Summary: There’s a guest on the Ponderosa and she’s very taken with Adam, but she’s only three years old. It’s a Christmas story.
Word Count: 1183
Pushing the door closed with his left hand, Ben cradled his bandaged right hand against his chest. He turned to the room and leaned back against the door closing his eyes for a moment and wondered how events could have led to this. He could hope it was only a dream, but when he opened his eyes, he saw the disarray of tipped furniture, spilled food and drink, and broken china and glass on the floor. He looked up to see the ball of mistletoe still swaying slightly from the breeze the open door had let in. Now all he could do was to begin to clean up the mess, and wait for his sons to return hopefully with their guest in no worse shape than when she left. He thought back to that morning and how it had all started.
Their guest had arrived with all of her belongings about eight. She had taken an immediate liking to Adam who had tried to ignore the three-year-old but to no avail. Wherever he went, she went. Whatever he did, she watched with adoring eyes. Hoss and Joe couldn’t seem to find a limit to their endless teasing about Adam’s new gal.
“Hey, Adam, you didn’t have to go chasing after ladies in Virginia City. You shoulda just had them come on out here and watch you work and such. It worked with your gal there. She can’t seem to get enough of you.”
“Yeah, older brother, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman in town look at you with such love in her eyes as that one does.”
With the bad weather in the Sierras, Joe and Evelyn had said they didn’t feel they could take her with them to San Francisco, and even though it was Christmas, they asked if the Cartwrights could watch over her until they were able to return. Evelyn’s mother was deathly ill, and they had to go to her. Under the circumstances, Ben felt he couldn’t say no to good friends, and it was only for a week. She was very easy to care for as it turned out because she took her meals if Adam said to eat, she napped when Adam said to nap, and she basically followed any rule that Adam said to follow. No one could understand why she had formed such an immediate bond with him, but she had. Adam did his best to act all nonchalant about the whole situation, but anyone could see that he was flattered by the attention and that he had been singled out for the honor. He spoke softly to her when he thought no one was listening, he lightly tousled the soft hair on her head when she sat next to him, and wrapped an arm around her when she climbed up on the settee to sit beside him when they finished decorating the tree.
The guests for the party had begun arriving at about four. Adam and “his gal”, as Hoss and Joe referred to them, greeted every one of the guests at the door as Adam waited for his special guest to arrive. When she did, he took her hand and guided her into the room. His gal wasn’t apparently too sure of what to think of that situation nor of what to do when the dancing started. Adam told her to wait and she did but she became more and more agitated as the evening progressed.
When Adam guided his lady under the mistletoe, he leaned close to her and asked if he could have the traditional kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck as her answer and he moved in for the kiss. Well apparently that was more than that three-year-old could take. She leaped over the settee and bounded through the guests knocking them aside until she reached the kissing couple. She growled and scared Adam’s lady friend who screamed and leaped back knocking a tray of glasses from Hop Sing’s hands. It flew in the air and glasses scattered across the area hitting a number of guests who variously slipped, fell, and threw things in an effort to escape those flying glasses. Adam yelled at the collie who was shocked and ran from him. Joe and Hoss tried to catch her, but the ensuing chase did more damage to furniture, decorations, and glassware as well as guests, beverages, and the buffet table than it did to catching an elusive, fast, and frightened collie. Several guests decided that escape from chaos was the best alternative, and when they opened the door, the dog was gone.
Ben was one of those who had fallen. He was cradling his right wrist and holding his left hand tightly around the cut on his right hand. He looked up at his sons peering down at him. “Go get her. And don’t come back without her.” That was an hour earlier. He had gotten his hand bandaged, apologized to his guests who had all departed, and changed clothes. There was still no word from his sons as to the fate of the collie. Then he heard the unmistakable sound of Hoss walking on the porch. He headed to the front door to greet him and Joe. Little Joe walked in first.
“Where’s Adam, and where’s the collie?”
Joe spoke first. “You know, Pa, Adam isn’t as cold-hearted as people think.”
“Joseph, I knew that, but that doesn’t tell me where he is.”
Hoss looked at his father with some obvious satisfaction in how his older brother had handled things. “Pa, he’s in the stable. What Joe shoulda said is he’s with her. He found her and he wrapped his arms around her and said he was sorry. He said he shoulda spent more time with her, and introduced her to everybody so she wasn’t so confused. He said he shouldna left her alone to get all scared and worried like. He said he was sorry he yelled at her and that she got so scared she run off. You know what she done then, Pa?”
“How could I know what she done then? Well, I mean, what did she do then?”
“She’d been sitting there with her tail down and her head down and all cause she was so sad, but when he said all that, she up and licked his face and her tail started to wagging again. She’s gonna be all right.”
“If she’s all right, why didn’t Adam bring her in here?”
“Ah, well me and Joe thought we oughta clean this mess up and such. We wouldn’t want her to cut her feet or nothing. We’ll clean this up, and then Adam can bring her in. Until then, he can sit with his gal out there and keep her company. It’s Christmas. Nobody ought to be alone on Christmas, Pa.”