who wanted to continue his game with his friends, saw that Adam was not going to give in, so he meekly jumped on to the wagon.
“You’re a spoilsport,” said Joe under his breath. Adam gave his brother a thunderous look but chose to ignore him.
“Gee up” Adam called to the horses, who set off at a steady pace.
The snow had started swirling around by the time they left Virginia City.
“Sometimes I think Pa ought to take his belt to you more often Joe than he has done,” said Adam bitterly, “and then you might do as you are told more often”
Joe looked at Adam with an angry look on his face. “Why do you think that? I’m only doing what any other person in our family does, and that’s do what I want occasionally”.
“Now that’s not true,” said Adam. “Hoss and Pa and me don’t often get to do anything other than run the ranch and you know it, Joe. We have been doing it over the past few years while you have been growing up”.
“I can’t help being the youngest and I resent you always implying that I don’t pull my weight,” replied Joe angrily.
“Oh please,” said Adam, “let’s not get started now. I’m not in the mood.”
The worsening weather was turning the surrounding hills white and the trail was beginning to be difficult to follow.
Joe was beginning to feel cold; he had left his jacket on the ground when he had met his friends, and when Adam had grabbed him, he had forgotten it.
Adam noticed Joe shivering and then realized he hadn’t got his coat. “Joe, where’s your coat?” enquired Adam.
“I think I left it in Virginia City,” said Joe.
“Well Joe, that’s marvelous. How are we going to keep you warm until we get home?” said Adam.
“I’ll be OK,” said Joe, “stop fussing over me. I’m not a little boy now.”
“Well, you certainly act like one,” retorted Adam, not seeing how Joe’s eyes flashed with anger.
They continued their journey, Joe shivering miserably next to Adam who was concentrating on driving the horses along a worsening track. The horses began to slither along the trail and finally Adam came to a halt. “I’m going to have to lead them, Joe,” he said quietly. “You need to hold the reins firmly, trying not to jerk their mouths. You know, the way Hoss showed you.”
“Yes,” said Joe, “I can do it”.
“Ok, buddy,” said Adam, “I’ll get down and walk them for a while until we see how things are.”
The weather had now turned into a blizzard, with swirling snow and the wind howling around them. Adam found the going hard, and after a while, he called for Joe to pull the horses up.
“Whoa,” called Joe.
“We need to rest the horses a little while,” called Adam, the howling wind making communication difficult. The two brothers had come to a stop in a small hollow surrounded by trees so there was some shelter.
“I’m sorry, Adam,” said Joe quietly, “if you think I caused the delay in leaving Virginia City.”
“Oh, Joe!” exclaimed Adam. “I’m sorry too. It’s just I was worried about the worsening weather; I shouldn’t have been grumpy at you”
The brothers smiled at each other; they often seemed to be at loggerheads but they were good friends as well, and arguments and disagreements were quickly forgotten.
They were just about to continue when they saw their brother Hoss appearing out of the swirling snow.
“Hi there, brothers,” said Hoss with a grin. “Thought I’d better come and give you old boys a hand in case you were struggling in the snow.”
“What a sight for sore eyes!” exclaimed Adam. “Thank goodness you have come to help; we were getting a little concerned about how to make it back.”
“I’ve brought some blankets to put over the horses and some pulleys in case they get stuck in the snow,” said Hoss.
“We’d better get on with it then,” said Adam with great relief as Hoss, being very strong, was going to be able to help with moving the horses along if they stumbled.
“How you doing, shortshanks?” said Hoss to Joe.
“I’m a little cold,” shivered Joe, “but perhaps I can wrap one of the blankets around me”.
“Sure,” said Hoss kindly. “What happened to your coat anyhow”?
“Oh, I left it by mistake in Virginia City,” said Joe, looking at Adam.
“You’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached,” laughed Hoss.
They continued their journey each one concentrating on the task of getting home. The Ponderosa ranch with its warm fire beckoned them home. They struggled to the barn and made sure the horses were attended to, and then went into the ranch house.
Their father was waiting for them, thankful for their safety. He glanced at Adam as if to ask him how the trip had been. Adam smiled, nodded his head in response and said, “All’s well, Pa”.
They all sat down to a much-improved supper, thanks to the provisions that they had brought from Virginia City.
The storm continued unabated for 3 more days.