Centennial – #6 (by Puchi Ann)

Summary:  Part six of a seven-part series.
Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rated:  PG
Word Count: 25,500


 

 

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

Over the rim of his upturned coffee cup, Adam regarded his younger brother with grave, steady gaze.  Not only had the boy been almost morosely silent throughout the Sunday-morning breakfast, but he had eaten virtually nothing, just pushing the food around, the way he only did when something was wrong.  “Did you not sleep well?” Adam queried as he lowered the cup.  Though the reclining seats of the Midland Centennial cars had eased the journey back to Philadelphia yesterday, he knew that his brother had been exhausted by the time they arrived.  A restless night, combined with that residual weariness, might account for the boy’s unaccustomed gloom.

“I slept fine,” Joe said, eyes glued to the fork toying with his scrambled eggs.

“You’re very quiet,” Adam observed.

Joe looked up sharply and then immediately shuttered his eyes.  “So?”

“You’re not eating, either,” Adam pointed out.

Joe picked up a slice of bacon with his fingers and bit off a sizeable chunk.  “Satisfied?” he mumbled with his mouth full.

Adam emitted an audible sigh.  “I thought we’d gotten beyond this, Joe,” he chided softly.

Joe glanced up again, this time seeing the sadness etched on his brother’s face.  “Beyond what?” he asked.

“Beyond keeping secrets from one another,” Adam said, ebony eyes locking onto emerald.  “I had hoped we were reaching a point where you didn’t feel you had to hide your troubles from me.”

Emerald eyes skewed to the side.  “I’m not.”

Adam reared back, nostrils flaring.  “Oh, don’t.  If you don’t feel you can confide in me, fine, but don’t bother denying that something is wrong.  I’ve learned to read the signs quite well over the years.  You can keep your precious secrets—with one exception.  I insist that you tell me if you’re feeling ill.”

“No, I’m fine, Adam,” Joe said quickly, the truth of his words conveyed in the fact that he could now meet his brother’s eyes.  He licked his lips slowly, weighing the risk of exposing too much emotion to the paragon of emotional control.  Finally, remembering all the kindnesses that Adam had shown him these last three weeks, he decided to chance having his older brother consider him a sentimental fool.  “Don’t you know what day it is?” he asked.

Adam’s dark brows came together.  “Well, of course, I do; it’s Sunday, the thirtieth of July”—suddenly, the light dawned—“and Hoss’s birthday.”

Joe nodded glumly.  “We—we were supposed to be home by now.”

“I know,” Adam murmured in instant sympathy.  Birthdays were big occasions in the Cartwright family, so naturally the kid would feel more homesick than ever on this special day.  “I’m sorry you can’t be there, Joe.”

“You coulda been, ‘cept for me.”

“Don’t give that a thought,” Adam urged hurriedly.  “Hoss wouldn’t want you to mope like this; you know he wouldn’t.”

Joe’s lips curved just enough to call the expression a smile.  “I had such a nice present for him, too.  Should’ve thought to mail it to him, but I ain’t been thinkin’ ‘bout nothin’ but myself.”

The grammar was appalling, as Adam had noticed it tended to become whenever his brother’s emotions were in control of his tongue.  He wasn’t a mentor at that moment, however, but a concerned older brother.  “I think you can credit the illness for that, buddy,” he suggested kindly.  “Most of us do get a little self-centered when we’re feeling poorly.  You’re not a selfish person; you’ve just had a lot on your mind.”  He reached across the table to lay his hand over Joe’s.  “Besides, you have a big brother to do your thinking for you.”

Joe raised puzzled eyes to his brother’s face.

Adam’s smile broadened, for he knew he was about to impart good news.  “I shipped those carvings we bought Hoss at Maple Spring in plenty of time for them to arrive for his birthday.  That is what you intended to give him, wasn’t it?”

Joe’s face lit up.  “Aw, Adam, thanks!”

Adam drew back his hand and, adopting a stern, paternal visage, shook his index finger at his brother.  “You can thank me by cleaning that plate, young man.”

With a grin Joe picked up his fork and attacked the eggs.  “So, do you have plans for today?  The Exposition’s closed, and it’s kind of late for church, and—uh—I really don’t want to go to the library again.  You aren’t gonna make me stay in the room and rest all day, are you?”

That was precisely what Adam had intended, but he realized instantly that keeping the kid cooped up would guarantee a morbid fixation on how homesick he was.  Making a quick change of plans, Adam motioned to the waitress for a second cup of coffee.  “If you’re feeling up to just a bit of walking today, we might see some more of Fairmount Park,” he suggested, “the part outside the exhibition grounds.”

Joe flashed his bright smile across the table.  “I feel almost good enough to climb those rocks on the Wissahickon again, big brother.”

Adam laughed.  “Well, I do not!  All this sightseeing does get a bit tiring for an old man like me, youngster, so I’m in favor of a quiet, relaxing day for a change.  I’m even going to hire a carriage to spare my legs most of the walking.”

Shaking his head, Joe directed his smile so only the eggs could see it.  He knew whose legs Adam was really sparing.

At Adam’s suggestion the two brothers composed a birthday greeting for the one back home in Nevada and sent the message by telegraph.  Birthday or not, Pa and Hoss would be going to church, so the wire should reach the birthday boy quite early in the day.  After trusting their good wishes to Western Union, Adam made arrangements to hire a phaeton, so he could do the driving and insure greater privacy and freedom of movement for their tour of the park.  Though the day was warm, he elected to keep the folding top of the small carriage down, so as not to obstruct their view of the scenery.  After all, the towering trees would provide ample shade while they were in the park itself.

Adam guided the horse over the Girard Avenue Bridge to the Green Street entrance into the section of the park known as Old Fairmount.  The road led almost to the banks of the Schuylkill River and then turned north, passing the Fairmount Water Works.  Tall trunks of birch and black walnut lined the path, spreading their leaves to form an arched green canopy.  Arriving at an open space at the foot of a hill, Adam stopped the horse and suggested they get out.  “This is Lemon Hill,” he informed Joe as they walked past the steamboat landing that had taken them to the Falls of the Wissahickon on previous trips, “and there’s something here I think you’d like to see.”

Passing women in billowing skirts of rainbow hues on the arms of men in frock coats and fancy cravats, they walked a short distance to the foot of an immense monument.  The granite pedestal stretched toward the treetops, and the nine-and-a-half-foot bronze figure seated on it rose above the leafy bower.  The bearded man of bronze held in his right hand a pen and in his left the scroll of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Cartwright brothers walked around the base, reading the inscriptions on each of the four sides.  On the east the words, “To Abraham Lincoln, from a grateful people,” were etched, while the other three sides all carried words made famous by the beloved president during the Civil War, powerful words that recalled to both Adam and Joe the greatness of the man.

“Did you ever see him in person, Adam?” Joe asked, craning his neck to gaze up in awe.

“Yes, twice,” Adam said, “but only from a distance.  “Once, when he came to review the troops, and later at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, though I had to skip class to do it.”

Joe stared at his brother, in shock.  “Adam!  I never knew you had it in you!”

Adam clasped his brother by the nape of the neck.  “Oh, I’ve got lots in me you never knew, you scamp.”

Joe clucked his tongue.  “Adam, Adam, I thought we were beyond that.”

Adam’s fingers dug into the scant flesh of his brother’s neck.  “Throw my own words back at me, will you?  For that, I should douse you in yon pond.”  He proceeded to drag a perfectly willing Joe toward a small goldfish pond just beyond the monument.  Once there, though, he released his brother with a light laugh, and they both sat on the edge of the basin, dabbling their fingers in the sun-warmed water and applying moist drops to the backs of their necks.

“Are we going up the hill?” Joe asked, glancing up at the terrace above them.

“I’m not sure you should,” Adam answered carefully.  “It’s a nice view, but quite a few stairs to climb, and I have another place picked that will give you just as nice a view with less effort.”

Joe smiled ruefully.  “Not that I’m turning into an old man like you or anything, but I don’t think I’m quite ready for that many stairs.”

“Okay, we’ll skip it,” Adam said with obvious relief.  “There’s a restaurant up there, too, but it’s not where I planned to eat.  Ready to get back in the carriage?”

Joe agreed and accepted the helping hand Adam extended as he rose from the rim of the pond.

Adam turned the horse around and headed back the way he had come, ascending a hill toward the Girard Avenue Bridge again.  Re-crossing it, he drove under the bridge of the Pennsylvania Railroad and turned north onto Lansdowne Drive.  The road rose and then descended, giving another fine view of the tree-lined shores of the Schuylkill River, this time from the opposite bank.  Ancient oaks and chestnuts shaded the open carriage for about a mile, and then the road curved west through more open country, affording excellent views of the Centennial buildings as the Cartwright brothers followed the meandering path to Belmont Hill, on the west side of the grounds.

“Whoa,” Adam said, pulling up on the reins.  “This is where we get out, Joe.”  With a grand gesture he indicated the Georgian mansion at the crest of the hill.  “There you are, my boy, the home of Judge Richard Peters, a restaurant now.”

Joe looked askance at the statement.  “Am I supposed to know who that is?”

Adam chuckled.  “Well, you would if you’d read your guidebook to better purpose.  According to that, he was Secretary of the Board of War during the Revolution and a friend to several of its important leaders: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and John Adams.”

Joe grinned.  “Them I know!  So we’re having dinner where those men once ate?  I’m impressed, Adam.”

Adam clapped a hand to his brother’s shoulder.  “Ah, then let me impress you a bit more.  Lafayette is also said to have been a guest here.”  He smiled into his brother’s face, knowing that Joe would identify with the Frenchman who had aided the American struggle for independence.

They climbed the steps, strolling first along the wide verandah, from which park, river, bridges and buildings of the Exhibition spread out before them, with the tall buildings of the city far to the south.  “You were right,” Joe said.  “It is a nice view.”

Adam uttered a throaty laugh.  “Oh, this isn’t the view I meant.  You’ll see that after dinner.”  Joe wheedled to know the location of that promised view, but Adam, typically, wouldn’t tell him.  “In fact, you’ll only see it if you eat a substantial dinner, my boy.  The meager amount you put away at breakfast was a disgrace.”

“Oh, it was not,” Joe protested, “but just for that I won’t show your pocketbook an ounce of mercy.”

“Suits me fine,” Adam tossed back with a sly grin.

Joe eyed his brother suspiciously; then he lifted both eyebrows and asked with a crooked smile, “You gonna charge it to Pa?”

Adam threw an arm around his brother’s shoulders and turned him toward the front door to the mansion.  “Yup.  After all, if we were at home, he’d be paying for a fancy meal, either in town or at home.”

“Brother, I like your logic,” Joe said, wrapping his arm around Adam’s waist.  They entered the restaurant and were ushered to a table in a small room with low ceilings of elaborately molded plaster and finely carved panels of wood.  The view through the narrow windows was limited, but for the moment the Cartwright brothers were more interested in the menu than the scenery outdoors.

It took but a brief consultation for them to decide to make the meal a truly festive celebration in honor of their absent brother.  Both elected to order the same meal, beginning with a hearty bowl of corn chowder, followed by a first course of salmon croquettes with egg sauce and asparagus salad.  Next came stuffed leg of pork, the deep incisions in the meat packed with a dressing of mashed potatoes and onion, seasoned with cayenne, salt and sage and served with gravy and cranberry sauce.  Buttery turnips and greens in bacon drippings completed the main course, and the meal wouldn’t have been complete without thick slices of chocolate cake with boiled white icing.  Knowing Hop Sing, that was exactly the dessert being served at the Ponderosa this very afternoon, and eating it made both the travelers feel close to their hefty middle brother, even after the very last crumb had been scraped from their plates.

Leaving the restaurant, Adam pointed out a tall wrought-iron tower adjoining Belmont Mansion.  “That’s where you’ll get that grand view I promised you—Sawyer Observatory.”

Gaze slowly rising to the pinnacle a hundred and seventy feet into the clouds, Joe gulped.  “Harder climb than up Lemon Hill, don’t you think?”

“We’re not going to climb it,” Adam snorted.  “There’s an annular car around the shaft that will take us up.”

“Um, Adam, I—I think maybe I ate a little too much dinner to be trying that kind of thing,” Joe stammered, “but you go right ahead.  I’ll just wait down here.”

Adam knew his young brother’s reluctance had nothing to do with an overfull stomach.  The problem was, rather, the same one that made the boy eschew elevators in favor of staircases at every available opportunity, at least until his physical debility had forced him to make the opposite choice.  Resolving to show patience, Adam laid a solid hand on his brother’s shoulder.  “Joe, it’s perfectly safe,” he assured the boy.  “Look, it’s carried by eight steel ropes, three-quarters inch in diameter, and if any one of them broke, that one could still hold four times the weight of the car.”

Joe bit his lower lip.  “How heavy is that car?”

Adam took a deep breath.  Patience, he reminded himself.  Patience.  “With a full load of thirty passengers, six tons.”

“And one wire’s supposed to hold all that?”  Looking away, Joe shook his head.  Adam didn’t lie, of course, but maybe whatever book or journal he’d gotten that particular statistic from wasn’t as careful of the truth.

“If need be,” Adam stated with cool confidence.  “Furthermore, even if they all broke at once—as I’m sure even you would agree is highly unlikely—there are other safety features built in to keep the car from falling.  So, how about it?  Hey, do it in Hoss’s honor; he’d snap at the chance, you know.”

“I keep telling you I ain’t Hoss,” Joe muttered.

“I know who you are,” Adam said softly, turning his brother’s face back toward him.  “It’s a marvelous view, Joe; don’t cheat yourself out of it.  Please.”

Again looking to the top of tower, Joe took a long breath.  “Okay.  Let’s get it over with.”  He strode toward Sawyer Observatory with grim-jawed determination.

Adam rolled his eyes.  What an attitude with which to approach an exceptional experience.  Catching up with Joe, he paid fifty cents to the attendant in charge and escorted his brother into the car ringing the shaft of the tower.  They sat down, and as the car began to slowly rise, Adam stretched his left arm across his brother’s shoulders. “I’m proud of you, you know, for facing down your fear of these things.”

“Who says I’m afraid?” Joe demanded.  “Don’t you ever say I’m afraid!”  His eyes cut sharply around the car to see if anyone had overheard his older brother’s embarrassing accusation.

“All right, my mistake,” Adam soothed, though the slight shudder beneath his hand belied the prideful boast.  Mindful now of other passengers nearby, he kept his voice low as he added, “Just for the record, I don’t consider fear a sin or even a weakness, little brother.  That may be the biggest lesson I took home from the war.  Everybody has fears, but a good soldier faces them.  You’re a good soldier, Joe.”

Joe glanced up at his brother.  It was still hard for him to see Adam as anything other than the fearless, undaunted hero of his boyhood dreams, but those ebony eyes seemed to shine with an understanding that could only have been born in a battle against the same foe.  “It’s easier when you have a good lieutenant to look up to,” he said softly.  “You—you’re a good lieutenant, Adam.”

Adam responded with a pat on Joe’s left arm, but the analogy gave him something to ponder as the car made its way skyward.  Lieutenant, huh?  Sure, Joe had only chosen that word because of his own reference to the war, but wasn’t that what he really was in the family chain of command, a lieutenant serving under Captain Ben Cartwright and responsible for those two young troopers who had looked to him for guidance practically from birth?  A heavy responsibility at times, but one of which he hoped he would always prove worthy.

The annular car came to a stop, and the passengers got out and began walking around a gallery two and a half feet wide.  After giving the wire network enclosing the space a test shake, Joe relaxed and looked out, a smile coming to his face as he enjoyed the grand panorama.  Glancing to the side, he noticed people ascending a short staircase.  “We going up?”

Adam gave the number of stairs a quick appraisal.  The distance wasn’t great, but it was definitely more climbing than his younger brother had attempted since his surgery.  “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Joe.  The view would be even more spectacular, of course, but—”

“Aw, come on, Adam.  You’re not gonna give in to fear now, are you?”

“There’s a difference between fear for yourself and concern for someone else, boy,” Adam snorted.

“Yeah, I know,” Joe appeased quickly, “but I think I can make it, Adam.  I promise I’ll go slow.”

“Real slow,” Adam insisted.  He took his brother’s elbow and guided him up the stairs.  They paused on practically every step, but by the time that Adam realized the climb had been a mistake, they were so near the top that it seemed wiser to go on than to head down immediately.  Why do I let him talk me into these things? Adam scolded himself when he noted the strained set of his brother’s lips and the shortness of his breath.  Some lieutenant I am.

Reaching the top level, Joe clung to the wire netting for support, but his face was enraptured.  “Oh, wow, Adam, look how far you can see!”

“Yup, only aeronauts in a balloon have ever been higher,” Adam suggested.

“Ugh; don’t remind me,” Joe groaned.  With his hands safely enmeshed in the wire net, however, he dared to peek down at the ground, amazed by the ant-like proportions of people wandering around on Belmont Hill.

They stayed up on the top platform longer than they might otherwise have, for Adam wanted to be sure that his brother was rested before again tackling the stairs.  Going down was easier, of course, but Joe readily collapsed on the seat of the annular car.  When they reached ground, Adam immediately herded his brother toward the carriage and drove back to the Transcontinental Hotel.  Pulling up at the door, he asked Joe if he could make it to the room on his own.

“Sure, but I do think I’ll lie down awhile after I get up there,” Joe replied.

“An excellent idea—and use the elevator,” Adam ordered.

Joe raised a weary hand to his eyebrow.  “Yes, sir, lieutenant.”  Then he grinned.  “Just for the record, though, I still don’t like rising rooms.  Not scared, you understand, just don’t like ‘em.”

“Duly noted, trooper,” Adam chuckled.  “Now get out so I can return this carriage.”

Joe climbed out of the carriage, gave his brother another sloppy salute and made his way inside.  As ordered, he used the elevator and, as promised, went directly to his bed.  When he awoke around five o’clock, Adam asked if he felt like going out for the evening.

“Sure, I’m fine,” Joe said, “and we really ought to do something special to close out Hoss’s birthday.”

“You don’t think we’ve milked that excuse enough already?” Adam asked with a chuckle.

Joe grinned back at him.  “Can’t ever milk birthdays too much, big brother.”

“Ah, I’ll have to remember that when my next one comes around.  Well, would dinner at the largest hotel in the area constitute milking it?”  Adam queried, leaning back and lacing his fingers behind his neck.

“Excellent beginning,” Joe agreed, “and maybe a show?”

“Well, you may not consider this enough milk since the admission is only fifty cents,” Adam chuckled, “but I thought we’d visit Operti’s Tropical Garden.  It’s right next to the Globe, and I’m really not in the mood to travel all the way downtown for something grander than a band concert.”

“Band music is fine with me,” Joe said.  “I think I’ve done enough riding around for one day, anyway.”  Catching a glimpse of his brother’s telltale smile, he knew he’d guessed correctly the true reason his older brother wasn’t “in the mood” for a trip to a downtown theater.

The two boys freshened up and strolled leisurely across the street to the dining room of the Globe Hotel.  Ordinarily, Adam would have been concerned when Little Joe ordered only a bowl of oyster stew for supper, but in this case his own overstuffed stomach provided ample motivation for a light meal.  He had to restrain the urge to laugh at Joe’s choice, however, for it was another clear reminder of their brother back in Nevada, one of whose favorite meals was oyster stew at Chapman’s Chop House in Virginia City.  For himself, Adam selected lobster salad and a fruit-and-cheese platter.  “Let’s save dessert ‘til after the performance,” he suggested.

When they had finished the meal, the Cartwright brothers walked to the adjacent concert hall, a huge wooden building covered with corrugated iron and painted in light colors.  The first glance, as they entered, revealed a musical setting unlike any either young man had ever seen.  Operti’s Tropical Garden lived up to its name, for the room abounded with the sights and smells of the tropics, with its rocky nooks and beds of rare and beautiful flowers.  At the back a large waterfall gushed over painted rocks, and Adam and Joe counted themselves fortunate to be seated where the coolness of that water abolished memories of the heat of the day and exotic scents seemed to be carried on the cascade plunging into the pool.  The room was also decorated with frescoes and other paintings, and long lines of colored globes, each with its own gas jet, bathed both artwork and audience in a multi-hued glow.

The water slowly ceased falling, in preparation for the beginning of the concert, and Signor Guiseppe Operti, resplendent in a dark blue coat with red and gold trim, white pants and vest and military cap, led his sixty-member band onto the stage.  For the next hour rousing music, more pleasing to Joe than to Adam, filled the air, but for both it had been a satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable and relaxing day.

“Would you prefer dessert back at the Globe or a beer in one of barrooms of Shantyville?” Adam asked as they walked outside.

Joe grinned.  “Beer, of course.”  Adam must be feeling in a festive mood to suggest a trip to the ill-fated Shantyville!

Adam chuckled.  “Hoss would choose dessert, you know, and we are supposed to be honoring him.”

Joe shook his head, a glint of mischief in his eye.  “Hoss would choose both,” he asserted.

“That he would!” Adam admitted with a hearty laugh.  “Both it is.”

Both boys elected to eat only a dish of sherbet at the hotel, since the food booths along the street would supply ample protection from starvation later on.  Then they made their way down Elm Avenue and hoisted a couple of mugs as a final toast to Hoss.

Later, as he lay in bed, Little Joe gazed at the ceiling, a warm, but wistful smile touching his lips.  “Happy birthday, Hoss,” he whispered.  “Hope Pa made your special day as grand as Adam made mine.”

*****

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

Smiling dreamily, Little Joe stretched his arms up and his toes toward the foot of the bed.  He really appreciated the way Adam had let him awaken at his leisure since his illness, although he feared there might be more rest in his immediate future than he could possibly stand.  Yesterday had been fine, of course, but he didn’t really relish another carriage ride around the park and, face facts, there wasn’t much else he was feeling up to.

Joe got up and padded to the window in his bare feet, leaning over the sill to look down into the garden.  Surely, he could talk Adam into at least letting him go outside for a walk today.  It wasn’t an exciting option, but he couldn’t think of any others his protective older brother would approve.  Judging by the light outside, it was around seven o’clock or, possibly, closer to half past the hour, late by Ponderosa standards, but earlier than he’d been waking most mornings back east.

Deciding that Adam would find it harder to say no to an outing if he were already dressed, Joe turned back to his bureau.  Then he noticed his tan shirt and gray slacks, lying on the chair with a fresh set of underwear and socks.  Frowning, Joe picked up the clothes and started to dress, supposing that Adam’s choice indicated a day spent in the confines of the hotel suite.  He shrugged.  At least, there was still hope for that walk in the garden.

Sitting on the settee, Adam looked up from his perusal of the newspaper when he heard the bedroom door open and saw his brother come into the parlor.  “Good morning,” he called pleasantly.  “I was hoping you might wake earlier this morning, as I was getting hungry.  Ready for breakfast?”

Noticing that Adam was dressed in eastern style, Joe plucked at his western shirt.  “Won’t you be ashamed to be seen with a cowboy in the dining room?”

“Never, never will I be ashamed to be seen with you,” Adam said fervently as he stood up.

“Ease up, Adam,” Joe said with a light smile.  “I was just kidding.”

“I know,” Adam said, “but having previously made some uncharitable comments about your appearance, I want it clearly understood that my feelings for you are not dependent on what you wear.”  He stroked his freshly shaven chin.  “Still, it wouldn’t be right for me to let you go out half-dressed like that.”

Joe took a swift glance down his body.  Shirt, pants, socks, shoes—everything appeared to be in place.  “I’m dressed,” he muttered, “unless you mean I should wear a tie.”

Adam laughed.  “A string one, if you like, but I wouldn’t insist.”  He cocked his head.  “No, I’m sure there’s something missing.”  He snapped his fingers.  “Ah, I have it!”  He stepped briskly into his own bedroom and came out with a package.  “Open that,” he ordered.  “I’m sure you’ll know which to put on.”

Curiosity stirred, Joe took the package wrapped in brown paper and unfastened the string.  Opening it, he grinned when he saw four sets of suspenders with “Cartwright” stitched down one side and the first name of a member of the family down the other.  “I thought you said this would make people gawk,” he reminded Adam.

“Let ‘em,” Adam said, picking up the suspenders with his name on them and attaching them to his trousers before putting on his frock coat.

Joe laughed with delight and put on the set with his name.  “I think I’d better add that string tie, if we’re gonna look this fancy,” he said, moving back toward his bedroom.

“Suit yourself,” Adam called after him.  “I want you to be comfortable.”

Joe sighed.  Comfortable.  That signaled another day in the room, sure as the world.  Nonetheless, the fancy suspenders merited a tie, even if no one but a few fellow diners would see it, so he drew out a black string one and looped it around his neck.

Downstairs, he placed his order for scrambled eggs, bacon and a waffle topped with fresh strawberries; then he put on his best pleading look and said, “I don’t see why I have to stay in the room all the time, Adam.  I’m really feeling much better.  Just look how my appetite’s improved!”

Adam swirled his coffee around his mouth and swallowed.  “I’ll judge the improvement when I see whether you actually eat all you ordered.”

“I will,” Joe insisted, “or most, anyway.  I’m not wasteful, Adam.”

“No, you’re not,” Adam admitted, “and I’m not unreasonable, either.  I don’t intend to make you spend the day inside.”

“So, a walk in the garden?” Joe suggested.

“If that’s your preference,” Adam said, nodding his appreciation to the waitress as she automatically poured him a second cup of coffee.  “I thought we might take in the Centennial this morning, but it’s your choice.”

Joe ran his finger around the rim of his coffee cup.   “How can I, Adam?  I mean, I want to, of course, but that trip we made showed me that I just can’t stay on my feet that long.”

Lifting his coffee cup, Adam smiled.  “I’ve got that all worked out.”  He took a sip of the hot brew.  “I’m going to rent one of the rolling chairs for you—”

“Aw, no, Adam,” Joe interrupted, whine back in his voice.  “That’s for—”

“Ladies and invalids,” Adam interrupted in turn.  “Yeah, I remember what you said before, but what do you think you are right now, kid?”

Unwilling to admit his physical weakness, but unable to deny it, Joe scowled.

Adam reached across the table to lay his palm over his younger brother’s hand.  “Joe, it’s either that or sit around the hotel room reading and playing checkers until you’re stronger.  Is that really what you want, buddy?”

“No, of course not,” Joe said quickly.  “It’s just so doggone embarrassing, Adam.  Folks’ll stare something fierce.”

“Let ‘em,” Adam said with a pull on his gaudy suspenders to emphasis his point.  “You’re tough enough to handle a few stares, aren’t you?”  Seeing that Joe still looked dubious, he added, “Well, you’re brave enough to give it a try, aren’t you?  After all, if I’m brave enough to sport these suspenders, you can’t afford to let me outdo you, can you?”

Joe flashed a sudden smile.  “No, I’d never live that down.  Okay, I’ll ride in the silly chair.”  The waitress served his breakfast, along with the ham, eggs and sweet rolls Adam had ordered.  “What will we see today then?” Joe asked.

Adam sliced off a bite of sugar-cured ham.  “That’s up to you, Joe.  This is your trip now, remember?”

Joe nibbled on a strawberry.  “You were doing a great job of the planning, Adam,” he said after swallowing the bite of fruit.  “I’d rather you went on doing that, except . . .”

Adam sat with the ham poised on the end of his fork.  “Yes?”

Joe kept his eyes on his plate as he cut a bite of waffle and swirled it slowly through the syrup.  “Well, I didn’t get a good look at that art building, ‘cause I was feeling so rotten—or the annex, either, ‘cause of the fight, and . . . well . . .”

“You’d like to make another visit to Memorial Hall?” Adam inquired.

“If you don’t mind seeing those things again,” Joe said hesitantly.

Adam waited for Joe to look up, so the boy would see his smile.  “I could look at those marvelous works of art again and again without ‘minding,’ little brother.  Memorial Hall, it is.  We probably won’t have time for the Annex today because I don’t want to keep you out too long.  We’ll have dinner at the Centennial and come back here afterwards.”

Joe grinned.  “Sounds good.  See, I told you; you make the best plans.”

After finishing breakfast the Cartwright brothers walked across Elm Avenue to the main gate of the Exposition promptly at nine o’clock.  Adam bought their tickets and handed them to the man at the gate before entering the turnstile.  The two brothers then moved past the Bartholdi fountain and turned right, walking a short distance to Memorial Hall.

Adam stopped just inside the door to rent a rolling chair.

“One for each, sir?” the gray-uniformed attendant suggested.  “Really, the best way to see the Centennial.”

Getting a taste of his younger brother’s embarrassment, Adam licked his lips.  “Uh, no.  No, thank you, just one for my young brother here.”

The employee of the Rolling Chair Company gave the younger man a surprised look, for Joe showed no outward sign of his recent illness, other than a slight loss of weight, and that wouldn’t be apparent to a stranger.  Recovering quickly, the attendant rolled a chair toward the young man.

With a sigh of resignation, Joe sat down, propping his feet on the footrest.

The man in the gray uniform looked inquiringly at Adam.  “Would you like to hire a porter to push the chair, sir?  Only sixty cents per hour or $4.50 for the day.”

Adam politely refused.  “No, just the rental of the chair, please.  I believe that’s one dollar for three hours?”

“Yes, sir,” the attendant agreed, taking the silver coin Adam offered, “with thirty cents back for each unused hour.”

“I think we’ll be using them all,” Adam said with a smile.  He got behind the chair with two huge back wheels and two tiny front ones, grabbed the handles projecting from the back and began to push.  “Comfortable?” he asked his brother as they moved away from the rental stand.

“Yeah,” Joe said.  He tipped his head back to gaze up at Adam.  “Thanks for doing the pushing yourself.  I like it better without some fancy porter along with us.”

“I figured you would,” Adam chuckled, “and face it, kid.  Pushing you around isn’t exactly the kind of chore it would be if it were Hoss in this chair!”

Joe giggled.  “Hoss wouldn’t even fit in it!  They’d have to special-build one for him.”  That comment was a slight exaggeration, but the chair would definitely have been a tight squeeze for a man of Hoss’s bulk.  Joe, on the other hand, had room to spare on all sides.

“Where to first, my little art connoisseur?” Adam inquired.

“We don’t have to see everything again, Adam, just some of the better ones, okay?”

“All right,” Adam agreed quickly.  “You tell me which are ‘the better ones,’ and we’ll see them again.”

“I like those Moran paintings best of all,” Joe said.

“Thomas, I presume?” Adam chuckled.

Joe returned the laugh.  “Yeah, those remind me of home, but I wouldn’t mind looking at the other Moran’s, too, those nice sea scenes.  I can appreciate them more now that I’ve actually seen the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Okay.  The Cartwrights will visit the Morans—and Bierstadt, too, unless I miss my guess.”

Joe agreed, and the two brothers spent several enjoyable minutes gazing at majestic scenes of seas and summits.

“I know you don’t like it,” Joe said hesitantly, “but I would like to see that Gettysburg painting again.  It means more to me now, Adam.”

“Okay,” Adam agreed, his voice dropping almost to a whisper.  Though obviously still reluctant to view the bloody battle scene, he wheeled his brother directly before it.  Folding his arms across the back of the chair, he leaned close to Joe’s ear.  “You won’t find me there, you know.  My regiment was placed just to the left of this scene that final day.  We had a front-row view, but fortunately the Rebels didn’t charge us directly, as General Hancock had feared they would.  The Twenty-seventh was only able to muster fifteen men that morning, and our position was the weakest of the entire line.”

Joe shivered as he realized how heavy had been the odds against his brother’s being one of that final fifteen.  “I think I’d like to see something else now, Adam.”

“Anything in particular?”

Joe shook his head.  “No, you pick.  Things we didn’t see before, but you pick.”

“Let’s visit the French gallery then,” Adam suggested, thinking that the quickest way to distract his little brother from his somber mood.  As he wheeled Joe past the Belgian gallery, however, he paused at the doorway, noticing the sculpture by Fraiken that they had seen before.  “Joe, I’m sorry I said that you’d had life easy,” Adam murmured, recalling his earlier words when they’d viewed this representation of a loving mother with her child.  “You’ve had some rough times, too.”

It was obvious from the look that crossed Joe’s face that he remembered the previous conversation and still felt a twinge of hurt feelings.  Typically, though, Joe was quick to forgive.  “Everyone has, Adam,” he said.  “Maybe yours were rougher.  I don’t know.”

Adam laid a hand on his brother’s shoulder.  “I don’t see much profit in competing for that honor, Joe.  Everyone has his load to carry, and maybe what we need to remember is that our own burden gets lighter when we’re trying to help someone else carry his.”

Joe glanced up at his brother.  “Like you’re doing now, for me?”

Adam rubbed his hands down both of his brother’s arms.  “You’re no burden, buddy.  I’m enjoying every minute of this time with you.  Shall we see what the French have to offer now?”

“Yeah, I’m ready for some French flair,” Joe replied with a grin.

Adam laughed as he continued down the corridor.  “I’m afraid you’re in for a disappointment, mon frère.  Unlike some of the other countries, France didn’t send her best works.”  He stopped the chair before a large painting.  “This is probably the best one on exhibit.”

As he gazed at Carolus-Duran’s portrait of his sister-in-law, Mademoiselle Croisette of the Comedie Francaise, Joe smiled.  “Beautiful woman on a beautiful horse—oh, no, I’m not disappointed, brother.”

Adam chuckled.  “No, I guess you wouldn’t be.”  He rolled the chair toward another painting.  “This one’s quite popular, but thoroughly gruesome, in my opinion.”

Joe winced as he saw George Becker’s portrayal of Rizpah Protecting the Bodies of Her Sons, in which a Hebrew woman fought off an enormous vulture that wanted to feed on the five bodies tied to a scaffold above her.  “Yeah, it’s gruesome,” Joe admitted, “but I always liked that Bible story.  I used to think that Mama would have fought that hard to protect me—you and Hoss, too, of course—if anyone had tried to hurt us.”

“She would have,” Adam said simply; then he laughed as he squeezed his younger brother’s shoulder.  “She’d have skewered that bird with her epee!”

The two Cartwrights viewed the other paintings in the French gallery, including another Biblical theme, Story of Ruth by Paul de Curzon and the Morvan King by Evariste Leminais, but when they had concluded their tour, Little Joe was forced to admit that Adam’s opinion had been correct.  “They aren’t as good as the English paintings.  I even like the American ones better, though you probably don’t think they’re as good.”

“Oh, the ones you like, the Morans and Bierstadts, definitely appeal to me more—partly, of course, because of the nostalgia they elicit,” Adam observed.

Joe had to think for a moment, but when he understood what his brother meant, he nodded.

Entering the Austrian gallery, Adam directed Joe’s attention first to a painting by Hans Makart.  “Venice Paying Homage to Catharine Cornaro is reputed to be the finest painting at the Centennial,” he commented.  As Joe looked at the grand court scene crowded with maids-of-honor, courtiers and attendants in opulent garments of every shade, Adam explained the history behind the painting.  “On the death of her husband, the King of Cyprus, Catharine made a gift of the kingdom to the Republic of Venice.  This represents the reception of that gift.”

The smile with which Joe met this information was so wan that Adam chuckled.  “You do prefer landscapes, don’t you?”

“To this kind of thing, yeah,” Joe admitted.  “I guess I don’t know enough about European history to have much feeling for scenes like this.”

“Maybe your mentor will have to do something about that,” Adam suggested.

“Yeah, maybe he should,” Joe said.  “I mean, I know this is a much better painting than that Gettysburg one, but the other still means more to me ‘cause  . . .”

“Because you identify with it more easily,” Adam finished.  “I understand, Joe.  Just soak in what you can and don’t worry about whether your reaction is what it should be, okay?  Art is to enjoy, not to inspire guilt, something I had forgotten when we were here before.”

The Cartwrights viewed the rest of the paintings in the Austrian collection, but the piece that inspired their longest attention was a sculpture by Francesco Pezzicar, The Freed Slave.  “Art critics don’t think much of this work,” Adam said, trying to keep an instructive attitude, but his voice broke and he could only stare in choked silence at the triumphant figure of a powerful black man, a broken chain dangling from his right wrist as his left hand held aloft a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“I think it’s powerful,” Joe said, reaching back to touch his brother’s hand.  “It’s—it’s what you fought for, isn’t it?”

Adam nodded, still so overcome by emotion that he couldn’t speak.  As he stood before the sculpture, a black family approached to gaze in near awe at a moment in history that clearly had deeper meaning for them than for anyone else in Memorial Hall that morning.  Few citizens of their color could be seen among the crowds attending the Centennial Exhibition, but the fact that they were here at all, mingling without restriction among those of lighter skins, indicated that the barriers were slowly beginning to fall.  It was worth it, Adam thought, all the seemingly meaningless maneuvering for position, all the lives sacrificed.  We have a long way to go, but it was worth it.  He looked down to see his brother’s emerald eyes shining in understanding of the emotion he still felt inadequate to express.  No words passed between them, but none were necessary.  The squeeze of a hand and the pat of a shoulder communicated all that words could not.

Adam rolled Joe’s chair through a short corridor leading from the Austrian gallery to the room containing the German paintings.  They paused briefly to look at the few canvases lining that hall, which included A Courtyard in Venice by Henry Jaeckel and Mt. Vesuvius by Heck, but nothing really caught the eye of either Cartwright until they entered the room beyond and saw the large equestrian portrait of Crown Prince William-Henry by Steffeck.  Adam teased Joe about being drawn to any painting featuring a horse.

“Or a beautiful woman,” Joe reminded his brother with a grin.

“Not too many of those in this gallery,” Adam pointed out.  Many of the German paintings were historic in nature, such as the two depicting the Surrender of Sedan in 1870 and The Flight of Frederick V from Prague, after the Battle of the White Mountain by Faber du Tour, one of the best in the German exhibit.  There were not, of course, many beautiful women in the battle scenes, but a couple of the historic portrayals did feature female figures.  One was Julius Schrader’s Elizabeth Signing the Death Warrant of Mary of Scotland, and another by Tolingsby, Lady Jane Grey Confuting Bishop Gardiner acted as its companion in tribute to the history of England.

Joe’s favorite German painting, however, was Herdert’s Evening Scene in the Zoological Gardens at Berlin with its life-like detail.  To Adam, it was a reminder of how much both he and Joe had enjoyed their day at the zoo, and he resolved again to get Joe back there before they returned home.

The boys quickly finished the relatively small German gallery, and Adam suggested that they sit in the garden a short while before going to dinner.  Assuming that Adam must be tired from pushing him around, Joe readily agreed.  After briefly gazing at busts of Dante and Michelangelo amidst the greenery, they sat on a stone bench, and together they enjoyed the fragrant air and the slight breeze rising from the river nearby.

Since the Lafayette Restaurant was close, Adam returned the rolling chair and let Joe walk down the slope to the edge of Lansdowne Valley.  After an enjoyable meal they returned to the hotel, where Joe at once decided to strip off his shirt and tie and stretch out on his bed.  He napped for a couple of hours, and then at Adam’s suggestion moved to the balcony to enjoy the view of the garden and catch a breath of fresh air.

Joe heard the door to their suite shut and wondered where Adam had gone.  Had it been somewhat later in the day, he would have suspected that his brother was ordering supper to be delivered to their room, but it was too early for that, and Joe couldn’t imagine what other errand might have taken his brother away.  The mystery was solved when Adam returned, bearing a tray with a plate of sugar cookies, a tall pitcher of iced lemonade and two glasses.  The brothers sat out on the balcony, munching cookies and washing them down with cool, refreshing lemonade.  Draining the last glass, Joe gave a sigh of contentment.  “You do come up with the best plans, brother,” he murmured.

*****

Tuesday morning found the Cartwright brothers entering the Art Annex, not without a certain sense of trepidation, for both remembered being ignominiously ushered out on their previous visit.  Not wanting to call attention to himself in any way, Little Joe sank into the required rolling chair without protest, but he couldn’t help noticing the odd looks several other visitors to the Centennial threw his direction.  Some, evidently thinking him a cripple, gazed with pity; others seemed almost incensed by the sight of such a lazy boy.  Doggone, but this is embarrassing! Joe thought.

“I’m going to show you the worst piece first, just to get it over with,” Adam declared, pushing his brother toward the back of the building.  He stopped before an animated wax representation of a scantily clad Cleopatra coming to meet Mark Anthony in her barge.  She was fanned by a black slave and attended by Cupid, who moved his head from side to side.  A parrot perched on her finger, opening and closing his wings, while Cleopatra lifted her right arm and let it fall, over and over again, as she rolled her head alluringly.  “Don’t ask me why this is so popular,” Adam said.  “It’s really terrible, as I trust you agree.”

Joe’s eyes twinkled with mischief.  “Oh, I don’t know; I kind of like the old girl.”

Adam groaned, melodramatically striking his palm to his temple.  “I had so hoped you were developing better taste than this, little brother.  This is nothing but an explicit—and I do mean explicit—advertisement for the museum of anatomy here in town.”

Copying his brother’s dramatic attitude, Joe clapped a hand to his heart.  “Why, Adam, I figured you’d be in favor of anything that advertised a museum!”

Adam turned the chair away from Cleopatra’s ample anatomy.  “Well, if you’d really like to visit the museum, little buddy, and learn all about the parts of the body, perhaps consider going into medicine as a profession . . .”

Joe gagged.  “How can you suggest such a thing so soon after breakfast?”

Adam chucked Joe under the chin.  “Touché, little brother; you had that one coming!  Now, if you’d like to see a better treatment of the ‘old girl,’ I’ll be glad to show it to you.”

Joe swept his hand forward.  “Push on, brother; push on.”

Adam pushed as vigorously as the crowd would permit, and soon he had Joe parked directly in front of a two-ton marble, which depicted the Queen of the Nile seated in an ornate chair, head dropping over her left shoulder, right hand still clasping the fatal asp.  “What do you think, Joe?” he asked after giving his brother a few minutes to examine The Death of Cleopatra.

“Yeah, this is a lot better,” Joe admitted.  “The other one looks like a kid’s toy next to this.  She looks strong, even in death.”

Pleased by his little brother’s discernment, Adam nodded.  “Just what I was thinking; it really communicates a personality triumphant over all obstacles, and that reflects the background of the sculptor, from what I’ve read.  Edmonia Lewis is the daughter of a Chippewa Indian and a free black man; in fact, she’s one of only two black artists represented here at the Centennial.”

“Who’s the other?” Joe asked.

“I’ll show you.”  Adam immediately swiveled the chair around and began pushing in the opposite direction.  To see the exhibits in such a haphazard way went against his grain, but if it made the art more meaningful to Joe, he was willing.  “Here’s the other one,” he said, stopping in front of a canvas on which a herd of sheep grazed along the branch of a creek with a hill in the background.

Joe read the metal plaque below the painting.  “Under the Oaks.  I like this one, too.”

“It’s very well done,” Adam agreed enthusiastically, “and, in fact, won a prize here.  An article I read by a prominent art critic expressed the belief that this is one of the finest paintings in the American department and predicted that Edward Bannister will one day be considered America’s first important black artist.”

Joe grinned.  “I guess I don’t feel qualified to pass judgment on that, but I do think this Bannister fellow would do better with a more worthy subject.”  He laughed at his brother’s quizzical look.  “Come on, Adam, I’m a cowman.  You can’t expect me to get too excited over a herd of sheep, can you?”

Adam shook his head, amused, but a bit perturbed with himself for falling into the trap so easily.  He was glad, however, to see Joe acting more like his old, healthy, exasperatingly teasing self again.  Although emotional displays of all kinds—anger, sentiment, turmoil—were always close to the surface with Joe, it was what Edwin Booth had called his “silvery laughter” that seemed most natural, and Adam realized that it was what he had missed most during the early stages of Joe’s illness and recovery.  Thank God those somber days were behind them!

“Hey, there’s Aurora!” Joe cried, pointing off to their left.  “We really ought to pay our respects, don’t you think?”

Adam laughed.  “Oh, by all means.  After all, we did defend the lady’s honor.”

“Honor, nothing!” Joe cried.  “We saved the lovely lady’s life.”

“Raise your voice, little brother,” Adam snorted.  “I don’t think the Centennial guards heard you.”

Joe ducked his head.  “Yeah, I guess I was a little loud, and I sure don’t want them comin’ ‘round again.  Sorry, but can we see the lady?”

“Sure.”

After paying their respects to Aurora and a number of other voluptuous ladies wearing little more than a smile, Adam pointed the rolling chair in the direction of less provocative pieces of marble.  Looking at one, Caroni’s Butterfly Youth, Adam was struck by how it captured his younger brother’s impetuous spirit, flying from one thing to another, only to end up trapped in his own net, just like this boy chiseled from stone.

“Oh, you’re funny, Adam,” Joe said with a scowl when his brother shared this observation.  “Maybe I’ll just have to find a sculpture that reminds me of you, something like a man being buried under an avalanche of books!”

“Decide to study art, little brother,” Adam suggest with twitching lips, “and you can sculpt it yourself.”

Joe reached back to slap his brother’s hand.  “No more school talk.  You promised.”

Chuckling, Adam rubbed the back of his brother’s neck.  “Just teasing.  Here, take a look at this piece.  I know you like Caroni’s children.”

“Aw, now that one makes me think of Hoss,” Joe murmured.  First Capture showed a little boy catching a sparrow in his hand.

“Yeah, he was like that as a kid,” Adam said in fond reminiscence, “always picking up some bird or animal in the woods.  Always skittered off when I tried it, but they just seemed to know he’d be gentle with them.”  He pulled out his pocket watch and opened the case.  “It’s getting close to noon.  Is there anything else you’d like to see here before dinner, buddy?”

“No, I’m hungry,” Joe said.  “Where are we eating?”

“I thought we might try the Grand American Restaurant today,” Adam suggested.  When Joe expressed his pleasure with that idea, Adam aimed the rolling chair for the entrance, where he turned it in.  “We’ll walk straight through Memorial Hall and catch the West End Railroad to the restaurant,” he informed his brother.

“I can walk, Adam,” Joe protested.  “We’ll have to circle half the park to get there on the train.”

“So?”  Adam rested a hand on his brother’s shoulder as they climbed the steps to the north entrance to Memorial Hall, centered between twelve arched windows.  “Look, Joe.  I know I said it was your trip now, but I will still make all decisions relating to your health.  You probably could make it, but it’s a hefty hike and I don’t want you tired out needlessly.  We take the railcars.”

“Yes, sir, whatever you say,” Joe grumbled, “railcars, rolling chairs, afternoon naps.”

“Right on all three counts,” Adam said, grinning as he threw an arm around his brother’s shoulders.

They passed through Memorial Hall, where they purchased their five-cent tickets for the West End Railroad, and walked to the platform outside to wait for the next cars.  Joe looked at the cloud-covered sky.  “Hey, you think it might rain?”

“They don’t look like rain clouds,” Adam replied, “but it’s definitely cooler than it’s been since we arrived back east.”  The light breeze wafting across the unsheltered platform made the wait for the train positively pleasant, but the Schuylkill, the larger of the two locomotives operating on the line, arrived within ten minutes and the Cartwright brothers boarded.

Getting off the railway in front of Agricultural Hall, they walked across the road to the Grand American Restaurant, just south of that exhibition building.  Passing through a pavilion devoted to the sale of ice cream and other light refreshment, they entered the largest restaurant on the grounds.  It was built around three sides of a courtyard, and Adam asked to be seated where he and Joe would have a good view of the well-trimmed lawn with its fountains and flowers.

“Do you wish to order à la carte or table d’hôte?” the waiter seating them inquired.

Joe stared blankly at the man.

“Do you want to see the menu or eat from the buffet?” Adam interpreted for him.  “I believe I’ll try the buffet, but you may do as you please.”

“I’ll do that, too,” Joe said quickly, smiling at his brother after the waiter told them where the general table was located and left.  “Thanks.  I had no idea what he was saying.”

“Let’s see what that buffet has to offer, shall we?” Adam suggested, standing.

Joe got up, too, and followed his brother to a long table loaded with a variety of meats, vegetables and condiments.  They filled their plates with slices of carved roast beef and pork, stuffed bullock heart, fried fish and chicken, green beans and peas, carrots and potatoes, eggplant fritters and corn on the cob, along with pickled mushrooms and eggs and spiced peaches.  There were several types of pie and cake available for dessert, but neither boy found room on his plate for that on the first trip to the table.  Adam was pleased to see that his younger brother had put a little of almost everything on his plate and only hoped the boy would eat a decent portion of what he’d taken.

Adam had finished one plate and made a second trip to the buffet table for roast beef and vegetables, while Joe, whose eyes had been a bit bigger than his stomach, had only completed about three-fourths of his meal and was dawdling over the rest.  Suddenly, from behind Adam came the sound of furniture crashing and women shrieking.  Adam’s head jerked up, and the first thing he saw was his brother’s green eyes, flared wide in astonishment.  Adam swiveled in his chair to see what was causing the commotion, and he, too, gaped at the sight of a horse bolting through the main dining room, scattering tables, chairs and diners in all directions.

Before he could recover from the shock of seeing an animal loose in the restaurant, however, Adam caught a glimpse of a pair of gray broadcloth trousers streaking past him, and his heart leaped to his throat.  “Joe, no!” he yelled, springing from his chair and charging after his brother.

Normally, Joe could outrun him, but the boy’s recent illness must have slowed him down, for Adam managed to catch up just as Joe reached for the black horse’s trailing harness.  Adam snatched his brother away from the horse, shielding him with his own body as he propelled Joe back out of danger.  Hearing a wild neigh, he thrust the boy into a chair.  “Stay!” he dictated fiercely; then he turned and ran back toward the rearing horse.  “Easy, boy, easy,” he said, moving cautiously toward the head of the terrified animal.

“Watch yourself, sir!” warned the liveryman, grappling for the horse’s harness.  “Best leave this to the professional.”

Adam arched an eyebrow, thinking that he’d probably put in more hours handling horses than the self-proclaimed professional, although there was, of course, no way for the man to know that.  All the liveryman saw was a stylishly dressed eastern gentleman, well intentioned, but likely to get himself hurt.

Ignoring the needless admonition, Adam grasped the harness on the opposite side of the horse and helped the liveryman bring the excited animal under control.

“I’ve got him now, sir.  Please, sir!” the man pleaded.

Seeing that the man did, indeed, have a firm grip on the draft animal, Adam turned loose.   Straightening his frock coat, he headed back toward Joe.

When he saw his brother again out of his chair, standing far too close to the scene of the recent ruckus, Adam exploded.  Grasping the boy by both shoulders, he gave him a single, solid shake and then released him, remembering, even in his anger, that Joe wasn’t up to any rough handling.  “What were you thinking?” he demanded.

“That someone could get hurt!” Joe protested, seemingly oblivious to the reason for his brother’s agitation.

“Someone certainly could have gotten hurt—you!” Adam fumed.  “You’re in no condition to play the gallant knight, young man!”

“Well, someone had to,” Joe insisted hotly, “and I’m good with horses, Adam.”

Adam took several deep breaths, trying to calm himself down.  “Yes, someone had to,” he hissed, “preferably someone who wouldn’t rip open his recent surgical incision doing the job!”  He took two more slow, calming breaths.  “Are you all right?” he asked anxiously.

“I’m fine,” Joe muttered testily.

“Are you sure?  Are you in pain?” Adam inquired, noticing the hand resting on Joe’s right side.  “I can take you to the Medical Department if you’re the least bit shaken.  In fact, I probably should.”

Seeing his brother’s genuine concern, Joe’s scowl evaporated.  “I’m sure, Adam.  Don’t worry.”  He touched a hand to his brother’s shoulder.  “Look, I guess I did sort of act first and think later.  I—I wasn’t the best person for the job this time, no matter how good I am with horses, but it all happened so fast, I just didn’t think.”

Adam resisted the temptation to say, “You never do,” and simply nodded, realizing that Joe couldn’t have reacted differently, any more than he could have.  He had been only seconds from lunging for that horse himself when the sight of his younger brother flashing past him had driven out all other considerations.  “I understand, Joe,” he said after taking another deep breath.  “Just don’t give me another scare like that, all right?”

Joe smiled a bit wryly.  “I’ll try, Adam, but horses bounding into restaurants are a little hard to predict.”

Adam put his head back and guffawed, but in the pandemonium around them, no one noticed.  “That they are!”  He looked at the shambles the incident had made of the restaurant and shook his head.  “I think it’s definitely time to get back to the hotel.  If you didn’t get enough to eat, we can pick up something in one of the booths outside.”

“Well, maybe a piece of pie or a Centennial waffle,” Joe said.

Adam arched an eyebrow.  “Or both?”

Joe grinned at the reference to his pre-surgical appetite.  “Just the pie, I think.”

“Why don’t we get that back at the Transcontinental, then?” Adam suggested.  Wanting to get away from the chaos as quickly as possible, he led Joe out the south entrance, which opened onto the courtyard.  As they exited, however, he noticed the Adam’s Express wagon from which the horse had broken free, and the fear he’d felt minutes before came rushing back at him.  His legs buckled and he sank abruptly to the steps, dropping his head into his hands.

Concerned, Joe sat down beside him, touching a hand to his brother’s bowed head.  “Adam?”

Expression dazed, Adam looked up.  “And I thought this would be such a nice, relaxing place for dinner.”

Joe gave him a sheepish grin.  “Well, you always said I was a magnet for trouble.”

Adam just shook his head.

Concern growing when his brother didn’t rise to the bait, Joe leaned forward to look intently into Adam’s face.  “Hey, you okay?  Maybe I should take you to that Centennial Medical Department!”

That jest, at least, brought a faint smile to Adam’s lips.  “No, I’m okay; just got to me for a minute.  You really could have been hurt in there, kid.”

Joe gave Adam’s knee a quick squeeze.  “Not with you around.  I—I always feel safe when you’re around, Adam.”

Adam’s smile broadened.

“Guess I don’t give much thought to how hard it is on you, though, always having to be the responsible one,” Joe said.  “Hey!  Maybe we ought to rent one of those rolling chairs for you, and let me push you to the gate.”

Adam cocked his head, pursed his lips and stared his brother down.

“Uh, no, probably not a good idea,” Joe admitted with chagrin.

“No, not a good idea,” Adam stated dryly, adding with a smile, “but I do appreciate the thoughtfulness behind it.  Let’s just catch the train and ride back to the entrance, shall we?  I could definitely use an afternoon of relaxing in our suite.”

Joe let loose a mischievous cackle.  “So long as no horses come up the elevator!”

Adam gave an obligatory groan as he stood to his feet and took Joe’s arm to help him up.  They walked around the restaurant to the railcar station, boarded and rode back to the main entrance.  Crossing the street, they each had a piece of pie and a cup of coffee in the peaceful, uncrowded dining room of the hotel.  After they reached their suite, however, Adam insisted that Joe lie down for a while.  It was obvious to him that his younger brother was tired, and Adam feared that the morning had been too stimulating for the recuperating boy.  For that reason he decided to forego his original plan of taking Joe to the theater that night.  Thinking a quiet evening was best, he took his brother, instead, to nearby Doyle’s Restaurant for supper and then returned to the hotel to make an early night of it.

*****

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

Having heard his brother moving around in the other bedroom, Adam rapped on the door and popped his head in to say, “Dress nicely this morning, please.  I’d recommend the outfit you wore to Commencement.”

Reaching for a towel, Joe turned from his washbasin.  “Why?  Yesterday you didn’t care what I wore, and today it’s got to be practically the best I own?  Sometimes, Adam, you just don’t make sense.”

“I know I’m being inconsistent,” Adam admitted with a self-condescending laugh, “but I have my reasons.”

Joe tossed his brother a playful scowl.  “Any reason a fellow can’t know what they are?”

Adam shrugged.  “Just thought I’d surprise you, but I guess it doesn’t matter.  I thought we’d stop in at the Photographic Building and have our pictures taken.”

A vibrant smile replaced the half-hearted scowl.  “That’d be nice.  Can we each have a copy—and one to send home to Pa and Hoss, too?”

Wagging an admonishing finger, Adam nodded.  “We may, yes.”

Joe threw back an impish grin.  “I thought you weren’t going to start that mentoring ‘til we got home, but there you go, correcting my grammar again.”

Adam chuckled.  “Sorry.  Habit.  Now, get dressed, please.”

“Sure,” Joe said.  “May take a little more time, though, to spruce up nice enough for a picture.”

Adam rolled his eyes.  He didn’t doubt it for a minute.  Vain little peacock.  Knew I shouldn’t have told him.  “Try to leave time for breakfast,” he grunted and headed back to his bedroom to finish his own grooming.

*****

After placing his breakfast order, Little Joe folded his arms on the table and leaned toward his brother.  “You gonna tell me your other plans for the day now or is that a surprise, too?”

Adam chuckled.  “No, the photograph was my big surprise of the day.  After all the excitement yesterday, I thought we’d try to have a light, easy day today.”

Joe’s emerald eyes twinkled with mischief.  “Well, if that’s what you want, maybe we ought to plan an exciting one, instead.  Things sure worked by opposites yesterday!”

Adam winked in acknowledgement of the jest.  “Much as I admire the logic behind that suggestion, I’m too lazy to change my plans now, though I’m afraid you may not find them exciting enough to insure a calm, uneventful morning—only a couple of stops, starting with the Horticultural Building.  We’ll just absorb the beauty of the conservatory without trying to learn about all the exotic plants.”

Joe’s infectious giggle bubbled across the table.  “If you think you can resist showing off all your knowledge, professor, but this I’ve got to see!  What’s the second stop?”

“The New England Farmer’s House and Modern Kitchen,” Adam replied.  “It’s a nice exhibit, but it shouldn’t take long.”

Joe grinned.  “You’re taking me to see a kitchen, huh?  I think you’re mixing me up with Hoss again.”

“Well, if I am,” Adam observed drolly, “the first push of that rolling chair should disabuse me of the notion.”

Joe moaned at the reminder of the embarrassment to come.

Immediately after breakfast the Cartwright brothers walked across the street and made their way to the building of the Centennial Photographic Association.  Being among the first in line, they didn’t have to wait long for their turn in the studio.  As posed by the photographer, Adam stood behind Little Joe, who was seated; the hand resting lightly on his young brother’s shoulder, however, was Adam’s idea and added an affectionate attitude to the portrait.

Being told that the finished photos could be picked up the next day, Adam and Joe began a short tour of the pictures within the photographic hall.  Adam, of course, had already seen them, so when he noticed that Joe, not in a chair yet, appeared to be growing tired, he suggested that they move on to Horticultural Hall.  “If you want to see more here, we can do that tomorrow when we pick up our portraits,” he advised.

Joe protested when Adam led him toward the waiting platform for the West End Railroad.  “Aw, come on, Adam.  We don’t save that many steps going by train.”

“We save enough,” Adam insisted.  “You’re already tired, Joe, and don’t try to tell me otherwise.”

Joe slumped, mostly in self-disgust at how easily he grew fatigued, and got on the train, as ordered.  Instead of staying on until the train reached the stop on Belmont Avenue closest to Horticultural Hall, however, Adam had them debark in front of Agricultural Hall.  “If you’re trying to confuse me completely, you’re succeeding, big brother,” Joe grumbled.  “We don’t save anysteps getting off here.”

Adam sported a playful smirk.  “Yes, we do—by transferring to the monorail.”

Joe grinned, then, for he realized that the unusual arrangements were not intended solely to spare his poor, feeble limbs.  The engineer in Adam naturally wanted to experience the new mode of transportation being tested here at the Centennial.  The Prismoidal Railway for Rapid Transit covered a distance of only five hundred feet, but it provided the easiest, as well as the most scenic, way to span Belmont Ravine, which lay between the Agricultural Building and the botanical conservatory.

Paying three cents for each of them, Adam took his brother’s elbow as they boarded the prism-shaped car.  “Let’s get a seat in the lower tier, if we can.”

Joe shrugged.  “Sure, whatever.”  The car held sixty passengers, and since Adam and Joe had a place in line no more than a third of the way from the front, the older brother got his wish.  “So, why is this better than going upstairs?” Joe asked.  Before Adam could answer, he sighed.  “I guess I just answered my own question, didn’t I?  Stairs.”

Adam laughed as he threw an arm around his brother.  “I hadn’t thought of that, actually, but you’re right; you don’t need to be climbing stairs.  My real reason was so we could face outward and have a better view of the ravine.  The seats upstairs face in.”

Joe gave him an uneasy grin.  “Oh.  Not sure but what I wouldn’t have preferred that, Adam.”

Adam’s arm tightened around his brother.  “Hey, now, I thought you always felt safe when I was around?”

“And when we’re on the ground,” Joe amended, though the reference to the incident in the restaurant the day before brought a more relaxed smile to his lips.

“I understand one of these monorails is under construction right now back in California,” Adam told Joe, mostly to distract him from his nervous reaction to heights.

“Yeah?”

“From Norfolk to Sonoma, a distance of about three and a half miles,” Adam said.

“Who says westerners lag behind the times, eh, brother?” Joe laughed.

Adam chuckled as the car pulled to a stop and people stood to exit.  “Nope, nothing backward about our neck of the woods, little buddy.  Wish I’d thought to rub Bert’s nose in that little fact!”  He scowled at the remembrance of several deprecating remarks about the West his former architectural colleague had made.

“Well, we could always ask them to the opera and let you do just that,” Joe suggested, giggling when Adam rolled his eyes.  He could read his older brother’s mind, and he knew that this time Adam had hit the nail right on the head.  Another evening with Bert’s lovely niece Penelope was exactly what he’d had in mind, though Joe figured he had about as much chance of that as he had of staying out of that miserable rolling chair.

Leaving the monorail, the two brothers stood for a few minutes, enjoying the view from the top of the bluff on which Horticultural Hall stood.  Below them, the Schuylkill River meandered, and they could trace its course for many miles through the verdant countryside.  To the south stretched a scenic panorama of Philadelphia.  As the Cartwrights walked toward the west entrance of the conservatory, they looked down the quarter-mile-long parterre along Fountain Avenue, whose flowerbeds were as vivid and variegated as a living stained-glass window.  The hyacinths and crocuses were beginning to fade under the hot summer sun, but tri-colored cannas, geraniums, verbenas, dahlias and roses made a vibrant floral display.

“In my opinion, this is Schwarzmann’s finest design,” Adam commented as they turned to enter the building.

“It’s different,” Joe agreed.  “What kind of architecture is it, Adam?”

Adam chuckled.  “I’m afraid I’ll be accused of getting too educational if I answer that!”  With a light clap to his brother’s back, he added, “It’s Moresque, similar to the Spanish Alhambra, Joe.”

“Oh, yeah—kind of like that Tiffany’s pavilion in the Main Building,” Joe recalled.

“That’s right,” Adam said, pleased to see his brother making the connection between similar structures.

The pleasant conversation took the sting out of that moment when Joe had to consign himself to the indignity of the rolling chair, and soon the Cartwright brothers were passing under the horseshoe arch, set between sweeping staircases, into the conservatory under a glass roof.  Adam kept his promise, and unless Joe specifically asked, he offered no information about the tropical plants and trees through which they went.  The orange and lemon trees, of course, seemed less exotic to boys from the West than to many eastern visitors to Horticultural Hall, for they’d seen them in California.  However, Adam and Joe did view many plants they’d never seen before, plants that ordinarily grew in far distant parts of the world: camphor and banana trees, eucalyptus and mahogany, feathery ferns and sago palms with their wide-spreading fronds.  The largest of these was ten feet high, which Adam remarked was close to the maximum height for this species, according to the catalog he consulted repeatedly as they toured the conservatory.

Joe cackled.  “I knew you couldn’t keep it up for long, professor.”

“Huh?”  Adam looked up from the catalog, giving a sheepish grin when he realized what he’d been doing.  “Oh, yeah.  Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Joe said with a condescending smile and a patronizing pat to his brother’s hand.  “I know you can’t help yourself, older brother, so tell me what else that marvelous book has to say about this—what was it again?”

“Sago palm,” Adam said, “and this one is kind of special, Joe; it belonged to Robert Morris.”

Joe’s forehead wrinkled in thought.  Obviously, he was supposed to recognize that name, but he finally had to give up.  “Who’s he?”

“Financier for the Revolution,” Adam said, “and this tree is supposed to date back twenty-five to thirty years before that!”

Joe whistled.  He’d seen forest monarchs of the Sierra Nevada that were said to be even older, but for a tropical plant to have survived over a hundred years out of its native country seemed incredible.

The two brothers paused to relax before a sculptured fountain in the center of the conservatory.  “Why, look!  It’s the Cartwright brothers,” Joe tittered, indicating the three unclad boys featured in the sculpture, “and you said easterners didn’t skinny dip!”

Adam chuckled.  “The Cartwright brothers, huh?  Which is which?”

“Easy,” Joe said, pointing to each marble boy in turn.  “That one standing off by himself, blowing a shell, is you, that one on the opposite side is Hoss, and I’d be the one cozying up right behind him.”

Adam nodded easy acceptance.  “Well, it all fits, buddy, except that last little fellow looks scared to go into the water, and you never were.”

Joe grinned broadly.  “No, that was Hoss.”

“Oh, yeah,” Adam drawled out slowly, “and I can remember how mortified Pa was to have sired such a landlubber for a son!”

“Aw, Hoss was never that bad,” Joe said in his beloved brother’s defense.

“Oh, yes, he was,” Adam insisted.  “You were just too young to remember how hard it was to get that other brother of mine out past knee-deep.  In fact, I think he’d still be wading in the shallows if it weren’t for you.”

“Me?”

Adam perched on the broad brim of the fern-rimmed fountain.  “Yeah, you.  You took to water like a fish when you were just a tiny thing, and Pa was so proud that it made Hoss jealous, and then he insisted that Pa teach him how to swim, when he’d been fighting it tooth and nail before.  He’s still not a good swimmer, but at least he lost that paralyzing fear he had before his baby brother showed him up.”

“I love it when you tell me stories about those days,” Joe murmured as he watched the water from the fountain’s single jet splash into the circular pool surrounding the three boys of stone.

“‘Those days?’”

“The ones I don’t remember—especially the ones before my time,” Joe explained.

“I knew what you meant, buddy.  I’ll try to share more of those stories with you from time to time.”

“So, what else has this place got to offer?” Joe asked hurriedly, as if fearful of showing too much emotion in public.  “More plants, I bet.”

“More and still more,” Adam admitted with a chuckle as he wheeled Joe’s chair toward the eastern gallery.  There they found a collection of tree ferns from around the world, as well as a superb show of rhododendrons from a greenhouse in Surrey, England.  Pale, cream-colored azaleas from Belgium formed a background for Japanese crimson maples, while blotched green pitcher plants from the South Seas served as contrast for the scarlet flowers of the flamingo plant—aisle after aisle of bright-colored jewels in settings of emerald.

Just before leaving, the boys listened to the music of the Electromagnetic Orchestra, invented by two men from Philadelphia.  Adam was fascinated with the mechanism, whose perforated sheets of music were drawn under a row of electrically charged feelers, which could distinguish the notes and, with the aid of ordinary bellows, produce the sound of a twelve-piece band, plus drum.  “I’d rather hear you play the guitar,” Joe declared emphatically.

“Why, thank you, little brother,” Adam said, rubbing the back of the boy’s neck.  “For that kind word, I shall release you from that chair and let you walk to the New England Farmer’s House.”

“Oh, thanks all to pieces,” Joe snorted.  He knew the distance between the two buildings represented little more than a walk through the gardens at the Transcontinental Hotel.

“Oh, dear, dear,” Adam intoned theatrically.  “Grumpiness being a sign of fatigue, perhaps I should reconsider.”

Joe waved his hand wildly from side to side.  “Oh, no, no, no.  I’m feeling cheerful, honest I am.”

“Good.”  Adam laughed and spun the chair toward the north exit, where he returned it to the attendant at the door.

Outside, the brothers moved down a short walkway toward a curving path that led to their destination.  Just before turning onto it, Adam stopped to buy each of them a soda water, which they quaffed thirstily, even though the temperature was, once again, low by comparison with previous days.

There were no chairs for rental at the twin exhibits of the New England Farmer’s House and Modern Kitchen, but the buildings were so small that Adam didn’t worry about Joe’s becoming overtired.  They first toured the single-story log cabin designed to represent a farmhouse of one hundred years before, its three rooms furnished with heirlooms of that time.  The parlor, bedroom and kitchen displayed such treasures as John Alden’s desk, an old-fashioned sideboard filled with the figured china of the period, and the cradle used by Peregrine White, a child born on the Mayflower.  Joe gazed for a long time at a spinning wheel from Plymouth, although Adam was quite certain that his brother’s real interest was in the pretty girl, costumed as Priscilla, who demonstrated the tool.

As other ladies costumed in Colonial linsey-woolsey explained the difference between how household tasks were performed in 1776 and in 1876, the Cartwright brothers had to fight down a temptation to laugh.  Where they came from, many settlers lived almost as simply as those of a century earlier, and much that they saw that afternoon seemed totally familiar.  A frame building attached to the log house demonstrated the latest improvements for the home.

Coming out, Adam noticed the sun directly overhead and nodded in satisfaction that they had concluded their tour precisely at dinnertime, just as he’d planned.  “Would you prefer the Southern Restaurant or the Grand American?” he asked Joe.  “Both are about equally convenient.”

Joe laughed.  “Not that I’m scared of another horse plowing through, but I’d kind of like to go back to the Southern.  I was feeling too rotten to enjoy that at all the first time we went.”

“Sure, kid, the Southern it is.”  Adam started west down State Avenue.  “I bet you won’t be sparing me the price of dessert today,” he teased, secretly pleased that his brother’s appetite had seen such an improvement the last day or two.

“Nope,” Joe joked back.  “I want fried chicken and all the fixings and hominy and green beans and peach pie, to boot.”

“Are you sure you aren’t confusing you with Hoss?” Adam laughed, recalling the banter at breakfast.

Joe let loose an infectious cackle that made strangers turn to smile in his direction.  It wasn’t that the joke was that funny, but Joe was suddenly aware of how he had reacted to similar teasing earlier in the trip, and he was laughing in sheer joy that the barrier of misunderstanding between him and Adam had broken down at last.  It was almost worth going through that awful surgery, he thought.  No, doggone it; it was worth it!

*****

Adam jumped off the West End Railroad Thursday morning and reached back to offer his hand to Little Joe, as he customarily did when they debarked from the train.  “Let’s go in the north entrance,” he suggested, indicating the cross-shaped building directly in front of them.

“Suits me,” Joe said.  The north entrance was, after all, the closest.

As always before entering a new building, they paused outside a few minutes to let Adam absorb the structural style.  While not as architecturally interesting as some of the other edifices at the Exposition, the United States Government Building, while utilitarian, featured some ornamentation that added to its grace.  The main portion of the cross was two stories high, with a single-story cross arm.  From the point at which the two met rose an octagonal dome with windows on all sides, and similar domes topped each of the offices set in the four angles of the cross.  The plain brown exterior was accented with lines of red and figures of yellow.

Shaking himself from his scrutiny of the structure, Adam pointed to a smaller building just north of them.  “That’s the Post Hospital,” he told Joe, “chock full of papier-mâché figures illustrating the treatment of all types of wounds, if you’d care to see it.”

“You gotta be kidding,” Joe said with an elaborate groan.

Adam tweaked the brim of his brother’s straw hat.  “I was.  Frankly, I’ve seen enough real amputations in progress that I don’t care to see pictures or models of wounds being treated.   There is, however, a nice painting of the Gross Clinic inside, which I’ve been told is a fine work of art.  You might enjoy seeing that.”

Joe shuddered.  “No, not really.  I don’t think my taste in art runs to paintings of doctors at work, but if you want to see it, go ahead.  I can sit here by myself for a while.”

Adam shook his head.  “No, I think I’ve had my fill of doctors, too; let’s just see the other government exhibits.  There’s a lot to see, Joe, but we’ll just skim the cream today, and if you want to see more later, you may.”

“You pick, Adam,” Joe urged.  “You’ve got a better grasp of what’s in there.”

“All right,” Adam agreed.  “Let’s start with what’s outside first, shall we?  I think this will have personal significance for you.”  He pointed to a display of boats and wagons strewn across the lawn.  “These pontoons are the type we used to cross the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg,” he explained; then a cloud settled over his countenance.  “Raised at quite a cost in human lives, since enemy sharpshooters in the town had a clear aim at the soldiers while they built the bridge—a wasted sacrifice.”

Joe placed a comforting hand on his brother’s back.  “Because you didn’t win the battle?”

Eyes on some distant horizon, Adam shook his head sadly.  “Because we didn’t have a chance to begin with.  Dead of winter with the enemy holding the high ground—stupid, unnecessary waste, the kind that convinced me that nine months was enough of my life to squander following such orders.”

Noticing Adam’s dark mood, Joe deliberately made his voice bright.  “Maybe we should go inside, huh, see some things the government does right?”

Smiling, Adam cupped his hand behind his brother’s neck.  “Yeah, let’s do that, buddy; there’s too much right about this country to focus on mistakes of the past.”

They walked inside, where Adam immediately rented a rolling chair.

Joe reluctantly climbed aboard.  “When you figure you’ll think I’m strong enough to get around on my own two legs, huh, Adam?”

Adam chucked his brother under the chin.  “About the time we step off the train at Mill Station.”

“Aw, Adam,” Joe whined.

Adam stopped the chair and moved in front of it to face his brother.  “I mean it, Joe,” he said seriously, bracing his arms on the arms of the chair.  “You’re coming along nicely, but you do still tire easily, and the only way you’ll see this exhibition is sitting down.  I hope we don’t have to discuss this every day.”

Suddenly realizing that his grumbling put extra pressure on Adam, Joe reached toward him with a reassuring hand.  “No, no more discussion, big brother.  I’ll be good—if you buy me a Centennial waffle before we leave today.”

The light-hearted reminder of the bribery of Joe’s youthful days brought the smile back to Adam’s lips.  “If you want one.  I doubt you’ll be hungry after seeing the menu at the place I’ve selected for dinner today.”

Joe’s eyes lit up.  “Yeah?  Where?”

“Wait and see,” Adam said with a maddening grin as he positioned himself behind the rolling chair.

“Aw, Adam, come on; give me a hint,” Joe wheedled, twisting around.

“Nope.  Wait and see.”

The interior of the Government Building was as plain as the exterior.  Beneath a roof of dark blue, the wood-hued walls were relieved only by narrow red bands and divided by diamond-shaped spaces, inside of each the emblem of the department of the government it represented.  Eight departments were exhibiting in the building: the Agricultural Bureau, Interior Department, Smithsonian Institute, Army, Navy, Treasury, Post Office and Fisheries.  Adam suggested that they begin with the military exhibits.  “I think you might find this interesting, Joe,” he said, stopping in front of an exhibit by the Signal Service.  “It represents the way messages were communicated during the war in places we couldn’t reach by telegraph.  General Albert J. Myer—we called him Old Probabilities—created the system of flag movements to represent each letter of the alphabet, etc.”

“Old Probabilities, huh.  Why’d you call him that?” Joe asked.  “Didn’t his signals get the message through right?”

“What?  Oh, no, the signals worked just fine,” Adam explained.  “The nickname comes from his other duty, that of predicting the weather.  He’d take the readings three times a day and wire Washington the results, which would be published in the newspapers as ‘probabilities.’  Not predictions, mind you, just ‘probabilities’—trying to hedge his bets in case he was wrong, I suppose.”

Joe laughed.  “Nobody can predict the weather.  I mean, sure, I can tell a storm sky when I see one, but—”

“General Myer provided a lot more information than that,” Adam insisted.  “Let me show you.”  He pointed out the barometer, thermometer, rain gauge and anemometer to Joe and explained the data each instrument was designed to provide.  Then he picked up a chart of predictions for the day to illustrate how the information was used.

Seeming fascinated by his first science lesson from his new mentor, Joe nodded through the brief lecture.  “Thanks, Adam,” he said when his brother concluded.  “It makes a lot more sense when you explain it.”

Adam gave his brother’s shoulder a warm squeeze.  “You’re welcome.  We’ll stop by the telegraph station later and see what the ‘probabilities’ are back home.  They post them for all the major cities.”

“Yeah, I’d be curious to know what’s going on back there.”

The wistful note in Joe’s voice told Adam that he was hearing an expression of homesickness.  Silently, he ran his hand back and forth between Joe’s shoulder blades, offering the only comfort he could.  At this point it was simply too soon to consider taking Joe home.  He didn’t dare mention the word ‘doctor’ to his brother, but if—perish the thought—anything were to go wrong, Joe needed to be close to medical attention, not on a train at the summit of the Rocky Mountains.  Hopefully, by the time they had seen the entire Exposition, the boy would be thoroughly healed and strong enough for the long journey back to Nevada.

“Ah, here we are at the quartermaster’s department,” Adam said, forcing brightness into his tone, “a most important force in a soldier’s life, I can tell you!”

“Uniforms?” Joe asked with a quizzical smile.

Adam tugged on one of the loops of his brother’s brown string tie.  “You try wearing the same clothes for months on end, little buddy, and see if you don’t think the man who gives you a new set is important.”  He moved toward the display of military uniforms, each clothing the plaster cast of a soldier from the Revolutionary War through those serving in the current year.  “This is the standard issue that I wore,” he said, pointing to a figure wearing a sack coat of dark blue flannel with woolen trousers of lighter blue.

Joe snickered.  “Shucks, I knew that; I’ve seen the one you sent home after you mustered out.”

Feigning shock, Adam grabbed the younger boy by the collar.  “You little wretch, you’ve been pawing through my things!”

With a taut pout Joe folded his arms across his chest.  “Well, you sure never offered to show ‘em to me, did you?”

Hearing the tinge of bitterness in his brother’s voice, Adam suddenly remembered the hurt Joe had previously expressed about things kept from him.  “Yeah, I’m sorry,” he said softly.  “I never meant to shut you out.”

Joe’s arms dropped to his lap, and he smiled up at his brother.  “I know that now, Adam.  It’s okay.”

Adam squatted down in front of the chair.  “If you ever do feel that way again, though, I hope you’ll tell me,” he said earnestly.  “You held that in a long time, little buddy, and that’s not good for you.”

Joe shook his head reproachfully.  “You hold things in worse than I ever did, Adam.”

“I guess we’ve both got some room for improvement in that department, buddy,” Adam said, standing up quickly and beginning to point out various types of equipment he had been issued during the war.  To Joe, the abrupt change of subject was only proof of the point he had tried to make.  Adam had opened up some, but he still had a long way to go.  Then he chided himself for the judgmental thought.  I accuse him of trying to turn me into him, and here I am, trying to make him, me.  Yeah, we’ve both got room for improvement.

The chair slowed as Adam wheeled it past the exhibit of the Engineering Corps, but he didn’t actually stop.  Seeing the craving in his brother’s eyes, Joe put up a hand.  “Wait, Adam, I’d like to see this.”  He leaned forward, straining to demonstrate great interest in the maps and drawings to illustrate improvements on coasts, rivers, lakes and harbors in the last one hundred years.  Adam, of course, saw through the pretense immediately, but he merely smiled, appreciative of his younger brother’s thoughtfulness.  He kept his perusal brief, though, quickly moving on to the Ordnance Department, which he knew would be of greater interest to his younger brother.

The large guns were displayed outside, on the lawn between the angles of the arms of the cross, but Joe and Adam had seen most of them, at least from a distance, while visiting other sites on the Exposition grounds.  Inside, though, was an exhibit both Cartwrights found fascinating, a step-by-step portrayal of how rifles were put together at the Government Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts.  From there, they moved on to a gun collection, featuring everything from fourteenth century matchlocks to modern breech-loading rifles.

Joe’s eyes gleamed as they ran over the intriguing specimens, resting particularly on the antique weapons.  “Wouldn’t Pa love to have some of these in his collection?”

“Not for sale, unfortunately,” Adam pointed out, “but you’re right.  Pa’s always had an appreciation for fine firearms, and he would find the antique ones especially appealing.”

The two brothers breezed through the Treasury department, where nothing seemed to interest Little Joe except the collection of all coins minted in Philadelphia, and entered the Agricultural department.  Sensing Joe’s boredom here, too, Adam whisked the chair past charts and diagrams of the distribution of agricultural products and farm animals in the country.  He stopped, however, to let his brother examine in more detail the glass-encased exhibit of the production of vegetable products, from raw crop through each stage of manufacture: flour, meal and starch from cereal grains; sugar from cane, beet root, maple and sorghum; the fermentation process for wine or whiskey and the preservation of fruits and vegetables in glass jars, tin cans and by other means.

At first Joe listened with interest to his brother’s explanations, but when the onslaught of information became too much, he quipped light-heartedly about how much more mesmerized Hoss would be with this exhibit.  “Bet you couldn’t tear him away!”

“Sure I could,” Adam teased back.  “All I’d have to do is point his nose toward any restaurant within three miles.”

Joe laughed and agreed.  “Hey, let’s look at those tree samples,” he suggested.

Adam nodded and wheeled Joe over to the display of sections of logs from every variety of tree in America: conifers of Maine and the Northwest, subtropical trees of the Gulf Coast, canyon live oak from the Southwest and the evergreens of their own Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Not just local prejudice caused them to feel that the specimens from their own backyard were the most remarkable; the crowds surrounding the multi-ringed slices of sugar pine, white pine and red silver fir, the youngest almost four hundred years old, bore out that opinion.

The boys hurried through the exhibits of the Microscopical and Entomological divisions, stopping only to see the case of stuffed birds and the collection of insects, showing varieties both beneficial and harmful to farmers, as well as the case of stuffed poultry.

“Good thing Hoss isn’t here; he’d be getting hungry about now!” Joe declared, looking intently at the latter.

That being the second time Joe had alluded to their middle brother’s famous appetite, Adam suspected that he was hearing a none-too-subtle hint.  “And you’re not?” he asked.

Feeling caught, Joe grinned.  “Well, getting that way, for sure.”

“You want to eat now?” Adam inquired.  “We can come back later if—”

“Naw, let’s finish it up first.  That’s the way you planned it, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but it’s up to you,” Adam insisted.

Joe laid his right hand on the one resting on his left shoulder.  “I like your plans, Adam, honest I do.  We don’t miss a thing this way.”

Adam basked in the praise he so rarely heard from his younger brother, and he couldn’t help noticing how much better he and Joe were getting along, now that each was thinking more of the other’s pleasure than his own.  He smiled as he rolled the chair toward the Interior Department’s exhibits.  Why should he be surprised?  “Do unto others” was a simple truth from the Good Book that he had learned as a child.  There was no reason—really, had never been a reason—to make each other an exception to the Golden Rule.

That consideration became even more evident as the brothers viewed the exhibit by the Patent Office.  Joe patiently allowed Adam to examine the models of patented devices, and Adam suppressed his inner desire to look at all five thousand of them.  It would, after all, have taken a full day to thoroughly view what amounted to a miniature Machinery Hall.  Neither had to exhibit patience, however, as they gazed with awe at the collected relics of George Washington, displayed by the NationalMuseum.  Against the backdrop of a huge tattered flag could be seen the great man’s uniform and articles of his camp equipment, including his mess chest, cooking utensils, rifle and case of pistols.

Adam pushed the rolling chair through the exhibit of the Indian Office, giving scant attention to the map of reservations.  Seeing the papier-mâché figures of Native Americans, however, he could barely contain his rage.  “They make them look like savages!” he fumed, gesturing toward the faces streaked with red paint and the belts of dangling scalps.  “If the government really wants to promote peace with the native peoples, it shouldn’t portray them geared out for war!”

Joe swiveled in his chair to look up at his brother.  “Yeah, I know, but face it, brother.  This is the way folks want to see Indians, especially after what happened to Custer.”

“Yes, and that will only make it harder to forge a lasting peace,” Adam insisted.

Not liking to see his brother so upset, Joe glanced around frantically for something to draw Adam’s attention from the ghastly representations.  “Hey, Adam, look at these,” he cried, enthusiastically pointing to the models of primitive cliff dwellings at Rio de Chelly in Arizona.  “Pretty fancy architecture for so-called savages, huh?”

Adam, of course, realized at once what his young brother was trying to do, and he couldn’t resist chuckling at the obvious attempt to lighten his mood.  Bending over to examine the models intently, though, he observed, “Amazing, isn’t it, that they built these into the sides of mountains, with primitive tools?”

“Maybe we could go see the real ones sometime,” Joe hinted.

“Maybe,” Adam agreed with a smile.  “It would be something to see, and Arizona Territory isn’t all that far.”

“Sure—and it’s bound to be more interesting than another one of Pa’s ‘cultural visits’ to the Paiutes.”

“Oh, that’s for sure!” Adam chortled, and Joe’s face beamed with undisguised triumph at the sound.

Immediately after that they passed the Education Office, and Adam teased that perhaps Joe would like to pick up one of the college catalogs available.

Joe shook a playful fist in his brother’s face.  “You want to see someone act like a savage, big brother, you just keep it up.”

Adam affectionately cuffed the boy’s neck.  “Just teasing; no need to get out your war paint, little brother.”

The Smithsonian Institute had also put together a collection of stuffed animals.  Little Joe, in particular, viewed these with delight, for there were several animals he’d never seen, such as the caribou, polar bear and musk ox from the Arctic.  While he had seen a grizzly bear before, the specimen on display was enormous, as was the elk, which stood nearly six feet tall.  The bison, too, was an animal Joe had only seen in pictures and at the zoo, but Adam mentioned seeing them in great numbers when he first traveled west with Pa and Inger.  “Herds that stretched from horizon to horizon,” he said, adding sadly that they had practically been hunted to extinction now.

Though Adam would scarcely have thought it possible, his younger brother soared to still greater heights of rapture as he gazed at the long display of food fish of the United States.  “Never knew there were so many types,” Joe enthused.  “Get me a pole!”

Adam swiftly swiveled the chair in a new direction.  “Your wish is my command, Sir Angler,” he chuckled as he aimed toward the exhibit of fishing poles, hooks and harpoons, everything needed to catch any denizen of the water, from smallest trout to hugest whale.  Every type of boat used for fishing was also on display: canoes, kayaks, dinghies and boats used by the commercial fisheries on the Great Lakes.

In one case a fully rigged model of a whaler sat on a green surface representing the ocean.  Other models detailed each step of the process of bringing in a whale.  “I’m gonna give Moby Dick another read when I get home.  I can picture it better now,” Joe announced, and Adam made a note to pick up a copy of that book for his brother to have on the train.  After all, there would be lots of hours to while away before they reached Reno.

As both boys were getting hungry, they made a quick perusal of the Indian artifacts and collection of mineral resources and virtually skipped the Navy Department’s exhibits.  In fact, Little Joe insisted on skipping the long south wall devoted to a display of photographs of naval hospitals.  “You’re just plain determined to stick pictures of hospitals in front of my face, aren’t you?” he sneered.

Though he was fairly certain his brother wasn’t really accusing him, Adam forced himself to chuckle, as if the question were a joke.  “I plead innocent to that charge, sir; I wouldn’t dream of reminding you of that unpleasantness.”  And Joe smiled up at him softly, again wrapped in the warm cocoon of his brother’s protection.

The Post Office Department was their final stop before dinner.  Actually, Adam had intended to wheel right past it, but Joe stopped him, insisting that he wanted to observe how envelopes were made.  Adam grinned, understanding perfectly well his little brother’s sudden interest in this process when he saw the pretty girls in charge of the machinery.  All the young ladies actually did was paste little strips of paper around every set of twenty-five envelopes the machine produced, and this simple duty left them plenty of time to blush and titter at the attentions of male visitors.  Little Joe seemed quite willing to provide that attention indefinitely, but after watching for what he considered a more than reasonable time, Adam mentioned his hunger.

Buying several of the stamped envelopes as souvenirs for friends, Joe reluctantly tore himself away.  Although Adam would not normally have thought of giving his friends such a simple remembrance of the Centennial, the idea struck him as a good one, and he, too, bought several stamped envelopes.  Not as many as his younger brother, of course.  Joe had always made friends more easily than he, but Adam wouldn’t have traded superficial quantity for the deep relationships he had with the few he let within his inner circle.

Turning the rolling chair in at the door, Adam and Joe stepped out into the bright sunshine.  “There’s our destination,” Adam said, pointing across Fountain Avenue to the building surrounded by tables under striped awnings.

Joe gasped.  “Oh, Adam, no.  You don’t have to do that.”

“But I thought you wanted to eat here,” Adam said, herding his brother across the street to Aux Trois Fréres Provençeaux.

“Yeah, I did,” Joe admitted, a blush of crimson crawling up his neck, “but that’s when I was trying to run up the bill to get back at you for wanting Hoss, instead of me.”

Adam paused momentarily.  “Oh, I see.  I knew you were doing that; I just didn’t understand why.”

“Well, I’m not feeling that way now,” Joe rushed to explain, “so you don’t have to take me to the most expensive restaurant in the place, just to make up for—”

“I’m not.  I’m taking you there because I want to, because I’m learning that my little brother’s pleasure means more to me than saving a few dollars.”

Joe shook his head.  “No, it’s because you’re feeling guilty about making me do things your way and—”

Adam clapped a hand on his brother’s shoulder to silence him.  “Maybe in part, but I’m learning your way of doing things isn’t so bad, either, little brother, and I’d like to give this place a try.  Hang the expense; we’ll charge it to Pa!”

A bright grin split Joe’s face.  “Like the birthday dinner?  Now you’re really thinking like me, brother!  Not sure how the new you will set with Pa, though.  He sort of thinks one son like me is more than enough.”

Adam laughed.  “I have a feeling he thinks one like you is exactly the right number, but since he’s not likely to deny his puny baby boy anything right now, you don’t mind if I enjoy a few of the dividends, too, do you?”

“Not a bit,” Joe replied with a naughty wink.  “Let’s see if this place really is the best this side of Paris, like they say.”

“We can dine al fresco if you prefer,” Adam offered.  “It would be cooler, but I understand there are some fine tapestries inside.”

Joe looked at the dirt floor of the area under the awnings.  “I’d like to go inside,” he said.  “It’s not really hot today, and if we’re gonna eat at the most expensive place on the grounds, we might as well get the full treatment.”

With a chuckle Adam nodded and led the way to the door.  Entering, he requested a table on the southern side of the building.

At first puzzled by the request, Joe smiled when they were seated by a window overlooking the lake, for the view was a beautiful one.  The waiter handed each of them a menu, and Joe fought down the urge to whistle at the prices.  “Boy, you weren’t kidding about how expensive this place is,” he whispered as the waiter walked away.  “Almost five dollars for a plate of beef!”

“And a dollar sixty for a serving of asparagus,” Adam added with a grin.  “Pa’s paying, remember?  Order what you want.”

“Oh, I intend to,” Joe laughed, “starting with escargot.”

“And oysters on the half shell,” Adam suggested.

“Definitely!” Joe declared.  “And what are oysters and escargot and—um—chateaubriand without that dollar-sixty asparagus to complement the meal, eh, brother?”

Both brothers went a bit overboard in their consumption that noonday.  While waiting for the food to arrive, they examined the bright-colored, finely detailed tapestries of hunting scenes, which truly merited a place of honor in Memorial Hall.  Then toasting each other with a glass of red wine, they dug in, eating so heartily that neither had room for dessert.

Adam leaned back, satisfaction suffusing his face.  “I have to admit that was one fine meal.”

Joe nodded quietly.  “But not that much better than the other French restaurant, to be real honest.  Thanks for doing this for me, though, Adam.  It meant more than I let on.”

“I know, and I was glad to do it,” Adam replied.  “How are you feeling?  Tired?”

“Some,” Joe admitted. “A big meal always makes me sleepy, but I could go a little longer, if that’s what you mean.”

“Just thought we might take a quick look in the Women’s Pavilion,” Adam suggested.  “Not really supposed to be much different from what’s on view elsewhere, but it’s small and it’s close.”

Joe grinned lecherously,  “Older brother, you ought to know by now that if there’s one thing I never get tired of looking at, it’s pretty girls.”

“Who says they’ll be pretty?” Adam teased as he motioned for the bill.

Joe cocked his head.  “Law of averages, brother.  You need me to educate you on that subject?”

“No, not on that or any other subject, baby brother,” Adam observed airily.  “I’m your mentor, remember, not the other way around.”

Joe let loose a most inelegant cackle.  “I don’t need a mentor when it comes to women, older brother.  I wrote the book!”

Groaning, Adam got to his feet and shoved his brother toward the exit.  A short walk north brought them to the light blue-gray Women’s Pavilion, and they entered through a doorway with panels inscribed with the words of Proverbs 31:  “Her works do praise her in the gates.”  The interior was decorated in light blue tones, and a chandelier hung from the center of the roof.  Jets of water sprayed from a fountain below toward the crystal fixture and cascaded down in a graceful arc into a basin surrounded by rockwork and ferns.

The first thing that caught the eye of the Cartwright brothers was the face of Dreaming Iolanthe, a vision of loveliness sculpted in fourteen pounds of butter, displayed in an ice-cooled tin frame.  “Kind of a shame not to do it in something that won’t melt,” Joe observed with just a trace of impish grin.   “She’s really pretty.”

Most of the inventions displayed in the Women’s Pavilion were designed to lessen household labor and, thus, were of little interest to the young men, except in terms of something that might help Hop Sing.  “Maybe this lockable barrel cover—to keep Hoss out of the sugar,” Adam chuckled.

“Naw, wouldn’t work; the lock ain’t been built that can keep Hoss from food,” Joe snickered.  “How about this?”  He pointed out an iron, heated by gas.  “It would save heating the irons on the stove time after time.”

Adam shook his head.  “Joe, Joe, where would we get gas out where we live?”

“Oh, yeah.”  With a sheepish grin, Joe shrugged.  “Dumb idea.”

With one arm Adam pulled his brother to his side.  “Not dumb, just slightly ahead of the times.  Not a bad trait, Joe, looking ahead to the future.  You just need to temper it with some practicality.”

“Not my strong suit,” Joe tossed back with a grin.

“Oh, you can say that again!”

The two brothers walked down rows of exhibits, seeing little new or different from what they’d seen elsewhere in the Exposition.  The only added attraction was that the exhibitors here were all women, and Joe’s “law of averages” was proving correct.  The ladies made a pleasant change from the scruffy-bearded men dominating the rest of the grounds.

Adam picked up a copy of the eight-page journal, The New Century for Women, edited and printed here exclusively by women, and then he expressed interest in seeing the engine room, “if you’re not too tired.”

Joe assured his brother that he was okay, and he couldn’t help grinning when he saw what he believed to be the real attraction in the engine house—a female engineer.  It was abundantly obvious that Adam was attracted to the neatly attired Miss Emma Allison.  In fact, he was soon in complete rapture as he discussed engineering principles with the intelligent woman so well versed in one of his favorite fields.

Joe, on the other hand, was bored stiff by the technical talk, but wanting Adam to have his chance with the girl, he struggled valiantly not to show it.  And Adam, who had for weeks been so solicitous for his brother’s slightest sign of fatigue seemed to lose all remembrance of his little brother until another visitor called Miss Allison away.  Suddenly chagrined, Adam stammered out an apology.

“You look smitten, older brother!” Joe tittered.  “And she’s just your kind of girl, too—head full of facts and figures and book learning.”

Adam arched a dark eyebrow.  “Believe it or not, little brother, that is not the only thing I look for in a woman.”  He abruptly caught Joe’s elbow and steered him outside.  “You’ve been on your feet long enough, I think.  Back to the hotel for a nice, lengthy lie-down for you.”

“Hey, no,” Joe objected.  “We have to pick up our pictures first—or did the lovely and gifted Miss Alison drive that out of your head, too?”

A flush crept across Adam’s face, for in his enjoyment of the female engineer’s company, he had, indeed, forgotten virtually everything else.  He had no intention, however, of giving his younger brother the satisfaction of knowing he’d scored a hit.  “Nonsense!” Adam scoffed with a trace too much emphasis.  “The Photographic Building is directly on our way out.  It will take only a few minutes to get the portraits, and then it’s straight to bed for you.”

Joe would have liked to protest the cavalier treatment, but he was feeling tired by the time they reached the hotel, so he submitted to his older brother’s arbitrary order and lay down on the chaise lounge for a couple of hours.  After a brief nap he spent the rest of the afternoon writing letters to his friends, to be mailed in the special Centennial envelopes, and Adam did, as well.  It had been a longer day than usual, so the Cartwright brothers had a quiet dinner in the Transcontinental Hotel and retired early.

*****

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

Just past dawn on Friday the Cartwright brothers were awakened by the low rumble of thunder.  Adam rose at once and went to the balcony to look out, for his bedroom had no window.  Opening the French doors, he saw gray clouds rolling up from the river and didn’t know whether to count them a blessing or a curse.  The plain truth was that Joe could use a day off from the constant activity, but keeping him occupied indoors was a challenge Adam had no reason to anticipate with pleasure.

A jagged dagger of lightning struck in the distance, followed by rain that fell in sheets, soaking the balcony and quickly driving Adam back inside.  He opened to the door to Joe’s bedroom, to see if the storm had awakened his younger brother.  Noticing the empty bed, he glanced toward the window, where his barefoot brother stood watching as driving droplets pelted the glass.  “Joe, come back to bed,” he urged gently.  “It’s early.”

Joe turned.  “Might as well, I guess,” he sighed.  “I’m betting you won’t let me out in this.”

“Safe bet, even for as poor a poker player as you,” Adam chuckled.  “It’s what Hoss calls ‘good sleeping weather,’ so make the most of it, little buddy.”

Yawning, Joe stretched his arms back and to the side.  “Yeah, I think I will.”  He crawled back under the covers, turned his face to the pillow and within minutes was oblivious to the steady rain.  Adam returned to his bed, as well, and while pondering what he could do to keep Joe entertained kept him awake a short while, the effect of the “good sleeping weather” soon overcame him, too.

It was well past ten in the morning by the time both brothers again awoke, but even though the day started late, Adam thought it would never end.  He kept Joe busy ‘til dinnertime, writing long letters to both Pa and Hoss, but the hours stretched long after dinner.  The brothers played checkers ‘til neither could stand the sight of the board, read the newspaper, cover to cover, and even resorted to afternoon naps to pass the time.  The sun finally came out at half past three, and they took a walk through the garden of water-beaded daisies and dahlias, both grateful to be outside, even for so short a period.  After supper both Adam and Joe read a little and retired early, each praying the next day would be bright and sunny.

Their prayers were answered, for August fifth dawned clear and cloudless, though the rain had left behind a welcome coolness that made an excursion to the Exposition even more attractive.  Adam and Joe stepped down from the open car of the West End Railway and stood looking at a dark brown building roofed in green.  “The Agricultural Building is the third largest,” Adam related, “and while we probably could finish it in a single day, I think we’ll take two mornings, instead.”

Though he nodded, Joe sighed, for he knew exactly why their tour was being protracted.  Big brother Adam, otherwise known as Brother Hen, was still not convinced that his little brother could handle a full day’s effort.  And who could blame him when said little brother had practically slept the day away yesterday?  Joe was thoroughly disgusted with himself and battled the feeling by balking when his brother headed toward the stand for the rental of rolling chairs.  “I can walk, Adam,” he insisted, but a sense of futility made the protest a feeble one.

“Maybe,” Adam conceded, “but I’ll enjoy the exhibits more if I don’t have to worry about overtiring you.”

It was an argument for which Joe had no counter.  If his performance on previous days had taught him anything, it was that he might well give out sooner than he wanted, and Adam would, of course, refuse to continue his own sightseeing while Joe sat somewhere to rest or returned to the hotel.  No, he’d simply give it up, and Joe didn’t want to be the cause of that, especially when his brother had been so considerate of his every need.  So, frustrated as he felt, he sat in the chair, shrugging his shoulders in embarrassment at the attendant’s odd look and consoling himself with the thought that Pa, at least, would be pleased to see him working so hard at getting along with his older brother.  Trouble was, Pa wasn’t here to see it.

They had entered through the north door of the nave and began their tour in the northeast quarter of the building, where agricultural machinery and farming implements were displayed.  The plows, reapers and threshing machines were not of much practical use to cattlemen, although Adam suggested that perhaps some community-owned hay-cutting and baling machinery might be profitable, each rancher or farmer paying in proportion to the size of his crop.

“Remind me to be busy bustin’ horses when you bring that one up to the Cattlemen’s Association,” Joe scoffed.

“Oh, you just don’t know a good idea when you hear one,” Adam accused.

“But I know a good idea when I see one,” Joe tittered, pointing at a soda machine halfway down the aisle, “and that’s a good idea, right there.”

“You don’t even have the excuse of the heat today,” Adam teased.  Seeing a pout threatening, he chuckled and gave his brother’s neck an affectionate shake.  “What flavor this time, kid?”

“I like that Hire’s root beer best, I think,” Joe said.

Adam handed the operator a dime for a single glass of root beer soda, taking a sip before passing the rest on to Joe.  When the glass had been drained and returned, he got behind the chair and started pushing through row after row of more equipment the Cattlemen’s Association would probably spurn.

As they moved into the southeastern section of the building, their interest picked up.  Though the cider-processing machine there wasn’t something they needed on the Ponderosa, either, both Adam and Joe found it fascinating, and the model stables sparked even closer perusal.  These were made of iron, and the two brothers debated the relative virtues of these over stalls built of wood, finally agreeing to disagree.

As Adam pushed him back north, Joe was drawn to the exhibit of the Rumford Chemical Works of Providence, Rhode Island, which was demonstrating its baking powder by baking fresh biscuits and distributing them to visitors.  “Now, these folks know how to advertise!” Joe mumbled with his mouth full.

Not particularly enjoying the sight of biscuit crumbs falling from his younger brother’s mouth, Adam glanced aside.  “I can’t believe you’re hungry already.  It hasn’t been that long since breakfast.”

“I’m a growing boy,” Joe insisted, latching on to an old excuse.

Though Adam shook his head at both the tired joke and the atrocious manners, he was secretly glad to see Joe’s appetite return to the “sample everything” heights of the days before his illness.  It was a good sign.

A bit further on, the two brothers came across an exhibit of canned meats, fish, poultry and soups, and Adam made note of those he thought would be good to stock in their line shacks.  Anything canned would keep well and laying in a good supply of such foods from time to time would mean less frequent trips to those outlying cabins.

He and Joe paused at a bronze fountain in the center of Agricultural Hall, which sprayed jets of water almost to the ceiling, seventy-five feet above their heads, and went on to see the windmill in the nave, whose sails also stretched near the roof.  North of the windmill, which was dated 1776, various confectioners displayed their sugary temptations, the most eye-catching being a pyramid of candy with edible figures illustrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence and other historical events.

Seeing the Whitman’s chocolates, Little Joe reminded Adam that they planned to buy some of these for Hoss.

“We’ll get them our last day here, Joe,” Adam explained patiently, although he was fairly certain he’d already had this discussion with his younger brother.  That had been before his illness, however, and perhaps, considering what the boy had been through, it was reasonable that he might have forgotten a few things.  “We’ll probably take two days, just to shop at our leisure, but I’d advise you to make a list of what you want so we can do that in an orderly fashion, without a lot of backtracking.”

Joe nodded, but his face fell slightly.  Decisions would be hard; there was so much he’d like to buy, but so little he could afford.

Adam noticed the drooping countenance and guessed its cause.  “You realize, of course, that since we’ve been back here longer than expected, you have some more wages coming,” he commented.

Studying his balmorals, Joe shook his head.  “I haven’t earned any wages; in fact, I’ve already cost you and Pa more than I’m worth.”

Adam jerked the chair to a stop.  “Don’t you ever say that; don’t you ever think that,” he ordered tersely.  He moved around to squat in front of his brother.  “Has Pa ever begrudged you anything you needed, especially when you were ill?”

“No, of course not,” Joe said, eyes still cast down, “but that doesn’t mean he thinks I deserve wages when I ain’t been workin’.  He was being kind when he gave me what he did before we left, and you’re just trying to be kind now.”

“Of course I am,” Adam admitted, “but that doesn’t change the fact that you have wages coming, and I’m quite certain Pa would want you to have them.  He never stops a man’s pay just because he’s sick or injured, and he certainly wouldn’t make you an exception to that rule.  Besides, he as good as told me to spoil you rotten.”

“Oh, he did not,” Joe muttered, smile quirking at his lips.

“Oh, yes, he did,” Adam chuckled.  “I quote from the letter he sent me after learning you were ill: ‘Spoil Joseph a little for my sake.’”

Joe’s smile blossomed bright.  “Yeah?  Well, I guess I’ll take you up on those wages then, brother—and spend some of ‘em on a better Christmas present for Pa.”

Adam stood up, shaking out the cramps in his legs.  “Good.  Now that we’ve settled that, let’s have our dinner, shall we?”

“Sure.  Where?”

Adam aimed the chair toward the north door.  “Right here in Agricultural Hall, at the California Restaurant,” he suggested.  “They only serve cold lunches, but I think we’ll still enjoy it, even though it’s not hot enough to make that quite as appealing as when I first planned it.”

“It’ll be fine,” Joe assured him.

“Especially with a glass of California wine?  That’s their specialty.”

Joe grinned broadly.  “Oh, yeah, a cold plate and a cool glass of wine sounds real good, older brother.”

They entered a small, but comfortable room, enclosed by a white and gilt wooden screen and dined on chicken salad, with cheese and fruit for dessert.  “Not too crowded, is it?” Joe observed.

“There’s more than one restaurant in the building,” Adam explained.  “I think Reuter’s gets most of the business, but we were close to this one.”

“Well, those folks don’t know what they’re missing,” Joe said as he took another sip of wine.  “This is one fine meal.”

“Glad you’re enjoying it,” Adam replied.

Joe chuckled.  “I’m not that hard to please, Adam—when I’m not trying to punish your pocketbook.”

Adam put his head back and laughed.  “Oh, I am definitely glad you’re over that, little brother.”  He swirled the ruby wine around in the glass.  “Listen, I know I said we’d just stay the morning here, but maybe we should finish the American exhibits and leave only the international ones for tomorrow.”

“Fine by me,” Joe said.  Then he added with an impish grin, “I’ll just need another glass of wine to fortify me for the extra effort.”

After dinner the two brothers headed south to view the western half of the building, where they saw an exhibit of horseshoes and a model of a machine for making them. Beyond that, the State of Oregon displayed dried products, including dried fruits, which the state shipped all over the world.  Though neither Adam nor Joe could claim to be thirsty this soon after having wine at the restaurant, each of them took a sample of the reconstituted dried cider as they listened to the salesman’s explanation of how the water had been evaporated and the solid residue wrapped around wooden rollers for transport.  Dissolved in water, it became cider once again.

“What do you think?” Adam asked Joe as he handed their glasses back to the salesman.

“I think we should order some, put it up in the line shacks with that canned meat and such,” Joe said enthusiastically.

Adam jerked the straw hat over Joe’s nose.  “We are going to have the most pampered set of ranch hands in the state if I keep listening to you.”

Joe just shrugged.  “So maybe that’ll keep ‘em from hiring on at the mines, instead.”

“Maybe so,” Adam conceded as he set his brother’s hat back in place.  He placed an order for the dried cider and arranged for its shipment to the Ponderosa.  Soon they came across exhibits of Borden’s condensed milk and the new tomato ketchup by Heinz and added both of those items to the list of foods available to the Ponderosa’s pampered employees.

“Hoss’ll be begging to ride line now,” Joe chortled.

“At the rate your appetite is coming back, you’ll be wanting to hole up in those shacks right alongside him,” Adam quipped.

“Naw, I can get Hop Sing to pamper me right at home,” Joe snickered.

“Truer words were never spoken, you pampered pest,” Adam snorted.  He gave the rolling chair a powerful push.  The next several aisles were lined with the agricultural products of various states, but none of the tables of potatoes, carrots, watermelons or other familiar foods caught the Cartwrights’ eyes.  They’d eaten every one of them many times, and one potato was pretty much like another.

When they reached the exhibits of Wisconsin, however, Joe begged Adam to stop.  Like other exhibition visitors, he wanted to see the famous eagle that had served as mascot for the Eighth Wisconsin Infantry during the Civil War.  Joe listened, spellbound, as a stocky man with gray eyes told the eagle’s exploits to an admiring throng.  “Yep, ole Abe here, he went into every battle with the regiment,” the former sergeant related, as his plug of tobacco bulged first one cheek and then the other, “even though he was wounded twice.  Even the Rebs knew what a hero Old Abe was.  Why, I heard tell of one Reb general sayin’, ‘I would rather capture Old Abe than a whole brigade.’  They knew, you see, how this brave bird gave us the courage to fight on.”

“Do you think Hoss would enjoy reading the record of Old Abe’s public service?” Adam asked when the sergeant concluded.

“Only fifty cents a copy, sir,” the sergeant quickly said, “a real bargain.”

“Joe?” Adam asked, for there was a slight furrow on his brother’s forehead.  “I’m sorry.  Did you mean to buy it for him yourself?”

Joe laughed.  “No, I’m pretty much finished with Hoss, except for some candy, although fifty cents is more my usual price range than yours.  You tend to go in for grand gestures, you know.”

“So maybe I’ve learned a few things from my kid brother on this trip,” Adam said, “like how much pleasure simple gifts can bring.  Now give me your honest opinion.”

“Hoss’ll like it,” Joe said.  He looked up, eyes wide with child-like candor.  “Can I read it first?  I’ll be careful with it, so Hoss won’t know.”

Adam laughed and held up two fingers to the salesman as he dug a dollar out of his pocket and paid for two booklets.

Only a few state exhibits remained, and the Cartwright brothers toured them quickly, pausing only to gape at the mammoth grape vine from Santa Barbara, California, its huge tendrils spread over the top of the wooden framework of a small, open booth.  As they moved past that, Joe grabbed his brother’s arm, exclaiming with exaggerated excitement.  “Hey look, Adam—minerals from Nevada!”

Adam tossed off the clutching hand of his playful brother.  “I didn’t come three thousand miles to see what’s in my own backyard, little buddy, and since that’s all that’s left of the American department, I suggest we take our leave of the Agricultural Building until tomorrow.”

Joe grinned.  “Whatever you say, big brother.”

Adam clapped a hand to the boy’s shoulder.  “Oh, may you always be so accommodating!  As a reward, we’ll stop by the Tunisian Bazaar and Café for a cup of coffee on our way out.”

Joe grimaced.  “I’ll go along as far as the bazaar, but if Tunisian coffee is anything like that Turkish kind, I’d just as soon skip it.”

“It probably tastes just as sweet as that did,” Adam admitted, “but you’ll be glad you went in for a cup, anyway.  Trust me, little brother.”

Joe spotted the sly smile.  “Okay, what have you got up your sleeve, besides a hairy arm?” he demanded.

Adam responded with those frustrating words with which he so often answered his younger brother’s questions, “Wait and see.”

Of course, Adam insisted that they ride the West End Railway as far as the United States Government Building stop.  Then it was only a short walk down Fountain Avenue to the octagonal coffee house, which was colorfully decorated in designs of red, blue and black, with intersecting bars of green and gold.  The interior looked much the same as the Turkish coffee house the boys had visited early in their tour of the Centennial, except for the raised and cushioned platform across one end.  Adam pointed Joe toward a table with a good view of the platform and, when they were seated, ordered two cups of Tunisian coffee.

“What’s the platform for?” Joe asked.  “Is there a show?”

“I believe so,” Adam replied with premeditated ingenuousness.

“You know so!” Joe accused.  “What kind?”

“Musical, I believe.”

“Tunisian music?  Okay, but it had better be good ‘cause the coffee’s bound not to be.”

The coffee, served by Tunisian waiters in native dress, proved to be every bit as insipidly sweet as its Turkish counterpart, and Little Joe was looking thoroughly disgusted with this so-called reward.  When elderly men in flowing robes and turbans began to play stringed instruments and exotic drums at the back of the platform, however, all traces of discontent evaporated as quickly as dew on a midsummer morning.  It wasn’t the men or the music that produced the transformation, but a shapely native girl with incandescent eyes of darkest chocolate, who waved silk scarves in graceful arches over her head and around her body, as her bare feet, encased in anklets of gold, moved in rhythm to the oriental melody.

Watching his brother’s steadfast stare at the girl’s sensuous movements, Adam began to question the wisdom of bringing the boy here.  “Pa would have my hide for taking you to a show like this,” he muttered.

Without taking his eyes off the girl, Joe said, “You think I’m gonna tattle on you?”

Adam laughed aloud.  “Nope, not worried about that for a minute, but you get your eyes back in your head or I’ll take you out right now.”

With a sigh of resignation, Little Joe sank back into his chair.  “Sure thing, brother.  I’ll just sit here and enjoy this remarkable coffee.”

“Uh-huh,” Adam said dryly, as he, too, settled back against the plump cushions.  “I know what you’re enjoying.”

*****

On Sunday morning Adam fulfilled his promise to take his younger brother back to the zoo.  This time Joe didn’t bounce from one pavilion to the next as he had on his first visit.  He seemed content simply to walk and made frequent use of the benches scattered throughout the park, but Adam could tell that his brother was feeling stronger.  It showed in the way he carried himself, in that easy saunter that seemed so familiar, though it had been missing for weeks.  Joe was well again; of that Adam was certain.  Sure, the kid still didn’t have his full strength back, but Adam no longer feared taking him away from ready medical attention.  “We’ll probably finish seeing the Exposition tomorrow,” he told Joe over lunch at the restaurant on the grounds.  “Then we’ll shop a couple of days, take another to pack up and relax and head for home on Friday, unless there’s something else you care to see.”

Joe looked across the table and smiled.  “The Ponderosa is what I’d most care to see.  It’s been a wonderful trip, Adam.  I’ve enjoyed every minute of it—well, almost every minute,” he corrected quickly in answer to his brother’s arched eyebrow, “but I miss my pa—and that big lunk of a brother.”

“And Cochise?” Adam asked with a wink.

Joe laughed easily at the joke.  “Yeah, her, too—and ‘evergreen spires that touch the ce-cerulean heavens’ and Lake Tahoeand—well, just . . . home.  I’m ready to go home.”

Adam nodded.  “Me, too, kid; me, too.”

*****

The Cartwright brothers entered Agricultural Hall through the south doors Monday morning.  After Adam had paid for the rental of the rolling chair, which he still insisted that Joe needed to use, he suggested that they begin in the southeast corner, with the exhibits from Great Britain and Ireland.  “Jolly good,” Joe piped in a high-pitched and utterly pathetic attempt at a British accent.  “Let’s see what those foreign folks grow, shall we, old chap?”

Adam clenched the handles of the rolling chair, to help him resist the temptation to throttle his brother.  “Do me a favor: don’t call them that while we’re looking at their exhibits.”

Joe looked slightly perturbed.  “Believe it or not, older brother, I do have a few manners.”

“More than a few,” Adam said with a conciliatory pat on the slumped shoulder.  Just saddle ‘em up, okay?”

Joe grinned at the folksy metaphor and sat up straighter.  “Okay.”

The British exhibits were enclosed in the familiar black and gilt cases that country always used.  A semicircular one in the front line held a choice selection of pickles, potted meat, mustard and extracts, including Crosse and Blackwell’s famous Chow-Chow and Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce.  “A wonderful accompaniment to beefsteak,” the sales representative touting its virtues declared.  “You lads do have access to good beefsteak from time to time, don’t you?”

Sensing that Joe was about to let loose an uncontrolled cackle, Adam slid his hand off the chair handles to squelch it with a gripping pinch to the biceps.  He cleared his throat.  “Why, yes, we do, on occasion, find an acceptable beefsteak, even in our remote corner of the country.”

“Ah, I thought so, what with the transcontinental railroad linking the country coast to coast now.”  The salesman smiled in triumph.  “I guarantee you’ll enjoy those occasions much more with a bit of Lea and Perrin’s to bring out the flavor.”

“Go ahead, Adam,” Joe suggested, propping his elbow on the chair arm and his cheek on his fist.  “I’ll bet you can sweet-talk Pa into buying us a bit of beef to test it on.”

Adam silently mouthed, “Behave,” at his brother and then turned to the salesman.  “I’ll take a case.”

When the order was filled out and the shipping information given, Adam pushed Joe through samples of wool from all parts of the world and displays of Irish whiskey and oatmeal to an exhibit by the Colonial Produce Company of London.  “Imagine the convenience, gentlemen,” the company’s representative urged.  “Each of these airtight gelatine envelopes contains the proper proportions of tea, milk and sugar—or as you Yanks may prefer, coffee, milk and sugar—to make three cups.  Just drop the entire pack into hot water; the gelatine will dissolve, along with the powder inside, to make a delicious brew, whether at home or when traveling.”

“You can’t tell me that wouldn’t be handy on the trail!” Joe exclaimed.

Adam chuckled.  “I prefer my coffee black, but it would be handy.  Yeah, let’s ship some of that home, too—and not just for those pampered ranch hands of ours.”

Italy’s exhibits were crammed into a small space in the southeast corner of Agricultural Hall.  There were Parmesan and Gorgonzola cheeses from Milan and macaroni and dried fruits from Naples and Sicily.  Sicily also displayed oranges, lemons, olives and figs, and Little Joe purchased a small bag of Sicilian licorice for Hoss.

“So he can compare it with the American, I presume?” Adam teased.

They crossed the aisle to Canada’s department, opposite that of Great Britain, but practically breezed past the front line of grains, peas, beans and flour and the case of wool directly behind it.  Spending a little more time on the cases of stuffed birds, insects and other animals, they moved on to the exhibits of Germany.  The Germans had made no effort to show either their agricultural system or its products, but the Royal Steel Works of Fredericksthal, Wurtemburg, had found a fascinating way to display their wares with a palm tree whose branches were made of scythe blades.  Not being in the market for scythes, however, the Cartwright brothers headed for another country.

Adam didn’t know whether to be amused or appalled by the way his younger brother nibbled his way through the products of Austria-Hungary.  Joe didn’t turn down a single sample of raisins and other dried fruits, nuts and candied fruits from Vienna.  Adam was glad to see that Spain, next in line, offered no further temptations, showing, instead, immense logs of mahogany and rosewood lying on the ground, with skins and Spanish leather suspended from the ceiling.

Portugal offered bottles of fine port and Madeira wines.  “I remember Pa mentioning the Madeira from his sailing days,” Adam commented as he purchased a bottle for his father’s upcoming birthday.

The most distinctive displays from the Netherlands were, of course, the wooden shoes and the round Edam cheeses, which Joe simply had to sample.  “I’ve never tasted this kind,” he insisted when he saw Adam shaking his head in consternation at his brother’s willingness to put anything and everything into his mouth.

“Uh-huh,” was all Adam offered in response, but he was feeling more convinced by the minute that Joe was back to normal.

The Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden, as well as Japan, featured their fishing industries with models of fishing vessels and tackle, samples of dried and preserved fish and even some larger fish suspended in alcohol.  Denmark and Belgium had very small exhibits, with brandies, cordials and Danish punch prominently displayed.

Many of the products of the South American countries were similar to those grown in the United States.  The Cartwright brothers passed by those quickly, but others, by virtue of their uniqueness, invited more lengthy perusal.  Brazil, for instance, had an intriguing collection of over one thousand native woods arranged around the entire court, a display of rubber in both its crude gum form and its marketable variety, twelve kinds of sugar and ninety varieties of edible beans.  They didn’t offer free samples of any of their agricultural products, but bananas, wrapped in silver foil, were on sale for only ten cents, and naturally Joe had to have one.  As Adam had never tasted a banana, either, he decided to indulge in one, as well, and quickly discovered that one wasn’t enough.  Like most other visitors to the Centennial, who were also sampling bananas for the first time in their lives, the Cartwright brothers couldn’t get enough of the creamy-flavored, crescent-shaped fruit.  Joe declared himself quite willing to make a meal of bananas, but Adam had other plans for dinner, and muttering something that sounded like “little monkey,” with determination he pushed his brother away from temptation.

The exhibits from Venezuela had arrived too late to find a place in the Main Exhibition Hall, so they were all here, but that was just as well since they were almost entirely agricultural in nature, anyway.  A large part of the display was devoted to the vivid red dye derived from the dried bodies of female cochineal insects, developed by the Indians of pre-Hispanic Mexico, but probably the strangest exhibit in the entire hall was the portrait of George Washington, done in human hair by a Venezuelan artist.  The Argentine Republic, though it offered nothing not seen elsewhere, had sent a huge collection of everything from native woods, gums and resins to cotton, silk and leather goods.

Little Joe found himself impatient with the amount of time his older brother spent in the Liberian exhibit, for he was anxious to tour the French department, which Adam had, irritatingly, left ‘til last.  The Liberians didn’t have that much to show, in Joe’s opinion, but Adam stood talking to the native Africans on duty for what seemed like an eternity.  All of them had been educated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and they all intended to return to Liberia to establish schools there.  The proceeds from the sale of coffee here at the Exposition would go toward building the schoolhouses, and when Adam finally finished talking over the project with the men, he placed a rather large order for coffee.  “You’ll do just about anything to educate somebody, won’t you?” Joe teased, earning himself a cuff on the ear.

Joe moved through the French department with slow deliberation guaranteed to test his brother’s patience as much as the Liberian discussion had tested his own, and Adam could only groan when he noticed the number of free samples being handed out.  Joe had to try the Roquefort cheese, of course, but he didn’t care for it, despite its French origin.  When Joe followed this up by testing the chocolates of Munier of Paris, the oldest maker in the world, Adam thought it was time to intervene.  “Candy, of all things,” he scolded.  “Don’t you realize it’s almost noon?  You’ll spoil your dinner completely.”

“I’ve gotta pick the best to take home to Hoss, don’t I?” Joe argued, reaching for another bonbon.  Since Adam hadn’t taken one, he figured he was entitled to two.

Adam folded his arms and shook his head.  “That is the worst excuse for nibbling I’ve ever heard!”

Joe grinned as he licked melted chocolate from his fingers.  “Best one I’ve got.  These are awful good, but I’d like to take him some of those Whitman ones, too.  Can’t afford both, though.”

“You buy the French ones; I’ll pick up a box of the Philadelphia company’s,” Adam offered.  Anything to stop this kid’s insatiable snacking, he thought.

Joe beamed his gratitude at the proposed solution, and the two brothers moved on to the most prominent product of France, wine.  There were bottles and stone jugs of champagne, burgundy, claret and liquors of almost every type imaginable.  Following Adam’s example, Joe selected a bottle of fine French brandy for his father and, like the Madeira Adam had ordered, arranged to pick it up later in the day.

“Well, that pretty much finishes the Agricultural Building,” Adam said as he pushed Joe toward the exit to turn in the rolling chair.  “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in dinner after snacking your way around the world.”

“Sure I am!” Joe declared enthusiastically.

“Unbelievable,” Adam muttered as he extended a hand to help his brother out of the chair.  “I’d planned to eat at Lauber’s, but German food tends to be hearty, so I doubt you can do justice to it at this point.”

“Try me,” Joe challenged with a grin.

The Cartwrights rode the monorail across Belmont ravine to Lauber’s.  Since the weather was still pleasantly cool, they elected to dine in one of the open-air wings of the main restaurant, which had been floored and covered with canvas to accommodate the crowds flocking in.  The German restaurant, though located a long distance from the entrance to the Exposition, was easily the most popular on the grounds, primarily due to the rousing music of the band, which played from mid-morning to dark, the good food and the reasonable prices, especially the beer at only five cents a glass.

When Adam told his brother that he could only have one mug, though, Joe looked up with irritation.  “Why?  You haven’t stopped me before.  Look if you’re still worried that I won’t eat enough—”

“No, it’s not that,” Adam said.  “I’m thoroughly convinced that your leg is hollow.  It’s because we’re going to the Brewers’ Building directly after this—free samples, little brother, of any kind of brew you might favor—and given your limited capacity for liquor . . .”

Joe grinned, well satisfied with that explanation.  “Okay, that’s worth waiting for!”

After tucking away substantial amounts of sauerbraten, sausage, potatoes and cabbage, the Cartwright brothers re-crossed the ravine and made their way to the building whose roof supported a beer barrel, decorated with the flags of all nations.  They entered from the south, where hop vines trailed along the front and a statue of King Gambrinus, the universal symbol of beer and brewing, greeted visitors.

Inside, a working brewery demonstrated the process of making beer, and throughout the building methods for steeping, germinating and drying malt were shown.  There were models of malt houses and breweries, one showing how everything was done by hand in 1776 and another illustrating a modern brewery run by machinery.  It was all too obvious, however, that Little Joe’s mind was so set on the free samples that he had no attention left over for learning how they were produced.  Tossing aside all notions of any educational value to this visit, Adam conducted a round-the-world drinking tour.

Following Adam’s advice to take only a small amount of each, Joe was able to sample many different types of lager.  Although his already-crowded stomach began to protest halfway through the building, he persevered and managed to take a sip or two, at least, of every variety offered.  Adam, who hadn’t abused his belly as extensively in Agricultural Hall, took slightly larger portions, but even he had to admit the hearty meal at the German restaurant had left little room for liquor.

“You know, I still favor that brew your old friend from Placerville makes,” Joe commented as they left the building, headed for nearby Agricultural Hall to pick up their purchases of the day.

“I think I do, too.”  Adam put an arm around his brother’s shoulder as he confided, “Of course, in my case, it might be personal prejudice.  Stefán Zuebner was someone I looked up to on the trail, especially the way he grew up almost overnight when his father died.  I’m glad to see his dream come to such prosperous fruition.”

“If you mean you’re glad to see his business going good, I am, too,” Joe said enthusiastically, “and not just ‘cause I like his beer.  I remember him showing me around the place when he first went into business.  I was just a little kid, but he took the time to do that, and it made me feel real good.”

Adam nodded thoughtfully as they entered the building.  Time, the greatest gift a man could give.  He found himself wondering how generous he had been with that gift, especially with his younger brothers.  Trying to look at himself through their eyes, he saw a man driven by responsibility, always pushing them to get the job done, when, maybe, they all should have been spending time just being together.  Joe’s illness had forced him to give extra time and attention to the boy while they’d been back east, and his reward had been increased closeness with the brother who had before been somewhat distant.  Though he longed for home as much as Little Joe, Adam hated to see their time together come to an end.  Maybe it didn’t have to, though; maybe, if he gave Joe—and the rest of his family, too, for that matter—the gift of time back home, the rewards might be even richer.

Purchases collected, the brothers caught the West End railcar outside Agricultural Hall, and as they rode back toward the entrance, Adam again mentioned that they would spend the next two days shopping for gifts and souvenirs.  “Have you decided what you want to buy?” he queried.

“Everything except Pa’s Christmas present,” Joe replied.

“I thought you wanted to get him a timepiece.”

Joe sighed deeply.  “Yeah, but I hate to buy him a cheap one, and I don’t have the money to do better, even with that extra advance, unless I short everyone else.”

Adam placed a hand on the back on his brother’s neck.  “You suggested once that we go together to buy him a Swiss watch.”

“And you turned me down flat!” Joe snapped.

Adam ignored the display of temper, genuinely feeling that his own behavior had fueled it.  “I know.  Selfish of me.  I’d like to do that now, if you’re still willing.”

“You don’t need my help,” Joe grunted, quoting his older brother’s previous statement.  “You can buy Pa anything you want, same as always.”

“I could,” Adam admitted, “but I’d rather make it a joint gift.  I think it’ll mean more to Pa that way.  Please, Joe?”

A smile hovering on his lips, Joe looked up.  “Us working together on something?  Yeah, that would be the best gift we could give Pa.”  The smile broadened to one of gratitude.  “I know you’re really doing this for me, more than for Pa, Adam, and I just want you to know I appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome, little brother, very welcome.”

***End of Part 6***

Click here to go to Part 7 

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