Summary: On the occasion of Mark Twain’s death, Adam tells his grandson of a Hoss/Joe escapade, how he learned about it, and how he felt about it.
Word Count: 1032
1910 Elmira, NY at Mark Twain’s grave site.
“Did you know him well, Grandfather?” Adam Cartwright stood with his youngest grandson and the only one who didn’t already live on the Ponderosa.
“Yes and no, Benji. I knew him when he was a young man working on the Territorial Enterprise. I met him again when I traveled about six years later, but then I only knew him from letters and his writing after that until we were both much older and reminiscing. I asked him what he remembered best about our family, and he told me a story that I had never known.”
Looking up at his tall grandfather who seemed to know so many things, the young dark-haired inquisitive boy did what he always did. He asked a question. “What did he tell you?”
“It was a story about my younger brothers, your Great Uncles, Hoss and Joe.”
1875 Denver, CO
Leaning against the bar, Joe Cartwright looked ahead at the mirror that showed his big brother Hoss standing at his side. “Well, Hoss, the cattle drive is finally over. The men are paid, we sent a money order to the bank for deposit, and we still have a lot of cash. What should we do?”
“I dunno. I’ve just been thinking. I miss Adam. I wish he was here. We don’t hear from him much, and I bin wondering what he’s bin a doing.”
Standing up straight from the bar where he had been leaning and nursing a beer, Joe was smiling one of those smiles he always got when he was scheming. “That’s it, Hoss.”
“What’s it?” Hoss was a bit worried. He frequently had cause to worry when Joe had that look about him and especially when he snapped his fingers as he did at that moment.
“We’ll just do what Adam would do. You know, what would he do if he was in Denver and had a bunch of money to spend?”
“He did like a glass of good whisky at the end of a drive, and then he’d probably go to dinner at some fancy restaurant, and order up some fancy food. He might go shoot some billiards later, and maybe even find a woman to spend some time with.”
“Yeah, let’s do it!”
For the next two days, Hoss and Joe did whatever they thought Adam might do. They had that whisky as well as the dinner. They had purchased black shirts and pants and wore them. They attended a play, although a bawdy one, and laughed so hard they almost fell on the floor. At dinner after the theatre, they were surprised to see Sam Clemens in the restaurant. He joined them for dinner and was surprised to see them dressed all in black so they told Sam what they were doing. He found it heartwarming that the brothers would try to get over missing Adam by doing what they were doing, and he spent some time with them over the next day sharing their experience and having fun.
They had drinks, cigars, and watched another play. When they exited the theater, they saw a group of men beating on another man. They rushed in to help because as Hoss said, that’s what Adam would have done. What they found was that the fighters were very determined requiring quite a bit of persuasion of the fist variety to get them to stop, and their victim was a young black man. He had recently started up a blacksmith shop in town, and his rivals had decided to put him out of business one way or another. His shop was ruined, and he was badly beaten. After getting the man to a doctor, the three men waited to be sure he was all right and to pay any medical bills he might incur.
“Well, now what do we do, Hoss?”
“I ain’t sure what we oughta do.”
Sam interjected. “If I might make a suggestion. Your brother Adam was very much opposed to how the colored people are treated in this country. Perhaps you could ask this young man to travel with you to Nevada. There you could help him establish a business.”
“”He’s right, Joe. That’s exactly the kind of thing Adam would do. We still got almost five hundred dollars left. That ought to give him a good start.”
“All right, we’ll do it. Let’s go ask him if that’s what he wants to do.”
1910 Elmira, NY
“Did they do that, Grandfather?”
“Yes, they did. They did ask Sam not to write about it, and he apparently thought that meant they should tell me instead of him telling me. They never said a word though, and now Sam’s gone. I’ll never know if there was any more to that story. He told me about it in confidence only a short time ago so I can’t ask my brothers about it.”
“Are you sad, Grandfather?”
“No, Sam’s troubles are over. As the Bible says ‘God will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. These things have passed away.’ He’s at peace now. Now let’s go. We have to get to the train. Your mother and grandmother are waiting for us by now. Are you ready for this move?”
“I am, Grandfather. I want to live on the Ponderosa, and ride horses like you did. In his letter, Papa said he was building a nice house for all of us. He said you and Grandmother were going to live in a wing. Grandfather, what’s a wing in a house?”
So Adam explained to his grandson what a wing of a house was and lots more as they traveled to rejoin the rest of the family on the Ponderosa. His father was no longer there, but his spirit would always be there. His oldest son was finally going home for good.