Saturday’s Tragedy




As Joe headed home from school he wondered what his Pa was going to say about the note he had to give him from Miss Jones. He hadn’t started the fight with Billy, but the boy just wouldn’t leave him alone. Billy was always picking on him about his height and that caused the Turner Boys, Tommy and Chet, to get involved. They disliked him but he didn’t know why, he had asked around and had not gotten any answers.

Tommy and Chet had moved to

Virginia City with their older brother Jacob at the beginning the school year, shortly after he had turned 15; and now with the school term almost over, Joe was worried that with another fight taking place that his Pa wouldn’t let him quit school at the end of the year. The other thing that was worrying him was that Pa, Adam, and Hoss had told him that they trusted him to stay at home for three days by himself with Hop Sing while they went to check on a bull to improve the stock and now he was afraid it would not happen.

Joe stopped by the lake to talk with his Mama. “What can I do, how do make them understand my feelings? I try to control my temper, honest! I know that I’ll never be as tall as Pa, Adam, and Hoss, but why do I have to be so SMALL! Did you know that some of the boys have started saying that if I don’t start growing soon and if I let my hair grow longer that I would be a cute girl? It’s mean and even worse, embarrassing! How do I make them hear me? Mama, I’m hurting and it’s so hard to explain things to them without getting upset because they laugh at me or don’t take what I say serious. Tell me what to do.”

Back at the ranch, it was close to suppertime and Ben was worried. “I going to head up toward the lake and see if he’s there. Adam, you and Hoss, take the road to town. Maybe Cochise lost a shoe and Joe had to walk home.”

“Alright, Pa” said Adam.

“Whatever, Pa” answered Hoss.

As Ben pulled Buck up at the lake, he heard the very end of Joe’s conversation with his Mama. “How do I make them hear me? Mama, I’m hurting and it’s so hard to explain things to them without getting upset because they laugh at me or don’t take what I say serious. Tell me what to do.” As Ben listened to his son talk with his mother he recognized something was very wrong. “Joe.”

Joe looked up surprised. He saw that his Pa was standing next to Buck looking at him. His Pa looked concerned. “

Yes Pa.” he answered.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt your conversation with your mother, Joe, but it sounded like you needed someone to answer your question or at least listen and understand what you’re saying. I may not be your mother, Joseph, but I am your father and I’m here right now, ready to listen to you if you’re ready to talk to me.” Ben said.

Joe looked at his Pa and wondered just how much of the conversation he had overheard. “I want to talk to you Pa, but I’m just not ready right now, when I figure everything out you’ll know. Let’s head home, I’m tired and we have an early morning.”

As they headed for home, Ben thought about the next three days coming up. “Joe, do you still want us to leave you by yourself with Hop Sing for the next three days? Are you sure you don’t want Adam or Hoss to stay here with you?” he asked.

Joe’s temper started to flare as he started to answer his

Pa. “I don’t need anyone to stay with me!”




Joe got the list from his Pa of the things that needed to be taken care of while his family was away. As he watched them ride away, he did not know that he was being watched himself. 

Joe left the house to clean the barn and was still working when Dr. Martin’s buggy pulled up in front of the house. The physician jumped out, calling for Hop Sing.

“What’s wrong Doc?” asked Joe.

“Little Joe, can you get Hop Sing for me, one of his cousins has been hurt and they need him to come stay in town for a few days.” answered Doc Martin.

“I’ll go and get him” he replied quickly knowing how Hop Sing felt about his family. “Hop Sing.” Joe yelled as he ran into the house.

“Why Litl Joe yell?” ask Hop Sing

“Doc’s here, one of your cousins has been hurt and your family wants you to come stay in town for a few days and help them. You go and help.” said Joe.

Hop Sing thought about this as he gathered things he would need “What about Litl Joe?” he asked.

“I’ll be fine Hop Sing”, Joe replied “it will only be for a few days, besides Pa and my brothers will be back on Monday and I can cook fish and make sandwiches so I’ll be fine.”

After Hop sing left with Doc Martin, Joe went back to finish cleaning out the barn. He mucked out the stalls and laid down fresh straw then he went to check the tack room, and found that there wasn’t much for him to do. When he finished in the barn, he headed towards the house for a quick bite to eat and then decided to go to the lake for some fishing for his dinner and some rest because he was tired. He also wanted to think.




Joe was headed home; he had caught enough fish for his dinner that night but still had not solved his problems or figured out how to discuss them with his Pa. When he got to the ranch house he dismounted and took Cochise to the barn, took care of removing his tack and gave his mount a rub down. That finished, Joe headed to the ranch house, going in through the kitchen door with the fish so that he could clean and cook them for dinner.

Although Joe was the only one there he headed up the back stairs to clean up for dinner after cleaning and cooking the fish. It was just one thing out of respect to their Pa, being that he always asked that they wash before meals. Because of this he was not ready for what he walked into when he came back down the main stairs, for he was alone.




When the Turners arrived at the ranch house, they just walked in; they knew that Little Joe was going to be alone, besides they hated the runt. They had been planning to rob Cartwright for months now but could never find the right time. When their little brothers told them that the youngest was going to be left alone at the ranch for three days, they started to make plans.

Gathering information about Little Joe had been easy, too easy. All they had to do was go into the saloon and listen to gossip. A lot of the rumors that they heard, seemed to be over ten-years old, but could be used to their advantage thought Jacob. They could use them to hurt the boy, if he hasn’t already heard about them, already. Hopefully, his Pa had kept them from the boy. As he had ridden back to the farm, he couldn’t wait to tell his twin, James and their little brothers, Tommy and Chet, who were enjoying teasing and fighting with Little Joe almost everyday at school.

As they entered the house and looked around, they figured that Joe wound still be working, giving then the chance to be in and out before Joe got back, hoping that no one would get hurt.

“Tommy, Chet, check out the desk see what you can find in there. James and me will try to crack open the safe.” yelled Jacob.

“Alright, Jacob” Chet eagerly answered. He was looking forward to this, but was worried about Tommy, because in the last few days of their teasing of Little Joe, Tommy had started to make friends with him instead of fighting with him. Chet hadn’t said anything to his brothers because they could become violent and he didn’t want them to beat up his twin brother. Chet pulled his brother toward the desk saying, “You have to snap out of it, do you want Jacob or James to figure out that you like Little Joe? You know what they will do to you if they find out don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,” answered Tommy “but I can’t help feeling that what we’re doing is wrong. Chet, Jacob and James don’t just plan to rob this place, I overheard them talking last night they were talking about a rumor that they had heard in town about Little Joe, something about Mr. Cartwright not being Little Joe’s father, so they think it would be fun to stay here until tomorrow night and drive Joe crazy with the rumors they’ve learned in town about his parentage. After they have done that they plan to leave him for his family to find on Monday.”




When Joe came down the main stairs, he was noticed by Jacob and grabbed by James.  “Who are you and what do you want?” he asked, frightened because he was alone.

“I’m James and that’s my brother Jacob, and you’re going to help us open this safe if you want to survive.” answered James.

Joe looked at the two men and realized that they looked familiar. “You’re Tommy and Chet’s brothers,” he yelled. “But I thought Tommy was my friend what happened?”

Jacob looked at James and said, “It looks as if one of our little brothers has gone soft, even after what his Pa did to our father.”

“What are you talking about, what did my Pa do to your father?” asked Joe.

“Oh, but he ain’t really your Pa is he? At least that’s what some of the people in town say. They say that your ma was a whore and that she didn’t know whom your real father was. What, hadn’t you heard any of this? Mr. Cartwright really must have protected you to have kept you from hearing all of this.

Well, when he gets back ask him for the answers, ask him for the truth, maybe he will tell you.” replied James.

“As for what he did to our father,” answered Jacob, “his word got him hung as a rustler a couple years ago at a trial.”

“I remember that.” replied Joe. “I was with Pa when he testified against John Weston for cattle rustling and he was hung, but your last name is Turner not Weston, so how can he be your father?”

“Did you really expect us to keep our father’s name, we took our mother’s maiden name; she is also dead.” Responded James as he left the room watching Joe’s eyes.




When James entered the room, he overheard what was being said and replied, “You need to learn to go to bed when you’re told to Tommy, then you wouldn’t cause plans to be moved forward and changed. We got the safe opened already and with the boy’s help because he was already here. We were right about those rumors; he didn’t know that people believed someone else was his father or that people called his mother a whore. His Pa and brothers protected him well and he has started to withdrawal inside himself already. Something in his eyes is bothering me though; perhaps you can answer this for me Tommy since you’re his friend. Oh, you thought that Jacob and me hadn’t noticed, sorry we did, but hearing it from Little Joe a few minutes ago confirmed what we already suspected. ”

“Alright, James, what is it about his eyes that’s bothering you?” asked Tommy.

“When I left to come here, his eyes were turning a darker shade of green than before; can you tell me if I should be worried? Asked James.

Tommy laughed before he answered. “Yes you should be worried; if you did everything you were planning to do and are planning to do, I’d be worried. Little Joe is known for his temper. People say that he looses his temper on a whim and that you can sometimes tell his emotions by the changes in eye color, if they are dark green he is going to lose his temper so watch out.”

Chet decided it was time to change the subject. “We didn’t find anything in the desk. What did you and Jacob find in the safe?”

“We found about $2000 dollars in the safe, it should get us set up in the next town we go to and let us live for a little while.” he responded. “Let’s get back to Jacob.”


Joe was thinking about everything that he had been told, by these men, and he couldn’t believe it, Pa, not his Pa. It just wasn’t possible; it couldn’t be true. Because that would mean that Adam and Hoss were not his brothers, and the thought of that hurt too much to even think about. Little Joe was slowly losing his temper; these four brothers had just walked into his home and were slowly taking what they wanted, but even worse they were trying to destroy what he believed was his family. “I don’t believe you, it can’t be true.” Joe yelled as his anger finally let go at Jacob the only one of the four brothers that was in the room with him.

Jacob looked up as he heard Joe yell. He saw Joe barreling towards him in anger and pulled out the gun that he had hidden. They hadn’t planned on using it at all unless they were pushed in to it. Jacob figured that Joe was pushing him by attacking so he cocked the gun and fired. He didn’t take time to aim and the bullet hit Joe just below the left shoulder. When Joe didn’t stop coming towards him, he fired the gun again, this time taking careful aim towards Joe’s left leg, which he did hit, causing Joe to fall to the floor.

The two gunshots brought his brothers running. James looked at Joe and saw the injuries. He turned back to his brother and said, “You understand that we have to leave now, we can’t stay. If they catch us, you could be tried for attempted murder and us three for robbery.”

Jacob nodded in reply then said, “Alright then, let’s take what we’ve got and go, besides the boy will probably die anyway nobody is expected back here until Monday, right?”

“That’s what we were told by Joe.” answered Chet.

The Turner Brothers grabbed everything they had plundered and left, leaving Joe laying in the house, on the floor.

They had looked at the bulls and found that they were not what they wanted to improve the stock on the ranch. They had arrived ahead of schedule and had nothing planned. Pa looked at his boys and thought about Joe. “Adam, Hoss if we left right now and headed home, we could be there by tomorrow afternoon. What do you boys think, would that be alright?”

Adam looked at his Pa and saw the look of concern in his eyes that he got when something was bothering him. “Sure it’s ok, but maybe you should tell us what’s wrong I can tell that your worried about something and since Hoss and I are with you it has to do with Joe doesn’t it?” he asked.

“Daburnit , Pa what’s wrong with shortshanks?” asked Hoss.

Ben looked at his boys and decided to tell them what he had overheard when he found Joe at his Mama’s grave Friday. “Adam, Hoss I don’t know what is bothering my baby, but wish I did, however, when I found him at the lake I overheard the end of a conversation that he was having with Marie. I think you should hear what it was he said to his mama. It concerns the three of us. ‘How do I make them hear me? Mama, I’m hurting and it’s so hard to explain things to them without getting upset because they laugh at me or don’t take what I say serious. Tell me what to do?’

Your little brother is upset and hurt about something. I tried to get him to talk to me that night but he just pushed it aside.”

Adam had listened to what his Pa was telling him and started to wonder about some of the stuff he had been hearing around Virginia City the past few weeks. “Pa do you think this could have anything to do with the Turner twins and the fights that Little Joe has been getting into at school?” he asked.

His Pa looked puzzled but replied “I think it’s possible, but I don’t think so; it’s more likely that it is something closer to home, however I wish I knew what it was.”

“Well let’s go home and find out what’s bothering short shanks,” said Hoss

“It’s agreed then we leave as soon as we have everything we need,” replied Ben.

As they gathered the supplies they required for their trip back, Adam and Hoss thought about what their Pa had told them and the conversation he had over heard. Could their constant teasing be part of the problem? They didn’t know but they both wondered.    

None of them knew what to expect when they got home but knew that they would deal with it when they arrived and they all hoped that they would be able to help Little Joe because meant so much to them; he was their heart and they would do anything for him.



Joe had been unconscious since the Turner Brothers left the Ponderosa late Saturday evening. He had come to once and was able to get up only to have the pain cause him to fall down unconscious landing partially in and partially out of his father’s red chair.

The thoughts running through Joe’s head did not make since to him. Who was his father? Were Adam and Hoss his brothers? Could that be why he was so short? It couldn’t be true could it? There had to be some other reason, his family loved him, he knew, he had always known this in his heart for they were his strength.

In his mind, he saw his Pa’s face, the strong set of his jaw, his silver hair, but most important his ebony eyes for they had always been Joe’s strength, he had always felt that when he looked into his Pa’s eyes, he could tell what his father was feeling or thinking and it helped him. This time it gave Joe peace to see his Pa’s face and eyes for it took away the confusion that his mind kept tossing at him.



When Ben and the boys arrived in Virginia City they ran into Hop Sing. This surprised them because they thought that he was at the ranch. He explained that one of his cousins was injured and that they had needed his help, so Litl Joe told him that he should go ahead and help his family and that he would be alright at the ranch alone.

Next they ran into Roy and Paul “Hello Roy, Paul, how was Joe today in church?” Ben asked them.

Roy and Paul both gave him a funny look and then Paul answered, “Ben, Joe wasn’t in church this morning. Was he supposed to attend?”

“Yes Paul, Joe was told that he had to attend church,” said an upset Ben.

“We’d best head home and find out what was so important that it kept Joe from attending church like he was supposed to. We will see you later.” announced Adam.

“Hey Ben, I have a question for you, Paul and I were going bring out supper to Joe this evening since Hop Sing is with his family and talk for awhile, but with guys back home do you still want us to come?” asked Roy.

“I don’t see why not, we’d still enjoy the company and the food,” answered Ben.

“Ok, we will see you this evening.” said Paul.

They headed towards the Ponderosa, wondering what could have been important enough to keep Joe home from church that morning.




Joe was starting to awaken again when he heard hoof beats in front of the house and was scared. He knew that not much time had passed so it couldn’t be his family. He got out of his Pa’s chair and dragged himself over to his Pa’s desk where he knew that there was a gun that his Pa kept loaded for protection, if needed. He pulled it out and made sure it was loaded. Then he even though his vision was blurred when the door started to open he fired the gun aiming for the person coming in but hitting the door and yelling at the same time “Leave me alone….you got what you wanted…. Please don’t hurt me again….” as he slowly passed into unconsciousness, the episode having drained all his energy.

Ben jumped back in surprise when he heard a gun discharge in his house as he opened the door. What surprised him even more was the words that he heard coming from his youngest son and how weak he sounded while yelling them. What did he mean? ‘Please don’t hurt me again?’ Had something happened to his baby?

Adam and Hoss quickly joined Ben on the porch after hearing the gunshot. “Pa what’s going on here?” asked Adam.

“I’m not sure Adam but your little brother is very frightened. I opened the door to go in and he fired at the door, he missed me; that makes me think that something happened while we were gone. Adam, I want you to go in the house through the side door through the kitchen; see if you can catch Joe off guard, then come and let Hoss and me in.” said Ben.

“I will do my best.” Adam replied, as he headed to the side of the house. When Adam entered the kitchen, everything looked good but smelled of dead fish, which he saw laying in the sink freshly cleaned and ready to be cooked. Wonder why Joe didn’t eat them, he asked himself. Adam walked into the dining area, past the table, towards his Pa’s desk. It was then that Adam saw Joe unconscious on the floor, the gun from Pa’s desk gripped tightly in his left hand. “Pa, Hoss get in here quick!” Adam yelled as he bent down by Joe.

When Ben heard Adam yelling, he ran in the door, stopping in his tracks as he saw the blood on the floor in front of the fireplace and all over his chair. Ben noticed that the safe was open as well and empty. They had been robbed, but whom did the all the blood belong to and had Joseph been hurt. He noticed that Adam was bent down behind his desk and headed in that direction. Ben was not prepared for what he saw when he got there. Joe was covered in blood from two bullet injuries. “Adam send Hoss for Paul right now and tell him to hurry.” he said as he tried to remain calm. However inside, he was terrified. He had seen all of the blood when he entered the house and now knew that it was Joseph’s; this, in his mind caused him to think Joe had probably been shot last night.

“Hoss just left. Pa, we need to move Joe upstairs and get him cleaned up.” Adam said when he came back over to Ben.

Ben looked up at Adam and said, “We need to get him to let go of this gun, he’s holding it as if his life depended on it and that scares me. I wish we knew what had happened here. The safe is open, my desk has been gone through, and Joe has been shot. I’d say we were robbed but I’m not sure.”

“I’d have to agree with you, but how do we get the gun away from him without hurting him?” asked Adam.

“You…could try…asking… me to give to you.” Joe said weakly.

“Joe, your awake!” his Pa exclaimed.

“Just barely,” Joe mumbled.

“What happened here?” His Pa asked.

“Two sets of Weston twins happened.” Joe replied.

 “What, we don’t know any Weston twins, just some Turner twins, and then only one set.” Adam replied.

Ben was thinking while Adam and Joe talked. Weston, Weston, why is that name so familiar? And then it hit him the man he testified against that was hung for cattle rustling was named Weston, John Weston he believed. “Joe did they tell you what they wanted?” Ben asked.

“Yeah, revenge for their father and by the way Adam, your friend Jacob Turner has a twin and his name is James. Them two along with Tommy and Chet Turner are the Weston twins,” announced Joe. “I’m getting tired again,” he said as he once again passed out.

Ben and Adam started to worry when Joe passed out again. Adam looked at his Pa and said “His shoulder is still bleeding; it probably started again when he moved from your chair to the desk to get the gun. We need to stop the bleeding. He can’t afford to lose any more blood.”

“I agree, go get some bandages from the kitchen, and some water as well. You understand that we will have to wait to move him until Paul gets here if we want to get the bleeding stopped or risk moving  him to his room and then stop the bleeding.” asked Ben.

“I think it would be wiser to move him to his room then stop the bleeding, because in his room we could work on cleaning him up as well; and besides, when Doc Martin gets here, he’ll just want us to move him to his room anyway,” answered Adam wisely.

After they moved Joe to his room, Adam returned with bandages and water and they started to take off Joe’s clothes in order to clean his shoulder wound. When Adam took of Joe’s pants, he found the bullet wound in Joe’s left thigh. “Hey Pa, he has another wound in his left thigh, the bullet went all the way through clean shot. It helps explain why there is so much blood, being that we thought he had only been shot in the left shoulder.”

“Hoss is back and Paul’s with him,” Ben said as he heard them come into the yard. “Why don’t you go down and bring them up here?”




After Adam left, Ben started cleaning the blood off Joe. While he was doing this, Joe started mumbling. Ben stopped what he was doing to listen and what he heard made him worry more because Joe was saying things like, “Don’t say that!, They are too my brothers!, He is my Pa, he is!, Stop saying that; she wasn’t a whore; she was my ma!, LEAVE ME ALONE!, They do love me! I know they do.”

What on earth did they say to my baby Ben wondered, as he started cleaning his son’s wounds again. Paul and his boys walked in shortly after Joe stopped mumbling. “Ben, move and let me in so I can check on Joe,” Paul requested.


When Ben looked at Paul, his eyes were troubled; from Paul his eyes traveled to his sons, Adam and Hoss. In his eyes, the boys saw confusion, anger, and sadness. As Ben left Joe’s side, the boys both figured that Joe must have said something while he was alone with their Pa for Ben to have such a troubled expression in his eyes. Paul asked to be left alone to do his examination of Joe, so the boys took their Pa downstairs.

Once they were downstairs, Adam spoke, “Pa, what’s troubling you, what happened after I left to get Hoss and Paul?”

Ben turned and looked at Adam and Hoss, and then he replied, “Do you boys remember those rumors that were spread around Virginia City about Marie, Little Joe, and me while she was still alive? I think Joe was about four and a half years old at the time it happened.”

“I sure do remember,” Adam replied in anger.

“Kinda,” answered Hoss, “but I don’t think I understood what was going on.”

“That’s alright Hoss,” replied Ben. “I’m just glad you both remember it because it looks like the Weston twins may have found out about it and told your little brother. He was mumbling saying that you were too his brothers and that I was too his Pa. Also he kept telling them to stop calling his Ma, a whore. I guess you could say that I’m worried about my baby’s emotional state. He can be so sensitive, especially if he believes he isn’t loved and he kept saying that he knew we loved him.”

“I guess you could be right Pa, but how do we prove to Joe that what they told him isn’t true? asked Hoss.

“I don’t know,” his Pa replied. “I just don’t know.”

Adam had been thinking while his father and Hoss were talking. How do you prove to a person that you really are their family? Most people say looks do that, but Joe looked just like his Mother, so that wouldn’t work. The birth certificate automatically listed his Pa as Joe’s father, so that wouldn’t work either. We need to prove to Joe that a part of him is Cartwright so that he will believe that Pa really is his Pa. Hey Pa is there any characteristic from your side of the family that Joe might have taken on that could convince him that you’re really his father?” Adam asked hesitantly.

“Adam, there are many characteristics that Joe gets from my side of the family but only two that might convince him we are family. One of these characteristics he shares with my mother and the other he shares with every male Cartwright in our clan, including the three of us.” their Pa answered.

“Pa, what are you talking about?” inquired Hoss.

“Joseph and my mother are both left handed, we will start with that. If and only if that doesn’t convince Joe will the other chacteristic be discussed, is that understood? That is why you boys are just learning about it as well.” replied Ben.


While Ben and the boys were downstairs Paul was upstairs examining Joe. When the doctor checked Joe’s leg, he saw that the wound went all the way through the leg and that no bones had been broken, so he disinfected the wound and bandaged it. As he continued to examine Joe, he found that he had three cracked ribs on his right side. Paul soon realized that he was going to need help when he saw Joe’s left shoulder and realized that it was dislocated and that the bullet was still in the wound.

Paul left Joe’s room and went to the top of the stairs, “Ben, could you and the boys come here? I’m going to require your assistance.”

They headed upstairs to help Paul. As they entered the room, they noticed that his scalpel and a probe were laying out and that meant Paul had to perform surgery on Joe. It was also a sure sign that meant the bullet must still be in Joe’s shoulder. Paul turned and looked at them saying, “I needed to get the bullet out of Joe’s left shoulder before I can wrap his ribs. I’m going to need your help because he is becoming restless.”

“We understand Paul and will do anything we can to help you so that Joe will get better.” Ben replied.

“Then let’s get started,” Paul said. Paul had Adam and Hoss hold Joe’s legs and told Ben to stand at Joe’s right side, near the shoulder. He then proceeded to start probing Joe’s left shoulder for the bullet. When he found the bullet, he used the flat edge of the scalpel to gently push it up and out of the wound. Paul then disinfected a needle and some thread, stitched the wound closed and before bandaging the wound, he had Ben help him put the dislocated shoulder back into position.

Before Paul bandaged Joe’s shoulder wound, he asked Adam to help his Pa hold Joe up so that he could wrap Joe’s ribs. After wrapping Joe’s ribs, Paul bandaged the shoulder wound securing Joe’s left arm to his chest until the shoulder healed completely.

“How will Joe be, Paul?” Ben inquired.

“He’s going to recover and should be just fine. He will have to stay in bed for the next couple of weeks though.” Paul answered. “There were no signs of infection, so there shouldn’t be a fever, however watch him just incase.”

“Thanks again for coming out, Paul.” Ben said, as Paul left to head back to Virginia City .


The night passed silently for the family. When morning came, their Pa was still in Joe’s room, even though he was sleeping in a chair by Joe’s bed.

When Joe woke up, the first person he saw was his Pa, or was he his Pa, he wondered? “Pa, are you awake?” Joe asked. For a moment Joe didn’t think his pa was going to answer him.

“Yes, Joseph, I’m awake. Can I get you something?” he asked his son.

By this time, Adam and Hoss were awake and heard Joe talking with their Pa and decided not to interrupt. They did want to know what was being said however, so they stayed outside the door where Joe couldn’t see them.

“Can I ask you a question?” Joe asked.

“Joe, you know that you can ask me anything correct?” replied their Pa.

“I guess so.” Joe hesitated, as he answered.

“What is it that is so hard for you to ask me, Joe?” Ben questioned, looking at Joe and already knowing the answer. Ben waited patiently for Joe to ask to question that he needed to know the answer to.

“Are you really my Pa?” Joe blurted out, scared to hear the answered.

“Yes, Joseph, I’m really your Pa,” Ben replied.

“But I don’t look like you at all, and I’ll always be short. I’m not going to be tall like you or Adam or Hoss.” Joe cried.

“Joe, the characteristics that you’re talking about right now are traits that you got from your mother’s side of the family, your looks and height. There are several characteristics that you received from my side of the family also, however only two of these characteristics are visible. I will tell you about one and if this doesn’t convince you, your brothers will have to join us before I tell you about the other characteristic shared by all Cartwright males, alright?” Ben asked.

“I’m ready to listen to what you have to say?” Joe answered.

“Joe, did you ever wonder how come you were left handed, when your mother and I were both right handed?” Ben asked Joe.

“No, I just figured that I was odd, or it would correct itself, but it never did. What does my left handedness have to do with all of this?” Joe asked.

“Your left handedness is a characteristic you got from my side of the family even though I’m right handed, my mother was left handed.” Ben said.

“That still doesn’t prove that you’re my Pa, I want to believe you. I love you; help me. What they told me hurt me right here,” Joe said as he placed his hand over his heart.

“I know that you’re hurting Joe, and I guess that the only way to prove that we are a family is to show you the characteristic that all Cartwright males share, but understand that Adam and Hoss don’t know about this either, so when you find out, so must they.” announced Ben.

Ben went to the door where he knew he would find Adam and Hoss and asked them to join him in Joe’s room. They followed him back into the room, each one sitting at the foot of Joe’s bed looking at Pa curiously.

Joe looked at Ben with curiosity in his eyes. “We’re all here now. Will you show us this characteristic that we all share?”

Ben looked at his boys and then at the floor; he had hoped he would never have to show them the birthmark that they shared. It’s marked down in their medical records, the location as well. Ben could tell, his ears were starting to turn pink.

The boys were watching him, wondering why their Pa was suddenly embarrassed and why his ears were turning pink. “Pa what’s wrong?” asked Hoss.

“This isn’t going to be easy for me to show you boys, because it is embarrassing, however it must be done. Do you boys understand what a birthmark is?” Ben inquired of them.

“Yes,” they said, “but I thought only ladies had them.” added Hoss.

“No, Hoss, not just ladies; men can have them as well,” replied Ben. “All Cartwright males have a unique birthmark and it is always in the same location, which is embarrassing to us because of the birthmarks shape and coloring. The birthmark is always located on the right buttock and is in the shape of a little pink heart. I’m willing to show the three of you mine, if you need to see it. However, Doc Martin has written documentation of each of your three’s birthmark, in your medical records and the exact location as well.”

“Pa, I don’t need to see your birthmark, because I’ve seen it before. I think I was about three when I saw it. You were taking a bath and I had escaped from Mama, I’d found you in the bath and jumped in fully clothed, boy was Mama mad. Anyway, when you got out of the tub you put me down on the floor and told me to stay put. You turned around to dry off and I noticed it then and ask about it but, you told it was nothing and not to worry about it,” Joe replied.

“Joe, it’s good to know that I don’t have to prove to you that I’m your father. I just want you to be happy and get well. Always understand that if you have a problem that your brothers or I will be here for you to talk with, cause we love you, always have and always will. When you hurt Joe, so do we, so if you need to talk and we are not listening to you, then do whatever you have to and force us to listen.” his Pa replied.

“We really do love you, Little Buddy,” answered Adam.

“I love ya, Punkin,” said Hoss.

“I love all of you and I’m so glad that I’ve always known in my heart anyway who my family really was,” Joe said crying.


The last two weeks had past quickly for the Cartwright family. Joe was on the mend; he had missed the last week of school but still was able to graduate. His Pa told him that he would keep his promise about letting Joe start working on the ranch full time starting this year.

The Cartwright family had reported everything Joe had told them about the robbery to Roy but never did hear anything back about the Weston twins. Truth be told, Ben didn’t really care, Joe was alive and happy again.  ‘As long as that sparkle is in my baby boy’s eyes, I believe that I can be a happy man,’ thought Ben, as he sat on the porch looking at the stars. “Look, Pa, there’s Mama’s star, it’s really bright tonight. Do you think it’s because she knows I’m not sad anymore?” Joe questioned

As Ben looked at the star that Joe was pointing to, he smiled, for the star was shining brightly. “Yes, Joe, I believe that your Mama knows that you’re not sad anymore and is shining just for you.”


The End


Authors Note: I Would like to give my thanks to Debbie B  for encouraging me to continue with this story and taking the time to look it over and edit it for me. Your words were appreciated and have encouraged try again with another story.