Summary: Part one of a seven-part series. When two of the Cartwright brothers travel east to visit the great Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, they learn that the greatest discoveries are not in the world around them, but hidden within the heart of the other man. As a side treat, discover what YOUR country sent to show the world what it had to offer in 1876.
Word Count: 44,000
The front door blared open, bringing with it a brisk gust of March wind and two Cartwrights coated with dust. From his chair by the blazing fire, Adam scowled at his younger brothers and sharply ordered them to close the door. “You’re late,” he continued, his voice accusative, “and Hop Sing is fit to be tied. He’s threatening to throw supper out the back door, and a return to China has already been mentioned.”
Hoss Cartwright scrunched his nose in the direction of the stone fireplace. “Well, pardon us all to pieces, big brother. It ain’t like we wanted to be out this late in that cold wind.”
“Yeah,” Hoss’ younger brother groused as he shrugged out of his green corduroy jacket. “Some of us actually had to do more today than just ride into town for the mail.”
Adam favored Little Joe with a superior smirk. “Just the privilege of age and maturity, sonny. Someday we might even consider you grown up enough to fetch the mail.”
Eighteen-year-old Joe scowled. If there was one thing he hated, it was being reminded that he was the youngest, and it seemed to him that his oldest brother rarely missed an opportunity to throw it in his face. “Listen here, Adam,” he began, moving toward the objection of his irritation.
Before Joe could even start his intended tirade, however, sharp words cut him off. “You late,” Hop Sing snapped from the dining room. “Always people late to suppah. Hop Sing work hard all day and this thanks he get!”
Hoss lightly rested a beefy hand on the shoulder of the diminutive factotum of the Ponderosa. “Just put the food on the table, Hop Sing, and you’ll see how thankful I can be. I’m hungry enough to eat a bear!”
“Hop Sing no feed dirty boys,” the Chinese cook snorted with a disdainful look at the cherubic, but grimy face of the middle Cartwright brother. “You wash up, chop-chop, then maybe-so I put food on table.” His quick exit to the kitchen left no room for argument, so both Hoss and Little Joe headed for their respective washbasins upstairs, passing their father on the way down from doing similar duty. Adam chuckled and turned back to reading the latest copy of Manufacturer and Builder, which had arrived in the mail that day.
His nose was still buried in the journal as the other three Cartwrights took their places around the table. Ben cleared his throat loudly and, when that still brought no response from his eldest, sharply uttered the young man’s name. Startled, Adam tore his eyes from the printed page and with a sheepish apology, set the journal aside and moved quickly to the table.
Four heads bowed as Ben Cartwright offered thanks for the bounty spread before them. Then, as Joe made a vain attempt to grab the platter of pork chops before Hoss, Ben smiled at their older brother. “Interesting article, son?”
“Extremely,” Adam replied, as he watched “the children” tussle over the meat. “It’s about—”
“Oh, let me guess,” Joe snickered as he speared a pork chop with his fork and dropped it onto his plate, “the Centennial!”
“Yeah,” Hoss cackled, dragging three chops into his plate. “Couldn’t be nothin’ else, could it, now?”
As he finally snared a piece of meat for himself, Ben smiled indulgently at the young man seated across from him at the foot of the table. Seeing the flush rise from Adam’s chin to his broad brow, he knew the younger boys had guessed correctly—and small wonder. Since the beginning of this year of the Lord, 1876, each new issue of Manufacturer and Builder, or any of the other eastern publications to which Adam maintained a regular subscription, had inspired him to enthusiastic eloquence about the upcoming celebration of America’s one-hundredth year. “Now, boys,” Ben cautioned with a glance to either side, “I’m sure we’re all interested in what your brother Adam has to share.”
“I’m not,” Joe grunted. “It’s got nothin’ to do with us.”
Hoss took warning from the steely glare Ben fixed on his youngest son and quickly said, “Yeah, Adam, tell us all about what them folks back in Philadelphia is plannin’ now.”
Eyes locked on the boy who was pointedly ignoring him, Adam responded to his other brother. “If you’re genuinely interested, Hoss, I’ll loan you the journal. I wouldn’t want to force information on the willfully ignorant.”
As he helped himself to potatoes and gravy, Little Joe tried to disregard the pool of silence forming around him, but he could feel three sets of eyes staring him down. With a sigh he looked up. “Okay, okay, let’s hear all about it”—he lowered his voice to mutter, “like we’ve got a choice.”
“Oh, you’ve got a choice, young man,” Ben announced sternly. “You can leave your dinner on your plate and march yourself upstairs until you learn to be civil.”
Joe slammed his fork to the table. “Well, maybe I’ll just do that! I don’t see why I have to pretend that this is interesting two, three times a month, just ‘cause some stupid magazine came in from back east. From what I hear, they ain’t even gonna pull it off, so it’s all just a bunch of pointless palaver.”
Ben snapped his fingers and aimed one toward the stairway. With a disgusted glare at Adam, Joe started to rise, but Adam waved him back into his seat. “Don’t bother,” he said. Glancing toward his father, he snorted as he inclined his head toward Joe, “Since when has dietary deprivation ever had any effect on that one? I’ll change the subject.”
“You don’t have to,” Ben stated firmly. “I will not countenance that level of rudeness at the table—or anywhere else under my roof! Joseph, either apologize to your brother or go to your room.”
Temper flared in Joe’s green eyes, and he jerked the chair back. Just then he caught sight of the food on his plate. He’d put in a hard afternoon’s work since dinner, and his belly was rumbling. Suddenly, the quarrel with Adam seemed too unimportant to sacrifice a good meal over. “Sorry,” he grunted, though it rankled his pride, and scooted back up to the table again.
It was a pathetic, obviously unfelt, apology, but both Ben and Adam let it slide. Adam, however, could not allow his brother’s last criticism of the centennial celebration to go unchallenged. “I’m aware, little brother,” he said, “that certain journalists have expressed doubt that the Centennial Exposition will take place, but the article I was reading tonight removes the slightest reservation. It will open, and on time.”
“Yes, sir,” Joe said meekly, with a longing glance at his mashed potatoes and gravy. Adam rolled his eyes and changed the subject, as promised. The conversation turned to the work of the ranch, what had been accomplished that day and what needed to be done on the next.
Not until the younger boys had retired for the night did Adam again broach the subject of the Centennial with his father, moving from his blue chair by the fire to the end of the sofa nearest Ben. “It’s really going to be a marvelous celebration, Pa,” he observed after filling Ben in on the latest news. “Countries from all over the world will be sending their greatest works of art and machinery, their finest agricultural products and manufactures—and the buildings themselves! An unprecedented illustration of the latest ideas in architectural design.”
“I’m sure it will be wonderful, Adam,” Ben responded, rubbing the arm of his thickly padded chair, “but while I don’t approve of the rudeness with which Joseph expressed his opinion, I’m afraid I have to agree that it doesn’t have a great deal to do with us out here. Virginia City is planning her own celebration of the centennial year, of course, and although it won’t be as grand as the one in Philadelphia, at least we’ll be able to attend this one.”
“Is attending the one back east such an impossible dream?” Adam ventured softly.
Ben felt a lump rise in his throat, and his fingers tightened on the burgundy leather. Though he hadn’t permitted himself to admit it, he’d known for a month or more that dreams of seeing the Centennial himself lay behind all Adam’s insistence on sharing the latest developments as they became known. His own reluctance to see what should have been self-evident came from the simple fear that if Adam once again tasted the culture of the East, he’d be lost forever to his reawakened appetite. How often Ben had seen that yearning in his son’s dark and soulful eyes, the same light of longing that now transfixed them. “You want to go?” he asked hesitantly.
“You know I do,” Adam said, leaning forward earnestly. “I realize summer is our busiest time, and I know you’re going to be tied up with outside activities yourself, this being an election year. That’s why I’ve been reluctant to mention it and why I’ll understand if you tell me I can’t be spared, but I figured it was time I worked up the nerve to ask, at least.”
Ben’s smile was warm with the love he felt for this firstborn son. Though all the boys did their fair share of work around the ranch, Adam alone shouldered its responsibilities with him. At times, he thought that Adam alone truly understood and shared the dream that had found fruition in the Ponderosa, and it seemed ironic to him that Adam alone seemed to visualize a future beyond its boundaries. Yet this young man had given so much of himself to his father’s dream that Ben couldn’t refuse, had never been able to refuse him when he tentatively brought forth a dream of his own. Even at the risk of losing him, Ben knew he couldn’t deny this request, any more than he had denied the one that had sent Adam east years before. “How long would you be gone?” he asked.
The dark eyes sparkled, and then thick eyelashes dipped to hide them. “Well, the Exhibition lasts from May 10th to November 10th,” Adam replied.
The lump caught in his throat, but Ben forced himself to chuckle. “Be serious.”
Adam looked up, a hint of humor brushing his lips. “No, I realize I can’t stay that long, but I would like to be there for the Fourth of July celebration—it’ll be the biggest in the country—and I’d like to attend Commencement at my old alma mater. I haven’t had a chance to do that since my own graduation.”
“When is that?” Ben asked.
“The twentieth of July,” Adam replied and waited, holding his breath.
Ben’s expression was thoughtful. “You’re talking about being away a month or more, then.”
Adam licked his lips. “I know it’s asking a lot.”
Ben raised his gaze to his son’s face. “No more than you deserve,” he said softly, touched by the yearning his son was trying so hard to conceal. “As you say, you haven’t been back east since college, and I know there are things you’ve missed, things you’ve given up for my sake, for your brothers’ sake. You’ve always given a hundred and ten percent to this ranch, Adam, so you take whatever time you need.”
Adam flashed a rare smile. “If you’re sure you can spare me . . .”
Ben cleared his throat and adopted a light tone to cover his emotion. “We managed five years without you; I guess we can muddle by for four or five weeks!”
“Thanks, Pa.” Adam slid onto the table, laying a hand on his father’s knee. “Why don’t you come with me? It’s been longer since you’ve been back east than it’s been for me.”
Ben gave his son’s firm biceps a light rub. “You know I can’t. As you pointed out, it’s our busiest season, and I’ve got that political convention to attend.”
“Not ‘til August,” Adam reminded him. “We’d be back by then.”
Ben shook his head. “I’ll be involved in meetings leading up to the convention, as well, some of them taking place during the exact time you plan to be gone. No, as much as I’d love to make the trip with you, Adam, I simply can’t.”
Adam nodded. It was the answer he’d expected, so he was ready with another proposition. “The boys, then? If I pay their way?”
Ben cast a suspicious glance at his son, knowing from the speed with which this second request followed the first that it had been waiting in the wings. “You know I can’t spare all three of you,” he chided. “I guess I could get by with just one son to help me through our busiest season,” he added with a touch of tartness, “so if it’s worth footing the bill for you to have one of your brothers with you, take your pick.” The smile that followed this statement clearly conveyed Ben’s amused certainty regarding which of his brothers Adam would choose as a traveling companion.
The smile jolted Adam out of his complacency. His first instinct was, as his father had accurately discerned, to take Hoss on the trip, but Adam resented the idea of being that predictable. In fact, he prided himself on being able to read the minds of others, while keeping his own thoughts and feelings close to his vest. Unwilling to admit that he might be as open a book to his father as, say, Little Joe was to him, he pursed his lips and murmured, “I’ll have to give that some thought and let you know.”
The statement didn’t budge the smile on his father’s lips. In fact, they were definitely twitching as Ben said, “Fine, fine. Take all the time you need, but I will require one thing more of you, Adam.” Waiting until he had his son’s attention, he continued, “You will be the one to explain to the brother you leave behind why you made that choice. You won’t saddle me with that chore!”
Adam quickly agreed. Though Little Joe had acted uninterested in the Centennial, he would be both disappointed and angry on learning that Adam and Hoss were taking an extended trip, while he had to stay behind, stuck with their chores for a month or more. Pa had every right to expect him to blunt the force of that anger by taking it on himself.
Father and son said good night and retired for the evening. Adam lay on his bed in the dark room, trying to think of the best way to explain to Little Joe why he was choosing Hoss, but the more he tried to come up with reasons that would appease the boy, the more unfair he felt. Another thing Adam Cartwright prided himself on was fairness, and it simply wasn’t fair to reject Joe out of hand. Besides, if the decision were really the right one, it would stand up to careful analysis. So, think it through logically, he told himself. Weigh the pros and cons of choosing each brother; then decide. Now, why should I take Hoss?
It was so easy to tally up the positive points for choosing Hoss. Hoss was his best friend and would make the most enjoyable companion. They always got on well together, seemingly understanding one another without words. With Hoss, there would be no conflicts, no problems to deal with, just a pleasurable journey for both, and Hoss’s interest in inventions would guarantee his fascination with Machinery Hall, which would exhibit the latest mechanisms from around the world.
Were there any negative points to taking Hoss? To be totally fair, Adam had to admit that there were. Hoss was uncomfortable in big cities, even the less rigid ones of the West. Philadelphia, with its stricter societal mores might be absolute torture for a man most comfortable under open skies. Then, too, Hoss thoroughly hated being away from home for long stretches of time, almost as if he drew his life’s breath from the fragrance of the pines. Would a month be more than he would enjoy, even of exciting new inventions? And what of the other aspects of the Exposition? Machinery Hall and Agricultural Hall would naturally appeal to him, but the other areas might not, at least not to the same extent. Reluctantly, Adam was forced to admit that Hoss had neither the interest nor the scholarly intellect to take in everything that the Centennial had to offer.
Little Joe, on the other hand, was smart as a whip. Not much got past those ever-active green orbs. While Joe had always been a reluctant student, there was no doubt whatsoever in Adam’s mind that his youngest brother could more readily profit from the educational experience of the Centennial than Hoss. It might even be an opportunity to interest the boy in a college education. Adam had, on numerous occasions, tried unsuccessfully to convince Joe to continue his education, but perhaps a trip east would awaken the boy’s interest, particularly if he visited some colleges and got a feel for what the experience was really like, how it could broaden his life.
Joe’s youthful exuberance was another point in his favor. He was more likely to relish a new experience around every corner than Hoss, but taking the kid had definite drawbacks, as well. There were certain parts of the Exposition that he wouldn’t enjoy any more than Hoss, and if Joe were to receive the full educational benefit, Adam would have to force him to take it all in and that could lead to conflicts.
Hoss, of course, would willingly go along with anything his big brother suggested, just to be congenial, and try his best not to let Adam see how bored he really was. With him, there would be no problems, but taking Joe almost guaranteed facing conflict somewhere along the way. The two of them mixed about as well as—Adam rejected the easy metaphor of oil and water for a more accurate one—coal oil and a lighted match. Conflict was inevitable if they were thrown together for several weeks without either Pa or Hoss on hand to douse the match before it struck the oil. Joe’s youthful exuberance, too, was as much a weakness as a strength. The interest in new experiences could lead just as easily to an education of the wrong sort. Do I really want to saddle myself with watching out for him in a city with a wider range of temptations than Virginia City?
That was the dilemma. Should he selfishly cater to his own pleasure or do the “big brotherly” thing and put the other man—well, boy, in Joe’s case—first? The decision he had thought would be so easy kept Adam awake late into the night and consumed his thoughts throughout the next day. He pondered the problem, giving each of his younger brothers careful examination as they worked side by side. Hoss and Little Joe became increasingly uncomfortable with the feeling of eyes boring into their backs and wondered why Adam seemed so distant.
Adam spent several hours alone in his room that night, mulling his decision until he was finally certain he’d made the right one. Hearing his brothers bid each other good night in the hall, Adam made his way downstairs to tell his father which brother would be accompanying him to Philadelphia. He smiled, taking almost perverse satisfaction in the thought that Pa was about to learn that he didn’t know his eldest quite as well as he thought he did. Nor, for that matter, had Adam known himself as well as he’d thought, for the choice he’d made had come as a total surprise. His father’s shocked face when he mentioned Joe’s name made Adam wonder for a moment if he would be allowed, after all, to take his youngest brother with him.
Ben had obviously been caught completely off guard. Raking a hand through his silver hair, he fell back into the leather chair and stared at the man seated on the fireside table before him.
“Surprised?” Adam asked with a sportive smile.
“‘Flabbergasted’ might be a better word,” Ben admitted. “I never gave a moment’s thought to your taking Joseph. I just assumed you meant Hoss.”
Adam pinched his nose bridge. “Yeah, I know. That’s why I thought I’d better discuss this with you before I said anything to Joe.”
Ben smiled wryly. “Thank you for that, at least.”
Adam stood, took a step toward the fire and turned to face his father. “Look, I’ll confess I had Hoss in mind when we spoke before, but, just to be fair, I tried to look at both of them, and I think Joe will benefit more from the trip.” He went on to describe the process of reasoning that had led to his decision. “So how about it? Can I take the kid?” he asked when he’d finished.
Ben motioned for Adam to take a seat and when the young man was once again perched on the table, he leaned forward, laying a hand on his son’s muscular thigh. “You say you’ve considered potential problems. Have you also considered that Joseph may not respond at all the way you hope he will to these ‘educational opportunities,’ that he may, in fact, resent your bringing up this issue of college yet again? He has been adamant that he has no such interest.”
Adam nodded slowly. “I know, but he has no factual basis for forming that decision, just his own stubborn belief that it’s not for him.”
Ben shook his head. “Nevertheless . . . ”
“Look, Pa, it will still be his choice,” Adam insisted. “I’ll make that clear. I just want him to make an informed decision.”
Ben frowned, concerned that he already saw the basis for a continuing clash between his two sons. “Have you also taken into consideration just how difficult your young brother can be to handle?”
The expression on Adam’s face was almost smug. “I’ve had to handle him many times before.”
The furrows in Ben’s brow deepened. “Yes, but not for such an extended time,” he reminded his eldest. “You’ll be completely on your own.”
“I can handle that boy, Pa,” Adam assured him.
He hadn’t said, “Better than you,” but Ben could read it in his son’s almost cocky expression, and he arched a critical eyebrow. Fool boy, always has thought he could do a better job of parenting than me. Serve him right if I did make him put that theory to the test. Might end up having a bit more respect for his poor, befuddled father.
“Besides,” Adam chirped on, blithely unaware of the affront he’d given, “maybe some time alone together will help us toward a better relationship.”
Or an open break, Ben thought, but feeling trapped by his earlier agreement that Adam could take whichever brother he chose, he reluctantly gave his permission for his youngest son to accompany his eldest to the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. “Provided,” he added firmly, “that Joseph wishes to go under the conditions you set down and agrees to put himself under your authority. I’ll make it clear that I am delegating my authority to you, but whether he’ll respect that when I’m a continent away is something I cannot guarantee.”
“Don’t worry, Pa,” Adam chuckled. “We’ll do just fine.”
As he watched his son climb the stairs to bed, Ben shook his head in consternation, scolding himself for his lack of foresight. Should have seen this coming. So like Adam to make that decision based on what would be best for his brothers. Been looking out for their welfare before his own his whole life. Should have known he wouldn’t just pick for his own pleasure. Well, maybe fathers weren’t meant to be clairvoyant; maybe that was strictly the purview of the Almighty. He stood and stretched, then headed for bed, still wondering what the outcome of this adventure would be. Adam and Joe, together for four weeks or so—would it be the unifying experience Adam envisioned or the disaster his father dreaded?
The Cartwright brothers worked apart the next day and arrived home that evening at separate times. Hoss and Little Joe, though, got there within fifteen minutes of each other and had already started evening chores when Adam rode in. “Look who’s tryin’ to get out of his share of the work by comin’ in late,” Joe scoffed as his oldest brother led Sport into a stall and began to unsaddle the white-stockinged chestnut.
Adam tossed the saddle over its curved wooden stand and pulled the blanket from the horse’s back. “For your information, little brother, I have done more than my share of the work today, so mind your tongue.”
“Aw, Adam it just seems like more work ‘cause it’s harder to do at your age.” Joe ended the quip with a high-pitched giggle. “Better hustle through your chores, though, old timer, or you’ll be missing your supper. Hop Sing don’t cotton to folks bein’ late to the table.”
“Well, since you’re feeling so spry, sonny, maybe you’d like to take over my chores for me,” Adam jibed back.
Joe folded his arms across his chest and regarded his older brother with a saucy smirk. “Nope, doesn’t appeal to me at all. How about you, Hoss?”
Hoss leaned on the pitchfork he’d been using to rake out one of the stalls. “Nope, don’t appeal to me none, neither.”
“Since when does work appeal to either of you lazy louts?” Adam commented dryly, picking up a curry brush.
“I just follow the example set before me, older brother,” Little Joe observed with a grin.
“Oh, if only you did!” Adam laughed as he began to brush the glossiness back into Sport’s coat. “Listen, Joe, I need to talk to you privately after supper.” He intended to talk to both of his brothers that evening and had decided to start with the younger one. Though he felt certain Joe would agree to accompany him to Philadelphia, he’d been fooled on other occasions when he’d tried to figure out which way the quixotic little scamp might jump. If Joe were foolish enough to turn down a marvelous opportunity like the one his big brother was about to offer him, Adam would be having an entirely different kind of conversation with Hoss than he at present envisioned, so talking to Joe first was a wise precaution.
As if to prove how quickly his moods could swing, Little Joe bristled abruptly. “Listen, older brother, if you’ve got any complaints, you just spit ‘em out now. I’ve done every bit of work Pa set out for me today, and as far as I know, I haven’t done anything to rile a single soul. ‘Course, some rile easier than others.”
“And you easiest of all,” Hoss grunted. “You just pull in them horns, little brother; Adam didn’t say nothin’ ‘cept he wanted to talk to you.”
“Privately,” Joe snorted. “Sounds like a dressing-down to me, and I don’t got one comin’.”
Despite his irritation, Adam managed to hold his temper, but he couldn’t resist correcting the younger boy’s grammar. “You don’t have one coming, and as far as I know, that’s true. Why do you always assume the worst, boy?”
“Experience, brother, experience,” Joe grumbled, still clinging to his offended stance.
Adam came close to laughing in his face. “Yeah, well, don’t bank on it this time, kid. I have an idea I want to discuss with you, that’s all.”
Curiosity sparked in Joe’s eyes. “Yeah, what?”
“After supper, Joe—my room—be there,” Adam said and turned his attention back to grooming his horse.
Seeing that he wasn’t going to be able to pry anything more out of his stubborn oldest brother, Joe rolled his eyes at Hoss, who just shrugged and went back to his chores, figuring that if Adam needed to talk to Joe private-like, it was none of his business.
Adam went to his room directly after supper, while Joe dawdled around downstairs, mostly to demonstrate that he wasn’t at anybody’s beck and call. Curiosity, however, prevented his keeping up that pretense for long and within half an hour he was tapping on his older brother’s door. When Adam called, “Come in,” Joe did, closing the door and leaning against the jamb.
“Come on in; I won’t bite,” Adam teased. When Joe stepped forward, Adam nodded toward the bed.
Joe took a seat. “Okay, I’m here. What’s this all about?”
Adam pulled the chair out from his desk and straddled it backwards, facing his younger brother. “I talked Pa into letting me go to Philadelphia this summer for the Centennial.”
Joe cocked his head. “Yeah? Well, that’s real fine, Adam. Much as you’ve talked about it, I guess it means a lot to you. Look, if this is about me takin’ over your chores while you’re gone, I don’t figure Pa’ll give me much choice about that, anyway.”
Adam laughed. “You just don’t ever credit me with an unselfish thought, do you?”
“Well, sure—sure I do,” Joe protested.
“Uh-huh, sure.” Adam folded his arms on the back of the chair. “Well, believe it or not, I’ve had one. Of course, an objective scrutiny might only confirm that I’ve taken leave of my senses, but—”
“Are you gonna get to the point or not?” Joe demanded.
“I’m trying to,” Adam said tersely, “if you could avoid interrupting me. I’m trying to tell you that I asked Pa if I could take you with me and he said yes.”
Joe’s mouth dropped and his eyes grew large. “You want me to go,” he babbled, “and—and Pa said I could?”
Adam sat back, savoring the astonishment on his little brother’s face. “That’s right.”
Adam shook his head. “No, Pa said he couldn’t spare you both, so I picked you.”
Joe’s eyes narrowed with suspicion. For Adam to choose him over Hoss—for anything, much less something as marvelous as this trip sounded—was so far out of the ordinary that it definitely required further investigation. “What’s in this for you, Adam?”
Adam lifted his eyes to the ceiling; then he looked directly at his brother. “You can’t believe my motives are altruistic?”
After straining a moment to recall the meaning of a word he’d learned in school, but rarely used, Joe shook his head. “Nope, not in character for you at all, big brother.”
Adam licked his lips. “All right, I have to admit there is a price tag.”
“Aha!” Joe ejaculated in triumph. “And just how high is it?”
Adam shrugged. “Depends on your attitude. In my opinion you’re getting a bargain. I will pay all the expenses of the trip: rail fare, lodging, food, whatever you need. In return, I want you to visit a few college campuses.”
The match of Adam’s ambitions having been touched to the coal oil of Joe’s resistance, the younger boy’s temper flared. “I might have known you’d have something like that in mind! I made my decision about college already, big brother.”
“Yes, but that was an uninformed decision,” Adam argued. “You have no idea what college is really like.”
“I know what school is like, Adam!”
“Not at that level,” Adam stated calmly. “It’s a different world, Joe, and you owe it to yourself to see it before you turn it down.” He opened his hands, palms up in a gesture of conciliation. “Look, it will still be your decision. All I’m asking is that you give the issue a fair consideration.” He steepled his fingers and rested his chin on them. “Frankly, boy, I think looking at a few college campuses is a small price for what you’ll get in return, several weeks’ vacation from your chores and a chance to visit places you’ve never seen. Just being there will broaden your education, without your even trying, and I don’t intend it to be all work. You’ll have a good time, Joe.”
“How many colleges?” Joe demanded, obviously trying to calculate the exact cost before committing himself either way.
Adam threw up his hands in exasperation. “I don’t know; I haven’t had much time to think it through. We’ll be attending Commencement at Yale, so that’s one, although it’s more for me than for you.”
Joe’s mood abruptly brightened. “Well, that’s okay,” he said. “I’d like to see where you went to school, Adam.”
“Then there’s the University of Pennsylvania,” Adam went on. “Since we’ll be staying in the town where that’s located, it makes sense to visit it. Those two might be enough, or we might work in one or two more if you’re interested.”
“I won’t be,” Joe stated bluntly.
“Don’t be so quick to decide,” Adam admonished, raising a hand to silence Joe’s attempt to interrupt yet again. “It’s your decision, but I do ask that you try to keep an open mind.”
Joe shook his head, incredulous that a man as smart as Adam could find it so hard to understand a simple “not interested.”
“Just try,” Adam urged.
“Okay, I’ll try,” Joe conceded grudgingly.
Adam rolled his eyes. You’d think I was suggesting he try out a medieval rack, instead of offering him the opportunity to broaden his understanding of the world! “I think you’ve made a wise decision,” he said, keeping his darker opinion to himself, “and one that will bring you a large measure of enjoyment, as well. If you’re willing to listen to another word of wisdom, youngster, I suggest you save your pennies between now and late June. For one thing, you’ll need some dress clothes suitable for the East and appropriate footwear. I can assure you, little brother, that you do not want to walk the streets of Philadelphia or the twenty-five or so miles of walkways on the Centennial grounds themselves in a pair of boots made for riding horseback.”
Joe’s nose crinkled as he tried to calculate just how much this “free” trip might set him back.
Adam laughed. “Of course, you can probably wheedle Pa into paying for that, the way you have him wrapped around your little finger.”
There was a hint of jealousy in his tone, and Joe’s alert ear caught it. “I don’t get everything I want from Pa,” he muttered, sounding peeved.
Adam arched an eyebrow. “More than the rest of us, boy, and you know it! You’ll want to save up for souvenirs, too. I think it would be especially appropriate to bring home some nice remembrances for Hoss, since you’re getting to go and he isn’t.”
Joe smiled softly. “Yeah, I’d want to do that.” His expression brightened. “And Hoss’s birthday will be coming up right after we get back, too; I could get him something nice—and—and Christmas presents, real special ones, huh?”
Adam nodded. “Yes, you definitely could find some unique gifts from practically anywhere in the world, so I’d watch how much I wasted on beer and poker if I were you. I also think you should bone up on your early American history. You’ll be seeing some of the places where history took place, and it will be more meaningful if you have a fresh recollection of the key events of the Revolution.”
Not wanting to admit that his brother’s suggestion was a reasonable one, one that would probably enhance his enjoyment of the trip, Joe forced a soft moan. “Older brother, you can find ways to make even a vacation seem like extra chores.”
Chuckling at the exaggerated scowl with which Little Joe had met his final word of advice, Adam stood up. “Do it, anyway. I’m gonna break the bad news to Hoss if you’re sure you’re willing to accept the conditions of going with me.”
Joe frowned. “You already got me looking at colleges and reading up on the Revolution. You mean there’s more?”
“Just one more, and it comes from Pa,” Adam replied, folding his arms and eyeing his young brother with a patronizing air. “You can only go if you agree to put yourself under my authority and give me the same respect and obedience you’d give him. Is that agreed?”
Joe’s first reaction was an angry outburst. “Oh, this just gets better and better!” It took only two seconds, however, for him to realize the inevitability of minding Adam while he was away. Protective Pa would ask that of him, no matter where he went, even if it were only to Virginia City, so he quickly agreed and scurried out to tell Hoss that Adam wanted to see him next.
Joe had left the door to Adam’s room ajar, so Hoss merely opened it enough to poke his head through and ask, “What’s up? Joe’s lookin’ like the cat that ate the canary.”
Adam waved his brother in and gave him an amused smile. Hoss’s expressions might be colloquial, but they also tended to hit dead center. “I don’t doubt it for a minute. Sit down, Hoss.”
Hoss settled on the foot of Adam’s bed, and Adam sat down near the head, facing him, with one leg tucked under the other, which rested on the floor. “You know how interested I’ve been in the Centennial,” he began.
Hoss grinned broadly. “Been kinda hard to miss, big brother.”
Adam uttered a soft, self-deprecating laugh. “Yeah, I guess so. Well, I finally talked to Pa, and he agreed to let me go—and to take one of my brothers with me. I just told the canary-eating cat that he was my choice.”
Though Adam wouldn’t have thought it possible, Hoss’s grin grew even wider. “Hey, that’s great! I’m mighty proud for the both of you,” the big man said enthusiastically.
The genuine warmth of the response caused Adam to stutter. “Hoss, I—I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I couldn’t take you both.”
Hoss leaned forward, grasping Adam’s shoulder in a solid, supportive grip. “Aw, no, no, Adam, don’t feel bad,” he said. “You done right, pickin’ Joe, ‘stead of me. The youngun’ll get more out of it than I ever could—and enjoy it more, too. You know I ain’t much for big cities and fancy doin’s.”
Adam blinked back the drops forming at the corners of his eyes. While Hoss was listing reasons he himself had used in making his decision, Adam knew that Hoss was saying most of this for his benefit, and he loved his brawny brother all the more for his unselfish generosity. “Buddy, you know if I were deciding strictly on whose company I’d actually enjoy, you’d win, hands down,” he said with all the warmth he felt toward this man who was his closest friend, as well as his brother.
“Don’t sell the youngun short, Adam,” Hoss advised. “He can be right good company, if’n you let him.”
Outside the door, crimson-faced and ears flaming, stood the “youngun” in question. Deeply wounded by words Adam had intended only for Hoss’s ears, Little Joe crept down the hall to his own room, closed the door and flopped disconsolately down on the bed. So Adam didn’t really want him. Well, he’d known that, deep down. In fact, though he could only now admit it to himself, that suspicion was exactly what had motivated him to eavesdrop on what he knew to be a private conversation.
Ought to march right in there and tell him what he can do with his fancy trip east, he groused inwardly. It would be the right thing to do, to let Hoss go in his place and let Adam have the brother whose company he really wanted, but Joe couldn’t bring himself to make the sacrifice. He’d never been back east or much of anyplace outside home territory. A few trips to California with Pa or one of his brothers, a few a short ways east, but never past the boundary of his own state. He’d heard about those places in stories told by Pa and Adam, but he’d never seen them for himself, and he wanted to—badly.
Joe tried to make himself think of Hoss, who had never seen those things, either, but anger was fogging his mind with too dark a cloud for the light of generosity to penetrate. Adam may not have wanted him, but with a rigid set of his jaw, Joe determined to make doggone certain his older brother lived up to his bargain and to drive as hard a one as he could while he was at it! Adam would pay for giving such a wonderful gift with such a miserly spirit—oh, yes, he would pay!
Over the next several weeks Adam began to plan his trip to Philadelphia, with input from the other traveler neither requested nor desired. Careful perusal of back issues of his journals quickly apprised Adam of an oversight, and it was with hesitance that he requested an extension of his time away from the Ponderosa to attend the National Convention of Mining Engineers, which would convene in Philadelphia on June 20th. Ben had scowled at being left shorthanded an additional ten days, but as mining was an adjunct to their timber business, as well as a personal interest of his eldest son, he felt he had to agree. The convention was being held so close to the time that the boys would be in Philadelphia anyway that it seemed illogical to refuse.
Though no one had consulted him about the change of plans, Little Joe was delighted at the thought of ten extra days of vacation. To him, it meant more time to see more sights and the chance to have more fun, and while Hoss grumbled about taking on his brothers’ chores even longer than he’d bargained for, it was good-natured grumbling. Knowing how much Adam wanted to see the Ponderosa involved in the mining business, Hoss viewed the convention as a natural outlet for that interest, and it didn’t bother him one bit to see his little brother get some extra fun packed into his trip, either.
No longer did Adam have to force discussion of the Centennial on his family. Little Joe’s attitude evidenced the most marked change, of course, now that the national celebration actually did have something to do with him. Both Ben and Hoss found themselves caught up in the nightly discussions, as well, for each was interested in what the other two would be seeing and doing during their time away. Adam dragged out every issue of every journal he had that contained even a smidgen of information about Philadelphia or the festival to be held there. After rereading them himself he passed the magazines on to his youngest brother and found him much more responsive than usual to the offer of reading material. “Start with this one,” Adam suggested as he handed Joe the July 1875, issue of Manufacturer and Builder. “It should give you a good overall view of the buildings themselves.”
“Okay,” Joe agreed readily and started to scan the short article. “This says the Main Building covers twenty acres!” he exclaimed a few paragraphs into the text.
“And every acre covered with fascinating exhibits from around the world, little buddy,” Adam reminded him. Joe’s face fairly beamed with enthusiasm, which quickly faded at Adam’s next comment. “In order to get the full benefit from the experience, I’m working out a plan to cover the entire exhibition in a thorough manner, charting each day’s activities in a logical sequence.”
“Oh, that sounds like fun,” Joe muttered with a sarcastic edge to his voice.
Adam’s head shot up, and only the awareness of his father’s watchful eye kept him from giving the impudent kid the tongue-lashing Adam felt he had coming. With strained patience he waited for Joe to make eye contact before saying, “You’ll have plenty of fun, Joe”—his voice grew firmer—“but I don’t want to hear any complaints about seeing things you’re not interested in. It’s my trip, too.”
Joe’s innate sense of fairness brought a blush to his cheeks. It was Adam’s trip in every way that mattered: his idea, his money funding the trip, his invitation the only reason Joe was included at all. Embarrassed by the ingratitude he had been showing, Joe murmured an apology. “It’s only right for you to do the planning, Adam, since you’re the one footing all the bills.”
“I’m glad you realize that,” Adam responded, going back to his own reading. He completely missed the look of exasperation his father gave him, as well as the discouraged sigh with which Little Joe returned to the journal article.
By the time the brothers had absorbed everything in the journals, a book Adam had ordered as soon as he’d received permission to make the trip arrived in the mail. Every night thereafter found the two brothers sitting side by side, perusing with avid attention a guidebook to Philadelphia. Though Adam had visited the Quaker city during his sojourn in the East, much had been forgotten and much had changed, so he had felt a recent book noting the city’s attractions to be a prudent investment. From time to time he would point out places he considered worth seeing, but when Little Joe suggested that Colonel Wood’s Museum and the zoological park sounded interesting, Adam merely hooted his contempt for his young brother’s childish choices. Within moments Joe moved away from Adam and challenged Hoss to a game of checkers. Adam felt the snub, but chalked it up to another display of childish petulance.
By the time Joe had defeated Hoss at three straight games, his good temper was restored, and the two younger Cartwright brothers headed off to bed, teasing each other about who would win the next night’s contest. Yawning, Adam laid aside the guidebook. “Guess I’d better turn in, as well. We have a lot of work lined out for tomorrow.”
“I’d prefer you stay,” Ben said, taking a final draw on his pipe before laying it aside. “I want to talk to you, Adam.”
Something in his father’s tone gave Adam an uneasy feeling. “Something wrong?” he asked.
Ben folded his arms across his chest as he settled back in the leather chair. “Not yet, but there will be if you continue on this course you’ve set.”
Adam exhaled slowly. “If we’re going to play guessing games, we’ll be up far later than is conducive to an early start tomorrow.”
Disturbed by his son’s apparent inability to see what was painfully clear to his own eyes, Ben shook his head. “Do you honestly not realize what you’re doing to your brother?”
Adam pursed his lips. “I presume you’re talking about Joe?”
“Then you do know what I mean,” Ben said, watching Adam’s face carefully.
Adam lifted his palms toward the ceiling. “Not really. I just know that if there’s a problem, it’s bound to be with Joe. Hoss and I don’t have problems.”
“That’s obviously due to Hoss’s skill with people, not yours,” Ben grunted.
Adam sat up stiffly. “What does that mean?”
“It means, young man, that you are shutting your young brother out of the planning of this trip,” Ben stated bluntly. “Adam, you told me that you hoped this time with your brother might draw the two of you together. Well, son, if you keep charting the same course, I can guarantee that ship will crash upon the breakers, and you will find yourself cast into some very choppy water.”
“You’re talking in riddles again,” Adam accused.
Ben groaned. For an intelligent man, sometimes his oldest son could be amazingly obtuse. “Why do you automatically assume that all of your ideas are correct and all of Joseph’s are wrong?” he demanded.
A stubborn glint flashed in Adam’s dark eyes. “Because I have a better understanding of the options we have to choose between. We can’t do everything, Pa; we don’t have the time. That makes it incumbent on me to make the best possible use of what we do have. I’m going to show the kid a good time, but I want it to be a profitable one, as well.”
“What’s so unprofitable about a museum—or a zoo?” Ben pressed.
“The museum he mentioned is decidedly inferior to others in the area, more of a popular pleasure place than an educational experience,” Adam argued. “I suppose there might be some profit in a visit to the zoological gardens, if I can find the time to work it in.”
“Make time,” Ben said.
The statement was less than a command, but more than a suggestion, and Adam’s face clearly showed that he understood his father meant what he said. “All right, Pa,” he murmured. “I’ll take the kid to see the monkeys. May I go to bed now?” The question, tinged with sarcasm, demonstrated, as he fully intended it to, Adam’s disgust with being treated like a small child.
Feeling that there was little point in further conversation, Ben waved his son off to bed. I’d need a chisel to break through that granite head of his, he told himself, which means I’ll have to come down harder on Joseph, instead. He sighed, glad that he had a few weeks to prepare that final lecture to his youngest son on obedience and submission to his brother’s authority. Considering Adam’s arrogant attitude, it would have to be a firm one, and Ben was likely to need every minute of the intervening time to find just the right words.
March drifted into April, and Ben and Hoss became accustomed to the atypical sight of Little Joe curled up on the sofa each evening, nose buried in a history book. Having decided that Adam wasn’t listening to anything he had to say, anyway, Joe ignored the plans for the trip and turned his attention to other things. Doing the reading assignment Adam had suggested was high on his list. Joe viewed it as a condition of the trip and intended to give Adam no reason for withdrawing his magnanimous offer. Besides, although Joe did not for one minute consider admitting it, he was enjoying the stories of the early days of his country, now that he didn’t have to concentrate on memorizing dates and other useless information for some test in school. After all, the events of 1776 were on everyone’s tongue in this centennial year, and Joe had found, to his surprise, that girls were impressed by the gems of knowledge he dropped into conversation from time to time.
Adam noted with satisfaction the diligence with which Joe refreshed his grasp of history. In his view, however, far too little of his young brother’s time was spent in such worthwhile pursuits and far too much in playing checkers with Hoss or squiring some cute skirt to a local dance or dawdling over a beer or a poker table in the Bucket of Blood. In fact, as April turned into May, Adam began to be concerned that Little Joe was not making the proper personal preparations for the journey. “Have you even seen a tailor to be fitted for a proper suit?” Adam asked irritably one evening while Hoss was out making a final check on the stock before going to bed.
Stretched out on the sofa, Joe took another bite of a juicy apple and mumbled, “Nope.”
“Well, don’t you think it’s time you did?” Adam persisted.
“Nope.” Joe grinned back amiably.
“I do not intend to walk the streets of Philadelphia next to someone wearing grubby range trousers,” Adam cautioned, “so I would advise you to start putting your wardrobe together, boy.”
Joe bounced up, eyes snapping. “Mind your own business, Adam! I’ll do my shopping when and where I see fit.”
Ben cleared his throat and both boys turned toward him. “You probably shouldn’t put it off much longer, Joseph. By the time spring roundup is finished, you’ll only have about a month, and if you delay too long, you may get tied up with other things.”
Turning his back on Adam, Joe directed his response solely to his father. “Pa, I was thinking that I might just wait ‘til I got to Philadelphia to get the fancy clothes Adam seems to think I need. I mean, the guidebook says some of the biggest and best department stores in the country are in Philadelphia, and Adam’s gonna be tied up in that mining meeting the first two days we’re there, so I’d have plenty of time to do my shopping then.”
Ben nodded, considering the idea, but Adam immediately interrupted. “No, that won’t do,” he said sharply. “If you think I’m turning you loose on the streets of Philadelphia alone, little boy—”
Joe swiveled to glare at his brother. “Don’t call me that! I’m not some little kid who can’t find his way around, Adam.”
Adam looked down his nose at his irate younger brother. “Joe, it’s a huge city; you have no idea how easily you could become disoriented.”
“Look, Adam, you can’t expect me to just sit in a hotel room for two days!” Joe snapped.
“I expect you to do as you’re told!” Adam shouted back. “Frankly, boy, I wish I could have a couple of days to rest up from that long train trip, instead of having to take in those meetings the day after we arrive.”
“Breakers ahead,” Ben growled. Little Joe merely gave his father a blank look, but Adam, who recognized the metaphor from the earlier discussion, slumped with frustration. Why couldn’t Little Joe—or Pa, for that matter—see that he had the boy’s welfare at heart?
“Isn’t the purpose of that guidebook, Adam, to acquaint those unfamiliar with the city with how to get around?” Ben suggested.
“Well, yes, of course,” Adam acquiesced grudgingly, “but do you really want to see your baby son running the streets of a major metropolis all by himself?”
Joe’s hands tightened into fists. “Oh, now we’ve gone from ‘little boy’ all the way down to ‘baby,’ have we? Keep it up, Adam, and that smart mouth of yours will get a taste of this baby’s knuckles!” He shook his left fist toward his older brother.
“Put that down,” Ben ordered tersely, and Joe let the fist drop, his fingers slowly uncurling under Pa’s reproachful gaze.
Adam smiled. “You see? Can you really trust anyone that childish on his own in the second largest city in the United States?” He lifted a supercilious eyebrow in Joe’s direction.
Noting Joe’s crestfallen face, Ben smiled gently at him. “I don’t have a problem with it so long as he stays within a proscribed area,” he said and was rewarded by the tender glow of emerald eyes. “You’re staying downtown, near the business district, aren’t you?” he continued to query Adam.
Adam nodded in reluctant agreement. “At the Washington Hotel, yes. It’s a central location, part of the reason I chose it.”
“So Joseph could do his shopping without going more than a few blocks from the hotel, couldn’t he?” Ben prodded.
Adam exhaled with exasperation. “Yes, of course, but you’re overlooking another pertinent fact.”
“And that is?”
Adam tried to keep his tone reasonable. “The very fact that I will be tied up in meetings for two days means that I won’t be available to supervise his purchases.”
“I don’t need you to supervise my purchases!” Joe retorted. “I know how to pick out a pair of pants, older brother.”
“I just want to make sure you get the proper garments and that no one takes advantage of you, kid,” Adam tried to explain patiently.
“I can take care of myself!” Joe shouted.
“Lower your voice,” Ben admonished.
“But, Pa . . .”
Ben silenced the protest with an upraised hand. Hearing his oldest son chuckle at the curbing of his youngest, however, he turned severe eyes toward the man in the blue chair. “I believe Joseph is perfectly capable of selecting his own clothes, Adam, so I will expect you to acquaint him with the business area, give him some reasonable boundaries within which he’s required to stay—by my order, Joseph—and leave it at that. Is that clear?”
The smug grin faded from Adam’s face and reappeared on Joe’s. “Yes, sir, that’s clear,” the older boy stated tersely, his tone indicating that while his opinion had been overruled, it had not changed.
Around the middle of May, Little Joe turned nineteen, and all the gifts he received related to the journey that he would be making a month later. Hop Sing delivered his gift early that morning, as Little Joe was dressing for the day. Opening the slender box, Joe found a gray silk cravat. “Silk come all-a-way from China,” the Cantonese cook announced. “You wear with fancy suit so not fo’get Hop Sing when gone.”
Joe feigned offense at the suggestion. “As if I would! Hop Sing, you know I’d take you with me, except my poor brother Hoss would pine away without you here to keep him going.”
“How you pay fo’ Hop Sing ticket when Mistah Adam have to pay fo’ yours?” Hop Sing asked tartly. His attempt to cover his emotion failing, he added, “You be a good boy, Little Joe.”
Joe pressed his palm to his heart. “Good as gold—just like always,” he vowed, then threw his head back and cackled.
Hop Sing wagged his head at what he typically referred to as “foolishment” and turned away quickly so Little Joe would not see the merriment twinkling in his almond eyes. “Hmph! You good like fool’s gold,” he scoffed, using a simile he’d picked up from Adam.
Recognizing the source, Little Joe poked his tongue at the back of Hop Sing’s head, but he didn’t really mind it when Hop Sing said the words. Knowing his friend spoke them in jest, the words didn’t carry the same sting they did when his much-too-critical eldest brother uttered them in complete sincerity.
The family’s celebration, a private one this year, took place after a supper of Joe’s favorite foods. His father presented him with a plain white envelope, which contained a brief, but valuable letter, informing Joe that the family tailor would be expecting him for a fitting within the week. “I thought you should have one proper suit before you left home,” Ben explained, “in case what you buy in Philadelphia can’t be altered as quickly as you have need. You pick whatever style and fabric you want, son, and have Mr. Barton send me the bill.”
Joe flashed a grateful smile and thanked his father before opening Adam’s gift next. As he had expected from the size and shape of the box, it contained a comfortable and stylish pair of balmorals. Despite his insistence that he wanted to do his shopping in Philadelphia, Joe had done some investigation in the stores of Virginia City, and he knew that these shoes were of better quality and higher price than he would have considered buying himself. His expression of thanks to Adam was heartfelt and hearty.
Hoss’s gift aroused almost as much curiosity in the youngest Cartwright as had his father’s, for Joe had no more idea what aid to his trip the bulky bundle might conceal than he’d had about the contents of that unassuming envelope. It turned out to be a new carpetbag, the first Little Joe had personally owned. On previous travels he had always borrowed whatever luggage he needed from another member of the family and had planned to do so for this journey, as well, but he was delighted to have a bag of his own and told Hoss so.
Hoss crinkled his nose in the self-effacing way he had. “Just figured you’d need an extra, with havin’ to pack for such a long trip,” he said. “Or maybe you’ll just wanna save this one for totin’ back them fancy duds you buy back east.”
Joe flung an arm around his bulky brother. “Not on your life,” he declared. “I’m using this for my on-train clothes. I want to keep it close to me.”
Hoss blushed with pleasure and, to take attention off himself, suggested that it was time for Joe to blow out his candles and cut the cake. A couple of loud amen’s met this suggestion, and with a happy grin Joe moved toward the table, where Hop Sing stood ready with matches to light the nineteen candles.
The next four weeks flew. Both Adam, in business matters, and Little Joe, in his horse-breaking responsibilities, were diligent in making sure that their work was caught up so the load on those left behind would be as light as possible. On the night of June 12th both excused themselves directly after supper to complete their packing, for the long-anticipated journey would begin early the next morning.
Little Joe had just finished laying out what he would wear on the train when he heard a rap on his door and called, “Come in.”
Though Joe had expected to see Adam, come to offer yet another piece of unwanted advice about what he should pack in his bag for the train and what should be checked through to Omaha, he was pleased to see his father, instead. “Hey, Pa, come on in,” he said with a bright smile. “I wanted a chance to say good-bye.”
“No need for that now,” Ben said as he closed the door behind him. “You can do that at the depot tomorrow.”
“You gonna see us off?” Joe asked, eyes glowing. “I figured you wouldn’t want to get up that early.”
Ben reached out to caress the back of his son’s neck. “I’m not the one who has a hard time getting up in the morning, young man,” he teased. “Besides, I want to keep you in sight as long as I can. I’m going to miss you, son.”
Joe moved into his father’s arms. “I’m gonna miss you, too, Pa.”
“Now, you’re not getting homesick already, are you?” Ben chided playfully as he broke the embrace and took a seat at the foot of Joe’s bed.
Joe plopped down companionably next to him. “Naw, that’s for kids.”
“Oh.” Ben smiled wryly, amused, as always, by Joe’s deep-seated need to be considered a man. He patted the boy’s knee. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know, longing for your loved ones when you’re far from home.”
Joe shrugged as he offered his father a sheepish smile. “I guess.”
“Getting excited?” Ben suggested, to point his son’s thoughts in another direction.
Joe almost bubbled. “Oh, yeah! So much I don’t know if I’ll sleep a wink tonight. Been looking forward to this for so long, I can’t believe it’s really happening. I was kind of scared I’d manage to bang myself up somehow and have to miss it, after all.”
“Oh, Joe,” Ben commiserated. “I wish I’d known. That’s not a good frame of mind to have when you’re breaking horses.”
“I did a good job,” Joe murmured defensively.
“You did an excellent job,” Ben praised warmly, “but if I’d known how you were feeling, I could have gotten you some more help, so you wouldn’t have had to do so much of that bronc-busting yourself.”
“I wanted to do it myself,” Joe assured him, “and I was extra careful. Just a silly little idea nibblin’ at the back of my mind, that’s all. Nothing to it.”
Ben drew an envelope from inside his vest. “I have something for you.”
Joe took the envelope and gave his father a cheeky smile. “I don’t think I have time for another visit to Mr. Barton, Pa.”
Ben laughed at the reference to the birthday gift he’d given his son. “No, but about half the money in that envelope is intended to go toward your clothing purchases in Philadelphia, the rest being an advance on your next month’s wages.”
Joe whistled at the sum inside the envelope. “Thanks, Pa, this’ll really help. I—uh—haven’t done quite as good a job as I intended of saving my pennies, as Adam puts it.”
“I know,” Ben said, a touch gruffly.
Joe glanced up hesitantly, wondering if Pa knew that he had not only failed to save his pennies, but had, in fact, lost a goodly number of them at the poker table. The look on Pa’s face clearly showed that he did know, so Joe didn’t bother trying to hide his failings. “Seemed like a good way to make more pennies at the time,” he sighed, “but I came up short, instead of ahead.”
Ben had to laugh. Joseph, at barely nineteen, was simply too young to have developed a proficient poker face. His open countenance instantly told opponents whether his hand was a good one or he was trying to bluff through a bad one. “Let that be a lesson to you, young man,” Ben said lightly and then grew more serious. “Try to stay out of poker games while you’re away, Joseph, and don’t go near anything riskier.”
Joe squirmed a little. “Hey, I don’t think I’ll have much chance to get into trouble with that old watchdog of a brother along,” he quipped.
“That old watchdog is filling that role at my behest,” Ben stated firmly. “I want you to remember that while you are away, you are to give the same obedience and respect to your older brother that I would expect you to give me.”
“Pa, I know,” Joe said. It was not the first time he’d heard that lecture and saw no reason for another repetition. “I’ll mind Adam best I can.”
Ben arched an eyebrow. “You will mind him totally, Joseph.”
Joe straightened up and nodded briskly. “Yes, sir, that’s what I meant.” Seeing his father’s smile, he loosened up. “Thanks again for the money, Pa. I sure never expected anything like this. It’s an awful lot of money for you to throw away on your slapdash son.”
Ben brushed the comment aside. “Far less than I would have spent on your college education, had you chosen to go that route, and I figure this trip will stand in place of that as an opportunity for learning.”
Impulsively, Joe grabbed his father for another hug, his heart brimming with gratitude that Pa, at least, understood his feelings about college and held out no expectations that this trip would change them. Now, if he could just convince stubborn old Adam.
Ben brushed a quick kiss behind the boy’s ear, and then stood up. “Better turn in soon, Joe,” he advised. “It’ll be a short night, as it is.”
“I will,” Joe promised. “Good night, Pa.”
“Good night, son,” Ben said with one final ruffle of the boy’s chestnut curls, an indulgence he knew he couldn’t allow himself at the depot tomorrow.
Ben moved down the hall to the room of his oldest son and knocked on the door.
“That you, Joe?” Adam called.
Ben opened the door. “No, it’s me, son. I know you’re busy, but I’d like a moment of your time.”
“I’m finished,” Adam said, gesturing for his father to enter, “but I probably should check on Little Joe one last time. I’ve tried to give him good advice about his packing, but I don’t think he’s been listening.”
“Leave him be, Adam,” Ben advised. “He’s not likely to make any mistakes he can’t live with, when it comes to simply packing a carpetbag.”
“I suppose not,” Adam admitted. “Is that what you wanted to tell me, to go easy on Joe?”
Ben frowned, and his voice carried an air of irritation as he began, “I don’t want you ‘to go easy’ on him, but”—the tone softened to an entreaty—“be good to him, son.”
Adam sat on his bed, folding his arms behind his head and leaning back against the headboard. “I was under the impression that I was already being rather expansively ‘good to him,’” he observed.
Ben shook his head. “You’re being expansively generous—with your money. I just wish you could be as generous with your heart, Adam.”
Adam bristled. Though Pa rarely brought up the issue, he had, on other occasions, admonished his eldest son about what he called Adam’s “inclination toward aloofness,” his tendency to hold even those he loved at arms’ length. Adam slowly sat up, prepared to defend himself if his father broached that uncomfortable subject yet again.
Seeing the reaction, Ben softened his counsel. “Enjoy your brother’s company, Adam. Most people do, you know, and there must be some reason. I think it’s time you discovered it.” He pulled from his vest an envelope identical to the one he’d given Little Joe. “This contains your wages for the time you’ll be gone,” he explained, “as well as a bonus to spend as you see fit. I just gave Joseph a similar sum, which I expect him to spend on clothing.”
“I’ll see to it,” Adam assured him.
“No need,” Ben said firmly. “I trust Joseph. Adam, I’m sure there will be plenty of instances when you have to pull him up on a short rein, but don’t make problems for yourself by yanking the bit when you don’t have to.”
Adam smiled at the image of a bit in his little brother’s mouth. It would make him so much easier to control! As that was not a thought he could share with his father, he said, instead, “It’s good advice, and I’ll bear it in mind, Pa.”
Ben nodded at the envelope in his son’s hand. “Don’t be afraid to ask for more if you need it; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I want you to enjoy it fully. You’ve always been trustworthy and frugal, Adam, but I don’t want you to stint yourself—or Joseph—unnecessarily. And as we’ve discussed before, make whatever purchases for the Ponderosa you deem worthwhile. I have implicit faith in your judgment, son.”
Though less open emotionally than the other Cartwrights, Adam glowed under the warmth of his father’s praise. “I’m sure I won’t need any extra money,” he told his father, “but I do appreciate your ‘expansive generosity,’ and I thank you, especially, for your trust. It means a lot to me, Pa, and I’ll do my best to be worthy of it.”
Ben rested a hand on Adam’s shoulder, as much physical contact as his eldest normally was willing to accept. “Best turn in soon,” he said softly. “You don’t want your little brother dragging you out of bed in the morning.”
“That’ll be the day!” Adam laughed.
An apricot glow was peeking over the amethyst horizon as the Cartwright buckboard pulled into Mill Station, the closest stop on the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, which would carry Adam and Joe as far as Reno. Ordering Little Joe to unload the luggage, Adam hopped off the wagon and headed inside the small depot to purchase two tickets.
Joe swung down from his black and white pinto, tying the reins to the rear of the buckboard. “Beginning to think the real reason he asked me along was to fetch and carry,” he muttered as he stroked Cochise’s muzzle.
Hoss, who was tying his big black next to the smaller pinto, heard the complaint and gave his little brother a playful chuck under the chin. “I’ll give you a hand,” he offered, “if’n you’ll wipe that scowl off your face.”
Joe flashed a grin. “You got a deal.” Adam did have other things to take care of, after all, and it was too early to get riled over something as silly as toting a few bags. His mood improved even more when his father gave him a pat on the back and reached for one of the bags, too.
Adam returned in time to supervise the loading of their luggage into the baggage car. Then, since the train was scheduled to pull out in just a few minutes, he shook hands in farewell, first with Hoss and then his father.
Little Joe started to imitate the grownup behavior, but a sudden realization of how long it would be until he again saw Pa or Hoss washed over him, and, instead, he impulsively flung himself into his father’s embrace.
“Be a good boy, Joe,” Ben chuckled, twining his fingers through the freshly shorn chestnut curls on his shoulder, “and have a good time.”
“I will,” Joe promised; then he pulled away to exchange a quick hug with Hoss. “Take care of Cooch for me,” he urged.
“You know I will,” Hoss assured him. He had no time to say more, for Little Joe, embarrassed by his public display of emotion, broke free to bound for the long yellow passenger coach, gripping his new carpetbag by its padded handle.
“Take care of him,” Ben charged Adam, smiling as he gestured with his head toward the departing figure of his youngest son.
“Oh, I will,” Adam replied easily. From the lofty peaks of adulthood, he found Little Joe’s child-like behavior amusing, but he felt a touch of wistfulness, as well. Although he almost never expressed himself with his little brother’s affectionate abandon, there were times when he wished he could. Moments like this headed the list.
Noticing the small hamper still sitting on the wooden platform, Hoss picked it up and handed it to Adam. “Hey, don’t forget your lunch,” he said. “Hop Sing done fixed you up an extra nice one. I know; I peeked.”
“And there’s still food in it?” Adam teased.
“Well, I did snitch one cookie,” Hoss confessed. “Don’t you be tellin’ on me now, older brother.”
“My lips are sealed,” Adam promised, raising his hand as if taking an oath in court. With a final wave he headed toward the train. Entering the passenger car, he found that Little Joe had already snared the spot next to the window on the red velour seat and was pressed up against the glass, waving to Pa and Hoss.
“Homesick already?” Adam sniggered softly, as his brother continued to wave until the train pulled out of the depot and the other Cartwrights faded from view.
Little Joe’s nose crinkled, Adam’s question having a completely different feel than when Pa had uttered the same query the night before. Joe was used to his big brother’s brand of teasing, though, and didn’t really take offense. “Naw, ’course not,” he alleged, brushing the comment aside, “but I will miss them. Won’t you?”
Adam nodded companionably at the younger boy. “I have to admit I will.”
While Adam, yawning, stretched back with his eyes closed, Little Joe watched the miles rush past the window, but not for long. Since it was only twenty-four miles to Reno, the first leg of the grand expedition took just under an hour. Joe could hardly contain his excitement when the train pulled into the Reno depot, for here would begin the real adventure as they transferred to the Central Pacific Railroad for the next stage of the long journey.
Adam seemed determined to squelch that enthusiasm, however. At least, that’s how his younger brother viewed the order to bring the bags to the check-in window and then run fetch a copy of the State Journal, the local newspaper. Joe chafed under the imperious attitude, but did as he was told, reminding himself that Adam was busy with final arrangements for the trip: buying tickets, checking bags through to Omaha, securing their sleeping berths and whatever else needed to be done before they boarded. Don’t be a baby, Joe, he scolded himself. Buying a paper is nothing compared to all that. Disgruntlement reared up again for a moment, though. Just don’t like being ordered around, is all. Then, with a determined effort, he swept the sour disposition aside and was all smiles again when the conductor called, “All aboard!”
Joe scampered up the steps ahead of Adam and down the carpeted aisle, aiming once again for a seat by the window, but Adam took a firm grip on his elbow and pulled him back. “Not this time, little boy.”
“Aw, come on, Adam,” Joe wheedled. “I’ve never seen any of these places. You have. Besides, you’re just gonna read.” He tapped the journal in his brother’s hand.
“Precisely why I need the window seat, for better lighting,” Adam stated matter-of-factly as he settled in next to the window. “I paid for these seats, boy; I will decide who sits where.”
Little Joe flopped down next to his brother, folded his arms and sulked, which produced no effect on Adam except mild amusement. The train crossed the valley and started up a mountain—so far, all scenery that Joe had seen from horseback at one time or another. The cars plunged down that mountain to lush Truckee Meadows below and then up another, for Nevada was composed of range after parallel range of mountains, stretching north to south across its width. Joe gave some attention to what he could see of the mountains streaked in variegated shades of white, red, yellow and pale green clay, but this, too, was scenery he’d seen before. Bored with the familiar and weary of acting glum for Adam’s benefit, he began looking around the car, watching his fellow passengers with interest and eventually striking up brief conversations with those nearest him.
They’d been traveling about an hour when a boy of thirteen or fourteen came down the aisle, hawking candy, nuts, fruit, newspapers and magazines. Deciding to follow his older brother’s example and maybe merit a share of the light from the window, Joe stopped the boy and asked what he had to read.
“Oh, I got all the latest magazines and dime novels, sir,” the train boy said, eagerly rattling off a few titles. “And I’ve got Croffut’s Trans-Continental Guide, too. Tells you all about what’s coming up down the track, that one does, and it’s only twenty-five cents.”
“All right, I’ll take one of those,” Joe decided, reasoning that Adam would probably not poke his nose out of his own magazine long enough to give his brother any kind of information. He also selected one of the dime novels, The White Chief; or, The Track of the Avenger by Joseph F. Henderson, in case he wanted something light to read later on. It had been a tough choice between that and the most recent addition to Beadle’s New Dime Library, The Squaw Spy; or, The Rangers of the Lava-Beds by Captain Charles Howard, and Joe’s final decision had been based solely on his sharing a first name with the author of The White Chief.
Glancing at his brother’s choice, Adam rolled his eyes. Trash, utter trash. Didn’t the kid ever want to fill his mind with something more substantial than pabulum? He was, however, glad to see Little Joe set aside the salmon paperback and open the railroad guide first. That, at least, was a wise investment, something he himself might like to skim through when his brother was finished.
The rails crossed the Truckee River just before pulling into Wadsworth, a town of only four hundred people, but a base of operations for the Central Pacific with a twenty-stall roundhouse and a machine shop where engines could be entirely rebuilt. One end of the shop was fenced in, enclosing a bottle-green oasis in the dry terrain. A central fountain provided enough water to sustain a few trees, as well as alfalfa and bluegrass, proving the wonders that irrigation could produce in Nevada’s arid climate. That dryness was again evident as they pulled away from town. On both sides of the track, wind had whipped sand around scattered clumps of sagebrush, making mounds similar to the hills in which farmers of more moist regions planted corn or potatoes.
Leaving the mountains behind temporarily, the train began a long pull across an unappealing stretch of desert, with Humboldt Lake providing a much-needed break in the barren landscape. In an effort to see the salt-rimmed expanse with pelicans and wild geese sporting around it, Joe craned his neck toward the window, practically draping himself across Adam’s lap.
“Do you mind?” Adam asked dryly, and Joe pulled back, again folding his arms in childish discontent as the train passed the reddish brown Trinity Range on the left. Growing warm, Joe twisted out of his corduroy jacket. Both he and Adam had dressed in their comfortable range wear for the early part of the trip, although, at Adam’s insistence, each had a suit packed in his carpetbag to change into before reaching Philadelphia.
When the train stopped at Humboldt for the noon meal, the Cartwright boys had been on the road for almost six hours since leaving Reno, and breakfast had been about three hours before that. “I am famished,” Little Joe announced as Adam pulled the lunch hamper from beneath his seat.
“Small wonder,” Adam commented, “considering what little justice you did to your breakfast.”
“Aw, don’t you start ridin’ me about that, too,” Joe grumbled. He’d been too excited to eat, and Hop Sing had flown into an almost apoplectic rage at sight of the food remaining on Joe’s plate.
“I have a feeling I have you to thank for the abundance in this basket,” Adam sighed. “I tried to tell Hop Sing packing a lunch was unnecessary, but he wouldn’t listen. Now not only do we miss the chance of dining at what is supposed to be one of the best eateries on the line, but we have a completely unnecessary basket to juggle around once it’s empty.”
“He meant it as a kindness, Adam, so we wouldn’t have to rush around, getting off the train for food,” Little Joe said, quick to defend his friend. He pulled a fried chicken leg from the basket and sank his teeth into the flavorful flesh.
“I know that,” Adam replied. “It was, of course, very thoughtful of him, and you’re right; I shouldn’t complain. After all, we can eat here on the way home.”
“Sure,” Joe said brightly. “That’ll be something to look forward to. Hey, the train’s gonna be here awhile, isn’t it?”
“Thirty minutes,” Adam informed him.
“I want to get out and stretch my legs a little,” Joe said, standing up.
“All right,” Adam agreed, “but be back here in fifteen minutes. I don’t want you getting left behind; it would be no end of trouble getting back together again.”
Joe rolled his eyes, frustrated by the amount of control his big brother seemed to think it necessary to exert. “I’ve got some sense, older brother!”
“And absolutely no experience!” Adam declared. “You do as I say, boy.”
“Yeah, sure,” Joe muttered, figuring fifteen minutes would be enough. After all, he was hungry and eager to explore the depths of that amply packed hamper. Grabbing a wing with his right hand to go with the leg in his left, he ambled down the aisle toward the exit, munching as he went.
I need to talk to that boy about his manners, Adam observed, but then he shook his head. No, that was probably the kind of thing that would cause his father to mutter, “Breakers ahead,” if he were here. Better save my lectures for more serious offenses. No doubt the opportunities will be plentiful!
Little Joe wandered down the plank platform, sniffing the air appreciatively. If you could go by your nose—and Hoss always said you could—the fare at the Humboldt House was probably as good as its reputation. Not, Joe was sure, as good as Hop Sing’s, though, and he, for one, was grateful to have one last home-cooked meal before trusting himself to the mercies of roadside restaurants. The only thing he regretted was not dipping into that hamper sooner. Sort of defeats the purpose of carrying your food with you, to wait ‘til almost one o’clock, like folks that got no choice. Surprised old Adam didn’t think of that, except he’s so caught up in whatever he’s reading that his belly’d probably have to rumble louder than a train engine for him to notice.
Joe walked over to look at the fountain outside the building to which his fellow travelers were headed for dinner. The fountain was surrounded by an iron fence, but the gate opened easily and Joe went in to dabble his hands in the lukewarm water, washing away the chicken grease and bathing the back of his neck with the few drops that clung to his fingertips. Grinning at the gold fish in the basin of the fountain, he bent to test the texture of the bluegrass growing around its base. Here, as back in Wadsworth, water made all the difference between fruitless desert and nourishing meadow grasses, fit for fattening cattle. Joe smiled, recalling with pride that his father had been among the first cattlemen to irrigate pastureland and plant it with alfalfa, thus extending the range available to their cattle. The fine feed was one of the reasons Ponderosa beef was considered the best in the West.
He spotted an apple orchard down a slight slope and was tempted to take a walk beneath its shady green canopy, for the day was growing hot. The time limit Adam had imposed was almost up, however, and the aromas wafting from the Humboldt House reminded Joe of how hungry he was. More for that reason than from obedience to Adam, Joe tripped back along the boardwalk and onto the train, though he did relish the smile of approbation from his older brother as he took his seat within the time designated.
Joe polished off another piece of chicken before the train departed and was doing all the justice Hop Sing could have wanted to the oatmeal cookies when he caught sight of a freckled-faced boy three rows down the aisle. The kid was staring with obvious yearning at the cookie in Joe’s hand, so with a grin Joe held one up and called, “Want one? I’ve got plenty.”
Pulling on his mother’s arm, the boy pointed at Joe and whispered a plea for permission to take the treat. The mother smiled and nodded, and before Adam knew what was happening, his little brother was sitting beside the lady, holding the boy in his lap as they both gawked out the window at the changing scenery. Joe caught Adam’s eye and tossed him an sassy smile, as if to point out the contrast between his mean-spirited brother and the unselfish lady, who probably needed the light for her knitting, but had without grudging given her little boy and the charming stranger the window seat.
As the train pulled into Winnemucca, the ten-year-old boy with hair the color of ripened wheat gasped at the size of the city. “Wow, that’s the biggest place I ever seen!” Petey declared. “You ever seen one bigger, mister?”
Winnemucca, boasting a population of only twelve hundred, wasn’t really all that large a city, but Joe didn’t want to put the boy down by pointing that out. He just answered the question directly. “Yeah, I’ve been to San Francisco, and it’s lots bigger than this.”
“Bet it don’t got as big an engine house, though,” Petey argued. “Ain’t that a whopper?”
Joe smiled, enjoying the kid’s enthusiasm. “Yeah, sure is. San Francisco’s the end of the line, so it might have a good-sized one, too, but this is a big one ‘cause it’s the end of a division. I read that in the railroad guidebook.”
Petey’s eyes widened in awe. “Say, mister, you know ‘most everything!”
Joe couldn’t resist flinging a frown at Adam. “Some folks think I know next to nothing,” he muttered.
“Well, they must be plumb dumb, huh, mister?” the loyal boy declared.
Joe giggled. “In the things that count, I’d have to agree. But what you mean by calling me ‘mister’? We’re friends, aren’t we? Call me Joe.”
Petey flashed a crooked grin and thrust out his hands. “Yeah, friends. Shake on it, Joe?”
Solemnly, Joe gave the small hand a firm shake, and he and Petey turned their attention back to the window. There weren’t many sights to see, though, and when the boy’s head came to rest on his shoulder, Joe handed him to his mother and took his seat at Adam’s side, peeking over his shoulder at what his older brother was reading.
Feeling the eyes boring into him, Adam shifted uneasily. “Must you?” he asked tartly.
“What’s it about?” Joe asked.
Adam sighed. “It’s a treatise on new mining techniques, sure to be discussed at the convention. I’m trying to absorb them so I’ll be able to make appropriate comments, if I’m asked.”
Joe scowled, wondering how Adam could possibly be interested in anything that sounded as dry as that. “Can I read the newspaper, then?” he asked.
Adam shot him a perturbed look. “If you ask for it properly, you may.”
Joe rolled his eyes at his brother’s ability to catch every grammatical mistake he made. “May I read the newspaper now, older brother, sir?” he asked, uttering the request with word-by-word care. Adam smiled in self-satisfaction and handed over the copy of the Reno State Journal that Joe had purchased for him that morning.
The paper didn’t hold Joe’s interest long. There wasn’t much going on in Reno that he didn’t already know about, at least nothing that he was interested in. Pulling out The White Chief, he opened the thin book and glanced inquiringly toward Adam. “Don’t suppose you’d be willing to share that window light?”
Adam just hooted. “I don’t intend to encourage your reading such trivial trash!” In truth, he had no real faith that even such light reading material would long hold Joe’s flighty attention and sighed at the realization that this was going to be a very long trip with this restless child at his side.
Joe read for about an hour; then, as Adam had predicted, he was up, wandering the aisles, talking to other passengers and, before Adam realized it, had left the car to stand on the platform at its end. Adam finished one article and had just turned the page to begin another when he noticed that his little brother was nowhere in sight. By instinct, he headed for the door at the end of the enclosed car and exited to find the boy leaning over the rail. “What do you think you’re doing?” Adam demanded.
“Just lookin’,” Joe replied, turning to face his brother and propping his elbows on the rail behind. “It’s a better view, even, than that window seat you won’t share.”
Adam jerked him away from the edge. “You are not supposed to be out here; it’s against company rules.”
Joe twisted his arm free. “It ain’t the company makin’ the complaint!” he retorted hotly.
“Get back inside this instant,” Adam ordered sharply, pointing his index finger toward the door, “and don’t let me catch you out here again!” Fool kid, doesn’t he realize those rules are meant for his safety? Oh, what am I thinking? When has the little idiot ever understood the purpose of any rule?
“Okay, okay,” Joe growled. Wonder if old Adam knows how ridiculous he looks with his feathers all ruffled. The thought made him giggle, a sound a glowering Adam read as disrespect for his authority.
Back inside, Adam again opened the mining journal, thumbing through it to find the article he intended to read next. Joe, tired of reading, even though the plot was exciting, made an attempt to strike up a conversation with his brother. “Is this the way you came west with Pa?” he asked.
Adam, whose eyes were growing tired, laid the magazine aside. “Not the precise route,” he replied, “but the paths do cross here and there. Mostly, we followed the Humboldt River through this section, sorry excuse that it was.”
“Yeah, it’s rough country,” Joe agreed sympathetically.
“Yeah,” Adam recalled. “Dry, dusty days with nothing to quench your thirst but water so full of alkali you had to make it into coffee, just to disguise the taste.”
“You were just a kid,” Joe snickered. “You probably drank milk.”
“Couldn’t,” Adam muttered, leaning against the window to face his little brother. “Cow was nearly dry, and what little she gave had to be saved for Hoss—after Inger died, that is.”
“Yeah,” Joe said softly. “I wish I could have known her. From what I can tell by looking at her picture and what Pa’s said, she was a real sweet lady.”
“The sweetest,” Adam whispered. “Left a big hole when—when she was gone.”
Joe folded his right leg up on the seat, in imitation of his older brother, and asked shyly, “Did Pa take it hard, like when my mother died?”
“Yeah, he took it hard,” Adam said, gazing past Joe as if seeing the scene afresh. “Just kept stumbling through the desert in some kind of daze, but he had to keep going out here. We all did.” The muscles in his cheeks tightened. “It was different when your mother died. He sort of holed up inside himself for a while. He had people to take over for him that time, so he could afford to let himself go—or so he thought.”
The trace of bitterness in his voice made Joe wonder how Adam had felt about taking on that responsibility, but he couldn’t ask directly. “I guess it was hard on you,” he hinted, hoping to open up the conversation.
Adam swung his leg off the seat and looked away, obviously uncomfortable with talking about his feelings. “I want to read a little more before the light fails, Joe,” he said, picking up the mining journal once more. “I’d advise you to do the same.”
Little Joe knew he was being brushed aside and it hurt. His own memories of that time were painful, especially in regard to what Adam called Pa’s holing up inside himself. He could remember Adam holding him, though, supporting him through the first difficult days when Pa had seemed so distant. Now he found himself wondering if Adam, who had been such a rock of solace at the time, had resented taking on that responsibility. Does he blame me? Joe asked himself. Is that why he’s always so hard on me, ‘cause I was such a burden to him back then? He didn’t dare ask his brother, who seemed as holed up inside himself now as Pa had been long ago, so as Adam had suggested, Joe again took out his dime novel and began to read.
The train made a brief stop at Battle Mountain around 4:30 in the afternoon. Adam stood up to stretch, looking down at his brother, who had been uncharacteristically quiet for the last couple of hours. “You can either eat here,” Adam told him, “or wait ‘til we get to Elko about eight o’clock.”
Joe groaned. “So I’ve got a choice of a supper that’s too early or one that’s too late, huh?”
Adam smiled sardonically. “Something like that—or you could just save me the money and skip both.”
Joe sneered at the suggestion, since saving Adam money was precisely the opposite of his intentions. “I’ll wait ‘til Elko, but I’m definitely going to eat, older brother.”
Adam’s brow furrowed as he pondered why his younger brother suddenly seemed incapable of taking a little ribbing. Tired, probably, as he was himself. Adam shook his head. If the kid were already this cross after only one day’s travel, what would he be like by the time they’d been on the rails for almost a full week?
“Hey, is there anything left in that hamper?” Joe asked about half an hour after the train had departed from the station.
“Are you kidding?” Adam chuckled. “Hop Sing packed enough to feed a small army. There’s not any more chicken, but plenty of cookies and even a fried pie or two.”
“That’s what I want,” Joe said with a grin, taking out one of half-moon pastries filled with apples in sweet cinnamon syrup. Glancing down the aisle, he noticed that Petey had finally awakened from his long nap. “Adam, you mind if I give one of these pies to my friend?” Joe asked.
“Huh? Oh, sure, go ahead,” Adam agreed readily. “Get me a couple of cookies while you’re in there.”
“Here you go,” Joe said, handing his brother the cookies and making his way toward the beaming little boy. Presenting Petey with the fried apple pie, he leaned close to whisper, “You share some with your mama, you hear? That’s a big pie for someone the size of you.”
“I got a big appetite,” Petey said with a gap-toothed grin, “but I’ll share.”
“Thank you, young man,” his mother said, smiling at Joe. “You’re very generous.”
Joe shrugged. “Aw, no, ma’am, it’s nothing. Our cook is so used to feeding my brother Hoss, who isn’t along on this trip, that he packed enough to feed this entire train.”
“Horse is a funny name,” Petey giggled, pastry flakes cascading from his open mouth.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full, Petey,” his mother admonished, “and it isn’t polite to call anyone’s name funny, although”—she struggled to keep from laughing herself—“I do believe that’s the most unusual name I’ve ever heard.”
“It’s Hoss, not Horse,” Joe laughed, “and it’s just a nickname. His real one is Eric.”
“Now, that’s a fine name,” the lady said with a decided nod. “It has a strong and manly sound.”
Joe grinned. “Yes, ma’am, and that’s just how he is, too. Well, I guess I’ll see if I can grab another oatmeal cookie before my other brother gobbles them all up. See you later, Petey.”
Mouth full, Petey could only respond with bright eyes and a brisk bob of his head.
The orange orb of the sun began to drop behind the distant peaks of the Cortez Mountains, and the temperature soon fell to a level that had all the passengers pulling on the coats and jackets they’d discarded during the day. Yawning, Joe looked around the car with a puzzled expression. “Hey, Adam, I thought these seats were supposed to make into beds,” he said. “They don’t look like they would. How’s that work, huh?”
Adam gave him an impatient sigh. “They don’t, Joe; I chose not to pay for a silver palace car. This is just a day coach.”
“You mean we gotta sleep sittin’ up for a week?” Joe squawked. “You’re hard, Adam, doin’ that just to save a little money.”
Adam chuckled, shaking his head from side to side at the foolish fear. “Don’t be ridiculous, Joe. I’m not that tight-fisted,” he assured the younger boy. “They’ll attach a sleeper when it’s time for you to go beddy-bye and drop it off in the morning after you get up. Considerably cheaper than riding in the hotel car, but quite comfortable, from all reports.”
Joe sported a cheeky grin. “Oh, they’re workin’ that all around me, are they?”
“That’s right, little brother,” Adam observed dryly. “The entire world revolves around you.”
Not sure whether Adam was teasing or expressing more bitterness, Joe scowled back, folded his arms crossly and settled back in his seat. Adam just laughed at this latest demonstration of his young brother’s immaturity.
The road began to climb steadily until, by the time the train reached Elko, it was almost a mile above sea level, according to the railroad guide. “Supper, at last!” Joe chirped, bouncing out of his seat almost before the train pulled to a stop.
“I hear it’s a long stop, so we’ll have plenty of time to get a hot meal,” Adam stated as he followed his brother out.
“Sounds good,” Joe replied, jumping off the final step. “Feels good to get off that train awhile, too. I mean, it’s comfortable and all, but I get tired of sitting still so much.”
Adam chuckled, wrapping an arm around the boy’s slim shoulders. “So I noticed. Well, get your legs a good stretch after supper, youngster, and if you like, you can crawl right into bed. They’re attaching the sleeper car now.”
Shoshone Indians, feathers in their felt hats and paint on their faces, greeted the departing passengers, each one’s hand stretched for a handout. Joe was surprised to see his brother press a silver coin into the palm of two or three as they walked toward the nearby hotel. “Wouldn’t’ve thought you’d want to encourage begging,” Joe commented.
“I don’t, especially in your case,” Adam said brusquely, “but I do make exceptions when I know people have been deprived of their normal means of livelihood.”
“Yeah,” Joe agreed, looking back at the natives with more sympathy. “Kind of sad, seein’ ‘em painted up like that, like they were at war.”
“Fitting in with the way the white man chooses to see them,” Adam muttered bitterly.
Uncomfortable with his brother’s darkening mood, Joe made a deliberate attempt to turn Adam’s thoughts back to the more pleasant prospect of supper. “Boy, am I hungry!” he announced. “You reckon this place is as good as that one back in Humboldt? I sure hope so, ‘cause it’s been a long time since dinner.”
“But not that long since apple pie and cookies,” Adam teased, giving the younger boy’s shoulder a squeeze. “I don’t know anything about the diner here, but I doubt you’ll starve.”
Crowding in with the rest of the passengers, the Cartwright brothers managed to find a table in the back corner. Joe perused the menu carefully, searching for the most expensive item on it, to begin his campaign to make Adam pay dearly for not wanting his company. To his chagrin, Joe learned that at eating establishments patronized by the railroad, the price for any meal was a uniform dollar per plate. Setting aside his ulterior motive, he simply picked a meal that looked appetizing: pot roast, with potatoes, carrots and onions cooked with the meat, and green beans, seasoned with bits of bacon, on the side.
When the boys finished eating, it was almost time to re-board the train. As they stood side by side, watching the Humboldt River tumble down from the snow-capped East Humboldt Mountains, however, neither felt eager to exchange the cool mountain breezes for the stifling, stale air of a full passenger car. “A promise of better scenery ahead,” Adam observed.
Joe burst out laughing. “Oh, fine! We’ll sleep right through it, big brother!”
Adam smiled. “Not all of it. You’ll see some fine sights tomorrow, Joe.”
Joe’s eyes lit up hopefully. “Does that mean I get to sit by the window tomorrow?”
Adam frowned and then relented. “Well, maybe for a little while.” He yawned and stretched. “I’m for bed as soon as we board. It’s been a long day.”
The yawn was contagious. Putting his hand over his gaping mouth, Joe nodded. “Yeah, me, too. We sure got an early start this morning. Hope it’s not gonna be like that tomorrow.”
“Not too bad tomorrow,” Adam consoled him as they walked toward the train. “We get into Ogden about 8:30, so I’ll wake you about an hour before that.”
Joe yawned prodigiously. “Okay, whatever you say.”
Adam chuckled. Joe’s rare cooperation was a sure sign that he was about to fall over. They returned to their seats to pick up their carpetbags; then Adam led the way to the sleeper car and pointed out the berths assigned to them. “You get the top one, sonny,” he decreed.
“Sure, grandpa,” Joe snickered. “I know how hard it’d be for an old fellow like you to hop up there.”
“Keep a civil tongue in your mouth,” Adam snorted.
Joe cocked his head to scrutinize his brother’s expression and smiled when he realized that Adam was only teasing.
“The gentleman’s closet is down that way,” Adam suggested as he opened his own bag.
“You gonna change?” Joe inquired.
“I most certainly am, and so are you,” Adam ordered. “Those clothes will get gamy enough without wearing them day and night.”
Joe snickered. “I think some of the folks travelin’ with us have been wearin’ theirs a whole lot longer than that.”
“Yes, and it’s probably been a lot longer since they had a bath,” Adam said wryly, “but it isn’t particularly mannerly to say so.”
“I’m not sayin’ it to them, Adam,” Joe protested.
“All right,” Adam said with a conciliatory pat on his brother’s back. Taking a gray-striped nightshirt from his carpetbag, he headed toward the gentlemen’s closet to change. Joe quickly dug his own sleeping garment out and followed.
Only one other man was in the gentlemen’s closet at the time, so the Cartwrights were able to change in relative privacy. Dressed for the night, they both visited the gentlemen’s lavatory across the aisle before returning to their berths. Adam watched Little Joe pull himself into the upper one and stretch out in the body-length space. Well, for Joe it was body-length. Since the cubicle was only six feet long, Adam would have to curl up a bit to fit inside. “Good night. Pleasant dreams,” he whispered, for others were already sleeping in the darkened car.
“Night, Adam,” Joe whispered back. “Sleep good.”
“‘Well,’ sleep ‘well,’” Adam hissed as he drew the floor-length, wine-colored curtains enclosing both his berth and Joe’s.
“Uh-huh, you, too,” Joe yawned.
Shaking his head in amusement, Adam crawled through the curtains into his lower berth and drew the gray wool blanket up to his chin. Though the car was heated, the stove was near the other end, where the ladies’ lavatory and closet were located. Nights turned chilly in the mountains, so the warm cover would be much appreciated.
Little Joe had fallen asleep almost immediately, but when the train rolled to a stop, he woke with a start. Doggone that Adam, he said he’d wake me, Joe grumbled inwardly, assuming that the train had pulled into Ogden and it was time to get off. “Sure felt like a short night,” he mumbled as he pulled the curtains back and swung one leg over the side. He halted abruptly. The car was pitch black, and Joe immediately realized that it wasn’t morning yet. Why had the cars stopped, then? Curious, he dropped to the floor, being careful not to wake Adam, and pattered down the carpeted aisle to the door at the end of the car. The sign on the depot revealed the mystery, for it said, “Wells.” From his perusal of the railroad guide, Joe knew that this was a water stop for the steam locomotive.
Adam never knew what had wakened him: the snores of his neighbors, the cessation of movement or just some innate sense of something wrong. Probably the latter, for his first thought was to check on Little Joe. Uncurling his long legs, he stood in the aisle and felt his heart leap into his throat at the sight of the empty upper berth. Hastily he threw on his robe and slippers, and after checking the lavatory, which was completely empty, he went outside, where he found his young brother on the platform of the railcar. “What are you doing out here?” he asked, concerned.
“Just getting some air,” Joe said, adding defensively, “The train isn’t moving, Adam.”
“I can see that,” Adam chuckled.
Joe smiled, glad to see that his older brother wasn’t upset with him. “So, what are you doing out here?” he returned lightly.
Not wanting to admit the worry that had driven him from his bed, Adam shrugged. “Just felt a need to stretch,” he alleged.
“Uh-huh.” Joe didn’t for one minute believe Adam’s explanation. In fact, he was sure he knew the real reason that Adam had come looking for him. He don’t trust me not to fall off the train in the dark, like some fool kid. It was too late and he was too tired to argue, however, so he kept that opinion to himself.
A gust of wind whipped Joe’s beige and blue plaid nightshirt around his legs, drawing Adam’s attention to his bare feet. “Where are your robe and slippers?” he chided.
“Packed in that bag you checked through to Omaha,” Joe answered matter-of-factly.
Adam regarded him with a wry smile. “Well, that figures. You must have packed your brain in that bag, too—running around barefoot in this chilly night air, wearing nothing but a thin nightshirt.”
“It’s not that cold,” Joe argued, but the goose pimples on his legs told a different story.
“Come back inside,” Adam urged, taking his arm. “You’re shivering, and it looks like the train will be starting up any minute.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ve had enough air,” Joe said with a saucy smile.
Adam cuffed his neck and pointed him toward the door. Back at their berths, he watched Joe climb into bed, and then tucked the covers around him with exaggerated tautness. “See that you stay there this time,” he commanded with a teasing lilt.
“Don’t worry, big brother; a water stop won’t fool me again,” Joe yawned as he wriggled to loosen the blanket. “Thought we were in Ogden already and you’d forgot to wake me.”
“Joe, Joe, it’s barely midnight,” Adam laughed softly. “Pleasant dreams,” he said once again.
“You, too, older brother,” Joe murmured as he snuggled under the warm blanket, “and thanks again for bringing me on this trip. I’m havin’ a great time.”
Adam drew the curtains together and climbed once more into his own berth. Curling up, he chuckled to himself. Only Joe, with his zest for life, could enjoy a long, dreary train trip. Let’s see how much he’s enjoying it by the time we get to Philadelphia, Adam mused, or even Omaha, for that matter!
As Adam rose the next morning, he missed by a whisker smashing his face into the foot dangling down from the berth above. Though sorely tempted, he resisted giving the protruding limb a quick jerk that would toss his younger brother onto the carpet. Instead, he pulled back the curtains of the berth, took hold of and tickled the sole of Joe’s foot.
Eyes still closed, Joe moaned softly, trying to wriggle his foot free, but Adam grasped the ankle firmly and continued the torment until Joe squinted and hollered, “Doggone you, Adam, cut that out!”
Adam gave the bare sole a solid slap and turned loose. “Up and at ‘em, Sleeping Beauty. We’re almost to Ogden, where we have to switch railroads—unless, of course, you want to head back home, ‘cause that’s where you’ll be going if you don’t get off this train.”
The threat was sufficient to propel Little Joe, always a reluctant riser, into action. Pulling his shirt and pants from the carpetbag at the end of his bed, he hopped down and headed for the gentlemen’s closet to change. Adam was right behind him, black clothes and shaving kit in hand.
Both the dressing area and the lavatory across the hall were crowded, for everyone on the train would be leaving, to make connections with either another train or a stagecoach, Ogden being the end of the line for the Central Pacific Railroad. Little Joe dressed and then squeezed his way through to the lavatory. Spotting his brother at one of the washbasins, he called, “Hey, Adam, can I borrow your razor?” He’d been so anxious to get dressed that he’d left his own kit back in his carpetbag.
“What for?” Adam teased.
A general ripple of laughter flowed through the room. “Yeah, what for, sonny?” a man with a prodigious set of rough black whiskers snickered. “You don’t need a razor; you need a cat’s tongue to lick off that peach fuzz.”
Joe’s visage darkened, and he pushed men aside to grab the burly farmer by the straps of his overalls.
Adam spun around, wrapped an arm around his younger brother’s waist and yanked him back, easily lifting him off the floor. “Don’t even think about it,” he growled.
Joe’s opponent folded his arms, staring at the boy, and then let loose a booming laugh. “I think, maybe, I make your little boy mad, mister.”
“I’m not his little boy,” Joe protested, struggling to get free; then he wilted as another round of laughter greeted his inadvertent acceptance of the juvenile designation. “I—I mean, I’m not anybody’s little boy,” he sputtered. “I mean, I’m not a little boy; I’m—”
Another passenger guffawed. “I don’t think the little lad knows what he means!”
“I’m nineteen and I do shave!” Joe yelled, lunging forward, only to be grabbed back once more by Adam’s strong arm. “Settle down, boy, and I do mean now,” Adam demanded.
The farmer laid a ponderous paw on Little Joe’s shoulder. In the open palm of his other hand he held a straight razor. “Here, sonny, you borrow mine,” he said. “I wasn’t meanin’ to make you mad. I still don’t see much whiskers on you, but if you wanna shave, that’s your business, huh?”
“Yeah!” Joe announced to the general assemblage in the lavatory. “My business!” Thanking the farmer, he took the razor, elbowed Adam out of his way and began to wet his face with the water in the basin.
Adam just folded his arms, leaned against the wall and waited.
Joe cut his eyes to the left and saw Adam sporting that catlike grin that usually meant his big brother was two steps ahead of him. “Uh, could I borrow your shaving soap and brush, brother?” he asked sheepishly.
Adam arched an eyebrow and waited again. Seeing that Joe didn’t have a clue to what he was waiting for, he whispered, “Grammar—and manners.”
Joe rolled his eyes. “May I please borrow your shaving soap and brush, sir?”
With a chuckle Adam produced them. “Get a move on,” he directed. “There are other men waiting for this basin and mirror, and you’ve put on quite enough of a show for one morning.” He left the room and went back to his berth to pack his nightshirt and razor and sat down to wait for Joe. It would obviously not pay to leave him unsupervised this morning. Considering the state the kid was in, he was likely to walk off without his carpetbag—or worse, without returning his brother’s shaving equipment.
Joe came loping down the aisle, smiling broadly. “I feel like a new man,” he announced cheerily.
Taking his brother’s chin in his right hand, Adam turned the smooth face this way and that. “Nope, looks like the same baby-faced boy to me,” he said with a needling smile.
Joe’s jaws tightened. “You’d better cut it out, Adam,” he warned.
“All right, all right,” Adam appeased, patting the boy’s cheek. “We don’t have time for this nonsense, anyway.” He took his shaving soap and brush from Joe and placed them in his own bag. “Get your gear together and meet me in the passenger car. We’ll be pulling into Ogden any minute now, and we’ll have exactly one hour to get our things transferred and have breakfast. No dawdling, Joe.”
Joe popped a sassy salute. “Yes, sir!”
Smirking, Adam saluted back. “Dismissed. Now, get to work!”
The transfer proved to be remarkably easy. Most of the luggage had been checked through to the end of the line and was automatically shifted to the baggage car of the Union Pacific train that would take the Cartwrights to Omaha, Nebraska. Since they were through passengers, their seats and berth assignments remained the same, so all that was necessary was to deposit their carpetbags and the now empty, but still cumbersome picnic hamper either under their new seats or in the overhead storage compartment. “Wish there were some way to check this thing through,” Adam grumbled under his breath.
“What are you griping about?” Joe muttered. “I’m the one who had to carry it.”
Palm pressed to his chest, Adam feigned innocence. “Why, I thought you’d want to, to keep the memory of home alive in your young breast.”
“It’s not young folks that have memory problems,” Joe snorted, “but, then, you wouldn’t remember that, would you, old codger?”
Adam laughed. “Come on, let’s get some breakfast, or did you forget we’re working under a time limit here?”
“Nope, my memory’s working just fine,” Joe grinned back, “and I definitely remember being hungry.”
As they walked toward the Beardsley House, Joe smiled at the beauty of the surrounding mountains. “Nice place,” he commented.
Adam, who had visited the town several times on cattle-selling trips for the Ponderosa, nodded. “Yes, a very pleasant, well-planned community. I’ve always enjoyed staying here.” Ogden was a town divided into two parts: the lower, where the depot and most businesses were located, and above that, on a shelf adjoining the mountains, the residential area with its landscaped yards, shaded by beautiful trees leafed out in gowns of apple green.
“So this is where they drove the Golden Spike, huh?” Joe asked.
Adam chuckled. “No, that was about fifty miles back, buddy. You were asleep when we went through Promontory.”
“Aw, shucks,” Joe muttered. “I kind of wanted to picture Pa standing there with all those railroad bigwigs.”
Adam took his elbow to steer him toward the restaurant. “Maybe you can see it on the way back, depending on which train we take. It was quite an honor for Pa to be invited to that ceremony uniting the tracks of the two companies that make up the transcontinental railroad.”
“Well, Pa deserves great honors, doesn’t he?” Joe remarked.
Adam laughed. “Oh, yeah. Just for putting up with you, he deserves great honors.” He held open the door to the Beardsley House and motioned for Joe to precede him.
Joe scowled at him and went inside, wondering if his face might freeze forever in that position before this trip was over. His countenance brightened quickly, however, when he heard a youthful voice calling his name. Joe grinned, waved and wove his way through the tables, Adam trailing in his wake. “Hey, Petey, how you doin’ this morning?” Joe asked, ruffling the wheat-gold hair.
“I’m doin’ great!” Petey declared and then asked eagerly, “You gonna sit with us?”
Joe glanced inquiringly at Petey’s mother. “Please do join us,” she said, “you and your brother.”
Adam felt perturbed when Little Joe simply pulled out a chair and sat down without inquiring into his wishes, but since there really was no reason to decline the gracious invitation, he thanked the woman and sat down. “I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said suavely. “My name is Adam Cartwright.”
The woman smiled. “Your brother’s told us so much about you that I feel as if I knew you already, Mr. Cartwright, even without a formal introduction. I am Mrs. Peter Conners, but please call me Marian. My son is named after my husband, but we call him Petey to differentiate.”
Little Joe felt foolish, not only because he had failed to make proper introductions, but because it had never even occurred to him to refer to Mrs. Conners as anything but “Petey’s mother.” It was the kind of thing kids did, and it reminded him of all the teasing about his youthfulness that he’d taken that morning in the gentlemen’s lavatory. He covered his discomfort by burying his nose in the menu and was soon ready to order.
“What you havin’, Joe?” Petey asked, the expression in his eyes clearly communicating that whatever his friend was having would be his choice, as well.
“I’m havin’ flapjacks and sausage, with stewed apples,” Joe said, with a wink at Marian Conners, “and, of course, a tall glass of milk to wash it all down.”
“Me, too,” Petey said at once, as every adult at the table had anticipated.
Mrs. Conners smiled her gratitude at Joe, and then turned to Adam after all their breakfast orders had been placed. “I understand you’re traveling to Philadelphia, Mr. Cartwright, to see the great Centennial Exhibition. How I envy you that opportunity!”
“It’s Adam,” the elder Cartwright brother replied. “You’re not going that far yourself, I take it?”
“No, Adam, we leave the train at Evanston,” she explained. “We’re visiting my sister and her family, who live there.”
Again Little Joe felt a moment’s embarrassment. Why hadn’t he thought to ask Petey’s mother—Marian, he corrected himself—what her plans were? He’d just rattled on about himself, mostly to Petey. What a childish way to act! Maybe he should start taking to heart some of Adam’s oft-repeated criticism of his manners.
Adam’s next comment effectively put that idea out of his head. “I do hope my young brother hasn’t been making a nuisance of himself,” Adam said to Mrs. Conners.
“Indeed, not,” Marian responded swiftly, noticing how Joe bristled at his brother’s words. “He’s been delightful company and has definitely made the miles go faster for my son. A trip of this length is so hard on an active youngster.”
“Yes, so I’ve observed,” Adam said, cutting a glance toward Joe as he took a sip of coffee.
Hot words were on the tip of Joe’s tongue, and only the timely arrival of the food kept them there. Ignoring Adam, he said, “Boy, doesn’t this look great, Petey?”
“Yeah,” Petey agreed, “and I want lots of syrup on my cakes. You like lots of syrup, Joe?”
“Only way to eat pancakes, Petey. You gotta drown them in a whole pool of maple syrup and let the sausage take a swim in it, too.”
Petey giggled. Pouring an excessive amount of syrup over the stack of pancakes, he lifted a sausage patty to its top and made it dive off into the maple pool below.
“Petey, your breakfast is not intended to be a plaything,” his mother chided.
“Nor is yours, Little Joe,” Adam reprimanded, pointedly emphasizing the diminutive.
Joe regarded his brother with a narrowed gaze before turning to his friend’s mother. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to make trouble.”
“No harm done,” she said with a smile, “although a good example of how to clean one’s plate would be appreciated about now.”
Joe grinned. “Oh, I’ll be happy to set that, ma’am—uh, I mean, Marian.”
Adam frowned, but said nothing, resolving to speak to Joe about that breach of etiquette later. He waited until they’d left the restaurant and were alone on the street. “Joe, Mrs. Conners did not give you permission to address her by her first name.”
“Yes, she did,” Joe protested.
“She was talking to me,” Adam insisted, “and it is inappropriate for you to assume that she was including you when it’s obvious you were not on a first-name basis before. It’s improper for a boy of your age to—”
“A boy!” Joe squeaked. “When are you gonna realize I’m a man, Adam?”
“When are you going to realize that you’re not?” Adam replied firmly. “Now, you will address Mrs. Conner and all other elders by title and surname unless given specific permission to adopt the familiar, is that clear?”
Joe shook his head in disgust. “Yes, that’s clear,” he muttered through gritted teeth. “Look, we’ve still got some time before the train pulls out, don’t we? Okay if I look around town a little, Mr. Cartwright?”
Adam laughed and rumpled his brother’s unruly curls. “You’ve got fifteen minutes, kid, so whatever you can see in that time, you’re welcome to look at.” He flipped a dime toward Joe, who deftly caught it in the air. “Pick up a newspaper while you’re at it,” Adam directed, “and make sure it’s the Ogden Freeman and not the Daily Junction.”
“There’s a difference?” Joe asked with a tinge of impertinence.
Adam arched an eyebrow. “Obviously, or I wouldn’t be telling you which to buy. The Junction is little more than a vehicle for the Mormon Church, while the other has a more secular slant, which I prefer.”
Joe tossed him an impish smile. “Not interested in any sermons but your own, huh?”
Adam playfully boxed his ears. “Oh, get going or you won’t have time to buy either one.” After Joe scampered off, Adam spotted some street venders and wandered over to see what was available. As he’d suspected, many of the market carts held fresh fruit, which grew in abundance locally, and he laid in a small stock of apples, peaches and pears to eat on the train.
Little Joe scurried back at almost the last minute, and Adam handed him the bag of` fruit in exchange for the newspaper. Joe took a peek inside. “Hey, thanks, Adam! These’ll come in handy.”
“And so will that hamper Hop Sing saddled us with,” Adam chuckled. “Maybe he knew what he was doing, after all.”
“Well, of course, he did,” Joe declared loyally.
“On board, boy—now,” Adam ordered, snapping his left index finger toward the train.
Joe grinned and climbed the steps to the passenger car of the Union Pacific train.
Departing the depot, the cars began to climb steadily upward, with the scenery growing more majestic by the minute. When they stopped in Weber, twenty-five miles down the track, a number of passengers left the train. “This is as close to Salt Lake City as the train goes,” Adam replied in answer to Joe’s inquiry about why so many were getting off at this seemingly insignificant town. “A lot of people are curious about the Mormon way of life, so it’s common for travelers to make a side trip of a day or two.” He pointed to the sign over a local business. “That’s a sure indication you’re in Mormon territory,” he observed.
Joe leaned across Adam to see what he was referring to. “‘Z.C.M.I’—what’s it mean, Adam?”
“Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution,” Adam replied. “All Mormon businesses are required to be members and to pay tithes on their profits, and all Mormons are expected to patronize the Z.C.M.I. stores.”
Joe’s nose wrinkled in distaste. “Sounds like a way to fix prices to me.”
“That’s one of the complaints,” Adam told him, “but they have a right to set whatever laws they choose regarding their own adherents. There’ve been some charges, however, that gentile merchants in the area are being coerced to tithe their profits to the church, as well, and that is where I think the line must be drawn. No one should be forced to support another man’s religion.”
After depositing tourists and locals, the train pulled out, and for the next seven miles or so the road moved around several short curves and then past a group of balanced rocks that looked as if they were ready to topple into the valley below. Since Adam was still maintaining proprietary right to the window seat, Little Joe wandered down the aisle to sit with his friend Petey and his mother.
The train steamed through a couple of tunnels, and Joe, sighting a landmark noted in the railroad guide he’d purchased the day before, pointed out Devil’s Slide to the boy on his lap. Two parallel ledges of granite, turned on their sides, jutted out fifty feet from mountainside, about fourteen inches apart and eight hundred feet high. “Wouldn’t it be fun to slide down that, Petey?” Joe suggested.
“Yeah!” Petey quickly agreed with a bounce of enthusiasm.
His mother peered out the window at the serrated edges of the “slide” and clucked her tongue at both boys. “And tear your pants for your mother to mend,” she teased as she lovingly stroked the back of her son’s head.
“Sorry, ma’am,” Joe apologized sheepishly. “I seem to be full of bad ideas this morning.”
“No danger involved with a temptation so inaccessible,” she laughed, “so I don’t mind his indulging in a little make-believe. Just see to it you don’t try anything that risky yourself, young man.” She wagged a playful finger before his face.
“No, ma’am, I won’t,” Joe assured her. “That place looks like a broken bone about to happen, and doctors and me don’t get along real well.” He licked his lips nervously. “Uh, Mrs. Conners, I—I just wanted to apologize for being forward before.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” she said.
“Uh—when I called you by your first name at breakfast, ma’am. My brother said it was wrong for me to assume you were including me when you said he could call you Marian.”
She patted his shoulder. “Nonsense. Of course, I meant you, too.”
Joe grinned, relieved. “Yeah, I thought so, but old Adam’s got some pretty strict notions of right and wrong and manners and such.”
Marian smiled. “You’re very fortunate, then, to have someone who cares enough to instruct you in right and wrong—and manners and such.”
“I’ve got a pa for that, ma’am—Marian. Trouble is, Adam has trouble remembering that it isn’t him!”
“But he is a good brother, now, isn’t he?” she probed persuasively.
“Yeah, most of the time,” Joe conceded. Sunshine sparkling in his emerald eyes, he added, “Did I tell you that he’s paying for everything, so I can come on this trip with him?”
“There now, I knew I was right!” Marian said, laughing at Joe’s sudden change of disposition.
Joe nodded, smiling. “I guess I just have to keep reminding myself whenever he gets too bossy.”
Marian patted his hand. “Well, I’m glad I could help remind you today.”
“Hey, Joe! Look at that,” Petey exclaimed, pointing out the window.
Joe looked and saw a tree with a sign nailed to its trunk that read “Omaha 1000 miles.” He set Petey down and stood up. “I think there’s something about that in my guidebook,” he said. “I’m gonna get it.”
He bounded down the aisle and took the guidebook from the hamper, where he’d stored it for easy access. “We just passed Thousand-Mile Tree, Adam,” he informed his brother. “So it’s a thousand miles to Omaha, huh? How long ‘til we get there?”
Adam replied without looking up from his journal. “Day after tomorrow, Joe, for supper.”
“Okay, thanks,” Joe said and took off down the aisle once more. Back in his seat with Petey perched in his lap, he opened the book and showed the boy what it had to say. “I’ve got to ride the train two more days before we get to Omaha.”
“That’s a long time,” Petey said, sounding awed. He turned to his mother. “How much longer we gonna stay on, Mama?”
“Just ‘til noon, sweetheart,” she answered.
“Aw, shucks,” Petey pouted. “I’m gonna miss you, Joe.”
“Hey, me, too, pal,” his older friend said earnestly. “You sure have made the trip a lot more fun for me.”
Marian laid her hand over his, which was resting on Petey’s thigh. “As you’ve made it for him. Thank you, Joe, for your kindness to my little boy.”
Joe shrugged off the compliment. “Sure, ma’am. Like I said, it’s been a pleasure to me, too.”
“Joe, Joe, look!” Petey again called his friend’s attention to an interesting sight out the window.
Joe peered through the pane, seeing a high bluff on the right with a multitude of wind-worn holes near the top. Nests filled the crevices, and eagles were perched atop them, wings spread protectively over either eggs or chicks. From this distance, Joe couldn’t tell which.
“It’s called Eagle’s Nest Rock,” Petey informed his friend excitedly. “I just read it in your book. Ain’t they something!”
“Uh, yeah,” Joe muttered. A slight sliver ran through him. Near home was a precipice of almost the same name, and for some reason Joe had never been able to fathom, that place had always had the same effect on him.
The locomotive rounded another rocky point, revealing gray rocks so close to one another that they looked as though they were carrying on an intimate conversation. “Those are called ‘The Witches,’” Petey said, again consulting the guidebook. “Creepy, huh?”
Joe just laughed, though he wondered why an eerie image like a witches’ conclave didn’t bother him when something as commonplace as an eagle’s nest did. “Naw, they look more like gossiping sisters to me,” he snickered. “Kind of remind me of these two ladies I know back home.”
“For shame, young man. What would your mother say if she heard you gossiping about those women?” An indulgent smile softened Marian’s reprimand.
“I don’t have a mother, ma’am,” Joe said softly. “I mean, she died when I was about half the age of Petey here.”
Marian’s gaze grew more tender. “Oh, I’m sorry. I should have realized, since you’ve only mentioned your father and brothers.”
“It’s okay, ma’am. Can’t miss what you never had.” Joe shrugged.
Only a mother’s eye would have spotted the slight hesitance preceding the words and motion. “Can’t you?” she asked gently.
Joe glanced at the floor. “Well, yeah, sometimes,” he conceded. He looked up and spoke in quick defense. “But my Pa’s been as much a mother to me as any man could—and then there’s Hop Sing. He’s our cook, the one who made that great food we brought with us yesterday, and he takes real good care of us.” With a mother’s instinct, Marian patted his hand and gave him a tender smile, and Joe’s disarming grin was back.
The train entered a lovely valley, cradled between the hills, its carpet splashed with flowers of blue, yellow and purple; then the road steepened as it curved southeast to enter a narrow opening where rocky cliffs seemed to press in on either side. When the travelers passed Castle Rock station, they were six thousand feet above sea level, and a little east of the station, Joe and Petey, almost simultaneously, spotted the landmark for which it was named. “You can almost see knights in armor riding through there, can’t you?” Joe suggested, pointing to the arched doorway on one corner, its red sidepieces capped with gray. Nearby a series of needle-sharp rocks aimed skyward like the shafts of a knight’s lance, another fanciful observation Joe shared with Petey.
“Such grand scenery,” Marian sighed with deep content.
“Yes, ma’am, it sure is,” Joe agreed, looking at her. “I read in that book that Echo Canyon here is just about the most impressive sight there is on the whole fifteen hundred miles of the railroad. Good thing you got to see it before you got off.”
Marian smiled. “Yes, a very good thing.” As the train reached a point level with the top of the rocks, it began a slight descent into Evanston on the west bank of the Bear River. “We’ll be parting company here, Joe,” she said. “Let me say again what a pleasure it’s been to travel with you.”
“The pleasure’s all mine, ma’am,” he responded politely. For some reason, perhaps because she’d been acting so motherly toward him, he didn’t feel right calling her by her first name, even though he knew he had her consent. “I’m really going to miss you. Not just Petey—you, too.”
When the time came to part, Petey clung to Joe, almost inconsolable at the imminent separation. Then Joe spotted a boy a couple of years older than his friend, standing beside the man waving to Mrs. Conners. “Hey, Petey, would that be your cousin, maybe?” he suggested. “I bet the two of you are gonna have tons of fun together.”
Petey followed Joe’s pointing finger and a grin split his face. “Yeah, that must be Cousin Aubrey; he’s the one just older than me. I gotta go now, Joe.”
Joe gave him a light swat on the backside. “Yeah, me, too. You have yourself a great visit with your folks, you hear?” The words faded on the wind as Petey took off to meet his cousin.
Seeing his brother’s slightly disheartened countenance, Adam put an arm around his shoulder. “We’ve only got half an hour, Joe. Come on and have some lunch.” He steered Joe toward the Mountain Trout Hotel, where both boys ordered the specialty of the house, speckled trout. Both beamed with pleasure as the Chinese waiter slid plates of crispy fish and slices of fried potatoes with the almost-universal green beans before them. This time the vegetables were seasoned with onion, as well as bacon and both Cartwrights considered it a flavorful addition.
“Bet there’s some great fishing around here,” Joe commented between bites.
“Oh, yes. The Bear River’s full of these beauties,” Adam agreed. “This is one meal I knew we would enjoy.”
“And, for once, you were right!”
Adam cleared his throat. “For once?”
Joe just returned a saucy grin.
Adam pursed his lips and nodded his head gravely. “You’d better hope I’m right more than once, boy, since I’ll be choosing where you eat your meals for the next month or so.”
“Aw, come on, Adam,” Joe complained. “I ought to get to pick once in a while.”
Adam patted his lips with the napkin. “My trip, my choice. I have no intention of leaving myself to your tender mercies, boy. You have all the culinary discrimination of a hog at the feeding trough.”
Joe was stung by what he considered unfair criticism. He knew good food when he tasted it, and just because Adam had been exposed to more fancy fare didn’t make him some kind of expert on where to eat. Well, maybe it did, when it came to food back east, Joe conceded, but he still felt disgruntled.
Adam cast an appraising eye over his brother’s dark countenance. What’s the matter with the kid? Can dish it out, but can’t take a little teasing in return? Or maybe he misses his little friend more than I thought. Neither brother shared his thoughts with the other, however, and both returned to the train with unresolved feelings.
Crossing the Bear River, the grade continued to climb, and the track passed under a twenty-four-mile logging flume like those the Cartwrights were familiar with back in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of home. High hills lined either side of the track as the locomotive steamed up a ravine after going through a cut. Finally reaching the summit of the mountains, the train began to descend, passing through a series of snow sheds. The need for these was obvious from the snow still visible on the mountains to the right, which never melted at this altitude, but in winter was deep enough to stop trains without this protection.
Rough, broken terrain edged both sides of the track, with high buttes thrusting up to the clear cerulean sky. As the track met Black’s Fork of the Green River, the valley, thickly covered with sagebrush and greasewood, grew broad in places ‘til a high projecting tower north of the track crowned a bluff six hundred and twenty-five feet above the river, signaling the next stop.
Here, at Green River, the sleeper car was attached while the travelers dined, but as it was only 6 p.m. when they re-boarded, neither Adam nor Joe felt ready to retire. About eight o’clock, both turned in, for the rhythmic motion of the darkened cars began to have a soporific effect, especially on the younger of the two brothers.
“Joe, Joe, wake up,” Adam urged, shaking his brother’s shoulder with what seemed to Little Joe unconscionable persistence.
Joe opened one eye and muttered, “Go ‘way; it’s still night.” The eye closed once more as Joe buried himself in the pillow.
Adam gave him another shake. “If you want breakfast, Sleeping Beauty, you’d better rise and shine.”
Joe groaned and edged up on his elbows. “It’s too early,” he complained. “I know it’s earlier than we got up yesterday.”
“It is,” Adam admitted, “but that’s the railroad’s doing, not mine. It’s an early breakfast stop today.”
“These irregular hours can’t be good for digestion,” Joe crabbed.
Adam laughed. “I’d have to agree, but there’s nothing you can do about it, kid—except starve.”
“Nope, not a chance,” Joe said, yawning and stretching. Maybe the meal would only cost Adam a dollar, but Joe intended to squeeze every one possible from his miserly spirited big brother.
“Come on, then,” Adam ordered, giving Joe’s thigh a smart slap. “They’re going to detach this sleeper car—and you with it—as soon as we get to Laramie, if you don’t haul out of that bunk now, kid—and if you want a shave, take your own kit this time.” Gathering his own gear, Adam disappeared down the aisle.
Sitting up, Joe ran his hand across a virtually smooth cheek. Truth was, he really didn’t need to shave every day, though he preferred, most days, to indulge the fiction that he did. Not wanting to be the center of another scene like the one that had transpired in the gentlemen’s lavatory the day before and in view of his early morning grogginess, he decided to forego a shave this time.
Primarily because of the altitude, the air was crisp and cool as the Cartwright brothers got off the train. The streets of Laramie, which nestled next to the river of the same name, were laid out in a regular pattern at right angles to the railroad, and Adam and Joe walked a short way down one of them to the large hotel run by the company. They enjoyed a filling breakfast of ham and eggs with hot, buttered biscuits and blackberry jam and were ready to board the train again after Joe picked up the obligatory morning newspaper for his older brother.
Laramie was situated over seven thousand feet above sea level, and as the rail cars left the town and its three thousand inhabitants behind, the tracks continued to climb into the snowcapped mountains. Then they traveled over Great Laramie Plain, some forty miles broad, with the sharp-pointed cones of the Diamond Peaks of the Medicine Bow Range rising on their right. The train was less crowded this morning than it had been previously, so Little Joe was able to take a window seat facing Adam and enjoy the majestic mountain scene for almost one hundred miles without peering past his brother’s head.
As the road curved left, Adam grew visibly excited. “Look, Joe,” he said, pointing down the track ahead. “Isn’t it splendid?”
Joe looked through the window. “The water tank?” he asked skeptically.
“No, look past that,” Adam urged. “It’s Dale Creek Bridge, one of the wonders of the transcontinental route: six hundred fifty feet long, a hundred and thirty high and completely constructed of iron. Isn’t it a wonder, Joe?”
Joe shrugged. “I guess so, Adam.”
Adam laughed. “Well, to an engineer, it is. I assure you the engineering journals resounded with praise when it was constructed. I’ve been looking forward to seeing it for myself—and it’s given no cause for disappointment.”
Joe smiled and, for Adam’s sake, made an effort to appear interested. “It’s a real fine bridge, Adam”—he paused to point at the mountains still edging the plain—“but I’d rather look at those.”
Adam gave his brother a nod of concession. “Yeah, they had a pretty terrific Engineer, too.”
“The best!” Joe exclaimed, smile widening into a grin as his brother smiled back.
Two miles past the bridge, the train pulled through Sherman, the highest point on the transcontinental railroad, and began to descend out of the mountains. Just outside town stood a set of balanced rocks, and half a mile to the left a lone pine tree on a rugged peak stood guard over the landscape below. Snow sheds became more frequent on this stretch of track, but would be left behind shortly after the train made its dinner stop at Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“From what I’ve read, this is one of the best-kept hotels between our two coasts,” Adam observed as he and Little Joe got off the train in what the guidebook referred to as the “Magic City of the Plains.”
“Sure looks fine,” Joe commented, as they entered the elegant dining hall, decorated in rustic flair with the heads of antelope, elk, mountain sheep, black-tailed deer and buffalo hanging on the walls. The trophies were indicative of the choices available on the menu, and the Cartwrights feasted on antelope steaks, although thirty minutes scarcely seemed enough to properly enjoy such a delicious meal. Soon they were rumbling down the track once more through countryside much like that through which they’d been traveling all day—a rugged, broken landscape, awesome in its beauty. Even Adam found it impossible to keep his nose buried in a book when there was so much of interest to see outside the window.
The elevation dropped with each mile traveled, until by the time the brothers reached the supper stop at Sidney, Nebraska, they were three thousand feet closer to sea level than when they had awakened that morning. The food here suffered by comparison with that in Cheyenne, but neither Adam nor Joe was interested in more than a light meal, anyway. Sitting in a train all day simply hadn’t provided sufficient exercise to work off what they’d already eaten earlier in the day.
When they re-boarded, Little Joe noticed that they had lost a large number of fellow travelers. “What’s going on?” he asked. “It’s not that big a town.”
Adam smiled as he handed Joe his carpetbag and gave him a light push toward the newly attached sleeper car. “It’s not the town itself that’s the attraction,” he explained, “but its proximity to the Black Hills.”
“Oh, yeah, the gold strike,” Joe muttered. “I read about that.”
“And don’t get any ideas about going off to prospect yourself,” Adam dictated, half in jest.
“Shoot, no!” Joe exclaimed. “You couldn’t pay me to work underground.”
“Not even if we owned a mine ourselves?” Adam queried probingly.
“That is your dream, brother, not mine,” Joe insisted, plopping his carpetbag on Adam’s lower berth, so he could take out his nightshirt before tossing the valise up to his own bed. “Me, I’d rather ride a fast horse across the ground than plunge down a steam hoist into its belly.” He gave a shiver, not noticing the look of disappointment that crossed his older brother’s face. It had been a long day, so the brothers bid each other good night as soon as they’d changed, and both were almost immediately lost to the land of dreams, each man’s vision of a nature markedly different from that of his sibling.
The next morning, for the first time, Little Joe woke without assistance. Leaning his head over the edge of his berth, he saw the empty bed below him and panicked. Practically tumbling to the floor, he hurried to the closest window and discovered that the sun was well up. The mountains had been left behind during the night, and the train was now crossing an open prairie, the view unobstructed by the high bluffs that had bordered the path heretofore.
“Oh, you’re up,” said a voice behind him. “I was just coming to rouse you.”
“It’s late,” Joe accused.
Adam ruffled his brother’s sleep-tousled curls. “Later than yesterday, to be sure, but we won’t reach the breakfast stop until 8:30 this morning, so there was no need to wrestle you out of those cozy covers, for a change.”
Spirits quickly brightening, Joe grinned. “That’s a mighty fine change, brother.”
“Well, don’t get too used to it,” Adam laughed. “There are some more early mornings in your future, my boy.”
Joe pretended to pout, but he felt much too well rested and, therefore, in too pleasant a mood to hold the expression for long. As soon as the train pulled up to the depot at Grand Island, he bounded into the aisle. “Come on,” he hollered back to his brother. “I’m half-starved.”
Adam chuckled, although he was having the same difficulty regulating his appetite to the convenience of the railroad as was his younger brother. Here, the hotel and restaurant were new, having been built by the company only the year before, but the fare was much as it had been at every breakfast stop along the route, adequate, but little more.
“I suppose you want me to trot out and get you a newspaper,” Little Joe offered after tucking away a substantial amount of scrambled eggs and sausage.
Adam flipped a coin at him, which Joe deftly caught. “You learn slowly, sonny, but I’m gratified to see that you do learn.”
“Any special variety this time?” Joe asked as he stood and pushed his chair under the table.
Adam laughed. “No, just buy whichever looks thickest. Lot of flat country to ride through today, and I can use the extra distraction.”
Joe sported a puckish grin. “Probably be chock full of society news in a big ole town like this.”
Adam displayed a twisted smile. “No doubt!” He finished a second cup of coffee after Joe left, paid the bill and then walked toward the train, looking this way and that in search of his younger brother. Though Joe had never boarded ahead of him, he entered the passenger car to check. Joe wasn’t there. Consulting his pocket watch, Adam frowned. Three minutes until departure. Where could the kid be? He stepped out onto the rail car’s platform and scanned the street in both directions—no Joe.
In fact, the wheels of the train had started to roll slowly forward when an anxious Adam finally spotted his brother and gestured imperiously for him to hurry. Joe sprinted toward the train, grabbed the hand his brother stretched toward him, jumped aboard and stood grinning at the end of the car. “Whew, that was close!” he cried.
“What happened?” Adam scolded. “Did you see some pretty skirt you just had to chase?”
Joe pouted eloquently. “I was doing you a favor, big brother, remember?” He handed Adam a copy of the Independent. “Just took me awhile to decide which was thickest.”
Adam shoved him through the door into the rail car. “Getting yourself left behind might be considered doing me a favor, little brother, but I’m afraid my ears would be burning by the time Pa got through with me.”
“Oh, shut up,” Joe growled grumpily at this further reminder that Adam would be happier without him.
Adam frowned, but decided to overlook the kid’s bad temper, chalking it up to the weariness of the journey. After all, this would be their fourth full day on the train, and he was feeling a little frazzled at the edges himself. Settling into his seat next to the window, he opened the newspaper and began to read.
When he finally folded it, Joe, who had grown bored with the sameness of the prairie scenery, asked to read it, and when Adam willingly handed it over, asked if he could sit by the window. Adam nodded and they switched seats.
Joe read the newspaper with greater attention than was his custom, but when he’d read all that struck his interest, the prairie still stretched endlessly from horizon to horizon. While the grassland held a beauty of its own, the monotonous flatness lulled Joe to sleep, and his head came slowly to rest on Adam’s shoulder. Adam impatiently shrugged it off, and, without waking, Joe curled the other direction, his head falling against the windowpane. He didn’t wake until the train stopped at Fremont for the noon meal.
“You hungry?” Adam asked his yawning brother.
“Little bit,” Joe said, reluctantly admitting, “but I couldn’t eat a full meal.”
“That’s what I figured, since we had such a late breakfast,” Adam said. “We’ll be pulling into Omaha around 4:30 this afternoon, so we could have an early supper.”
Joe gave a catlike stretch. “Yeah, that sounds good, but I could use a bite or two now if you don’t mind.”
“Of course, I don’t mind,” Adam responded, sounding slightly perturbed. “I said I’d feed you, and I haven’t failed yet of my promise, have I? Why don’t you grab something for both of us at the lunch counter and we’ll eat it here.”
Joe scowled and finally voiced a complaint he’d felt since leaving Mill Station. “Sometimes I think you brought me along just to be your personal servant, Adam.”
“Oh, you’re really hard used, aren’t you, boy?” Adam laughed. He pulled a silver dollar from his pocket and tossed it to Joe. “That should more than cover anything your little heart desires.”
Joe scowled again, but playfully this time. He didn’t really mind running errands, at least not too much. After all, an old man like Adam couldn’t be expected to hop fast enough to get the job done in the time the railroad’s unrelenting schedule allotted them. He ran out to the lunch counter, one of which was attached to every eating station on the line for passengers wanting a lighter meal, and returned minutes later with a ham sandwich and boiled egg for both himself and his brother. Not being particularly hungry yet, Joe ate only the egg, dropping the sandwich into Hop Sing’s handy hamper for later.
Not long after the dinner stop, another train boy hawking food and reading matter passed down the aisle, as one of his breed had done almost hourly throughout the journey. Having already finished the dime novel he’d bought the first day, Joe selected another to wile away the dreary hours when there was nothing to see out the window except one windmill after another. Finally, the conductor announced, “Next stop, Omaha—end of the line,” and all the passengers put away their books and other diversions in preparation for leaving the train.
Right on schedule, the Union Pacific pulled into Omaha, and Adam sent Joe to the baggage car, brass claim check in hand to fetch their bags. “What are you going to be doing?” Joe grumbled.
Adam ticked off his duties on his fingers. “Purchasing tickets for Chicago, checking departure time, inquiring as to whether we can check our bags tonight or need to take them to the hotel with us.”
“Boy, I sure hope we can leave them here!” Joe exclaimed.
“Just go get them, please, so we’ll be prepared in either event,” Adam directed sternly, “and don’t leave this platform until I come back for you.”
Joe gave a weary salute. “Yes, sir, Captain Brother, sir.”
“Scat!” Adam snorted and emphasized the order with a swat on Joe’s rear.
Joe came back, loaded down with luggage. There was no sign of Adam, but Joe felt quite content to simply wait until his brother returned. Chicago was a city of awesome size, and Joe realized he could easily lose himself if he were to try to track Adam down. He’d begun to grow concerned, but the emotion quickly faded when his brother rounded a corner and headed toward him. “So, can we check all this tonight?” he asked hopefully.
“We can,” Adam replied. “We just need to carry it to the Chicago and Northwestern depot.”
Joe groaned. “‘We’? Don’t you mean me?”
Adam chuckled. “I’ll give you a hand. Relax, kid; it’s not far.”
Joe smiled in relief as he handed some of the bags over to his older brother. “Where are we gonna stay tonight, Adam?” he asked. “You know any good hotels here in Chicago?”
“Just by reputation,” Adam admitted, “but I planned to stay at the Grand Central. It’s supposed to be one of the best-run hotels between here and San Francisco.”
Joe grinned. “Only the best for the Cartwright brothers, right?”
Adam smiled wryly. “Actually, I chose it because of its proximity to the depot, and since we economized by going second class on the train, I felt I could afford to splurge on the comfort of a decent mattress. The dining hall at the hotel is reported to be superb, as well.”
“That sounds great, brother,” Joe sighed in contentment, “but don’t even mention the word ‘train’ to me tonight, okay? My bones start aching every time I hear it!”
“Well, I’d advise you to turn in early, little buddy,” Adam suggested. “You’ll be getting up bright and early tomorrow.”
“How early?” Joe demanded.
“The train leaves at 5 a.m., so if you want breakfast . . . ” As his voice trailed off, Adam tried to keep a straight face, although Joe looked so pathetic, he could only do so with significant effort.
Joe moaned, debating whether he preferred to travel sleepy or hungry. “I may have to get up early, older brother, but I can guarantee I won’t be lookin’ bright.”
They had arrived at the depot of the railroad line they would board the next morning, and Adam once again supervised the checking of their bags, pocketing the claim checks for safekeeping. Then, leading the way to the Grand Central Hotel, he rented one of the least expensive rooms. Joe grumbled as he toted both his carpetbag and his brother’s up to the top floor, but no sign of his professed exhaustion showed as he trotted down the same four flights to the dining hall. After a satisfying meal, Adam recommended that Joe follow his example and take a bath before retiring. As he planned to change into fresh clothes in the morning, Joe readily agreed and gratefully accepted Adam’s offer to let him go first. Returning from the bath down the hall, he went straight to bed, having decided that he did want breakfast the next morning. Adam took a long leisurely soak in a hot tub and after reading for a few minutes, just to unwind, followed his own advice.
Boarding the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, the Cartwrights left Omaha the next morning and crossed a bridge over the Missouri River. Since the sun had not yet risen, however, they couldn’t really see it. Both boys were feeling sleepy from the short night and dozed during the first couple of hours of the trip. Finally, the warmth of the sun on his face woke Little Joe.
“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty,” Adam chuckled.
Joe stretched his arms over his head, yawning. “Don’t you ever get tired?” he complained.
Adam laughed aloud. “I’ve only been awake about twenty minutes, kid; so, you see, your big brother is quite human, after all.”
“Glad to hear it,” Joe said, still sounding somewhat grumpy. “Where are we?”
“On a train,” Adam replied with a sly grin.
Joe groaned. “You know what I mean.”
Adam rubbed the scruff of his brother’s neck. “That’s as close as I can come, Joe. Somewhere in Iowa, judging by the time, but I was asleep when we went through the last town.”
Joe peered past his brother at the passing countryside with its vast unfenced fields in varying shades of green, depending on whether they were planted in grass or grain. Herds of cattle grazed in the verdant meadows or rested in the shade of pale yellow-green willows, while occasionally an isolated village introduced the hand of man into the bucolic setting. Though Joe would never have chosen this flat land over the mountains of his home, he had to admit it was restful to the eye to see the green expanse stretch from horizon to horizon.
The fertility of these lowlands was amply demonstrated by the abundance of fresh produce on the menu at their dinner stop, and the entrees featured farm-raised meat, instead of the game dominating the restaurants at which they had dined in the mountains. At Adam’s suggestion, Joe ordered ham, for which the Midwest was famed, and added liberal helpings of peas, corn on the cob and buttery cabbage.
Throughout the afternoon homes grew closer together, but the scene was still largely rural. Adam, who had consumed the early edition of the Omaha newspaper that morning, purchased a copy of a Chicago paper from one of the train boys and spent the afternoon perusing it, page by page. Little Joe, scorning such boring fare, lost himself for several hours in The Bear-Hunter; or Davy Crockett as a Spy. Though the Harry Hazard dime novel had been out since April, it was a title Joe had not as yet read. He had hoped that Adam might approve, since the story concerned an early American hero, but his older brother had merely snorted in derision and informed him that there was probably not a single paragraph of truth in the whole “dime drivel,” as Adam called it.
Over supper, Adam reiterated a message he had preached the last couple of nights, the necessity of turning in early, now that the sleeper car was available. “Within the hour,” he commanded.
“That’s awful early, Adam,” Joe grumbled. “Sure, I’m tired, but I’m not sure I’ll sleep if I turn in that early.”
“You’d better hope so,” Adam said firmly, “because it will be a short enough night as it is. We’ll be traveling straight through to Philadelphia, with only a few hours layover in Chicago, and I didn’t feel the expense of renting a hotel room was warranted, no longer than we’d be using it. I probably shouldn’t even have taken berths for us on the train, since we won’t get their full benefit, either, but I felt we needed to get some sleep tonight! Now, you’re going to bed, and I don’t want to hear any further argument on the subject.”
“Okay, okay,” Joe acquiesced. “What time do we get into Chicago, anyway? Too late to do any sightseeing, I guess.”
Adam laughed. “The train arrives around 2:30 in the morning. The only sights you’ll see, kid, are a couple of train depots.”
Joe groaned. “We’ve got to switch trains?”
“Yes, of course,” Adam explained with strained patience. “This line only goes as far as Chicago. We have to transfer to the Fort Wayne and Pennsylvania line to reach Philadelphia.”
“You know, big brother, turning in right after supper is sounding better all the time!” Joe sighed as he envisioned himself stumbling sleepily from depot to depot, buried beneath a pile of baggage.
When they left the train in Chicago, however, it was Adam who struggled under the load of luggage, for Joe was too groggy to provide much assistance. In fact, Adam had to virtually lead the younger boy by the arm to the depot of the Fort Wayne and Pennsylvania Railroad. “Good thing I let him sleep in his clothes,” Adam muttered to himself, “or I’d have had to dress him like when he was a little fellow.” He couldn’t help smiling indulgently, however, when he deposited Joe on a bench at the depot and the boy immediately curled up, his countenance that of a sleeping cherub. Brushing his hand through the cherub’s tousled locks, Adam went to buy their tickets and check their bags.
Though Little Joe had confiscated the greater part of the bench, Adam chose to sit beside him. There were vacant benches where he could have stretched out full-length, but it just went with the territory of big brotherhood to stay close, hovering protectively over the younger boy, even in sleep. The depot was near enough to Lake Michigan that the wind off its surface, breezing through whenever anyone opened a door, was chilly, and it also went with the territory to keep the kid warm. Draping his own jacket over his brother, Adam slumped down to rest his head on the end of the bench, arms wrapped tight to his chest, with one leg bent at the knee near Joe’s head and the other falling to the floor.
He’d bought tickets on Express Train No. 2, which departed at nine o’clock the next morning. That meant he had a little more than five hours to sleep. The awkwardness of his position almost guaranteed that Adam would not get even those five hours, however, and he awoke to find his younger brother using him as a mattress. He let Joe sleep a little longer; then, lifting the boy ’s head from his lap, Adam roused him and suggested he visit the men’s lavatory and wash the sleep from his eyes. “We board in about an hour, so if you hurry, we’ll have time for breakfast,” he informed Joe.
“Breakfast sounds good, brother,” Joe said. “I’ll hurry.”
He was true to his word, and the Cartwright brothers were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and still board the train about ten minutes before its departure. “Adam,” Joe said after they’d been traveling awhile, “is it my imagination or is this train going a lot faster than the ones west of the Missouri?”
Adam glanced up from the newspaper. “It’s faster,” he said. “Trains on the transcontinental railroad only travel about twenty-two miles per hour, while the ones back east can reach speeds up to forty.”
Joe shook his head in awe. “Forty miles an hour! Did you ever think anything would move that fast, Adam?”
“Yes, of course,” Adam responded a bit curtly, turning the page of his paper. “I’ve kept up on engineering developments.”
Joe frowned. “No, I meant—oh, never mind. I guess it’s a good thing, considering how big this country is, but I think I enjoyed the trip more at the slower speed.”
“Hmm?” Adam wrestled his attention from the printed page and back to his brother. “Oh, yes, I suppose it is more enjoyable, especially when there’s so much scenic grandeur, but I’m weary enough of train travel that I frankly wish it could go even faster.”
“Faster!” Joe hooted. “Adam, that’s crazy. Nothing’ll ever go faster than forty miles an hour!”
Adam laughed. “Someday it will. You may even live to see it, kid.”
Joe shook his head, grinning. “Big brother, with an imagination like that, you should be writing dime novels.”
Adam clapped his hand to his forehead and gave a melodramatic shudder. “Heaven forbid,” he uttered in tones of direst dread.
Not until the train reached Fort Wayne about 2:30 in the afternoon did it stop for dinner. Declaring himself famished, Little Joe was dismayed to learn that he would have only twenty minutes to eat. He opted, as did Adam, to grab a sandwich and fried peach pie from a nearby lunch counter and eat with less haste as the train continued east.
By the time they finished their supper at Crestline, the sun was starting to go down, and Adam, who’d had almost no sleep the night before, headed directly to the sleeper car. He did not, however, insist that Joe turn in at the same time. After all, the kid had slept more, if not better, than had his older brother. Joe tried to stay awake, but growing bored with sitting alone in the dark, he retired about half an hour after Adam and fell asleep almost at once.
He woke to see Adam leaning over him, arms folded on the edge of the upper berth. “What time is it?” Joe asked.
“Six o’clock,” Adam replied. “I thought you’d want a little extra time to dress this morning, since you’re changing into your suit.”
Joe smiled, knowing that meant they were on the final leg of their journey. “Gettin’ close, huh?”
“Well, we’re in Pennsylvania, at least,” Adam chuckled, “although we won’t arrive in Philadelphia itself until middle of the afternoon.”
“A real bed tonight,” Joe murmured wistfully.
“What are you complaining about, Shortshanks?” Adam teased, borrowing Hoss’s name for their brother. “At least, the berth fits you.”
Frowning at that reminder of his less-than-normal-for-a-Cartwright height, Joe swung his legs over the side, knocking Adam’s arms aside. “How you like them short shanks?” he growled.
“Boy, did you get up on the wrong side of the berth this morning!” Adam exclaimed, stepping back.
“There isn’t any other side,” Joe grunted, dropping to the floor, carpetbag in hand.
Adam swung the arch of his foot toward his brother’s backside, but Joe, who moved fast once he got going, was already out of reach, even for his older brother’s long leg.
“You look very nice,” Adam complimented as they waited for their breakfast order to arrive at a restaurant in Altoona.
“Thanks,” Joe said, smiling. “You, too.” Though he would have preferred wearing his comfortable ranch clothes on the train, he could see that he and his brother blended into the general populace much better in their dark suits, white shirts and string ties. In fact, Joe almost wished he had worn the new suit Pa had provided, but that was in the bag checked through to their final destination. He was wearing an older and somewhat outdated suit today, as was Adam, and both were a bit crumpled from their six-day residence inside the carpetbags. Adam assured his brother, however, that the wrinkles would be smoothed out by the time they reached Philadelphia.
Since they had eaten a filling breakfast before leaving Altoona at 7:30 a.m., neither of the boys was really ready for dinner when the train stopped at Harrisburg four hours later, but as the restaurant was a fine one, they both ate heartily. “Towns sure are getting thicker,” Joe commented over his steak, smothered in onions and gravy. “Bigger, too.”
“Wait ‘til you see Philadelphia,” Adam suggested with a smile.
Swirling a forkful of mashed potatoes through the gravy, Joe grinned, wondering how he could possibly wait to see a city larger than any he’d ever visited before and suddenly wishing that train could go faster than forty miles per hour, like in Adam’s crazy imagination.
Four more hours brought them to their final stop, as the train pulled into the West Philadelphia depot. “I suppose you want me to get the luggage,” Joe said glumly, holding out his hand for the claim check.
“No need,” Adam said with an amused smile. “It will be delivered directly to our hotel, a service provided by the railroad.”
A broad smile transfixed Joe’s face. “Now, that is what I call service, brother!” As they stood on the platform, he looked around at the buildings surrounding the station. “So, which one is our hotel?”
Adam shook his head in dismay. Had the kid absorbed nothing of what he’d read in the guidebook back home? “No, Joe. Our hotel is downtown, remember?”
Joe stared at the tall buildings closing in the view on all sides. “I thought we were downtown.”
Adam laughed. “Kid, this is nothing compared to the city itself. Grab your carpetbag, we’ll catch a horse car and you’ll soon see what I mean.”
Joe had, of course, ridden horse-drawn streetcars in San Francisco, so that was not a new experience. Consequently, he could focus his full attention on the growing congestion in the streets and the increasing height of the buildings as the car approached the city’s center. “Oh, wow, Adam,” he whispered, overwhelmed. “I never—I mean, I—I . . .”
Adam slipped an arm around his brother’s slim shoulders. “I know what you mean, kid,” he said, kindly covering Joe’s loss of words and, at the same time, his own rising emotions at being back in one of the cultural havens of the East.
Forty-five minutes after leaving the depot, the Cartwright brothers were ascending the steps into the Washington Hotel. By comparison with others they had passed, the building at the corner of Seventh and Chestnut streets seemed unassuming, but it was still as nice as most that Little Joe had seen in San Francisco and definitely grander than any he’d stayed in elsewhere in the West. With an extra person to pay for, he didn’t begrudge Adam the frugality of renting them less expensive rooms. Besides, he didn’t plan to spend much time in his!
As Adam approached the polished walnut counter to the left of the lobby, a pencil-thin man with straight black hair cut well above his ears said, “Good day, sir. May I be of assistance?”
“Yes, we’re checking in,” Adam replied. “Our reservations are under my name, Adam Cartwright from Nevada.”
“Nevada?” The desk clerk adjusted his pince-nez and scrutinized the applicants for a room with a frown. “Well, let’s see,” he murmured, flicking through a stack of cards in a wooden box. “No, no, I don’t see any reservation for gentlemen from Nevada, sir. Perhaps you’ve merely mistaken the name of the hotel at which you intended to register.”
Adam graced him with a supercilious smile. “I’m not the one who is mistaken, sir. This is the hotel at which I made reservations, and I expect you to honor them.”
The clerk straightened to his full five feet, seven inches and looked down his nose at the westerners. “Sir, as I have said, there is no record of such a reservation, and with the crowds coming to the Centennial Exposition, I simply have no rooms to spare for gentlemen such as yourselves.”
“Adam?” Joe interrupted with concern, as he began to envision himself spending the night on the street.
“It’s all right, Joe. The gentleman is simply mistaken,” Adam said. He’d noted the disfavor with which the clerk had appraised their simple apparel, as well as the emphasis placed on ‘gentlemen,’ so he gave the word a similar inflection when he spoke its singular. Suspecting that he knew what lay behind the sudden lack of rooms at the Washington Hotel and feeling certain that it was no mistake, he turned a cool gaze on the clerk as he pulled a thin sheet from his vest pocket, unfolded it and laid it on the counter. “This, sir, is a registered letter from this hotel, confirming receipt of my reservation and the payment I transferred to secure it. Now, perhaps, if you adjust those spectacles a bit closer to your eyes, you’ll be able to find that reservation card.”
With a shaking hand the clerk reached again for the box and began thumbing through its alphabetically arranged cards. “Let’s see. Cartwright, you said? Why, yes, here it is. I don’t see how I overlooked it. Two rooms with an adjoining parlor, was that correct, sir?”
“That’s correct,” Adam said smoothly. “Shall I sign the register now?”
The clerk quickly swiveled the guest book and extended an ink pen for Adam’s use. “If you please, sir.”
Adam signed his name with a flourish. “I trust my brother’s name is also on the reservation card. While I am the financially responsible party, he will undoubtedly be receiving mail.”
The clerk consulted the card in his hand. “Yes, Adam and Joseph Cartwright from Nevada. It’s all here, sir. All mail will be held here at the desk, and you may call for it at any time.”
“Thank you,” Adam said. “Now, may I have the keys? I presume you do have one for each of us.”
“Indeed, yes,” the clerk said, taking two from a rack of hooks behind the desk. “One for each of you, gentlemen,” he said with no arrogant emphasis on the word this time. “Suite 307. The elevator is to your right.”
Adam handed the clerk his brass claim check. “Please exchange this for our luggage when it arrives and either send it to the room or inform us of its arrival and we’ll carry it up ourselves.”
“Oh, it will be sent to you, sir, absolutely,” the man insisted. “I’ll see to it personally.”
Adam turned, bending to pick up his carpetbag, but Little Joe, eyes alight with admiration, quickly grabbed it. Resting a hand on his brother’s shoulder, Adam guided him toward the elevator.
Joe balked a moment. “I hate rising rooms,” he muttered.
“It’s three flights up, Joe,” Adam reminded him.
“Maybe the exercise would be good for us after all that time sitting on the train, Adam,” he hinted hopefully.
Adam just laughed as he pushed the boy onto the elevator. “Don’t worry. You’ll get plenty of exercise when we visit the Exposition.”
“Sure was smart of you, carrying that letter, Adam,” Joe said as the elevator doors closed and the teenager operating it started the car in motion. “That fellow must be half blind not to have seen our card the first time!”
“Don’t be naïve, little brother,” Adam chided. “A five-dollar gold piece would have cleared his eyesight even more quickly.”
“You mean he—”
“Yes, of course,” Adam stated, reminding himself to be patient with his inexperienced brother. “I’m sure rooms are at a premium in Philadelphia this summer and will become even harder to find as the Fourth of July approaches, so an unscrupulous clerk can probably pocket a tidy sum. I just don’t happen to approve of bribery for acceptable service. I do, however, tip for it.” With a suave smile he handed two bits to the elevator operator when the doors opened at their floor.
“You handled it so smooth, Adam,” Joe said as they walked down the thinly carpeted hallway. “I wouldn’t have known what to do, except maybe punch the guy in the snoot.”
Adam cuffed his brother’s ear. “All that would have gotten you was a night in jail, little man. As for handling the situation, it’s all a matter of proper record keeping, the same as I do for ranch business.”
Joe beamed with pride as Adam turned the key in the door to their suite. “Yeah, you always do a great job of that, too, Adam.”
Adam opened the door. “Why, thank you, Joe.” It was rare that he heard a compliment from his younger brother, and his warm smile showed how much he enjoyed it.
Entering, Joe looked around. The room was simply, but tastefully furnished with an autumn-brown brocade settee and two armchairs, upholstered in a fabric covered with green and gold oak leaves and tawny acorns wearing caps of nut-brown. A reading lamp stood beside each chair, and another sat on a writing table, with a straight-backed wooden chair, nestled in one corner.
Adam cleared his throat. “I trust it meets with your approval.”
“Huh?” Then Joe grinned, realizing how strange he must have looked, standing there, staring silently at the furniture. “Oh, yeah, it’s just fine, Adam.” Aware again of the weight at the ends of his arms, he asked, “Which room do you want your bag in?”
“That one,” Adam said, pointing to the one on the right.
Joe’s eyes sparkled when he saw that Adam had left the room with windows on the street for him. “Hey, thanks!”
Adam’s breath caught in his throat for a moment. Joe obviously thought he was being generous, when the truth was that he personally preferred the quieter room without windows. Thinking it imprudent to confess that to his younger brother, however, he merely said, “You’re welcome.”
Thinking of what a good brother he had, after all, Joe dropped Adam’s bag in his room first and then carried his own to the other.
By the time they’d unpacked their carpetbags, the other luggage arrived and, at Adam’s insistence, those things, too, were put in their proper places for a long-term stay. “And now, my boy, I suggest you have yourself a little nap,” Adam told his brother.
“A nap!” Joe squealed. “How old do you think I am—five?”
“No,” Adam drawled with a sly smile. “I just think you act that way. Seriously, Joe, aren’t you tired? I know I am.”
“Well, yeah,” Joe conceded. “I guess I wouldn’t mind stretching out for a while, but I probably won’t sleep—and don’t go calling it a nap, okay, Adam? Naps are for kids.”
Resisting the temptation to say, “And that’s just what you are,” Adam merely nodded and went to his own room.
Little Joe walked over to the window to take in the view. It overlooked Chestnut Street, down which stretched block after block of tall, stately business buildings. Joe couldn’t wait to get shed of Adam and explore them for himself. Guess I’ll have to wait, though, he admitted as he dropped onto the edge of his bed to unlace his city shoes. With a gaping yawn he sank into the plump pillow, intending merely to rest his eyes for a few minutes, but he fell into a deep slumber from which he didn’t awaken until Adam roused him to go down to supper.
They ate in the hotel’s dining room at a round table covered in crisp white linen. After perusing the menu, Adam observed, “You might like to try the pepper pot soup. It’s a Philadelphia specialty, and you probably aren’t any more in the mood for a heavy meal than I am.”
“What’s in it—besides pepper, that is?” Joe asked with a sassy grin.
“It’s a stew of tripe, potatoes, onions and dumplings, seasoned to a delicious spiciness with cayenne pepper,” Adam answered. He laughed at the look on his brother’s face. “It really is good, Joe.”
“It would have to be, for me to eat cow innards,” Joe snorted.
“You mind your language,” Adam said sharply. “That kind of talk is not appreciated at the table in genteel company.”
“So, who’s in genteel company?” Joe sputtered.
“All around you,” Adam hissed, leaning forward so his voice would not carry past Joe’s ear. “Now, do you behave or do I escort you back to the room without your supper?”
“Okay, okay,” Joe appeased quickly, glancing at some of their elegantly dressed fellow diners. “Didn’t mean to embarrass you. Hey, I’ll even eat your old tripe soup if you’ll start actin’ genteel toward me.”
Adam released a couple of short chuckles. “Eat what you like, boy. I’ve always thought one of the pleasures of travel was sampling unfamiliar foods, but you’re welcome to choose whatever you fancy.”
Good humor restored, Little Joe decided he would try the pepper pot soup, after all, and although he found the tripe disgustingly chewy, the soup itself was very flavorful. He ordered coleslaw and sliced tomatoes to round out the meal and finished up with a slice of lemon cheesecake, the most expensive dessert on the menu.
After supper Adam escorted his brother on the get-acquainted tour of the city that their father had mandated. Four blocks to the south of their hotel, they entered a five-story brick building with wires running out in all directions and posted a telegram via Western Union to apprise the family back home of their safe arrival. Then, exhausted from the long journey, both boys went straight to bed. Adam fell asleep readily, but Joe, excited over the adventure to begin tomorrow, lay awake a long while, listening to the sounds of traffic coming through his open window.
“There.” Adam stepped back to admire the expert bow he had just tied in his brother’s gray silk cravat. “That’s perfect, though I still think you should save this for evening wear.”
“I want to look my best while I’m shopping,” Joe insisted. “It makes folks treat you better.”
Adam cocked his head and nodded once. He had to admit that his brother had made an astute observation. Clerks did tend to give more attentive service to someone who appeared to be a man of means, and a customer as young as Little Joe was wise to provide them all the incentive he could muster if he wished to be treated with respect. The boy looked positively dapper in his new gray broadcloth suit and burgundy vest, and Adam had no doubt that the handsome lad would turn some pretty heads as he walked down the street.
“I hope you’ll just look today and delay your final purchases until I can be with you,” Adam said.
The suggestion met almost exactly the response he’d expected, but hoped to avoid. “Pa trusts me,” Joe sputtered. “Why can’t you?”
“I trust you, Joe,” Adam tried to explain, although, in truth, he had some reservations about his brother’s wardrobe wisdom, “but I don’t necessarily trust those you’ll be dealing with today. Some—like the clerk on duty when we registered, for instance—are more than willing to take advantage of a green kid from the country, and I just don’t want that to happen.”
It was the same argument Adam had advanced back home, and it was no more effective in Philadelphia than it had been at the Ponderosa. “I’m not a kid, and no one’s gonna take advantage of me,” Joe asserted tersely. “I can take care of myself, Adam.”
“Uh-huh,” Adam drawled. When did I hear that before? Oh, I remember, right before the last time the kid got himself into a scrape I had to get him out of!
“I can, Adam!” Joe insisted.
“All right, Joe, whatever you say,” Adam sighed.
The Cartwrights made their way to the hotel dining room for breakfast. After placing their orders, Adam laid out a strict itinerary for his young brother. “You’re to stay on Chestnut Street exclusively today, Joe. If you start one block east of here and work your way west, you’ll cover most of the business district within a few blocks. Anything east of that is warehouses, not retail shops, so you don’t need to go there.”
“Chestnut isn’t the only street that has clothing stores,” Joe complained. “I should be able to go where I please.”
“You will stay within the boundaries I set,” Adam emphasized, “and as you well remember, that is Pa’s order, not just mine. You can shop on Market Street tomorrow, but Chestnut, which is the main retail street, anyway, is the limit for you today, boy, and I expect you to adhere to that.”
Joe frowned, but nodded agreement. “Yes, sir. Are you going to meet me somewhere for dinner?”
The waiter arrived with their orders, so Adam delayed his answer until they were alone again. “No, I’m sorry, Joe, but you’ll be completely on your own today. A luncheon is being provided by the convention, so I’ll be dining there.”
“No problem,” Joe said, stretching his palm across the table and doing his best imitation of Adam’s Cheshire-cat smile.
It paled by comparison with the real thing, with which Adam responded. “You’ll be in the area. Come back here to eat and charge it to the room.”
Joe grimaced, resenting the curtailment of his freedom of choice, but he shrugged it off as something beyond his control.
“Now, if you grow weary of shopping,” Adam continued as he cut a bite of his veal chop, “you’re welcome to visit either Washington Square or Independence Square.”
“Oh, but not both?” Joe asked irritably.
“Or both,” Adam amended. “I showed you how to get to those last night, and either—or both—will make a pleasant place for you to relax this afternoon. The only stipulation I’ll make is that you are not to go inside Independence Hall. I wish to visit it, as well, and the least you can do is wait, so that we can see it together.”
Joe smiled agreeably. “Sure, Adam, that’s fine.” He wanted to spend time with his brother and knew that he would enjoy seeing the historic landmark more if he saw it with Adam. Besides, he basically considered himself a guest on Adam’s trip and figured it behooved him, for the most part, to be a good one. “We will have supper together, though, won’t we?” he asked.
“Yes,” Adam replied. “I have something rather special planned for tonight, so I want you to meet me at the corner of Eighth and Chestnut at five o’clock. We’ll need to catch a horse car there, so we can get to Fairmount Park in time to board the May Queen at 5:30.”
“A boat?” Joe queried.
Forking a piece of fried egg, Adam nodded. “A steamer, to take us down the Schuylkill River to the Falls for catfish and coffee.”
“Now wait a minute!” Joe protested, stabbing a sausage-laden fork toward his brother. “What if I want something different? You already picked where I’m eating dinner, and now you want to control supper, too? Just because you’re paying for the meals doesn’t mean you get to pick my food for me!”
Although he felt more like plowing a fist into his brother’s face, Adam calmly caught the boy’s wrist and lowered his fork to the plate. “Trust me, all right? Catfish and coffee is all they serve where we’re going, but you won’t be disappointed. Even Hoss wouldn’t be disappointed by what you’ll have put before you.”
“Oh, all right,” Joe muttered, giving in a bit less than gracefully. Is it my imagination or is he rubbing it in my face that he’d rather have Hoss here?
They finished their breakfasts and left the hotel together. “Have a good day,” Adam said, giving his brother’s back a couple of pats in farewell.
“Hey, you, too, Adam,” Joe bubbled, eager to start his solo adventure. “Get all educated on that mining stuff.”
“I’ll try,” Adam laughed, “and you try to stay out of trouble.”
Joe was sorely tempted to poke his tongue at his exasperating older brother, but since that would be childish, he settled, instead, for what he hoped was a snappy rejoinder. “Hey, you, too, Adam!”
Adam smiled as he affectionately shook the youngster’s neck. “Should be easy without you around to drag me into any of your shenanigans.” He looked intently into his brother’s face. “Seriously, Joe, take care of yourself. It’s a big city.”
Though Little Joe did not appreciate what he viewed as a needless admonition, he saw the genuine concern reflected in Adam’s ebony eyes and was touched by it. “I will,” he promised. “See you at five.”
The two brothers went in opposite directions. Deciding to follow Adam’s instructions to the letter, at least for now, Joe walked exactly one block east down Chestnut Street, where he almost laughed when he saw the business on the corner, Fred Brown’s Drugstore. Probably oughta buy some headache powders, he joked with himself, since Adam is bound and determined to give me one!
He stood on the corner for a few minutes, looking again at the United States Custom House across the street, whose architecture Adam had praised so profusely on their get-acquainted tour of the city the previous night. The white marble structure was, Joe had to admit, fabulous. According to Adam, it was an imitation of the Parthenon in Greece and was what his big brother called “one of the most classic examples of Doric architecture in America,” a phrase meaningless to Joe until Adam pointed out the eight fluted columns as characteristic.
When Little Joe turned to head west, he saw a brunette beauty about his age, walking out of a shop with an older woman, probably her mother. With an appreciative sparkle in his eye, he tipped his gray felt hat to the girl, and she giggled, but smiled pleasantly in response. Her mother, however, deliberately pulled her away from the forward young man. Though he couldn’t hear the lecture the older woman was delivering in the younger one’s ear, Joe was pretty sure it had something to do with the dangers of dallying with strange, albeit dashingly handsome, young men.
With a shrug he put the girl and her provocative bustle out of his mind and entered the store the women had just left, the four-story dry goods emporium of Morgan, Young, Altemus & Co. Stepping through the door, his eyes met a daunting display. While much of what was offered was similar, in type at least, to the goods sold in the general store back home, the mass of merchandise here was so overwhelming that Little Joe didn’t know where to start. His bewilderment must have been evident, for a tall clerk with a brushy mustache appeared at his side to ask if he needed assistance in finding a particular department.
“Um, I was just going to look around,” Joe stammered, the clerk’s discerning appraisal stripping him bare of any pretensions of sophistication. “I-I mean I haven’t been in your store before and just wanted to acquaint myself with it.” Joe shook his head, blushing in self-disgust. Buck naked with “country boy” scrawled all over my chest!
Choosing to overlook the well-dressed young man’s evident disconcertment, the clerk gave him a congenial smile. “Ah, a visitor to our fair city, in town for the Centennial, perhaps?”
The clerk’s kindly manner putting him at ease, Joe nodded back. “Yes, sir, and in need of some—uh,”—he scrambled for a citified way of expressing his need—“some things to complete my wardrobe, so while I do want to look around, it would help if you could tell me where to find that.”
“Certainly, sir,” the clerk replied smoothly. “Feel free to browse all you like. When you’re ready, you’ll find the men’s haberdashery department on the second floor. We’re having a sale on shirts today, if that represents one of the additions you need to make to your traveling wardrobe.”
“Yes, sir, it does. Thanks a lot!” Joe said, flashing his dazzling smile and thrusting out his hand.
The clerk looked a bit surprised at the gesture of familiarity, but, captivated by the boy’s charm, took the extended hand and gave it a warm shake. “You’re welcome, young man, and I trust you’ll find what you desire upstairs. Ask for Emil should you require assistance in that department.”
“I will, sir. Thanks,” Joe said. He moved around the first floor for a short while, but seeing nothing he needed, he mounted the stairs, grateful that Messrs. Morgan, Young and Altemus had not gone in for the modernized torture chamber folks back home called a rising room.
He intended only to look, saving his purchases until he’d had a chance to compare quality and price elsewhere, but the shirts on sale struck him as stylish and well worth the price. He bought two, one for everyday wear and one of crisp linen, with ruffles down the front placket and around the cuffs, which would go well with evening apparel. Adam had told him they would be attending the theater while in town, so Joe hoped even his mother hen of a brother would agree that the fancy shirt was something he needed. He gave the name of his hotel to Emil, who promised that the package would be delivered that afternoon.
Coming out of the dry goods store, Little Joe next noticed the establishment of Henry A. Dreer. He paused briefly to admire its attractive display windows with baskets of ivy and ferns hanging from their ceilings and over the central entrance to the store, whose sign proclaimed trees, plants and garden tools for sale. Not being in the market for those items, Joe continued west up Chestnut Street.
According to the Philadelphia guidebook, some of the handsomest dry goods, clothing, jewelry and book stores in the city were located in the seven hundred block of Chestnut, and Joe went inside each of them, perusing carefully all that was offered. His only purchase, however, was two new cravats of the style favored by the men he’d seen on the street that morning. Though he felt more comfortable in a simple string tie, Joe also enjoyed dressing up on occasion, and he suspected there might be more opportunities for that here than at home. Too, while reluctant to admit it, he knew Adam was right when he said that Hop Sing’s gift was too dressy for daywear; the additional purchases, in less showy fabric, would enable him to save that for special occasions.
Crossing Eighth Street, Joe noticed another fine building across the street. Although he had no idea what name to give its style of architecture, he found its arched windows and sharp pinnacles impressive. “Too fancy to be a store,” he muttered. “Wonder what it is.”
“That’s the Old Masonic Temple, young man,” a fellow pedestrian stopped long enough to tell him, “in process of being renovated as a hotel.”
“Thank you, sir,” Joe called to the departing figure. He gave the building a nod of approval. Now, that would have been an interesting place to stay! Not that there was anything wrong with the Washington. It just didn’t have the flair of this place or some of the others along Chestnut, especially the Continental, situated just above Ninth Street. Well, to be honest, that one didn’t have any particular flair about it, either, but according to the guidebook, its accommodations were the best America had to offer and its dining room the finest in the country. Joe understood why he and Adam were not staying there, since the Continental charged two dollars more per day than their hotel. He felt a moment’s perturbation, however, because he had entertained the idea of sampling that fine food—at Adam’s expense, of course—one of the two days he was on his own. Adam had spoiled that plan by his refusal to hand over the cash Joe had requested, but it was probably too much to expect his older brother to cooperate with the scheme to empty his pockets.
Just above Tenth Street, Little Joe tripped past McCallum, Crease & Sloan’s carpet store and paused to look across the street at Fox’s New American Theater. Wonder if that’s the one Adam plans on us going to, Joe pondered. Maybe, since it’s close. Unanswerable questions weren’t worth much consideration, however, so he just kept walking westward until he reached Twelfth Street. On its southeast corner was a fine marble building, housing the largest jewelry store in Philadelphia. Joe wandered inside, out of curiosity, and was pleased by the wide selection of cuff links and stickpins. Maybe Pa’d like something on that order for Christmas. It was worth thinking about, although the nice ones cost more than Joe thought he could afford to spend without shortchanging others for whom he planned to buy gifts, too.
Leaving Bailey’s Jewelry Store, Joe craned his neck to read the words printed on the pennant flying atop the building. He laughed when he saw “Dental Depot” in bold letters and decided it was definitely time to head back to the hotel when dentists started showing up. A glance at his pocket watch revealed that it was later than he’d realized, and just knowing that it was almost two o’clock made his stomach rumble. With a burst of energy, Joe sprinted back to the Washington and almost ran into the dining room—a room virtually empty.
A man clearing dishes from one of the far tables looked up as Joe entered. “Dining room closes at two, sir,” he called.
Joe groaned. Bet the Continental stays open all day, he groused to himself as he walked to the registration desk, but he knew it was an unfair thought. It was more likely that all the hotels in the area kept the same basic hours. “Have any packages arrived for Joseph Cartwright?” he asked the clerk behind the desk, a different man than the one who had greeted them their first day.
“No, sir. Were you expecting some?” the clerk asked solicitously.
“Sometime this afternoon,” Joe replied. “It was all right to have them sent here, wasn’t it?”
“Certainly, sir. Shall I inform you when they arrive?”
Joe shook his head. “No, don’t bother. I’ll be in and out today, so I’ll just check back again later.”
“Very good, sir.” The clerk turned back to his paperwork.
Little Joe decided to go up to his room for a little while, to rest his weary feet. They weren’t so weary, however, that he was willing to brave that rising room when there was a perfectly good stairway close at hand. He took the steps two at a time and was soon stretched out on the sofa in the suite’s parlor. Lying there with his arms folded behind his neck, he had a sudden inspiration and went in search of the picnic hamper. He found it and, as he’d hoped, two pieces of fruit remained inside. “Bless you, Hop Sing,” he chirped, grabbing both the pear and the apple. “Uh, and you, too, I guess, big brother,” he added, as he remembered who had bought the fruit in Hop Sing’s basket. Flopping back on the settee, he consumed both pieces down to the core and felt his hunger sufficiently appeased to be ignored.
After relaxing for about an hour, Joe grew bored with lying around the stifling room and decided to pursue the only other option Adam had permitted him, a visit to the nearby public squares. There were actually seven within the bounds of Philadelphia, but the others were further away and probably not much different, in Joe’s opinion. After exchanging his cravat for a more relaxed string tie, he skipped down the stairs and walked the half block that separated the hotel from Independence Hall. Standing on the wide slate sidewalk before the famous building, he admired once more, as both he and Adam had the night before, the white marble statue of George Washington in front of the building. Though tempted to run inside long enough to see the Liberty Bell, Joe decided it would be imprudent to make waves with Adam this early in their adventure, especially over an issue so insignificant as when he saw the bell.
Independence Square lay behind the famous landmark, so Joe walked south on Sixth Street until he came to an entrance. It was marked by a lamppost, with the names of the thirteen original states inscribed on its base and, also, four representations of the Liberty Bell, each surrounded by thirteen stars. Entering the park, he enjoyed the shade of the lofty trees, for the afternoon was growing increasingly warmer, but he walked straight through the grounds, planning to check out Washington Square before deciding where to spend the next couple of hours.
Washington Square lay cater-cornered to the other public park, so Joe dodged carriages and a passing horse car to cross the intersection of Sixth and Walnut and was glad he had when he saw the large trees, which provided even finer shade than those in Independence Square. Spotting a stone fountain with an eagle perched on a globe, Joe took a drink, and then settled on a nearby bench to watch the people passing by. It seemed to him as if all of Philadelphia were on parade, men in straw hats and women in fashionable bonnets, strolling arm in arm or riding in two-wheeled runabouts or stately black family carriages. He took special notice of one flashy dark-blue carriage with both a red and a green stripe running down its side. Wouldn’t the girls’ heads turn if he drove something like that down the streets of Virginia City! Observing the elegant clothes of the men and women on promenade, Joe was forced to admit that Adam had been right. He did need different clothes to fit in with these fancy folk, and he resolved to purchase whatever he needed tomorrow, even if he had to dip into his own funds to do it. He wanted Adam to be proud to be seen with him.
Thoughts of Adam made him consult his watch. Thirty minutes left before he was to meet his brother, but having already missed one deadline that day for lack of attention to the time, Joe decided not to take chances. He started walking up Walnut toward Eighth Street and found himself in a pleasant residential area, the majority of the houses constructed of red brick with white trim and roofs of either tile or slate. There were no front yards, which Joe thought greatly detracted from their beauty, but white steps led to small square porches, most having two benches that faced each other on either side of the front door. The houses were, typically, two stories tall with a dormer window in the attic and a narrow roof over the first floor windows, a style Joe had never seen before. Have to ask Adam what kind of architecture this is, he determined. Bet he knows. Seems to know ‘most everything ‘bout buildings.
Joe arrived at the horse car stop well before five o’clock, but Adam came running up to him just as the streetcar pulled up to the corner. “I was afraid you weren’t going to make it!” Joe exclaimed as he jumped onto the car after his brother.
Adam shrugged. “I knew it would be close, but I did have to hoof it to make it here on time. Glad to see that you did the same, kid.”
Having had an enjoyable day, Joe was in a good mood and was too excited about the prospective boat trip to take offense at the didactic tone. “I wouldn’t want to miss the last boat, now would I?” he queried with a grin.
Adam chuckled. “Actually, there’s one more, but taking that one wouldn’t leave us much time to eat before the final boat back from the Falls.” He noted with amusement Joe’s change of neckwear. “Spill gravy on that fancy silk cravat?” he teased.
“Couldn’t. Didn’t have dinner,” Joe grunted.
“Oh, for mercy’s sake!” Adam castigated. “If that’s your way of pouting because I wouldn’t give you cash—”
“It isn’t,” Joe countered testily. “I just lost track of the time.” He explained about the restricted dining hours at the hotel.
“I should have thought to warn you about that. I’m sorry,” Adam apologized sincerely. “It just never occurred to me that you’d wait ‘til after two to eat.”
“Didn’t mean to,” Joe admitted, “but there’s so much to see, even on just that one street, Adam, that I plain forgot.”
Adam grinned, thinking how like Joe it was to forget food in his interest over other things, but all he said was, “Well, perhaps that will teach you to take out your pocket watch once in a while.”
“All I can say, brother, is that this catfish and coffee better be as filling as you said,” Joe teased back, “or we’ll be making a second stop somewhere.”
“Not a chance,” Adam laughed. “I guarantee you’ll be stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.”
A twenty-five minute ride brought them to the steamboat landing. Jumping off the horse car, Little Joe eagerly scampered down the dock to the waiting boat, calling, “Come on!” as he waved his older brother on.
Making a quick check of his watch, Adam saw that the boat was not scheduled to leave for five minutes, so he slowly sauntered toward the eager youngster. Soon they were steaming down the Schuylkill River, which Adam informed Joe meant “hidden river,” a name the Dutch had given the waterway because ships ascending the Delaware couldn’t see the mouth of the other river until reaching its junction.
Leaning on the rail, Joe smiled, not so much because of the information—he’d already read it in the guidebook—but because he enjoyed floating lazily past the rustic scenes along the shore. After a day in the big city, the tree-lined shores of the meandering stream soothed his pastoral yearnings. “This is nice,” he said softly. “If I had to live in Philadelphia, I’d come here every day and just . . . breathe.”
Ruffling the boy’s wind-blown curls, Adam laughed lightly. “Can’t you breathe in the city?”
Joe smiled a little shyly. “I guess I don’t put what I mean into words too well.”
Adam slipped an arm around his brother’s shoulders and enjoyed the view with him. “No, I know what you mean. I prefer open spaces myself.”
“Do you, Adam?” Joe asked, his voice tinged with a hidden fear.
“Sure,” Adam replied, missing the meaning behind his brother’s inflection. “It’s what I chose, isn’t it?”
Joe nodded, not totally reassured, but not comfortable pursuing a more definitive answer.
The May Queen landed at the Falls of the Schuylkill and Adam led the way to the Falls Hotel. The dining room was crowded, but the Cartwright brothers were fortunate enough to get a table by a window overlooking the river. “Catfish and coffee?” the waitress asked as they took their seats.
“Yes, please,” Adam said at once. Looking across the table, he noticed the petulant pout on his brother’s face. “Straighten up,” he dictated, “or you’ll wish you had.” Adopting a more pacifying tone, he added, “You know, people have been enjoying catfish and coffee here for over a hundred years, Joe. In fact, when Philadelphia was the capital of our country, George Washington himself may very well have dined on what you’re eating tonight. Give it a chance and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.”
“George Washington, huh?” Joe said, trying not to look impressed. “Well, I guess if the father of our country lived through it, I can, too.”
“Live through it,” Adam scoffed. “Why don’t you quit now before you cough up more words you’ll have to eat?”
Joe wrinkled his nose, but made no further comment—and a good thing, he decided when the heaping platters of food were placed on the table, for, as Adam had said, he already had enough hasty words to chew on. “This isn’t just catfish,” he sputtered. “When did you order all this?” In addition to the fish he had expected, the table was also spread with beefsteak, broiled chicken and waffles.
“You heard what I ordered,” Adam laughed. “This is what comes with catfish and coffee, just a few extras.”
“A few!” Joe croaked. “Adam, I’ll bust if I eat all this.”
Adam found himself unable to resist saying, “I told you so,” but he kept it light and Joe took it well.
“I was wrong, Adam,” the younger boy said earnestly. “You’ve done real well with your plans so far, and I’m sorry I made such a fuss.”
“Just try to remember that tomorrow, will you, kid?” Adam suggested with that maddening arch of his eyebrow.
Joe struggled to hold onto his temper. He’d admitted he was wrong; he’d even apologized. Why couldn’t Adam have just left it at that?
“How was your day? Any problems?” Adam asked as he carved his steak.
“What? Oh, no, no problems,” Joe assured him, pouring maple syrup on his waffle, which seemed, to him, the best place to start.
“And do you have any money left?” Adam teased.
“Yeah, sure,” Joe said, irritated, but not wanting to spoil the meal. “How was the convention? You learn anything or did you know it all already?”
It was Adam’s turn to feel irritated. “Of course I don’t ‘know it all already.’ That’s why I came, to learn, as well as to share what I know.”
“Okay, so what did you learn?”
Adam laughed. “You wouldn’t understand much of what we discussed today, Joe, and I don’t want to bore you.”
“I’m not stupid, you know, Adam,” Joe muttered darkly.
“I know that very well,” Adam said, trying to pacify the offended child. “You have a good mind, when you choose to use it, but you haven’t paid much attention to mining matters, so it’s unlikely you would understand a discussion of its technical problems, isn’t it?”
“I guess so,” Joe said, cutting off a bite of broiled chicken and forking a piece of waffle to go with it. “The food’s really good, Adam,” he added in a glaringly obvious attempt to change the subject.
Recognizing the comment for what it was, Adam immediately dropped the discussion of the convention. “I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” he said simply and was rewarded by his brother’s brighter countenance.
“I am; I really am,” Joe said enthusiastically. With a brilliant smile he popped the chicken and waffle together into his mouth.
The two brothers dallied so long over the hearty meal that they had to race to catch the final boat back to Fairmount Park. From there they took the Ridge Avenue line of horse cars back downtown and walked arm in arm to the Washington Hotel. Joe picked up his two packages at the desk and headed for the stairs.
“Joe, what are you doing?” Adam called. “Come take the elevator.”
Joe shook his head, grinning. “Race you up,” he challenged.
Adam chuckled, shaking his head as the boy took off. Where did the kid find all that energy at the end of a long day? He rode the elevator up and was not surprised to find Joe waiting for him at the door to their room. “You know, you really should get over that foolish fear you have of heights,” he scolded.
“I’m not scared,” Joe insisted. “I just don’t like rising rooms.”
“Uh-huh,” Adam said as he opened the door. Once inside, he looked at the packages in Joe’s hands. “Show me what you bought,” he directed in a voice that came across more authoritatively than he intended.
“It’s none of your business what I bought,” Joe snapped.
“Oh, for mercy’s sake!” Adam fumed. “Are you so afraid you spent your money unwisely that you can’t even let me see the things? It rather misses the point of buying new clothes if you have to hide them!”
Joe sat on the settee and began to unwrap the packages. “I think I did fine,” he said, his voice carrying a trace of nervousness, “but you’ll probably find fault, no matter what.”
“I’ll try to judge fairly,” Adam said, gaining control of his own temper, which no one could trigger as easily as Joe.
Joe showed him the cravats first.
“Yes, those are more practical than what you wore this morning,” Adam observed. “How much—never mind; I won’t ask.”
“Good, ‘cause I ain’t tellin’,” Joe declared firmly. “It’s my money, not yours.”
“Agreed,” Adam said.
Joe unwrapped the other package and handed it to his brother. “I think you’ll approve of this one,” he said, pointing to the ruffled shirt. “I figured I might need something dressier for the theater and such places.”
“Yes, you do, and this looks fine, Joe,” Adam praised. “Excellent quality if the price wasn’t too steep.”
“It was on sale,” Joe told him eagerly and, disregarding his adamant announcement of a few moments before, he quoted the price.
“That is a good buy,” Adam agreed. “In fact, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to pick up a similar shirt in my size tomorrow.”
Joe was so pleased by the unexpected praise that he bubbled over with cooperative spirit. “Sure, Adam, I’d be glad to.”
Adam rolled his shoulders. “Well, I’m for bed. It’s been a long day, with another ahead.”
“Yeah,” Joe agreed.
Saying good night to each other, the brothers turned in, each pleased with the way his first day in Philadelphia had gone.
Having finished his breakfast, Adam patted his mouth with his linen napkin and laid it aside. “Now, are you certain you understand your boundaries for the day?” he asked.
Joe rolled his eyes. “Market Street, from Sixth westward, and anyplace on Chestnut I care to revisit.”
“Very good, my boy,” Adam chuckled, “and do try to remember to eat dinner today.”
Joe laughed, pushing back his breakfast plate. “No fear of that, big brother! I have learned my lesson: I’ll be here at straight up noon.”
“There’s another luncheon for the convention guests today, with special speakers this time, so it will be somewhat lengthy,” Adam explained, “but I’ll be free after that. Meet me in the room at two o’clock sharp, and we’ll make a short excursion together.”
“Where to?” Joe asked, smiling flirtatiously at the waitress pouring him a second cup of coffee.
Adam held his hand over the rim of his coffee cup to signify that he wanted no more. “Just a brief visit to the Exposition. I want to check in at several of the State houses. They’re supposed to have books in each, where I can register the dates we’ll be in town and where we’re staying, in case friends are here at the same time and want to arrange a meeting.”
“So that’s all we’ll be doing, just signing a couple of register books?” Joe frowned. “I’d just as soon stay downtown and do some more shopping or sightseeing, Adam. None of my friends will be lookin’ me up!”
“No, I realize that won’t interest you much,” Adam replied, “but I also thought we might make a trip around the grounds on the West End Railway—if you think you can stand the sight of another train. It’s only four miles long and will give us a good feel for the ‘lay of the land,’ so to speak.”
The joke brought a good-natured grin to Joe’s face. “I can probably survive a train trip that short,” he jibed back, “but I ain’t makin’ no guarantees, Adam. ‘Course now, if I could have the window seat this time . . .”
Adam put his head back and laughed. “They’re all window seats, Joe; they’re open, like observation cars.”
“Oh. Well, that’s good,” Joe said with a sheepish shrug.
Adam stood and pushed his chair under the table. “Have a good day, kid—and don’t be late.”
“Yeah, yeah, two o’clock. I remember,” Joe muttered. Honestly, sometimes Adam acts like I don’t have a brain in my head!
Per Adam’s instructions, Little Joe trotted one block north to Market Street and then turned south into the six hundred block. His first stop was a store called Garden and Co., whose merchandise had nothing to do with gardens, Joe noted with amusement. It was, in fact, a stylish haberdashery, where he bought himself a jaunty-looking braided straw hat with a flat brim, such as he had seen many gentlemen wearing while in the company of lovely ladies the previous afternoon. In another department of the same store, he purchased a pair of soft kid gloves for eveningwear. At the suggestion of the helpful clerk, he wore the straw hat and arranged for his gray felt and the gloves to be delivered to the Washington Hotel. Stepping onto the street once more, he fancied himself quite a dashing young dude, dressed to dazzle all the lovelies of Philadelphia with his new sartorial splendor.
A bit further east Little Joe entered John Wanamaker & Brown Co., the premier department store in the city. Though he hadn’t bothered to tell Adam, he had asked the family tailor, Elias Barton, to suggest the best place to purchase suits in Philadelphia. While disappointed at not getting all of the Cartwright boy’s business himself, Mr. Barton had readily recommended Wanamaker & Brown. Joe left there the proud owner of two new suits, one a lightweight nutmeg broadcloth and the other a formal black, suitable for nights at the theater. Both were promised within the week, and Joe urged the tailor to complete the formal suit first, hoping it would be ready by the time Adam chose to attend a theater. The money his father had allocated for clothing now spent, Joe turned his attention to gifts for others. He looked around the department store for a birthday gift for Hoss, but nothing struck him as just right for his beloved brother, so he left and made his way to the next place of business on Market Street.
While bookstores ordinarily didn’t draw his attention, Joe decided that today might be his best chance to buy a Christmas gift for Adam without trying to hide the purchase while its recipient stood right at his shoulder. And what could be more perfect for Adam than a book? Joe strolled into Claxton, Remsen and Haffelfinger in hopes of finding something his oldest brother would really like. The building was five stories tall, but Joe quickly learned that only the first floor dealt with retail sales, the others being devoted to the business of publishing.
Adam was always hard to buy for, at least in Little Joe’s opinion. Quickly bypassing anything that he himself would find interesting, he considered a book called simply Studies in Literature, which looked boring enough to capture Adam’s stodgy imagination, with its sketches of the lives of authors Joe had never heard of. He passed on that, however, when his eye fell on what he was certain would be the ideal present for his studious brother. The Civil Engineer’s Pocket Book was a costly gift at five dollars a copy, but it was, after all, six hundred and forty-eight pages long and bound in expensive Morocco with gilt edges. Adam would appreciate its value, as well as enjoying its technical content, and Joe was quite certain that “the Plato of the Ponderosa” had nothing like it at home. Hopefully, Adam wouldn’t buy anything similar while he was here in Philadelphia, either. That was the biggest problem with buying gifts for Adam. While Joe had to admit that his oldest brother earned the higher wage Pa paid him, it meant that Adam could buy for himself almost anything he really wanted, and that made it hard for Joe, with his more meager means, to buy his brother something he’d like. Little Joe was sure he’d found a winner this time, though.
He hadn’t expected to find anything for Hoss at the bookstore, but when he spotted a volume entitled The Grey Bay Mare, and other Humorous American Sketches by Henry P. Leland, he decided to buy it. Hoss wasn’t much of a reader, except when winter kept him housebound, but Joe thought his animal-loving big brother would like this one, and it only cost a dollar and a half. Although Hoss had a birthday coming up, Joe decided to set this gift back for Christmas, as well, when Hoss would be more likely to enjoy it. On learning that the bookstore charged extra for delivery, Joe took the books with him. It was nearing dinnertime anyway, so returning to the hotel was no problem. Better this way, too, Joe concluded, so I’ll have a chance to hide it before Mr. Busybody sees the package and demands to know what’s in it!
He walked the two blocks to the Washington Hotel and scampered up two flights of stairs. Secreting the books in the bottom drawer of his bureau, he ran downstairs to the dining room, having missed his goal of straight up noon by about thirty minutes, but still arriving in plenty of time to be served. Not knowing what Adam had planned for supper, he decided to eat heartily and ordered a New England boiled dinner of corned beef, carrots, potatoes, turnips, cabbage and squash. Since no opportunity to run up Adam’s bill should be neglected, he added brown betty, a pudding of apples and breadcrumbs, for dessert.
Leaving the hotel, Joe stood on the corner for a moment or two, pondering which direction to take. He’d really had his fill of shopping, especially now that Pa’s gift money had been spent, so the thought of more stores didn’t entice him. Nor did another visit to the same public squares he’d seen yesterday. Sure, they were pleasant places to relax, but he wasn’t feeling particularly tired and, besides, he preferred new sights. Trouble was, there weren’t any new sights within the area to which Adam—with complete unfairness, as far as Joe was concerned—had restricted him.
Only a few blocks east lay the Delaware River, one of the two waterways that encompassed Philadelphia, and Joe decided he might as well have a look at that. Sure, it meant breaching the bounds his brother had set, but not by much. He could stay on Chestnut Street, in fact, so there was no danger of his becoming “disoriented,” as Adam had put it. He took off in that direction and counted himself fortunate that the sight of Morgan, Young, Altemus & Co. reminded him of his promise to buy a dress shirt for his brother. Adam had given him the money for that this morning, and Joe knew he would be in for another stern lecture on responsibility if he failed to fulfill the commission.
Purchase made and information given for its delivery to the hotel, Joe was ready for his exploration of the river. He took his time, looking at the other businesses along the street as he passed. They were mostly warehouses, as Adam had said, so he stopped at none of them and soon found himself at the Chestnut Street Wharf on the Delaware. This was a passenger wharf, and as Little Joe watched people getting on and off the steamers, he wondered where they might be heading, just across the river into New Jersey or perhaps as far as Boston or New York, where they could make connections for Europe. In his imagination Joe sailed along with those travelers, and then his mind reached further back and he was sailing the Atlantic alongside First Mate Ben Cartwright, seeing all the places his father had described to him and, of course, meeting adventure and beautiful women in every port.
The blast of a steam whistle disrupted his dreams, and Joe finally thought to take out his pocket watch to check the time. It was precisely two minutes past two o’clock. “Oh, I’m in for it,” he yelped and started running up Chestnut Street, hoping against hope that his older brother’s luncheon had lasted longer than expected.
Adam’s luncheon had, in fact, ended at 1:30, and as he walked back to the Washington Hotel, he was feeling a fine sense of satisfaction. The convention had afforded the opportunity for an informative exchange of ideas, and he was looking forward to discussing the latest innovations with his friend Jim McKay, superintendent of the Consolidated Virginia mine, when he returned to Nevada. He’d participated himself in the discussion of hydraulic mining and felt he’d given convincing testimony of its devastating effect on the environment.
Warm with the respect of his peers, Adam arrived at the hotel about ten ‘til two and was not at all surprised to find the room empty. Trust Joe to squeeze the last minute out of any time allotted! When two o’clock came and his young brother still had not appeared, Adam’s mood began to darken, and by the time Joe showed up, twenty minutes late, the older brother was belching steam blacker than any boat the younger had seen at the wharf.
Joe’s straw hat had blown off, and chasing it down had wasted more precious minutes, so it was with dread that he eased the door to the room open. His countenance fell as soon as he saw his brother’s livid expression. “Hi, Adam. How was the meeting?” he asked edgily. “Did they feed you good?”
“Where have you been?” Adam roared.
Joe jumped back a step. “On Market and Chestnut, that’s all, Adam. I-I lost track of the time again. I’m real sorry, but the boats got me to dreaming and”—he moaned, realizing the words were a dead giveaway to his transgression.
“What boats?” Adam growled. “There aren’t any boats within the boundaries I set for you, boy!”
“Oh, for crying out loud, Adam,” Joe protested. “I just went down to the Chestnut Street Wharf. I know it’s further east than you said I could go, but—”
“You deliberately disobeyed,” Adam snapped, “not only me, but Pa! You were told where you were allowed to be, but could you keep to a few simple rules? No, not you! You’ve got to exalt your judgment over that of your elders and traipse off on your own, no matter what the risks!”
“So what?” Joe demanded, bristling like a porcupine under attack. “I didn’t get lost; I didn’t get in trouble. Why should you care what I do with my free time as long as that’s true?”
“What if something had happened to you?” Adam argued, flailing his arms passionately. “Where would I even begin to look in a city of eight hundred thousand people if you’re not where you’re supposed to be? Have a little consideration for something besides your own pleasure, boy!”
Joe folded his arms across his chest and stared at his brother, his eyes as hard and sharply faceted as the emeralds they resembled. “You know, Adam, sometimes you can be worse than Pa!”
Adam snorted. “Pa is much too easy on you.”
Joe’s gaze rolled toward the ceiling. “Oh, boy, where have I heard that before?”
Adam grabbed hold of his brother’s arm. “I’m not sure you ever hear anything that’s said to you, but you are going to hear this: do not flout my authority again, boy, or you will live to regret it!”
Joe tried to squirm free, but Adam only tightened his grip. “Ease up, Adam,” Joe pleaded. “I didn’t mean any harm.”
“No, you never do,” Adam scolded, still hot. “You just waltz on your merry way without a thought for anyone else’s plans—”
“You want to get to that exhibition or just stand here dressing me down the rest of the afternoon?” Joe retorted.
“Or whether they might be worried,” Adam ranted on, ignoring his younger brother’s interruption.
Joe finally managed to jerk his arm free. “All right, Adam, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to worry you. I just lost track of the time.”
Adam barely controlled his urge to slap the boy’s exasperating face. How could the little fool so entirely miss the point? But, then, he always did. “Oh, you’re hopeless,” Adam growled. “Let’s go.”
By the time they caught a horse car for Fairmount Park, Little Joe was beginning to see the incident from his brother’s viewpoint, and his apologies took on a more sincere tone. Adam, however, made no response, choosing to let the kid stew in the juices of his contrition, in hopes that the broth would simmer into a more palatable spirit of submission. Probably a futile hope, in Joe’s case, but a better alternative, or, at least, one more reportable to their father, than smashing his fist into the kid’s jaw.
“What’s up?” Joe asked when Adam had them transfer from the Eighth Street cars to the Race and Vine line. “The streetcar we were on goes out to Fairmount.”
“Must you question every decision I make?” Adam muttered gruffly. Then, realizing that the query was a perfectly reasonable request for information, he replied, “We’re going to the opposite end of the park from where we were last night, Joe, and this will deposit us at that entrance.”
“There’s more than one?”
“Joe, Joe,” Adam chided. “I know that was in the articles you read in Manufacturer and Builder.”
“Oh, yeah, you’re right,” Joe admitted with an embarrassed crinkle of his nose. “Let me think a minute. Thirteen entrances, right?”
“I just figured we’d be using the main one,” Joe said, “so I didn’t pay much heed to the others.”
“We will most of the time,” Adam explained, “but the far west entrance leads more directly to the area I plan to visit today.”
“Okay,” Joe laughed, trying to jolly his brother into a better mood. “I don’t care which gate I walk through.”
But Adam was not quite ready to let the worm wriggle off the hook. “You don’t care about a good many things,” he observed dryly, “including following instructions.”
Joe slumped. His big brother could hold onto a grudge longer than anyone he knew.
The streetcar dropped them at the westernmost Elm Street entrance, marked by a flagstaff on either side, as were all the entrances to the Centennial grounds. Adam led the way through the gate labeled “Visitors,” paying fifty cents each for two paper tokens, which he presented to the keeper at the turnstile. Then they followed the slanting path that led to a second turnstile ten feet away. “It’s a safety feature,” Adam observed, “so the security officers can easily pull from the line anyone creating a disturbance.” He pointed to a small building just to the right as they passed through the second gateway. “There’s one of the Centennial Guard stations close at hand, so I suggest you stay out of trouble unless you want a personal tour of that facility.”
Seeing the twitch of Adam’s lips, Joe felt relieved. While he didn’t enjoy being ribbed, at least the teasing indicated that Adam was beginning to get over his fit of anger. “Yeah, I’ll—uh—do that,” he said, flashing a genuine smile when his older brother chuckled and drew him into a one-armed embrace.
They passed another small building, this one belonging to Gillander and Son Glass Factory, but didn’t go inside, as today’s visit was only a get-acquainted tour of the grounds. Continuing east up Fountain Avenue, the Cartwright brothers came to one of the two structures that gave the broad boulevard its name. The granite platform of the Catholic Total Abstinence Fountain was in the form of a Maltese cross, with steps ascending toward it from all directions. From the center of a circular basin forty feet across, rose a massive rock topped by a gigantic statue of Moses, holding in one outstretched arm the Ten Commandments. In the other hand the prophet held the rod with which he had just struck the rock, sending several streams gushing into the basin below.
At each of the four points of the cross, stood a white marble pedestal, topped by a nine-foot statue of a Catholic leader of either the temperance movement or the Revolutionary War, and at its base was a drinking fountain. Adam and Joe approached the fountain below the statue of Commodore John Barry, known as the father of the American Navy, and cupped their hands beneath the stream of water spewing from a lion’s mouth. There was one like it on each of the pedestal’s four sides, and the water, cooled by flowing over a large block of ice, was refreshing on a hot afternoon.
Following a broad loop that curved north, the brothers passed between a number of State houses, each different in its architecture. While Adam could have studied each at length, he realized that such an attentive perusal would hold no interest for his younger brother; therefore, he simply paused briefly in front of each, to note its general structure. When he came to the Japanese government building, however, he leaned against the fence, along with crowds of other Americans, to examine the exotic structure of the low, two-storied, wooden building, roofed in black tiles of ornamental shape.
Standing beside his brother, Joe, too, stared in fascination at the movable panels that formed the sides of the building and the intricately carved timbers over its entrances.
“Would you believe it, Joe?” Adam shared, clearly in awe. “There’s not a single nail in the entire structure.”
“Oh, there must be, Adam,” Joe scoffed. “What would hold it together?”
Adam pointed to one of the corners. “See there? It’s mortised and dovetailed together so tightly it doesn’t need nails.”
“Does look tight,” Joe admitted. He pointed toward the garden outside the dwelling for the officials Japan had sent to the Centennial. “What makes those trees so small, huh? They got some special way of keepin’ ‘em little or is the climate so bad where they come from that they can’t grow tall?”
Adam chuckled. “No, it’s deliberate, Joe. I’m not sure precisely how it’s done, but I’ve read about dwarfing trees and shrubs for ornamental purposes. That must be what they’ve done here.” He drew in a deep breath of the grape-scented fragrance wafting from the lavender flowers of an attractive green vine covering the bowers in the Japanese garden. Just as he was wondering what the unfamiliar plant might be, he overheard a woman with a distinct southern drawl telling her male companion that she absolutely had to have some of that sweet-smelling kudzu for their bower back home. The gentleman, evidently her husband, remarked that he couldn’t be sure the vine would find their Georgia climate compatible, but he was willing to make the experiment. Adam pondered for a moment whether kudzu might thrive in the Nevada foothills, for it certainly would look beautiful growing up the posts of the porch and over the roof. He’d have to check into that while he was here. Sensing his younger brother’s boredom, however, Adam set the idea aside for later consideration, took Joe’s arm and moved around the loop to the northeast.
Little Joe pointed to a building atop an elevation known as George’s Hill. “Hey, look, it’s a restaurant! Can we give it a try?”
“Now?” Adam asked, arching an eyebrow. He frowned. “You didn’t miss your dinner again, did you?”
“No, of course not,” Joe declared. “I had a real fine dinner, but I wouldn’t mind having a piece of pie—just to tide me over ‘til supper.”
Adam started to laugh, but realized that he, too, was feeling a little hungry, despite the filling luncheon provided by the convention. “Oh, I guess we could,” he conceded and started up the flower-dotted hill.
Since he’d thought his brother was still irked with him, Joe had not really expected a positive response and had to trot to catch up with Adam. “Hey, thanks!” he exclaimed, beaming happily.
“Maybe I’ll get lucky and you’ll want to skip supper after this,” Adam chuckled.
“Oh, I wouldn’t count on it,” Joe joked. “Walking all over the city works up a fellow’s appetite, you know.”
Adam caught him by the scruff of the neck. “You weren’t supposed to walk ‘all over the city,’ remember?”
Joe looked away. “I’m sorry about that, Adam, honest. I hope my tardiness doesn’t keep you from doing all you planned. I-I mean, I know this is extra, so if you’d rather not stop here, I can make do without the pie.”
“It sounds good to me, too,” Adam admitted with a smile, “and a piece of pie shouldn’t take too long.”
Since it was mid-afternoon, the restaurant was not crowded. The Cartwright brothers quickly found a table, and both ordered a slice of cherry pie, Adam because he particularly liked that flavor and Joe, as he put it, “in honor of George Washington.”
“That’s an old folk tale, you know,” Adam commented drolly. “Washington never did chop down a cherry tree when he was a kid.”
“I cannot tell a lie,” Little Joe jibed, quoting the youthful future President’s supposed words. “I like the story, even if it isn’t true. Teaches kids a good lesson.”
“Some kids, maybe,” Adam said dryly with a significant look across the table. “Others never seem to learn.”
“Aw, come on, I was never much of a liar,” Little Joe protested.
“Not for lack of trying,” Adam chortled. “You just have a face that gives you away every time, little buddy.”
Joe, too, laughed, knowing his brother’s evaluation was correct. When he was younger, he’d wondered why Pa always seemed to know when he was fibbing. Now he knew he was his own worst tattletale, but he hadn’t yet figured out how to mask his emotions. What he felt showed, and at times that weakness, as he perceived it, was decidedly inconvenient.
The pie arrived and was quickly consumed, and the Cartwright brothers were on their way to the next building, a large wooden pavilion shared by California and Nevada, with striped awnings over each window. They entered a striking hall, its pillars finished in imitation of the native woods of the Pacific coast, and made a brief tour of the agricultural and mineral resources of the two states. Then Adam signed the register book, noting his temporary residence at the Washington Hotel. “Why don’t you sign this one, too, Joe?” he suggested. “It’s possible some of your friends might visit the Centennial.”
Joe shook his head. “Naw, anybody from home would have told me they were coming, ‘cause I been talkin’ this trip up for months, and the people I know in California are probably more your friends than mine.”
“I suppose so,” Adam agreed. “I’m not really expecting anyone from the western states to look us up, anyway. I am hoping some of my eastern friends will be in town for the Fourth, though, so I plan to register at the New York and Connecticut State houses.”
Joe cocked his head and gazed quizzically at his older brother. “I understand Connecticut, but why New York? You never lived there, that I know of.”
Adam stared back at Joe. “Of course, I did. Just during summers, of course, but that’s where I got my practical architectural training, on the job with one of the finest firms in New York City. Surely, Pa told you that, if I didn’t do so myself.” Because of Joe’s youth during those college days, Adam had kept his letters to the boy short and simple, but while he had no clear memory of any particular letter, he thought he had surely conveyed information as basic as his whereabouts.
“Maybe,” Joe conceded, “but all I remember is that you wouldn’t come home, even when summer came. I remember when school let out for Hoss that first year, I kept expecting you every day—until Pa finally told me you just weren’t coming.”
Sensing the pain the young Joe must have felt long ago, Adam laid his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Joe, I couldn’t,” he explained gently. “I only had two months between terms, and transportation then wasn’t what it is now. I’d have spent three quarters of that time just traveling back and forth, and money was a lot tighter in those days than it is now, too. I didn’t want Pa spending money he could ill afford, just for the pleasure of a couple of weeks at home, so it made more sense to stay back here and work during the summers, to help pay my way through college.”
Embarrassed that his treacherous emotions had once again betrayed him, Joe shifted out from under Adam’s hand. “Well, at least, now I know why you want to sign up at the New York house. Best get to it, I guess.”
“Especially since it’s just next door,” Adam quipped, to lighten the atmosphere for both their sakes. Though he generally kept his emotions in better control than Joe, he found himself just as uncomfortable with their expression as did his younger brother—or, to be perfectly honest, more so.
New York’s offices were housed in a light-colored, two-story cottage, surrounded by a wide verandah, studded with pillars and with a central tower rising from the front of the roof. “We’ll just register and be on our way,” Adam said.
“To Connecticut,” Joe chuckled. “Kind of feels like we’re touring the whole country this afternoon, Adam!”
Again Adam draped an affectionate arm about his brother’s slim shoulders. “Little buddy, by the time we finish seeing this exposition, you’re going to feel like you’ve toured the entire world!”
Joe grinned, figuring that this was probably the closest he’d ever come to making a world tour. He intended to make the most of it.
While the Connecticut building was also a two-story cottage, it bore no resemblance to the highly ornamented New York facility. Smaller than the New York house, this one was intended to represent a colonial homestead of one hundred years ago and was exactly forty-feet square with a front composed of octagonal shingles, timber and plaster. Adam and Joe stepped onto the wooden porch and passed through a door divided horizontally in the middle. As they entered a room finished with wood smoke-stained to make it appear aged, their eyes were drawn to the old-style fireplace opposite the front door. Picture tiles surrounded the red brick and brownstone hearth, and above it sat a wooden mantelpiece with two shelves, supported by heavy brackets and showcasing old brass and crockery. A spinning wheel stood in the chimney corner, with an old clock opposite it, and even the walls were adorned with arms and relics of Revolutionary days. Furniture such as the antique sideboard contrasted with the more modern melodeon also exhibited behind a railed gallery that surrounded the front and sides.
Adam had just finished signing the register book when he spotted a man coming from an office at the back of the reception room. Gazing intently at the man’s features, Adam suddenly smiled and moved toward him. “Saul Breckenridge, isn’t it?” he asked, extending his hand.
The man paused, examined the face before him and broke into a wide smile. “Lieutenant Cartwright!”
Little Joe, who had been casually studying a Revolutionary musket, spun at the sound of the title and saw a solidly built man enthusiastically pumping his brother’s hand. Hurriedly, he stepped toward the man, who sported a bushy set of rust-colored sideburns, which extended down the sides of his cheek below the level of his chin and met a mustache above his upper lip. “Did you know him in the war?” Joe eagerly asked the stranger.
Adam cleared his throat. “Saul, I’d like to introduce my brother Joseph,” he said, speaking with assiduous courtesy. “Joe, this is an old friend, Mr. Saul Breckenridge of New Haven, Connecticut.”
Reading Adam’s look of mild disapproval as a reminder to watch his manners, Joe extended his hand to his brother’s friend. “Pleased to meet you, sir.” He leaned closer to whisper. “So did you know him in the war?” Quavering under Adam’s darkening visage, he stammered, “I-I mean you called him Lieutenant, so I thought, maybe . . .”
Adam worked his mouth and then cocked his head to regard the other man. “Did I mention that he’s my younger brother?” he asked airily. “My much younger and hopelessly ill-mannered brother.”
Blue eyes twinkling beneath thick auburn eyebrows, Saul Breckenridge laughed heartily. “No need,” he jibed. “No man with one of his own could fail to notice the unmistakable marks of the breed.” Seeing Little Joe’s quick flush, he clapped the young man on the shoulder. “To answer your question, young fellow, I did, indeed, have the pleasure of serving as sergeant under Lieutenant Cartwright during the War of Rebellion.”
Joe tossed an impish grin toward his brother. “Well, I don’t want to question your judgment, sir, but I’ve been following this slave driver’s orders for years, and I sure never thought of it as a pleasure.”
“That’s because you don’t actually follow orders,” Adam observed wryly. “You spend all your energy trying to get around them.”
When Joe’s complexion deepened to crimson at the reference to his earlier transgression, Breckenridge guffawed, his voice booming through the small room. “I’d forgotten that dry wit of yours, sir. Definitely a pleasure to hear it again.”
“It’s not ‘sir,’ now,” Adam insisted. “I’m just plain Adam Cartwright, civilian, now, and I’d be pleased if you called me by my first name. So, are you visiting the Centennial or are you here in a more official capacity?”
“Always an astute observer,” Saul chuckled, “just as I remember you. Yes, that’s my office back there. I’m one of the state commissioners, so I’ll be here throughout the summer. And you? Here through the Glorious Fourth, I presume.”
“And beyond,” Adam replied. “I’m planning to attend Commencement at Yale and attempt to interest this barbarian in a college education.” He inclined his head toward Joe.
Saul smiled at the younger man. “Always glad to see a young fellow aiming toward higher education,” he said. “I’m a teacher myself, though not at the college level.” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, I say, I’ve just had a fantastic idea to help advance the lad’s education.”
Joe groaned, waving aside whatever Adam’s old sergeant intended to say. “Oh, that’s all right, Mr. Breckenridge. My brother’s got plenty of ideas of his own when it comes to that—even made me read up on the Revolution before he’d let me come on this trip, so don’t give him any more ideas, okay?”
Again Saul’s deep laugh boomed forth, loud as a cannon. “Now, now, you might actually like this, young fellow, if you’ve any interest whatsoever in that history you read.” He turned to Adam. “Had you heard about the activities at Independence Hall on July first?”
“The first? No,” Adam answered.
“Oh, it’s the real beginning of the celebration,” Saul declared enthusiastically. “Leading writers of the Union have been asked to submit biographies of our great Revolutionary men, and while I don’t count myself worthy of inclusion in such esteemed company, I’ll be presenting my own work that morning.”
“Wonderful!” Adam enthused, his hand gripping the other man’s thick shoulder. “You always had a way with words, Saul, and I’m sure you fully deserve the honor.”
“It would be my great honor, sir, if you and your young brother would attend the ceremony as my guest,” Breckenridge offered.
“The honor is entirely ours,” Adam answered warmly.
“I’ll have the invitations delivered to your hotel, then,” the Connecticut commissioner stated. “You’ve registered your address?”
Adam nodded toward the registration table.
“Excellent,” Breckenridge said. “Much as I’d love to continue our conversation, Adam, I’m afraid I was on my way to a meeting, and if I delay longer, I’ll be late.”
“Please don’t let us hold you back,” Adam said, shaking his friend’s hand in farewell. “We’ll be looking forward to seeing you on the first, won’t we, Joe?”
There was obviously only one acceptable answer, but it was also the answer Joe felt in his heart, for he was taken by Commissioner Breckenridge’s jovial manner. “Yes, sir, I surely will. Thanks for the invite to the special doings. They sound right interesting.”
Adam rolled his eyes at Joe’s colloquial expressions. “Barbarian” was definitely the correct word to describe his brother. Outside the Connecticut house, he collared the young offender. “Are you ever going to demonstrate the manners—or the grammar—you’ve been taught?”
“Mr. Breckenridge didn’t think I was ill mannered, just you,” Joe snorted.
Adam smiled sardonically. “Of course, Saul’s used to dealing with grammar-school children, but that doesn’t mean you should act like one.”
“I’m not!” Joe sputtered. “Maybe I did get a little overeager, but I was interested in talking to him, that’s all. Bet he has some stories to tell on you, and that’s why you jumped in so fast!”
“Uh-huh, sure.” Adam took his brother’s arm and steered him up the curving State Avenue. “We still have a lot of ground to cover, Joe, so you’ll just have to hold your imaginative theories for another time.”
“I thought we were gonna ride that train around,” Joe complained. “It’s all footwork so far.”
“There’s a station just ahead,” Adam said.
Purchasing two tickets for five cents each, Adam gave them to the guard as he and Joe stepped onto the platform, where they waited behind the protective wire rope for the next train. Adam had also purchased a topographical map of the Centennial grounds at the same time, and he and Joe swiftly studied it, to help them recognize the buildings they would soon be passing. Fortunately, the wait was a short one, for the unsheltered platform afforded no protection from the glaring sun, and the heat made them miserable in their black frock coats. A small locomotive, bearing the name Emma, chugged up to the platform, and entering the open, breezy cars, Adam laughed as he pushed Joe into the outermost seat. “Now, don’t go tumbling out, or you won’t get the window seat again,” he teased.
The train pulled away from the station, moving along State Avenue past the cross-shaped United States Government Building, which the Cartwright brothers had already identified while waiting on the platform. Almost immediately, the tracks crossed Belmont Avenue. Little Joe pointed at a small building at the intersection. “What’s that, Adam?” he asked.
Adam took a quick peek at the map lying open in his lap. “The Southern Restaurant, I think.” Then his voice raised in excitement. “Joe, there’s the Grand American Restaurant!” he cried, drawing his brother’s attention to the large building on their right.
Following his brother’s pointing finger, Joe gaped, open-mouthed. “That’s a restaurant?” he squeaked.
Adam chuckled, wrapping a protective arm around the younger boy, who was leaning out so far that the elder really did fear he might fall overboard. “The largest and handsomest on the grounds,” he said. “Seats up to five thousand people.”
Joe tossed a cheeky grin across his shoulder. “Yeah, but how’s the food?”
Adam lightly cuffed his ear.
“Will we be eating there?” Joe asked breathlessly.
Adam nodded. “Probably. We’ll hit most of the eating places before we’re done.”
Joe flashed a delighted smile. “Great!”
“Are you sure you’re not Hoss?” Adam asked with a wry grin.
Joe’s smile disappeared abruptly. “Yeah, big brother, I’m sure. Sorry about the mix-up,” he grunted.
“Huh?” Adam asked, at a loss to comprehend the sudden change of mood.
“Nothin’. Never mind,” Joe said. He quickly pointed to an even larger building opposite the huge restaurant. “What’s that?”
“The Agricultural Building,” Adam answered. The Emma made a wide loop around the extreme northeastern corner of the grounds, passing a number of windmills on a hill overlooking the Schuylkill River. Joe craned his neck to see if he could spot the restaurant where they’d had catfish and coffee the night before, but before he could locate it, the train swept back to the west, running behind the Agricultural Building this time after passing the adjacent Brewers Building.
Returning to Belmont Avenue, the train made a left turn and passed between the front of the United States Government Building and the much smaller Women’s Pavilion. Just beyond, the railroad crossed Fountain Avenue, where Adam drew Joe’s attention to another fountain. Pointing out the thirteen-sided wooden pavilion housing it, Adam said, “It’s intended to resemble a Greek temple.”
“So, does it?” Joe asked.
Adam laughed lightly. “From the pictures I’ve seen, yes. Many of the water fountains on the grounds are works of art in themselves, Joe.”
“Yeah, sure is fancy,” Joe agreed as he took another look at the fountain, whose eight-foot circular basin was surrounded by a passageway for those who wished to drink from its twenty-six self-acting spigots. He almost missed the next building, but pointed excitedly when he did spot it. “Hey, look, Adam! That’s gotta be the French restaurant.”
“What was your first clue?” Adam teased when he saw the striped awnings of Aux Trois Fréres Provençeaux, as the sign declared.
“We’ll go there, won’t we?” Joe asked, almost bouncing in anticipation of sampling the cuisine of his mother’s heritage.
“Well, I don’t know,” Adam began.
“Oh, Adam, please,” Joe pleaded. “It—it would mean a lot to me.”
Adam squeezed the younger boy’s shoulder in understanding. “I promise you we’ll eat at a French restaurant before we leave, Joe, but not necessarily that one. It’s just about the most expensive place on the grounds, from what I’ve heard.”
That information, of course, only made the restaurant more enticing to Little Joe, but he simply smiled his gratitude at his older brother. For the moment, at least, he was feeling magnanimous, and, besides, there would be plenty of time to work out a plan for getting inside Aux Trois Fréres and ordering the most expensive items on the menu.
“There’s another fountain,” Joe grinned, pointing to the open square between the two largest buildings on the exhibition grounds. The train turned left, and Joe stared in awe as they rode past the Main Building of the Centennial. “I’ve never seen anything that big!” he cried.
Amused by the boy’s enthusiasm, Adam chuckled. “Well, how could you, little buddy? It is the largest building in the world!”
“No lie?” Joe asked. “In the whole world?”
“Eighteen hundred eighty feet by four hundred sixty-four, covering almost twenty-one and a half acres,” Adam quoted from Manufacturer and Builder. “I thought you were supposed to have read all about the Exposition. I see you paid the same level of attention that you did in school! Gonna have to do better, boy, if you hope to carry home anything you learn here.”
“Aw, come on, Adam,” Joe protested. “Sure, I remember reading the dimensions, but it’s not the same as seeing them.”
“No, it’s not,” Adam conceded graciously, “and it’s not the same as walking it, either, little brother. It’ll take us two days, at least, to do justice to that one building!”
“Let’s do it first,” Joe urged.
Adam scowled, half playfully, half irritated. “Obviously, you need to be reminded that I am calling the shots, and we will not be starting with the Main Building. That’s what everyone does; therefore, it will be the most crowded place of all.”
Brow wrinkling, Joe shook his head. Didn’t Adam realize it would be just as crowded on whatever day they did visit?
The West End Railway reached the end of the Main Building at the easternmost edge of the Centennial grounds and turned around to again traverse the broad Avenue of the Republic. This time the Cartwrights focused on the buildings opposite the mammoth one to their left. They first passed the Photographic Building, dwarfed by Memorial Hall, the art gallery, just beyond it. “And that’s the Carriage Annex,” Adam told Joe as they again approached the central plaza.
Beyond it, on the opposite side, lay Machinery Hall. “That’s where we’ll start,” Adam said.
“Oh, yeah!” Joe almost squealed. “The Corliss Engine, right?”
Adam chuckled. “I’m glad to see you remember something of what you read! We’ll tour it on Monday.”
Joe really did squeal this time. “Monday! That’s almost a whole week away, Adam.”
“Oh, don’t whine like a little kid who can’t wait ‘til after dinner to lick his lollipop,” Adam scolded. “It’ll be an all-day sucker when you do get it, little buddy.”
“But what can we do in town for a week?” Joe demanded. So far, he hadn’t seen much to do but shop, and while he wouldn’t object to doing a bit more, he preferred to see more closely some of the tempting sights they’d ridden past that afternoon.
Adam moaned, as if in actual pain, at the ludicrous statement. There was so much to see in Philadelphia itself—historic landmarks, museums, theaters—that they had no chance of seeing everything during their visit. His unsophisticated little brother, however, couldn’t begin to comprehend the wealth of culture in the Quaker city. Remember he’s young and inexperienced with life outside Nevada, Adam reminded himself. Be patient with the kid. “Trust me, Joe,” he said as the train pulled into a station in front of Machinery Hall. “There will be plenty to see and do. Let’s get off here and walk back to the Elm Street entrance. We’ve already seen most of what the train will pass from here back to where we got on.”
“Okay,” Joe said agreeably.
Adam laughed at the energy with which his younger brother sprang onto the platform. “This way,” he said, pointing to a narrow path to the west of a small lake.
“Aw, that’s pretty,” Joe said, smiling at the glassy blue surface. He spotted a statue and walked over to it. “Who’s this?”
“You can read,” Adam observed dryly.
“Oh, yeah,” Joe said sheepishly, bending to read the inscription on the statue’s base. “Elias Howe. I don’t remember reading about him in the history book.”
Adam almost choked. “Oh, for mercy’s sake, boy, he’s not a Revolutionary hero; he’s the inventor of the sewing machine.”
“Huh!” Joe snorted. “Wouldn’t’ve thought that was important enough to earn a man a statue.”
Adam laughed. “Well, getting those suits you bought in short order is pretty important to you, isn’t it? The sewing machine is what makes it possible.”
Joe grinned. “Oh. Yeah, I guess old Elias is a pretty important fellow, after all, Adam!”
“Uh-huh,” Adam drawled. “Anyone who contributes to dandifying you for some pretty skirt gains immediate importance.”
The little lake stuck a long finger to the northwest. Following it, Adam and Joe came once more to Fountain Avenue, and at the point the lakeside path intersected the larger boulevard, Little Joe almost danced with excitement. “Hey, Adam, it’s Paris!” he cried.
Adam nodded. “Along with Switzerland, Jerusalem and Naples,” he added. For a long time he and Joe stood looking down at the miniature depictions of the foreign places, constructed by Colonel Liénard, the distinguished French artist. “I understand Liénard also has a panorama depicting the Siege of Paris in 1870 just outside the grounds,” Adam told his brother.
“Let’s go find it!” Joe exclaimed.
“Oh, Joe, don’t be ridiculous,” Adam reproved. “It’s at the opposite end. Perhaps you can see it, but not today.”
“Aw, come on, Adam,” Joe wheedled.
“No,” Adam stated bluntly. “We’ve seen quite enough for an initial visit, little boy, and I, for one, am getting tired.” Doesn’t he ever wear out? Stupid question. Never did as a little kid. Why would he start now, when he’s nothing more than an overgrown one?
Pouting, Joe turned his back on the relief plans of the cities and saw a soda water fountain. It wouldn’t cost much, of course, but Adam deserved to shell out some money to pay for calling him a little boy. “I’m thirsty, Adam,” he announced. “Buy me a drink?”
Adam started to point out that they were on Fountain Avenue, where free ice-cold drinking water could be found only a few steps in either direction, but caught himself. After all, fifteen cents wasn’t much, and he rather wanted to try the fizzy water, too. “Sure,” he said, reaching into his pocket. “Get one for both of us,” he said, handing Joe three dimes.
“Which flavor you want?” Joe called after a closer look at the soda fountain.
“Whatever you’re having,” Adam said, smiling back.
Joe ordered two birch beers, and the brothers thirstily quaffed the refreshing drinks. “Heat sure drains the strength out of you, doesn’t it?” Joe suggested with a grin.
Adam chortled. “I hadn’t noticed its affecting you much!”
“Oh, yeah,” Joe insisted. “I’ll probably be needing a lot of this soda water when we’re out here walking around in the hot sun.”
Something in his tone alerted Adam. The kid was definitely up to something, although Adam wasn’t sure what. Well, time would tell, for as he’d observed earlier, Joe was not an adept deceiver. Sooner or later the kid would give himself away, and in the meantime, so long as it meant nothing more than an overabundance of drinking water, Adam figured he could live with the mystery.
“Hey, there’s that French restaurant again,” Joe said, pointing up the avenue. “How about having an early supper there?”
“Not tonight,” Adam said firmly. “We’re eating at the hotel. Come on; it’s time we headed back that way.” He turned toward the exit, and Little Joe had no choice but to follow.
“That looks interesting,” Joe said, nodding toward a small, exotic building with a steeply pointed square roof. “How about . . .”
“No,” Adam growled. “You’ll have plenty of time to shop in the bazaar later, as if you hadn’t done enough of that the last two days! Now, we’re going to march out the gate, catch a horse car and get back to the hotel, is that clear?” Without waiting for an answer, he headed toward the exit, with Joe trotting to keep pace with his brother’s long-legged stride.
***End of Part 1***