Skin Deep (by Barbara)

Summary:  A Ponderosa dialogue.
Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  791


 

Adam toiled beside a mountain of tree stumps. All of them needed honing down to fit neatly in the Ponderosa fireplace. Whenever Ben or his boys had spare time, it was spent swinging an axe. Little Joe was spared though. At age 10, he was somewhat small for the job yet. But he always did his part when stacking and carrying when Hop Sing needed some.

There was never enough wood. It was an endless and tiresome chore but one that had to be done. Adam resigned himself to it, as there was simply no other choice. The winters were frigid and long. Just when one thought there was plenty, it was wise to double the amount.

As Adam finally sliced through a rather stubborn piece, his attention was side-racked by Hoss who rode lazily across the meadow to the barn. He dismounted, tethered his horse to the hitching post and sauntered up to his brother.

Adam welcomed the break. He watched as Hoss pulled up a log and took a seat. Adam dipped the tin ladle into the bucket for a drink. After swallowing and wiping his brow, he too sat a moment to converse. He panted several times to catch his breath before he spoke. “Back so soon?”

“Yep.”

“Tess not home?”

“Yeah. She was home.”

“What are you doing here then? I thought you had a picnic planned? You’ve only been talking about it for days.”

“I just… well, I don’t think Tess likes me.”

“Likes you? Of course she likes you, Hoss.”

“She don’t look at me like she does other people.”

“Other people? What other people?”

“Well, like you Adam.”

“Me?”

“Don’t try and deny it. I seen the way she looks at you. I got eyes. I ain’t got no chance with her if yer around.”

“Well, what do you expect me to do Hoss? Move to San Francisco?”

“Couldja?”

“Um – no… I can’t.”

“Ah. I’m just joshin’, Adam. I don’t want you to go no place. I just don’t see why I had to be born this way.”

“What way?”

“You know. Like this! Big and – I don’t know… funny lookin’.”

“You’re not funny looking Hoss. Besides, it’s what’s inside a person that matters. Don’t you know that by now?”

“That’s easy for you to say.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“You know exactly what I mean, Adam. You’re all handsome and such. When we ride into town, all the girls is lookin’ at you, not me. I’m just Adam Cartwright’s younger brother no more no less. They don’t even know I’m there. I might as well be invisible. It’s embarrassing.”

“Embarrassing?”

“Yeah. Embarrassing!”

“Look Hoss. I know it’s upsetting when a gal doesn’t feel the same way about you as you do about her. All I can tell you is that when the right person comes along, it’ll all fall into place. She won’t care what you look like. Trust me. Maybe it’s just that Tess isn’t the girl for you.”

“I reckon.”

“You don’t sound convinced.”

“Nah. I suppose you’re right, Adam.”

“Aren’t I always?”

“Come to think of it… I don’t never remember a time you wasn’t.”

“I told you, Hoss. You’ll see. The right girl is out there just waiting for you to come along and sweep her off her feet. You know, a girl who likes ‘funny lookin’ fellas.”

“See! I told you. I am funny lookin’!”

“Take it easy. Take it easy. I’m just teasing you. You look absolutely fine.”

“But, I don’t want to look fine Adam. I want to look like you or Pa, or even Little Joe.”

“Sorry, Hoss. I’m afraid all those faces are taken.”

“Ah heck.”

“You know who you do look like though?”

“No. Who?”

“Your Ma.”

“I… I do?”

“Yes, you do. You’ve got her eyes and her smile. And she was a very handsome woman.”

“Well, how come none of that rubbed off on me then?”

“It did, Hoss. It did. It’s just that some people can’t see it.”

“You mean people like Tess?”

“I mean people who can’t see beyond the façade.”

“The what?”

“The outside.”

“Oh.”

“You’re the best person I know, Hoss.”

“I am?”

“Yes. You are. And do you know what else?”

“No what?”

“You’re my best friend – funny lookin’ or not.”

“I am? I’m your best friend, Adam?”

“Yep. Now, that’s enough about Tess for now and all this silly talk about the way you look. Care to help me with the rest of this wood?”

“Not really, Adam.”

“Let me put it another way then. Pick up the other axe and get chopping.”

“Okay, older brother. Whatever you say.”

***The End***

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