Summary: Another investigative report of Biblical proportions.
Word Count: 1700
It was an exciting morning at the Ponderosa, for the third edition of Bonanza Gold had just been delivered by Doctor Paul Martin. The dedicated medic had given long years of devoted service to various members of the Cartwright family (most notably Joe, who could charitably be described as prone to indulging in unfortunate accidents). However, there was one small, but vital problem: no money was ever seen to change hands for all his devoted ministrations. Understandably, Paul was rather miffed about this, for his medical skills had often seen Joe arise, like Lazarus, to prowl the Ponderosa unfettered. Nevertheless, despite his medical miracles, poor Paul was now knocking at the very doors of penury.
“Though I heal with the skills of Hippocrates and have not money, it availeth me naught!” Paul whimpered pathetically, as the bailiffs seized his supplies of laudanum and even his examining couch. In desperate need of some ready cash, he had to resort to an early morning paper round. Skeptical readers are advised to watch A Passion for Justice, where the Territorial Enterprise is indeed delivered in time for breakfast.
Naturally, as the Patriarch of the Ponderosa, Ben sat at the head of the table, surveying the proceedings like a modern-day Jehovah and surveying the magazine with great interest.
“Fascinating!” he pronounced, lingering on the full page picture of himself for just a gnat’s crotchet. “A most interesting read. I never realized how much hard work our laundry caused Hop Sing!”
His sons exchanged somewhat skeptical looks. “I thought it was established, right from the start, in A Rose for Lotta, that the laundry was subcontracted to Number Three Cousin?” the blonde remarked innocently.
Adam nodded eagerly: as far as he could see, Hop Sing spent hours sculling up and down the Truckee River singing the Eton Boating Song, before returning home to whip up the evening meal. It was strange that so few people had ever picked up on the fact that the faithful retainer spoke with a perfect English accent…
“Do you think Andy has access to the Bible?” the redhead asked, inadvertently unleashing a torrent of comments across the breakfast table. As no peaceful, uninterrupted breakfast scenes had ever been committed to celluloid, this was pretty much par for the course.
“Don’t be so blasphemous!” Ben spluttered. Hoss grabbed the toast rack and hauled it out of range, while Joe shielded the Gentleman’s Relish with his hand.
The blonde regarded her sister gravely. “I don’t think so,” she said with gravitas. “In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if it even exists.”
Ben went deathly pale and clutched his heart. She’d seemed like such a sweet girl and she wore a cross too! Impervious to his distress, the blonde dipped a toast soldier into a soft boiled egg and handed it to her pet bear, Paw, who slurped it up adoringly.
“After all, in A Rose for Lotta, it’s clearly established that Ben had three different wives. And Joe refers to his mother as Felice.”
“He’s got very clear diction!” the redhead interjected.
“Yet, 23 episodes later, in The Stranger, she’s become Marie!”
“I don’t see what Andy has to do with that,” Ben said.
The redhead favored him with an indulgent smile. “You see, Andy wrote this letter to Bonanza Gold, explaining that Joe’s mother was called Felice originally. But when Felicia Farr was cast, they decided it was too much of a co-incidence and rechristened her Marie,”
“What?!?!” Ben’s lung power was legendary. It was only a pity that alternative power sources were not taken seriously, for Ben could easily power at least 10 wind generators all by himself. Then he remembered that, although Marie, My Love was not screened until season 4, Andy worked for Bonanza Enterprises and surely must know… Although, it was a trifle disconcerting to think he had called his wife the wrong name for over 20 years…
“Did you ever ask the Creator?” Naturally, it was the redhead who asked this. Her sister was busy trying to persuade Paw to finish his cod liver oil. Not surprisingly, the little bear was indulging in a major strop, hoping to avoid having to take it.
Ben glanced involuntarily at the ceiling and the redhead shook her vibrant tresses. “No, no,” she chided. “Not that one! The person who created all this.” She gestured grandly round the room, somehow managing to encompass all the outdoors, too. Adam wondered how she did that.
“You can’t disturb the Creator to ask him trivial things like that,” Ben protested. “He’s far too busy…creating,” he finished lamely.
“The Creator was very inspired,” Adam said. “I had a lovely line in The Savage about the Garden of Eden.” He sighed reminiscently. “’Now I know why my parents gave me my name’,” he quoted. “’It was because I belong here in the Garden of Eden with you, Ruth.’” He wasn’t sure if that sounded right or not, so hastily added, “Or something like that.”
Total silence greeted this. The redhead glanced around as though waiting for something. “Where’s the ballet music that went along with that awful hammy line?” she asked. “Didn’t you ever want to break into a passionate pas de deux with Ruth?”
“I had an injured leg,” Adam answered, with dignity. He had thought he’d done well to say the line with a straight face, for everyone round about looked as though they were fighting not to laugh.
“You were very God-fearing in the opening season, weren’t you?” the blonde asked Ben. “But we didn’t see you in church very often, did we?” She smiled at him as he tried to think of a suitable answer. “You handed down proclamations from on high.”
“There is one thing that worries me,” said the redhead. She glanced at Joe. “Why is Marie not lying in consecrated ground? She was a Catholic, wasn’t she? And why aren’t you raising Joe in his mother’s faith?”
“Well, you see…” Ben began, but stopped again. He had no idea why Marie wasn’t lying in consecrated ground. He hoped she wouldn’t come back to haunt him. And it hadn’t occurred to him that he should be raising Joe in his mother’s faith. How he wished these girls wouldn’t keep noticing these things, and how he wished he had someone to ask.
“Now do you see why the bible would be so helpful?” asked the redhead. “We always had to make up bibles in college for every thing we did. It was good exercise.” She was, however, quite thankful that some of the ideas she’d had for TV shows were decently lost in the mists of time.
“It might even be able to pinpoint where the bunkhouse actually is!” Hoss agreed. He was fed up with trying to locate a ranch hand or two, only to discover that the bunkhouse had done one of its disappearing tricks. They had all shuddered with fear and trepidation when Adam had been knocked unconscious in Showdown. The risks of any possible concussion were far outweighed by the danger of being trapped in the bunkhouse when it perambulated around the Ponderosa.
“There’s quite a lot of religious symbolism associated with the show, isn’t there?” the blonde observed. “Fans talk about accepted facts as ‘canon’ and there’s even the Bonanza Credo, written by the Creator himself.”
“Even our names are from the Bible!” Adam said, quite forgetting that “Hoss” failed to appear anywhere in the Good Book. “As the first son, it’s entirely appropriate that I was christened Adam!”
Joe gave a loving glance towards his father. “And everybody knows that Joseph was his father’s favorite son, the son of his old age.”
“And his brothers gave poor Joseph a really hard time!” the redhead added. “They even sold him!”
Hoss regarded the youngest Cartwright critically. “I don’t think we could find anyone to sell you to, Shortshanks! You’re just too plum puny!”
“I don’t have a favorite son!” Ben protested.
Adam decided to pour a little oil on troubled waters “In the beginning, David Dortort created Bonanza and the Ponderosa!” he intoned solemnly. “And he said, Let there be Cartwrights: and there were Cartwrights.”
Silence fell for a moment. “The theme continued, didn’t it?” ventured the blonde. “Even some of the episode titles were biblical quotes: just think of My Brother’s Keeper or Feet of Clay.”
“It didn’ continue with me,” Hoss said, grumpily. “How come I’s the only one who don’ get a biblical name?” This sad fact had rankled with Hoss for a long time. “Even Erik ain’t a biblical name,” he complained.
“Perhaps its some sort of Scandinavian legend,” said the redhead soothingly. “Or perhaps it’s a corruption of Esau?” She thought of the bible passage which told them Esau was a hairy man, and Hoss certainly was hairy!
“Well, as you said, we are a God-fearing family,” Ben explained. “We show the world the best a family can be. Our morals set examples to everyone who watched the show. Family love and universal brotherhood. What more could a show want?”
Adam chimed in, “We give people hope. They see that love and perseverance can overcome the greatest of obstacles. Why, we’ve even had a couple of minor miracles: The Horsebreaker walked again and Joe recovered his eyesight in The Stillness Within.”
“I had to find the still, small voice of calm within me first,” Joe said quietly.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” the blonde quoted, from the Book of Hebrews. “A good maxim, I think.”
Joe’s face brightened. “Angels! I’ve always been really interested in angels! Do you think I’ll be an angel one day?”
“An angel!” Adam snorted. “You’d try the patience of a saint! It’d be an awfully long highway to heaven for you, my boy.”
The Giggly Sisters had the strangest feeling that Joe would make a perfectly divine Angel…