The Devil And Miss. Jones


Written by: Jennie A.


Ben had already been up to his room to listen to his bedtime prayers and had tucked him in for the night. He really did try to go to sleep but it was not coming easy
for Little Joe that night. He tossed and turned around in the bed trying to find a position that would make him comfortable. Joe finally gave up and slid down from the
bed. His bare feet hit the floor with a thump and Joe hesitated momentarily as he listened for the sound of footsteps. Relieved when he didn’t hear any, he turned up
the wick in his lantern and tipped-toed across his room to his bookcase. He sat down on the cool floor and pulled out book after book until he found the one that he
was looking for. He smiled and pulled the book up next to his chest. ‘Adam hasn’t even saw that I borrowed his book yet, Bo. Wanna see it with me?’ He climbed
back up on the bed and flopped himself down on his stomach, feet coming to rest on his pillow. Joe put Bo next to the book and peeled the cover back. He felt
himself blush as he stared at the picture. Joe was intrigued at the photos that had been printed in the book yet he couldn’t understand why Adam hadn’t hid the book
from Pa. After looking at all the photos that he found to be of interest, Joe rolled over to lie on his back.

He grinned as he saw the shadow of the flame flicker across the ceiling. Hoss and him had played the shadow game many times in the great room. Adam had shown
them how to make images on the wall using the light from the lantern. Joe put Bo over his mouth to help contain the giggles as he played. First, he made a coyote,
and then he made a cross. Before long he found himself acting out a story. He used his right hand to portray himself and in his left hand he held Bo, and together he
acted out a scene on the ceiling. He was so engrossed with his playing that didn’t hear Adam open the door to his room.

He stood in the doorway watching Joe casting his shadows across the ceiling. He too, remembered those nights that he played with this brothers waiting for Pa to get
home. Neither one of his younger brothers dealt with the separation from Pa too well. It was only a year ago that they had lost their ma, Marie, from a horse
accident. Little Joe carried a fear in his heart, that when Pa went away he wasn’t coming back. Adam and Hoss had their hands full tending to Joe and were always
thinking of ways to occupy his time.

"Joe, aren’t you suppose to be asleep? Big day for you tomorrow." Adam walked across the room and reached for the covers that had been kicked to the floor.
Adam didn’t notice that the tip of his boot had just kicked his book under Joe’s bed. He motioned for Joe to lie down and covered him with his blanket.

"Ain’t no big day for me, Adam. I don’t wanna go."

"Well, I think you are ready to go and so does Pa. So, instead of fighting it, learn to like it." Adam pulled the covers up under his chin and tucked the sides back in
under the mattress. "You better get to sleep before Pa comes up and still finds you awake."


"What?" He sat down on the edge of the bed, preparing himself to be lured into a long discussion.

"Why do I hafe’ta go to school? Can’t you learn me here at home with Pa?"

Adam’s first thoughts were to tell him because Pa said so, that’s why. But the look on the boy’s face made him change his mind. "Joe, Pa and I have to work the
ranch. Besides that the teacher knows of many more things than Pa and I could ever teach you."

"I thought Pa knew everything. "

"No, Joe. Even I don’t know everything. That’s why I want to go to college."

"That’s okay, Adam. You can go to college. I will stay here with Pa and help him with the ranch, ‘kay?"

Adam hid the smile that threatened to expose itself. The boy sure knew how to reason with his logical way of thinking. "Little Joe, before you can help Pa with the
ranching, you need to learn more about the three "R"s."

"That’s okay, Adam. Pa can teach me the three "R"s. ‘Sides I already know two of

them." Joe kicked back the covers and slid down to the floor. He skipped across his room and grabbing a piece of paper and his new pencil went and climbed up in
Adam’s lap. "Look, Adam. Here are the two "R"s that I already learned. You and Pa teached me, ‘member?" Joe shoved the paper up under his brother’s nose for
him to see.

R r

Adam smiled as he looked down at what his baby brother had drawn on the paper. "That’s great, Joe. But it’s time to put away your things and get to bed. It’s
getting late and you need to get some sleep before morning. How about after school you and I take a ride up to the lake and we can talk more about this?" Adam
reached over to lower the flame on Joe’s lantern.

"Adam, can I ask you one more question?"

"Sure, Buddy. Ask me one more and then you have to promise me that you will try to get some sleep. Deal?"

"Deal." He held out his hand to shake his brother’s like he had seen his Pa do many times before. "Now, it’s a true deal, Adam." The child beamed with excitement
as his older brother returned the handshake. "Adam, why do I hafe’ta learn everything if Pa doesn’t even know everything? It won’t be right if I’m smarter than Pa."

"Joe, this could take all night to explain why an education is important. Trust me on this one and I promise you that tomorrow we will talk more about it."


"No dice, Buddy. You asked me for one more and I gave you one more. Now off to sleep."

"But, Adam. Real fast, can I show you something? I promise no more questions."

"Okay, Joe. You can show me one thing." Adam sighed and sat back down on the edge of the bed. Joe reached for his piece of paper and sat down on the floor.
Adam watched the concentration etch itself onto the boy’s face. His tongue was sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he wrote on the paper.

"There. All done. Whatch'a think, Adam?" Joe handed the paper up to Adam.

J o S e p H C a r T w R I G h T

"Very nice, Joe. You have really come a long way with your penmanship. Now, off to bed, little one."

Joe couldn’t resist hugging Adam. He always took his brother’s praise to heart. "Thanks, Adam."

Once again, Adam pulled the covers up and tucked them in. "Sleep tight, Joe, and don’t worry about school. I promise you will like it."

"Night, Adam. I love ya," Joe answered between yawns.

"Love you too, Buddy." He leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. "Pleasant dreams."

Adam was pulling the door shut behind him when he heard Joe call out.


He stuck his head back inside the room. "What is it, Joe?" he whispered. He didn’t want Pa to know that Joe was still awake.

"Adam, if Pa doesn’t know everything then I don’t need to either, right?"

"Go to sleep, Little Joe. I will try to answer all your questions tomorrow. Good night."

"Good night."

As hard as he tried to concentrate on getting to sleep, Joe found himself still awake what seemed like hours later. He slid down from his bed and tucked Bo back in
under the blanket.

"I’ll be back, Bo," he whispered and quietly walked across the wooden floor. He turned the doorknob and slowly pulled back on the door. Joe stuck his head out
through the opening and glanced up and down the hallway. He sank to his knees and crawled along the floor looking under the doors to see if he could see any light
coming out from underneath. He let out his breath, not even realizing that he had been holding it, when he couldn’t detect any lights lit. He turned around and crawled
back towards the staircase. Joe hesitated a few minutes listening to see if anyone was still downstairs. Satisfied that no one was, he crept down the stairs, careful to
skip over the third and seventh step. He smiled for remembering that they creaked when stepped on.

The smile quickly faded, as he stood alone in the dark. Joe stood frozen to the bottom step unsure what to do next. He had no idea why he was even downstairs.
Joe heard the footsteps before he saw the light turning the corner. Someone was coming from the kitchen and not wanting to get caught, Joe ran behind Pa’s favorite
chair and crouched down. His breathing increased as he saw the shadow of the lantern on the ceiling right in front of him. Whoever it was had decided to sit down
on the settee. Joe let out a breath when he figured out that it was just Hoss. He heard the crunchy sounds coming from the other side of the chair and knew that his
brother had snuck downstairs for a snack. He had to clasp his hand over his mouth to quiet his giggles.

"Who’s there?"

Joe wanted to play around with Hoss so he didn’t answer him.

"All right then. Don’t answer me. But you can bet your last dollar I will come looking for ya if don’t speak up now."

Joe peeked around the right side of the chair and saw that Hoss was now standing. He watched his brother walk towards the staircase. Joe crawled around to the
side of the chair as Hoss stood behind his hiding place. He took advantage of the time and crawled across the floor in front of the fireplace and around the chair that
Adam always sat in. Resting on his knees, Joe peeked again around the side of the chair. He had to bit his lip when he saw his brother trying to sneak around without
making any noise. Joe wanted to scare Hoss so he crawled over to the wooden table in front of the settee and blew out the flame.

"Who’s there? What do you want?"

Joe sat down with his back against Adam’s chair and fought the urge to laugh. He bit his lip too hard and he tasted the blood in his mouth. Joe heard Hoss scream
out for help and it scared him.

"Pa! Someone’s in the house."

Joe scrambled to his feet and without thinking, took off running towards the stairs. He stopped on the landing when he heard his father and older brother’s voice in
the hallway. Joe cringed when he heard the cocking of a gun. Joe turned and ran back down the stairs colliding with Hoss. Both boys screamed and pushed away
from each other. It was dark and Hoss couldn’t see that it was Joe. In his attempt to get away from the intruder, Hoss slipped on the rug and fell into the table
knocking over his glass of milk.

At the given time, Ben and Adam appeared in the living room. Both men carried lanterns and Hoss was seen sitting on the floor with milk running down his head. Joe
who had ran off to hide, started to laugh.

"Adam, help Hoss clean up while I tend to the other one." Ben turned in the direction of Joe’s giggling and held the lantern up so he could see. "Joseph! Where are

Joe knew by the tone of his father’s voice that he wasn’t going to think of this as funny. He knew he was in trouble. Joe slid back further under the dining room table,
hoping that his father couldn’t see him.

"I am losing my patience rather quickly, Joseph. I strongly suggest that you come out now!"

Joe peeked out from under the table enough to see that his father still had the gun in his hand. He suddenly didn’t think that this was funny anymore. He felt the
goosebumps rise across his body as he sat there trembling, afraid to come out of hiding.

"I will give you five seconds to come out."

Joe sat very still. In his logical way of reasoning he thought that if he was quiet enough, maybe no one would see him and that they would give up and go back to
bed. Then he could sneak back to his room without anyone seeing him.


Joe laid down on the floor on his stomach.


Joe crossed his fingers.


Joe bit his bottom lip.


Joe closed his eyes.


Joe held his breath.


Joe jumped when his father used his full name, causing him to hit his head on the bottom of the table.

"Now, boy! You are really trying my patience."

Joe knew he had no choice in the matter but was afraid to face his father. He continued to sit where he was muffling his own tears as he rubbed his head. He didn’t
see Adam pointing at his hide away to Ben. What he did see was his father’s feet approaching the dining room. Joe ducked down and saw that his father still held the
gun in his hand. He felt trapped and all that ran through his little mind was getting away without getting shot. He quietly scooted backwards until he was on the
opposite side of the table from his father. Joe turned around and on his hands and knees, headed for the kitchen.

"Joseph, I am getting tired of playing games at this time of the night. You come out right now or I can promise you that the consequences of your little escapade will
be worse than what I originally had in mind."

Joe stopped dead in his tracks. This wasn’t working out the way he wanted it to. All he wanted was too fun around with Hoss. He couldn’t help that Hoss got
scared and called for help. Joe knew that either way he was going to be in trouble. Before he could stand up to make himself known, Pa reached down and grabbed
him by the arm and pulled him up to his feet.

"Upstairs to your room, right now, young man. I will be there momentarily," Ben instructed as he administered a solid swat to Joe’s unprotected bottom and steered
him towards the stairs.

"But, Pa." Joe answered back in between sobs. "Yo.... you were gonna kil....l me?"

"Joseph, I don’t want to hear any excuses. Now do as you were told to do."

Ben watched his youngest climb the stairs rubbing his not yet so sore bottom. He shook his head and sat down in his chair. "Are you all right, Hoss?"

"Yea, Pa, I’m fine. Just scared the daylights out’a me."

"Pa, I think it’s safe for you to put away your gun. I don’t think Little Joe is planning to give you any more trouble," said Adam as he held out his hand.

"What?" Then Ben looked down to where Adam was pointing. He saw that he still had his gun in his hand and that it was cocked. He looked up at Adam. "You
don’t think that the boy thought..." Ben sighed and stood up. "I am going upstairs to tend to your brother, see to it that this mess is cleaned up before you go back to
bed. Good night, boys."

"Night, Pa."


Upstairs Ben had found Little Joe sitting on his bed holding on to Bo. He was the picture of innocence as he blinked his tear filled eyes. "Papa, are you gonna tan me
or shot me?"

Ben sighed and shook his head. He knew by that one question he was in for a long night of discussion. He wanted to discipline Little Joe for playing around
downstairs after he had been sent to bed. But hearing the little boy’s question, soften Ben immediately. He knew that he had to settle the gun situation first. He tried,
unsuccessfully for the next half hour, to explain to Little Joe, that he had no intentions of shooting him. Joe didn’t understand why Ben had pointed the gun at him if he
wasn’t gonna shot. The same question was asked again and again and again. Ben held up his hand to end the conversation when he heard the clock downstairs
chime 10:00 p.m.

"Joseph, it is late and tomorrow is your first day of school. I do not like going to bed upset with any of you boys, but this discussion will have to be put on hold until
tomorrow. I have decided to restrict you to the ranch for one week..."

"But, Pa....." Joe interrupted.

"Joseph, do not try me any further. I have been wanting to have that necessary little talk that you deserve so well, but changed my mind when I saw how upset you
were over the gun. I strongly advise you to take whatever punishment is handed to you without any back talk. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir," Joe whispered. He looked down at the comforter and pulled at a lose thread. "Papa, do you still love me?"

Ben pulled his youngest son into a tight embrace. "I think you know the answer to that question, Joseph. You better get to sleep; your first day of school is
tomorrow. And Joseph, of course I love you, always have and always will. Good night, son."

"Good night, Papa. I love you too."


Adam heard the screams coming from his brother’s room and quickly went to intervene before it woke his father up. Adam opened the door to Joe’s room and his
heart went out to his little brother. Joe was sitting up in bed, eyes wide open and was staring straight ahead not really focused on anything in particular. He was
breathing rapidly and sweat was trickling down the side of his face. Adam sat down on the edge of his bed and took him into his lap. "Shhhh. It was just a dream,

"Adam, can I sleep with you? I don’t want to stay here by myself," Joe asked as he buried his face into Adam’s neck. "I’m scared!"

Adam nodded his head and hugged Little Joe a little tighter. "Do you want to tell me about it first?"

"No, I gets scared thinking about it." Joe reached over and grabbed Bo and flung his arms around Adam’s neck. "I’m ready now."

Adam stood up and turned off his lantern before leaving Joe’s room. Ben was waiting for them in the hallway. "Is everything all right, boys?"

"Yea, Pa. Joe just had a bad dream. He wants to sleep in with me."

Joe reached out and took hold of Ben’s arm. "No, Papa. It wasn’t a dream."

"What was it then, Joe?" Ben reached over and took Joe from Adam’s arms. "Would you like to tell me about it?"

"Papa, you shotted me." Exhaustion was taking its toll on the young boy and Joe buried his head into Ben’s shoulder. "I bleeded all over the floor and then Hop Sing
yelled at me too."

Adam smiled when he saw that his father was fighting back the urge to smile. Ben motioned with a nod of his head for Adam to get back to his room. Ben followed
him and laid Joe down next to Adam. He offered Joe a drink of water and watched as Joe snuggled against Adam’s chest. "I’m really tired now, Pa. You don’t
hafe’ta waken me tomorrow if you don’t wanna," Joe explained between yawns. "I can waits until later to start school."

Adam bit his lip to quiet his laugh while he watched his father respond to Little Joe. "Nice try, son. But it won’t work. You are going to school tomorrow and you
better get some sleep." Ben smiled at Joe as he laid there pouting. "Good night, boys and pleasant dreams."

"Pa, there ain’t nothn’ pleasant about going to school," responded Joe as he pulled Bo under the covers. "But I will try to have a good night and you do too."


Little Joe found it difficult to get up in the morning. He was debating about telling his father that he wasn’t feeling well when Ben opened the door to Adam’s room.
"And just what are you waiting for, young man? Hoss and Adam, both woke you up twenty minutes ago."

Joe knew by the look on his father’s face that now was not the time to get sick. Instead he put on his biggest grin and kicked back the covers. "I was just waiting for
Bo to wake up, Pa." Joe pulled Bo out from under the covers and held him up in the air. "See, he’s up now so I can get ready for school. Are ya gonna help me with
my clothes?"

"May I help you, is the correct way to ask for help, and the answer to your question is yes, I will." Ben offered his hand to Little Joe who had climbed out of the bed
and was standing in front of his father. "And Joseph, let’s make sure your socks match today, please."

Joe took his father’s hand and pulled him down the hall to his room. Ben shook his head as Joe pulled open the dresser drawer. "I thinks I have some matching ones
in here somewhere, Pa." Joe pulled out some clothes and dropped them on the floor as he continued to dig through the drawer. "Somewhere, Pa. I know they’re
here somewhere."

"Joseph, get your pants and shirt on and I will look for your socks. This should have been done before you went to bed last night. In the future you are to lay your
clothes out on your chair the night before, understood?"

"Yep, Pa." Ben continued to look through Joe’s dresser and came up empty handed. Exasperated he sat down on the chair. Ben closed his eyes and counted to ten.
"Pa, can you help me, I’m stuck?" Ben opened his eyes to find Joe sitting on the floor with his arms in the sleeves of his shirt. Joe had tried to slip the shirt over his
head still buttoned and couldn’t get it over his head.

Ben unbuttoned the shirt and then helped Joe pulled it down over his head. "Joseph, you are supposed to unbutton it first."

"I was tryin’ to hurry for ya, Pa," explained Joe with a smile. "This ways I’m not too late for school."

"You would have been a bigger help if you had some clean socks in your dresser. Now what are you suppose to wear to school?"

"Ah, Pa." Joe climbed up into Ben’s lap and gave him a hug. "Its all right. I can wear them from yesterday. I won’t tell anybody."

Ben laughed as he sat Joe back on the floor. "You won’t tell anyone? Well, that’s might generous of you, son. I wouldn’t want anyone to know that my son doesn’t
have any clean socks to wear to school."

"Shucks, no. Not even Hoss." Joe laughed and reached under the bed and pulled out his dirty clothes from last night. "See, Pa. I gots them right here."

Breakfast was over rather quickly. Joe seemed excited about going to school with Hoss. Adam sat staring at the boy wondering if he was the same kid that was
upstairs last night. "Are you gonna ride me to school, Adam?" Joe asked as he ran to the front door to get his jacket. "Pa is."

"I can’t, Buddy. I have to get up to the north pasture and start rounding up the cattle for the fall roundup. But, I will try to be there this afternoon to pick you up."

"Kay, see ya later, Adam. Come on, Hoss, we can’t be late." Joe opened the door and ran outside towards the barn. The more he thought about going to school,
the more he liked the idea of making new friends. Learning was the farthest thing from his mind as he waited for Ben to finish hitching up the team.

"Hi, Pa. Are you done yet? You said that we can’t be late." Joe pulled on Ben’s arm trying to get his attention. "Can I drive the team to town?"

"Slow down, boy. One thing at a time. Yes, I am finished hitching the team and no you can’t drive them into town. What you can do is help me though." Ben reached
down and swung Little Joe up into the buckboard. "Slide over and let your Pa sit down."

Ben allowed Little Joe to sit between his legs and hold on to the reins while Ben placed his hands over Joe’s. "Nice and easy, Joe. You don’t want to spook the

Joe had forgotten all about his fears of attending school. He managed to get wrapped up in the excitement as the wagon made its way into town. He was so excited
about going to school with his brother Hoss that he hardly sat still in the wagon on the ride into town. Many times Pa had to remind him to sit down before he fell
down. Joe felt the butterflies in his stomach as they entered the schoolyard. Now that he was actually at the schoolyard, Joe was changing his mind again. He sat
down in the corner of the wagon hoping that Pa would forget he was even there. It had suddenly dawned on Joe that Pa wouldn’t be with him any more throughout
the day.

"Come along, Little Joe." Pa held out his hand for Joe to take hold of. "We need to meet with Miss Ugavitch before classes start."

Joe wanted to obey his father but found he couldn’t move.

"What’s the matter, Punkin? You seemed so excited this morning that you hardly ate your breakfast."

"I changed my mind, Hoss. I don’t want to go to school," he whispered as he hid his face on his knees. "I’m scared."

"Scared! Ah, Little Joe. There ain’t nothing to be scared of." He didn’t get any reaction from Joe and turned around to face his father. "Pa, Joe says he’s scared."

Ben climbed up into the wagon and knelt down in front of Joe. "Son, what scares you?"

Joe flung himself into Ben’s arms and buried his head into his shoulder. "I don’t wanna go, Pa. Take me home."

Ben hugged Joe tight to his chest and leaned down to whisper into his ear. "Little Joe, there is nothing to be scared off. Your brother, Hoss will be right here with
you. Adam or I will pick you up right after school to take you home." He planted a kiss on top of Joe’s head. "Come on, son. Why don’t you give it a chance? You
will make some new friends and before you know it, you will look forward to coming to school in the mornings."

"Ugh, ugh, Papa. I wanna go home. Please don’t leave me here." Joe tried to bury his head further into his father’s shoulder.

Ben could sense the oncoming of tears as his son pressed against him. "Joe, listen to me a minute. Let’s go inside and meet with Miss Ugavitch. We will take one
step at a time. Will you do that for me?"

Joe never liked to disappoint his father, so he nodded. "But then canna I go home?"

Ben stood up and placed Joe on his feet. "First things first, Joe. Let’s go meet with the teacher."

Ben hopped down from the back of the wagon and reached up to help Joe. Both Hoss and his Pa held a hand as they walked across the yard. Joe stopped short
when they approached the stairs. Not wanting to cause a scene, Ben reached down and picked him up and placed him on the landing just outside the door. "Come
on, Joe. Where’s that famous smile?"

He stood in the doorway looking at the wooden chairs neatly placed behind the desks. In the front of the classroom stood a much larger desk. Hoss explained to
him that’s where Miss Ugavitch, the teacher, did her work. To the left of the teacher’s desk stood the wood burning stove, and the black board hung from the wall
to the right of Miss Ugavitchs’ desk.

"Good morning, Mr. Cartwright."

"Good morning, Miss Ugavitch. This is my youngest son, Joseph."

"Hello, Joseph and welcome to school."

Joe held out his hand, like he had seen his father do, and shook her hand. "Hi,"

was all the youngest decided to reply. His mind was whirling trying to figure out why his teacher would want anyone to call her that name.

Miss Ugavitch handed Joe a piece of chalk. "Why don’t you go and draw on the board while I talk with your father."

Joe looked up at Ben’s face and got the nod of approval. He took the piece of chalk and went to work with his drawings. His Pa and Miss Ugavitch had been
talking for quite a while when their conversation was interrupted by a hideous sound. Both adults looked over to where Joe was standing. Miss Ugavitch was the first
to notice that Joe was scraping his nails down the length of the board. "Joseph!" she called as she snatched the chalk out of his left hand. "This is not acceptable
behavior in my classroom. I think, maybe that it is best if you go on outside and play with the other children."

Joe felt embarrassed that he had gotten in trouble already and school hadn’t even officially started. He stood by the board with his hands by his side and hung his
head. He felt the tears starting to pool in his eyes and he didn’t want her to see them. "Joseph, please do as Miss Ugavitch instructed." Ben had taken his
handkerchief out of his pocket and used it to dust of Joe’s hands. "Go on, son. I will be out to see you before I leave."

Joe stood on the porch scanning the yard for Hoss. Joe spotted him under an old oak tree that was near the hitching post. He jumped down from the landing and ran
over to his brother. "Hoss, Pa sent me out to play with ya."

Hoss turned around to see his little brother standing there. "Hi, Little Joe. Can’t play right now, I’m talking to some friends."

"But, Pa told me to play with ya." Joe folded his arms across his chest and stood his ground.

Hoss turned his head around to look at his friends. Todd leaned over to his ear and whispered, "You better get rid of him now. Babies aren’t allowed to hang with
us." Todd pointed over to a group of smaller children that were playing tag. "Send him over there to play, now."

Hoss looked back at Joe. "Hey, Joe, why don’t you go on over and play with the other kids? Looks like they are having fun playin’ tag."

"Cause Pa told me to play with you, that’s why." Joe stepped closer to his brother. "Don’t you wanna play with me?"

"Joe, it’s not that I don’t wanna, it’s just.....well, my friends and I.... well we’re talking kinda private, you know." Hoss really didn’t want to send Joe away, but he
felt pressured to do so. He didn’t have a lot of friends at school and most of the children were afraid of him being he was so big. This was the first time that a whole
lot of kids were actually paying him any mind and he didn’t want to walk away from the attention. "We can play later, ‘kay?"

"But, Hoss. Pa said....."

"Joe, please just go away for now," whispered Hoss. "Don’t make a scene out here in front of my friends."

Joe felt the goose bumps run the length of his body as his heart started to beat faster. He couldn’t believe that his brother didn’t want to play with him. He turned
around and took off running towards the wagon. Just as he started to climb into the back of it, the school bell rang, alerting the students that school had started. Joe
was having a hard time making a decision; should he go into the schoolhouse, or should he get into the wagon. He decided to choose the second one and proceeded
to pull himself up.

"Not so fast, Little Joe." Joe slid back down to the ground and turned around to see his Pa standing in front of him. "Miss Ugavitch just rang the bell, son. That
means you are to go inside and start the day. Now run along and be good." Ben guided him up to the stairs and patted him on the back. "Adam or I will be here to
pick you up after school."

Joe dragged his feet as he made his way up the wooden steps leading to the door. He hesitated and turned back around. Pa was still standing on the bottom step
waiting for him to go inside. "Bye, Joseph. You have a good day, son."

Joe didn’t trust his voice so he simply nodded. He turned the handle and walked into the classroom. "Joseph, you will learn rather quickly that when the bell rings,
you are to come inside immediately. Do I make myself clear?"

Joe only nodded, as he was busy looking around the room trying to find his brother. "Joseph, please come here so I can show you were to sit." Joe looked towards
the front of the classroom and saw Miss Ugavitch pointing to a desk in the front row.

"I wanna sit by Hoss," he pleaded.

"Joseph, you will sit with the other children your age. Now please take your seat, class is ready to begin and you have already delayed it by five minutes."

Joe made his way up the aisle, making sure that the teacher knew of his disappointment, by dragging his feet. He stood by the side of the small wooden desk and
decided to try once again. He put his hands behind his back and was wringing them together as he gathered the courage up to ask once more. "Can I sit by, Hoss?"

"Joseph, I told you where to sit and do so." The teacher turned her back to him once again as she continued to hand out some papers to the back end of the

Joe jumped at the sound of her voice that seemed to penetrate the silence of the room. "Miss U-a-witch?" Joe asked innocently, why can’t I sit with Hoss?"

Miss Ugavitch spun around on her heels and stomped her way back towards Joe. The other students were snickering as she grabbed hold of him by his right arm.
She bent down to make eye contact with the child. Joe immediately saw that her eyes were staring back at him cold as the snow on a winter’s day. Her lips seem to
quiver as she spoke. "Oh, name calling all ready, young man? This is unacceptable behavior and I have no tolerance for it. You will sit down in this seat right now
and wait for me to start the other students on their studies. I have something special in mind for you, Joseph Cartwright."

Joe slipped into the small chair and put his head down on the desk. He felt the tears starting to pool in his hazel eyes. ‘I ain’t done noffin’. Whats she mean name
calling?’ Joe tried to understand why he was in trouble when school had just started. He didn’t have long to ponder on his thoughts as they were interrupted as Miss
Ugavitch flung down a piece of paper on his desk.

"Young man, you are to write out the alphabet for me to see how well you’re writing is. When that is completed, bring it to me and then I can hand out your
punishment for your behavior in my classroom." She turned abruptly and went back to the rest of the class.

Joe picked up his pencil, thankful that Adam had already sharpened it the day before. The last thing he wanted to do was to stand in front of the class sharpening his
pencil over the waste can, that consequently was placed next to the teacher’s desk.

Joe heard the teacher make the announcement that it was time for morning recess. He put his pencil down on the smudged paper and stood up. "Not so fast, young
man. Have you finished your assignment?"

Joe glanced up at Miss Ugavitch’s face. He could still feel the anger bouncing off of him as she stared at him with those dark brown eyes. "No, madam. I ain’t done

"Then sit back down and finish it. There is no recess for you this morning." She brushed by his desk and stood in the doorway watching the other students play. Joe
sighed and picked up the pencil. ‘Its gonna take me a long time to write all those letters,’ he thought as he turned his attention back to the piece of paper in front of
him. ‘I don’t think she likes me.’

Recess only lasted about twenty minutes and Joe turned around when he heard the students entered the room. His eyes locked with those of his brothers and Joe
smiled at him. Hoss returned the smile and turned back towards his new friend. The smile on Joe’s smile quickly turned into a frown as he realized that his brother
was no longer paying him any mind.

"Is that assignment done yet, Joseph?" Joe looked up to see Miss Ugavitch standing next to his desk. He shook his head no, afraid to speak to her. He still didn’t
understand why she was so angry with him.

She snatched the piece of paper off his desk and looked at it.



"This is all you have managed to get done all morning? What’s the matter with you?" Miss Ugavitch was glaring down at him. Joe realized that the classroom had suddenly become quiet as everyone waited to hear his answer.
"Ain’t noffin’ wrong with me. I’m almost done." Joe lowered his gaze to his desk. He didn’t like the way she was staring at him.

"Well, young man, it seems to me that you should have been finished with this assignment long ago." She tossed the paper back at Joe. "Now you add to that
assignment and write me your numbers to twenty five. At the rate you are going that should keep you out of trouble for the rest of the day." She started to walk away
and turned around to finish her lecture. "And I don’t want to see all those smudge marks on the paper. Anymore carelessness and you can start over."

Joe reached down to pick up the paper that had landed on the floor. He glanced back towards his brother only to find that Hoss wasn’t even looking his way. Joe
fought the urge to cry as the confusion continued to build. ‘These ain’t smudgies, they’re marks left over from that eraser thing.’

Joe continued to sit at his desk even through lunch. The other students were allowed outside to eat and then participate in afternoon recess. The tears of
embarrassment and confusion dripped endlessly onto his worked, only to cause the teacher to get more upset.

"Joseph Cartwright, this is a total disgrace to your family. Why just this morning your father sat here and told me how well you knew your alphabet and numbers.
Seems your older brother Adam had a lot to do with your teachings. How do you think your family is going to look at you once they see this sorry excuse of
writing?" Miss Ugavitch snatched the paper out from under Joe’s nose and crumbled it up into a wad then threw it in the waste can.

"You may start over and this time I don’t want to see any smudge marks whatsoever on that paper. You may have until tomorrow morning to turn it in, along with
your essay." She walked away from Joe leaving him to ponder on his own.


The children let their excitement show as they herded towards the outside, the first day of school was over. Joe quickly grabbed his lunch tin and hat and ran outside
to find Hoss. Joe surveyed the area to find Adam sitting in the wagon near the hitching post. He started to walk towards Adam and then out of the corner of his eye,
he spotted Hoss. "Hey, Hoss. Adam’s here," he yelled as he broke out into a run, heading towards Hoss.

Hoss quickly turned his back to Joe and continued to whisper to his friends. Joe was getting impatient with Hoss and tapped him on his hip. "Come on, Hoss. I said
Adam’s here."

Hoss turned around and pushed Joe backwards. "Can’t you see that I am talkin’? Now go and wait for me by Adam."

Joe felt the tears once again pool in his eyes. Never before has Hoss ever pushed him away. Never before had Hoss not wanted to talk to him and never before had
Hoss ever included him in his play. He slowly walked back towards the wagon, his mind whirling with uncertainty about this whole day. "Hey, Buddy. Watch where
your walking before you hurt yourself."

Joe looked up to see that Adam was standing right in front of him. "Need a lift up?" he asked Joe. Without waiting for a reply, Adam swung him into the front of the
wagon. "Pa said that you could help me drive the team back home. We just have to wait on Hoss before we leave."

Joe looked intently at the cracks on the floor. He never noticed how many there were just in the front of the wagon. "Is something wrong, Buddy? You look like you
lost your best friend." Adam placed his hand on Joe’s knee trying to find out why his younger brother was so quiet. This was not typical for Joe to be silent and
Adam couldn’t help but wonder what could have possibly gone wrong the first day of school.

Joe shrugged his shoulders and continued to gaze at the planked floor. "Nuffin’ Adam. Just tired, I guess."

Adam’s line of questioning was interrupted as Hoss stepped into the wagon. "Hi, Adam. Sorry, I’m late, had to talk to some friends about going fishin’ on Saturday."

"No problem, Hoss." Adam stepped into the wagon and took the reins in hand, waiting for Joe to sit between his legs to help. "Joe, are you not going to help me
drive the team home?" he asked as his hand cupped the back of Joe’s neck.

Joe shrugged his shoulders again and chose not to answer. Adam was a little concerned and placed his hand on Joe’s forehead. "You’re not getting sick again, are
you, Buddy?"

Joe turned his head away from Adam’s hand. "No, I ain’t sick. Just wanna go home and see Papa."

"Ah, Adam. Joe ain’t sick. He just got in trouble at school today that’s all." The words slipped out of Hoss’ mouth before he realized what he had done. He
sympathetically glanced at Joe, hoping that he wasn’t too mad at him for spilling the beans.

Adam pulled the horses to a halt. "Joe, the first day of school and you already got into trouble. What did you do?"

Joe felt the pressures of the day surface and unable to control it any longer, burst forth his reply. "Ain’t none of your businesses. You ain’t my Papa." The tears fell
unchecked as he buried his face on his knees. "I didn’t do nuffin’ wrong. She just don’t like me."

Adam pulled the wagon to a stop just outside the barn. Ben wore a smile as he walked over to greet his sons. "Hi, boys. How was your first day of school, Joe?" He
held out his arms to help the small boy down.

"I ain’t going back. I hate school and I hate her." Joe broke into a run heading straight for the house. Adam cringed when he heard the door slam shut.

"What was that all about?" Ben asked to neither one in particular. "What happened?"

"I don’t know, he wouldn’t talk to me, Pa. You will have to ask Hoss." Adam took hold of the bridle and led the horses into the barn. "I will take care of bedding
down the stock while you talk to him."

"In the house, Eric," stated Ben as he turned and walked away. Hoss was at his heels following close behind.

"Pa, all I know is that Joe got into trouble with Miss Ugavitch."

"Hoss, I said in the house." Ben went over and sat down in his chair behind the desk. "What kind of trouble could he possibility get into on the first day of school?"

Hoss watched as his father lit his pipe. He was always intrigued by the way the match would burst into flames just from striking it against the wood. "Don’t know for
sure, Pa. He called her a name and that set her off in a big way."

Ben exhaled the smoke from his lungs and leaned forward in the chair. "He what?"

Hoss hated to be the one tattling on his younger brother. He knew that most of the time it was just Joe’s quick temper that got him into trouble. "He called her a
name, Pa. I didn’t hear what he said but she was mad at him. Made him stay inside all day writing."

Ben snuffed out his pipe and stood. "Go sit at the table and start your homework. I will be upstairs with Joseph."

Hoss watched his Pa climb the steps to Joe’s room. He shook his head knowing what would soon follow.

Adam had come in from the barn and was helping Hoss with his math homework when Ben came down the stairs. "Hi, Pa. What did you find out?" asked Adam as
he erased Hoss’ answer, indicating that it was wrong.

"He swears he didn’t call her any name. Then he broke down saying that she doesn’t like him. Joe thinks that Miss Ugavitch is just picking on him because he’s the
new kid in school. I guess I will need to send a note in the morning asking her for an explanation that led up to his punishment."

"Pa, didn’t Joe bring a note home from Miss Ugavitch explaining her side of the story?" asked Adam as he once again erased another answer to Hoss’ math

"Joe said he didn’t have a note to give me. I looked through his papers and only found a piece of paper where he had written part of the alphabet on." Ben sat down
at the table and reached for the cup of coffee Adam had just poured for him. "I need you to take the boys to school in the morning, Adam. I have to meet with the
Cattlemen Association at 8:00 a.m. and don’t have the time to stop by to speak with Miss Ugavitch."

"Sure, Pa. Do you want me to have a talk with her about Little Joe?" Adam asked as he smiled with the answer Hoss wrote down.

"No, Adam. I will ask her for a complete run down in the form of a note and will take it from there. I just don’t see Little Joe causing that much of a problem,
especially the first day."

"Where’s Little Joe, is he still in his room?" Adam asked as he pointed out another mistake to Hoss.

"Yes, he said that he had a lot of writing to do for homework. Can you check on him while I round up a snack for the boys?"


Adam entered Joe’s room with out knocking. He found Joe sitting on the floor bent over apparently working hard as Joe didn’t even acknowledge his presence.
"Joe, Pa sent up some cookies and milk for you. Why don’t you take a break and eat them?"

Joe looked up from his paper and tried to smile. "Can’t Adam, she gives me lots of writing to do and I hafe’ta finish it before bedtime."

Adam sat down on the floor next to Joe. He put an encouraging arm around Joe’s shoulder. "Is there anything I can help you with?"

"Nuh, nuh. Hafe’ta write my ABC’s and then a "SA". It’s a lotta work, Adam. My hand hurts already from writing."

Adam smiled and pulled Joe into a quick hug. "Okay, Buddy. But let me know if you need any help. I will be downstairs if you need me."

Joe nodded as he struggled to make the letters perfect. He was trying hard not to make those smudgies, whatever they were suppose to be." Just before Ben called
him to dinner, he had completed the letters. "Now, just hafe’ta do the numbers and then that "SA" thing."

Dinner was quiet, as no one wanted to tread on Joe’s feet. As soon as he was dismissed from the table he ran up to his room. Joe knew how to write his numbers so
he figured he would work on this "SA" thing first. His reasoning was that if he wasn’t finished before bedtime he could always do the numbers in the morning. Ben
found him asleep on the floor with the pencil still held tightly in his left hand. He gently woke Little Joe and helped him to his feet. "Are you finished with your
homework, Little Joe?" Ben questioned as he brushed the curls back from his forehead.

"No, Papa. I still have my numbers to do," he answered between yawns.

Ben steered him towards the desk that was in the far corner of his room. "Why don’t you sit up here on the chair? It might make it easier for you to stay awake long
enough to finish. Do you think you can be done shortly, son? It is getting late and you need to get to bed."

"Yea, I can do them fast, Pa." Joe rummaged around his desk until he found a blank piece of paper. He bent over and started to write. Ben patted him on his back
and left to finish his work.

Joe sighed when he wrote the last number down. He held the paper up to the light and smiled when he didn’t see too many smudgies. "That’s as good as I can do."
He then tucked the paper back in with the ABC paper and pulled out one other blank piece of paper. "Now just gotta do that "SA" thing. Joe sat for many minutes
trying to figure out what his teacher had meant by writing a "SA". He found himself chewing on his pencil breaking off the sharpened tip. "Damn," he whispered and
quickly turned around to see if anyone had heard him. Relief washed over his face when he saw that Pa had closed the door to his room. Joe walked out into the
hallway and stopped at Adam’s room. He knocked and not waiting for an answer entered the room. "Adam, can yous sharpen this for me, it broke?" he asked as he
climbed up on Adam’s bed.

Adam sharpened the pencil and handed it back to Joe. "Next time, Joe, don’t chew on it and it probably won’t break." He picked Joe off of his bed and stood him
on the floor. "Are you finished yet?"

"Almost, Adam. Just need a little bit more minutes." Joe skipped across the room and out the door. Once seated back at his desk, his tried to concentrate on writing
the "SA". Nothing came to the boy’s mind. ‘I guess I’m suppose to write those letters until the page can’t fit no more.’ He still was not sure what the teacher had
wanted him do, but he was afraid to ask her. He bent over once again as he tried hard to keep the smudgies off the paper. Finally, he was done. He looked at the
paper and was satisfied that he had finally finished the homework. He folded the paper and added it to the other ones and slid down out of his chair. Joe pulled the
comforter down from the bed and climbed up into it. He fell asleep as his tired head hit the pillow.

Ben found him lying on the bed with his clothes still on and on top of his blanket. He smiled as he picked Joe up into his lap. Many years of practice allowed Ben to
change his son into his nightshirt and place him back into bed without waking him. Gently Ben tucked in the bedcovers around his little boy, placed Bo under his left
arm and kissed him goodnight. He made sure that he turned the lantern down low, just burning enough to give off a faint glow in the room.


Morning arrived all to soon for Little Joe. He laid in bed really trying to figure out a way he could just stay home. His thoughts were once again interrupted as Adam
opened the door to his room. "Hey, it’s time for all little boys to get up and get ready for school." Adam didn’t wait for a response and pulled the covers back off of
Joe. "Come on, this morning Pa has asked me to get you dressed. He had to get to town for the Cattlemen’s Association meeting."

Joe allowed Adam to pull him up to a sitting position before answering him. "Adam, what happens when somebody gets sick?"

Adam sat down on the edge of the bed, knowing exactly where this conversation was heading. "What somebody is this that just happens to be sick?"

"Somebody you know." Joe looked down at his bed and found a thread that had unraveled from his nightshirt. "Don’t they get to stay home and gets better?" Joe
pulled on the thread causing the hem of the nightshirt to come loss.

"Well, that all depends on how sick this somebody really is? Do you happen to know this person?" Adam gently removed Joe’s hands from the thread and slipped
the nightshirt off of his head.

"Yep, and he’s real sick too!" Joe stood up on the bed allowing Adam to pull up his trousers.

"Ummm. We then if this person is that sick then maybe we should let him stay home from school." Adam held out the shirt for Joe to slip his arms into.

"That’s whats I think too!

Adam buttoned up Joe’s shirt and motioned for him to sit down. He reached over to the floor and picked up the boots. "Is this somebody to sick to eat his

Joe pushed his right foot into the boot. "Yep, he’s real sick, Adam."

"That’s too bad. How long do you think before he can go back to school?" asked Adam as he held up the other boot for Joe.

"I thinks maybe a long time," replied Joe as he pushed his left foot into the boot. "Maybe by the time he gets better he will be too big to go to school."

Adam stood and held out his hand for Joe. "Boy, that sounds real bad." He watched Joe jump from the bed to the floor. "Does his family know about his sickness?"

Joe released Adam’s hand and walked to the door. "Nope, I don’t think so."

Adam opened the door and motioned for Joe to exit first. "Don’t you think this somebody should tell someone?"

Joe jumped down the stairs two at a time and waited for Adam on the landing. "I don’t know if it matters, Adam. He’s really really sick."

Adam caught up to Joe and he watched Joe take the last few steps with one jump. "No one notices how sick this somebody really really is?"

Joe skipped across to the table and sat down in his father’s chair. "Nope, don’t thinks so." He reached to the cup of coffee that his father had left in his efforts to get
to Virginia City in time for the meeting. "So, with all that I told you, don’t you thinks it better for this somebody to just stay in bed?"

Adam reached over Joe’s shoulder and took the coffee cup out of his hands, and replaced it with a glass of milk. "I think so, but my first thoughts would be to take
him to see a doctor."

The thought of seeing a doctor sent shivers down Joe’s spine. He lost his appetite as Adam placed his breakfast before him. "Come on, Joe. Eat up, have to get you
to school on time."

Joe glanced over and watched Hoss shovel his food into his mouth. Joe could see that Hoss was not paying any attention to him as he concentrated on eating. Joe
picked up his fork and spread the scrambled eggs around on his plate, hoping to give the appearance that he had eaten some of it.

"Joe, please sit up straight and eat. We have to leave here in a few minutes in order to get you and Hoss to school."

Joe continued to swirl the eggs around his plate as he watched Hoss eat. It never ceased to amaze him to watch how much food Hoss could put away in one meal.
Even when Hoss finished eating, Joe continued to follow his moves with his eyes. His staring was interrupted when he felt the fork removed from his hand.

"Let’s go, Buddy. I hope that you make up for eating when you have lunch today." Adam pulled his chair back away from the table and ushered him to the door. Joe
was in a daze as he walked on to the porch. "Hey, Joe. Do you have your homework?" And don’t forget to take your jacket, Buddy. We are staying in town to join
Pa for dinner tonight."

Joe ran back into the house to get his homework and ran back out to the hitching post. Adam was standing there holding his jacket out to him. "I figured you would
forget to get this in your haste to get your homework." Adam picked up Joe and swung him in to the saddle. "You can ride to town with me, okay?"

Joe nodded his head and grabbed onto the horn of the saddle. Before long he could see the outskirts of town. He tilted his head back and looked up into Adam’s
face. Adam smiled down at Joe and went back to watching the road. Joe turned to Adam with a puzzled look as he stopped his horse in front of Dr. Martin’s office.

"Why are you coming here, Adam? Yous sick?"

Adam dismounted and reached up for Joe. "No, I am not the one that’s sick. But I am concerned for your friend so I thought maybe you should go in and tell Dr.
Martin about him. You know maybe he could help him out with some medicine or something."

Joe tensed up as he leaned back against Adam. "I’m okay now, Adam. The fresh air did me good. I can go to school." Joe lifted up his left leg in hopes of getting his
foot into the stirrup. He was having difficultly reaching it and felt himself being lifted back into the saddle.

"Well, I am so glad to hear that you are feeling better. In that case, off to school we go." Adam climbed up behind Joe and slightly kicking his mount, set off towards
the schoolhouse.

Adam was to meet his father at the meeting as soon as he had dropped the boys off at the schoolhouse. He quickly swung Little Joe down to the ground and handed
him his homework. "Hey, Little Joe, I am running a bit behind schedule. Would you please give this note to Miss Ugavitch for Pa?"

Joe shook his head and reached for the note. He waved goodbye to Adam and walked slowly towards the steps. Hoss was already off and talking to his friends and
Joe saw no reason to hang around outside. He reached for the knob and was surprised to see it pull open. There she stood, Miss U-a-witch. "Good morning,
Joseph. I sincerely hope today is a much better day than yesterday. Did you finish your assignments?"

Joe swallowed hard attempting to dislodge the lump that seemed to stick in his throat. "Yes, madam. I did." He reached up to hand her the homework and
remembered the note in his pocket. "Pa sent this for you," he said walking pass her to find his seat.

Her shrill voice sliced through him like a knife. He stopped is his tracks and turned around, the whole time wondering what did he had done now. "Joseph
Cartwright. I don’t know why you continue to mock me, but I will tell you here right now, that this is the last time. You go stand behind my desk in the corner and
don’t move until I tell you otherwise."

Joe tilted his head to the side as a puzzled look crossed his face. "What did I do, Miss U-a-witch?"

Joe could hear her heels knocking against the wooden floor as she stormed back into the room. "It’s what you didn’t do. Why do you insist on playing stupid with
me?" She shoved his homework papers under his nose. "Is this supposed to be some kind of a joke, young man?"

Joe could see her face getting red with anger and took a step back. "Oh, and my dear Little Joseph Cartwright, do you honestly think that by calling me names it is
going to make things any easier for you?" Joe took a step back as he saw her lip quivering like it did yesterday. "I did what you told me to do."

She ignored the frightened boy and propelled him towards the corner of the room. "Just stand there like I instructed. Let’s see for once if you can follow orders."
She started to walk away and then spun around to lecture the boy again. "Just because your father happens to be the richest man in the territory, doesn’t mean that I
have to bow down to you or any of his kind. Huh! And he thought you were ahead of the class because you already knew your alphabet and numbers." She pushed
Joe further into the corner before walking away.

Joe’s face was pressed up against the wooden planks. He could hear her mumbling as she walked away. "I’ll teach that Cartwright a lesson he will never forget."

He struggled to hold back the tears that threatened to overflow. He had no idea what it was that he had done wrong. His thoughts were broken as she rambled on.
"I see that your father is far to busy to speak with me this morning. So until I get the chance to do so tomorrow, you will remain standing here for the duration of the
day. I don’t need your defiance in my classroom."

The day passed slowly for Joe as he stood in the corner. He could hear the giggling and whispering of the other students as they went about their day. Joe turned
around to look for Hoss when the teacher announced that it was time for lunch. He stepped forward eager to talk to Hoss. Joe had only gotten two steps passed her
desk, when he felt her iron like grip grab hold of his shoulder. "Not so fast, young man. I can’t prevent you from eating, but you will do so standing by your desk."

Joe brushed away a stray tear from his cheek as he took his lunch tin out of his cubbyhole. He quietly approached his desk and opened his box. He pulled out his
lunch and sat it down on his desk. Joe continued to stare at the food, again losing his appetite as he tried in vain to piece together the events of the morning.

"Well, if you are not going to eat it, put it away and get back into the corner." Joe cringed when he heard her speak. He shoved his sandwich back into his tin and
placed it back in his cubbyhole. "You are not moving fast enough, boy. Get back into that corner now."

Joe felt like her eyes were poking holes right through his chest. His legs were already hurting from standing all morning and he had no idea how he was going to make
it through the afternoon. "Can I go use the outhouse first?"

"Hurry up. I don’t like to be kept waiting."

Joe walked quickly out of the schoolhouse and once outside ran to the back. When he was finished he snuck his way around to the side of the building and peeked
out in hopes of finding Hoss. Joe spotted him and without glancing back, ran towards his brother.

"Hoss, I gotta go home. I don’t like that teacher." He threw himself against Hoss’ chest and let his tears of frustration flow. Instead of his brother’s arm holding him
tight, he found himself being pushed away.

"Joe, can’t you see that I’m busy. Besides you only want to go home because you done did get yourself into trouble again. Sorry, but I ain’t taking the blame for
skipping you out of school."

Joe stood there unable to respond. He never thought that his brother wouldn’t stand up for him. Joe hung his head and walked back towards the schoolhouse. Once
inside he placed himself in the corner like he was told to do earlier. "I see that you have decided to return. The next time I give you permission to use the outhouse,
young man, you do just that. Do I make myself clear?"

Joe nodded as he shifted his weight from one foot to another. The slap to the back of his head came totally unexpected. "I said stand, not dance."

Just when Joe felt that he could no longer stand, the class was dismissed for the day. He turned to run out of the room only to be stopped by her cat like grasp. "You
give this note to your father, Joseph. You will not be allowed to return to my classroom until your father finds the time to speak with me." Joe grabbed the note and
stuffed it into his pocket and ran out of the room forgetting to grab his belongings. Joe’s thoughts consisted of only getting out of that horrible place. He stopped
running when he was in Adam’s arms.

"Glad to see you too, Buddy. How did today go?"

"I hate her and I hate school, Adam. I ain’t ever going back," Joe let out his feelings of hurt and frustration, crying heavily on Adam’s shirt.

"Hey, hey! Calm down, Little Joe." Adam squatted down so he could be an eye level with his little brother. "What happened today? Did you get in trouble again?"

"She hates me, Adam. She made me stay in the corner all day and I gots no lunch, either." Joe rubbed the tears off his face and searched his brother’s face for

"Joe, how can she hate you? This is only your second day here." Adam pulled Joe into a hug and rubbed his back. "This must be something that you aren’t telling

Joe reached into his pocket and brought forth the crumpled note and handed it to Adam. "She just don’t like me," he tried to explain again.

Adam took the note and placed it in his pocket. "All right, Joe. Pa’s waiting for you and Hoss at the meeting hall. I will give him the note to read." Adam looked
around quickly as he placed Joe into the saddle. Catching sight of his other brother, Adam yelled for him. "Hoss, let’s go. I have to get back to the meeting hall."

Hoss ran across the schoolyard and was pleased to see that Adam had already saddled up Chubb for him. "Thanks, Adam." Within seconds, the Cartwrights boys
were riding down the street towards the meeting hall.

Adam dismounted and handed his reins to Hoss. "Wait here a minute, I need to see if Pa can break away for a minute."

The seconds seemed like hours to Joe as he fidgeted with Sport’s mane. Joe looked up when he heard his father’s voice. Looking up when he heard his name
called, Joe’s smile was immediately replaced with a frown. He could see the anger etched on his father’s face. "Joseph! You, young man, will be going home with
me. Because of your behavior in school, you will not be staying in town to have dinner at the International Hotel. You will sit with your brother on the porch while I
wrap things up inside."

Joe let his tears of frustration run down his face and his father reached up and pulled him from the saddle. Ben gave Adam some last minutes instructions and turned
back to attend his meeting. Adam held out his hand for Joe to take. Joe ignored his brother’s gesture and shoved his hands into his pockets. "All right, have it your
way. You heard Pa, Joe, go sit down on the bench." Adam placed his hand on Joe’s back and guided him to the porch.

Adam had suggested to Hoss that he complete his homework, thus allowing him to stay in town to have dinner with him. "It will give Pa sometime alone with Joe to
discuss his behavior."

Ben returned to the porch shortly after 5:30 p.m. He handed Adam some money and talked to Hoss briefly before taking Joe’s hand and leading him to Buck. "You
boys behave yourself and come right home after you have eaten."


It was dark when they arrived back on the Ponderosa and the anticipation of his forthcoming lecture wore heavy on the boy. It took all of his self-control to maintain
what little dignity he had left. Ben placed him on the ground before dismounting himself. "Joseph, you go up to your room and start on your homework. I will be in
when I have finished bedding down Buck."

Joe took off running towards the house and had every intention of slamming the door shut to let his father know of his disappointment, but changed his mind when he
heard his father call out to him. "And you better not slam that door, young man."

He ran up the stairs and into his room, allowing himself to slam that door. He knew that Pa couldn’t hear that one from the barn. Joe threw his papers on the floor
and jumped on his bed. He gathered Bo into his arms and hugging him, cried. "It ain’t fair, Bo. I ain’t done nuffin’ and I gets into trouble. I hate that Miss U-a-witch,
she’s mean."

He felt himself dozing off when a strong hand shook him back awake. "I thought I told you to start on your homework." Joe blinked his eyes open to find himself
looking into his father’s face. "I need to go downstairs and find something for us to eat. I gave Hop Sing the evening off because we were supposed to be eating in
town with your brothers. Now get off the bed and start on that homework. I will call you when dinner is ready."

Joe slipped down off the bed and arranged Bo on his pillow. "You can rest while I work, then wes can eat." Joe pulled his blanket up and covered his best friend. "I
luv you Bo. You never are mean to me, never."

Joe sat down at his desk and pulled out his papers. "Another "SA". Why is she making me do things I already done?" He sat chewing on his pencil trying to figure
out why she hated him so much. He gave up trying to decipher this lady that he had grown to hate and sat back down on his bed. He picked up Bo and held him up
in front of his face.

"Bo, why does she not like me? I didn’t do nuffin’ to her." Joe sat there talking to his beloved stuffed bear and didn’t notice that his father had entered his room.

"I take it that you have completed your assignments, Joseph?" Joe looked up slightly embarrassed that his father had caught him talking to a stuffed toy.

"No, papa, I ain’ts done yet?"

"Well, supper is ready and after you are done eating you are to finish your homework without any further distractions. Is that understood?"

Joe nodded and placed Bo back on his bed as he slipped down to the floor. "Yes, sir. I understood you."


Joe sat at his desk holding his head up with his hand. "I thinks this "SA" stuff is stupid. How many times does she need to see that I can write "SAs" on paper?" He
folded the paper in half and slipped in under his bag of marbles. Joe waited for Pa to come up to his room like he had promised to do for their little talk. He felt
himself getting tired and went about changing into his nightshirt. Pa still hadn’t arrived so Joe laid down on the bed to talk some more with Bo. The next thing he was
aware of was that the sunlight was shining through his bedroom window.

"Rise and shine, Little Joe. Pa wants you up and dressed and downstairs pronto," yelled Adam as he walked away from the room.

Joe sighed heavily and pulled his clothes off of the chair. "Can wear these again, cause they ain’t got dirty. I didn’t gets to go out and play yesterday." When he had
finished getting dressed, he peeked out into the hallway to see if anyone was there. Satisfied that no one was, Joe slipped into Adam’s room. He rummaged around
in the desk drawer until he found a pencil that he could take to school. Joe had broken off the tip of his own pencil last night while he was chewing on it.

Once downstairs, Joe picked up his spoon to eat his breakfast. "Young man, being you were so tired last night, I left you sleeping. This morning I aim to ride into
town with you and speak with Miss Ugavitch and get to the bottom of this reoccurring problem. Now sit up and eat your breakfast. I would like to get to school
before all the other students arrive."

Joe suddenly felt sick to his stomach. The butterflies had come back to haunt him. He pushed his plate away from in front of him and made for the door. Joe put on
his jacket and felt his pockets to make sure that he had his homework. He looked around the great room hoping to see Hoss, but quickly realized that they were all
waiting for him outside when he heard his father yell for him.

The ride into town was a repeat of yesterday’s conversation with Adam. Ben got nowhere with Joe as he questioned him about his behavior and his incomplete
work. Joe’s reply was always the same. "She don’t like me, that’s why."

Ben looped the reins over the hitching post before taking hold of Joe’s hand. He sent Hoss on his way to play with his friends. Ben had to practically drag Joe into
the schoolhouse. "Good morning, Miss Ugavitch. I have come to discuss Joseph’s behavior problems with you. Is this morning convenient for you?"

"Well, of course, Mr. Cartwright. Why don’t you have a seat at your desk, Joseph while I talk to your father?"

Ben released Joe’s hand and watched as his son sat down. Right away he noticed the fear that seem to spread across his youngest face. Ben sat down at the chair
that was offered to him and waited for the teacher to make the first move.

"Mr. Cartwright, it seems that everything I have asked your son to do, he has made a mockery of it." She reached into her desk drawer and pulled out the
assignments that she had received from Joe yesterday. "This one paper with his alphabet has so many smudges on it I can hardly read it. Joseph was given a second
chance to rewrite the paper and as you can see, Mr. Cartwright, it looks like he shows no pride in his work."

Ben took the paper from Miss Ugavitch and glanced at it. "Joseph, would you please come here?"

Joe felt his heart beating through his shirt. He swore that it felt like it was going to push right through his chest and on to the floor. "Joseph, is this the paper that you
turned in to Miss Ugavitch yesterday?"

Joe looked at the paper and nodded. "I can’t hear you, Joseph." Joe snapped his head up to find the teacher glaring at him. "In my classroom when you are asked a
question, I expect to hear an answer."

"Yes, sir." Joe replied as he looked back at his father.

Ben looked down at the paper again and turned his attention to Miss Ugavitch. "I don’t understand what the problem is, Miss Ugavitch. You instructed Joseph to
write the alphabet, and what I am seeing is, that he did."

"Mr. Cartwright, just look at all those smudge marks on the paper. What student would turn that in to be graded looking like that?"

"In my opinion, Miss Ugavitch, any six year old student who has just started school is bound to make mistakes. I see these same marks on Hoss’ papers that he has
turned in to you for grading and nothing has ever been said about his smudge marks."

Lost for words, Miss Ugavitch handed Ben the second piece of paper. "And look at this one, Mr. Cartwright. I instructed Joseph to write his numbers from 1 – 25."

Ben took the paper and looked at it. The only thing that Ben noticed was that Joseph had a little problem with spacing between the numbers and a few smudge
marks. "What is it I am suppose to be looking at, Miss Ugavitch? Joseph wrote his numbers from 1 – 25 like you requested."

"Again, Mr. Cartwright, look at his penmanship. It’s terrible."

"Terrible! We are talking about a six-year-old little boy’s writing. What’s so terrible about his penmanship?"

"Well, after hearing that your son already knew the alphabet and his numbers, I would expect to see better performance out of him. This is horrible and I refuse to
grade it."

"Is there anything else I need to see, Miss Ugavitch?" Ben felt his patience running thin. He could sense that Joseph was in deed correct in his assumption that she
just didn’t like him.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, Mr. Cartwright, there is. I instructed him to write me a one-page essay. And this is what he handed in." She shoved the paper under Ben’s
nose, causing him to glance back at her. He could feel the tension building in the room as he took the paper from her.

Ben looked at the paper and glanced over to Joe. He held the paper out so Joe could see. "Son, can you tell me why you wrote nothing but letters on this paper
when you were instructed to write an essay?"

Joe pointed to the paper with a puzzled look on his face. "But, Papa I did write the "SA" like she told me to do?"

"Joe, there is nothing on this piece of paper except some letters."

Joe took the paper in his hand and held it closer to Ben’s face. "But, Papa look, see I wrote the "SA" like she said."

Ben looked where the little finger was pointing and smiled. There on the paper was a full page of "SAs" just like Joe had pointed out.

Ben turned his attention back to the teacher. "I have the feeling, Miss Ugavitch that my son, Joseph did not understand what was expected of him."

"What’s there not to understand, Mr. Cartwright?" She tried to snatch the paper from his hands as her anger raised another notch. "It is obvious that this child seems
to enjoy making fun of my assignments. I will not tolerate this behavior in my classroom."

Ben pulled his hand back out of her reach. "Miss Ugavitch, if I may explain something to you before you jump to conclusions...."

"There is nothing to explain, Mr. Cartwright. It is quite clear to me, that you have no intentions of disciplining this child for his behavior and mockery of my

"No, quite the contrary, Miss Ugavitch. All I am trying to do is understand what my son has done to deserve the punishment you have given him. It’s clear that the
child did not understand what an essay was. From speaking to you, I have reached the conclusion that you did not take the time to explain to him what an essay
was." Ben reached over and pulled Joe into his lap. "From a six year olds point of understanding, it is clear to me that he honestly believed you were asking him to
write a page full of "S" and "A’s."

"Well, I never in my career of teaching, had a parent side with a student. This is ridiculous, Mr. Cartwright." She tucked a stray piece of hair back into place and
stood up. "What about the name calling, Mr. Cartwright? Can you offer an excuse for that one as well?"

Ben cupped Joe’s chin in his hand and lifted his son’s face to meet his. "Joseph, is this true?"

"No, Papa. I have never called her any names, ‘cept the one she calls herself." Ben fought the smile as he listened to his little boy trying to explain his innocence. He
glanced up to the teacher waiting for her to respond.

"I demand nothing more than an apology for the name calling. I will not stand for that at all in my classroom, especially in front of the entire class."

Ben sat Joe on his feet and placed his hand on his shoulder. "I can agree with that request. Joseph, please apologize to Miss Ugavitch."

Joe looked up into his father’s face. He had no idea why his father was going to make him apology when he had just told him that he didn’t call her a name. "But,
Papa, I....."

"Joseph, just apologize, please."

Joe swallowed and dropped his gaze to stare at the floor. "And look at me when you talk to me, young man." Joe bit the side of his mouth to keep from calling her a
lair. He knew that would get him a little talk over his father’s knee if he ever called an adult that.

He slowly lifted his head until he was looking at her face. He fought the urge that was eating away at him and unconsciously gave in to his thoughts. "I’m sorry for
calling you whatever name it was that I said, but you’re lying to my Pa, Miss U-a-witch."

She leaned over the desk and pointed a finger in Joe’s face. "What nerve you have, child! Why I never in my life have heard children speak like that in front of their
own parents. What kind of a child are you raising, Mr. Cartwright?"

‘I have to agree with my son on this one, definitely a witch.’ This thought with a few others passed through Ben’s mind. "I think you misunderstood my son, Miss
Ugavitch," Ben tried to explain.

"I misunderstood nothing, Mr. Cartwright. Do you think with all that money you have banked in Virginia City along with the fancy horses you ride, that you can
control me? I don’t see what these other women find so intriguing about a Cartwright."

Ben tired to interrupt her to explain to her that Joe was just having a simple problem of mispronunciation with her name. But, Miss Ugavitch was not letting him get a
word in.

Joe in the meantime had backed up until he was again sitting on his father’s lap. He watched the irate teacher explode with anger. This was scaring him, but he felt a
little safer sitting on his father’s lap.

"I can’t stand you rich people. You think you own the world. Well let me tell you something about myself, Mr. Cartwright."

Ben felt Joe tugging on his vest and looked down at his son. "Papa, watch out. She hits when she gets real mad."

Concerned, Ben leaned down so he could whisper to Joe. "Did she ever hit you, Joseph?"

Joe shook his head yes and Miss Ugavitch continued to carry on. Ben stood up and placed Joe on his hip. "Miss Ugavitch, this conversation has just come to an
end. Neither of my boys will be attending school today. As a matter of fact, neither will be returning until I can meet with the school board and see to it that you are

"You can’t do that to me, Mr. Cartwright. I did nothing wrong to your boys, except discipline when I saw fit. If you had taken the time to raise your children right,
there would be no need for me to intervene. As far as I am concerned they don’t need to be here anyway. Why don’t you just hire a private tutor? After all you have
the funds available to do that with."

"As you wish, Miss Ugavitch. I am calling an emergency meeting now." Ben walked out of the schoolhouse and waved Hoss over to join them. "Son, get your horse
and follow me."

Hoss ran back to his friends and told them he was leaving. As he walked away from the group, he heard Miss Ugavitch screaming on the steps of the porch. "Don’t
you bring those rotten boys of yours back, Mr. Cartwright. That other one of yours is so nieve that he believes that those boys are his friends."

Ben ignored her as they left the schoolyard. Hoss was embarrassed to have to leave his friends and even more, confused as to why. Nothing was said to either child
as Ben walked into the sheriff’s office. Ben took the checkerboard off of Roy’s desk and had the boys follow him into one of the cells. "Hoss, please play with your
brother while I talk to Roy." Ben saw the look of confusion on his face, "It’s all right, Hoss. Everything will be just fine. We will talk about it later after I am finished
with my business in town."

Ben explained what had happened at the schoolhouse. Roy agreed with Ben that an emergency meeting needed to be arranged and sent his deputy to round up the
members. Ben sat down with his sons and explained to them that they would have to sit tight until he was finished with his meeting. In the meantime, Roy had found
Adam and he was to keep his brothers company at the jail.

Joe was the first to hear his father’s voice in the front room. In his haste he knocked over the checkerboard on the floor. "Papa, I thoughts I hear ya." He jumped
into Ben’s arms and wrapped his arms around Ben’s neck. "I missed ya."

Ben laughed as he caught his child in flight. Holding him tight, Ben looked over to see that Adam and Hoss were standing in the doorway. "I know you boys want to
hear everything, so let’s get over to the International House for a nice lunch and then we can go home and have ourselves a nice little discussion."

Joe tilted his head to the side and looked up at his father. Puzzled he asked, "why do we gets a little talk, we didn’t do nuffin’ in jail?"

Roy joined in the laughter as Adam swung Joe up to his back. Together they walked down to the International House for lunch. Once back at the ranch, Joe sat on
his father’s lap while Ben explained what actions took place at the meeting. The discussion drew to an end as he explained that the boys would not be attending
school until a replacement was found. Joe smiled at the idea of being able to stay home, until Ben spoke to him.

"Not so fast, Little Joe. There is something that I do expect of you while you are home these next few weeks."

Joe’s eyes grew wide with anticipation as he waited for his father to continue. "Your brothers and I have agreed to work with you to help improve your penmanship.
I want at least one hour of writing a day from you until school is back in session."

A smile appeared on Joe’s face as he listened to his father. "That’s okay, Papa. I knowd I can write good someday too. I like to go to school here all the time, Pa,
this way I never have to leave you alone."

Ben smiled down at his youngest and at his innocence. He looked over at Hoss and saw that he looked disappointed. "Hoss, what’s wrong? You don’t cater to the
idea of staying home?"

"Ah, Pa. It’s not that. It’s just, well, you see." He sighed and continued, "I have me some new friends and all and we were planning on going fishing on Saturday.
Now, I won’t be able to meet up with them to go."

Ben handed Joe over to Adam who was busy reading over the minutes of the meeting. "Hoss, I’m sorry to disappoint you but you will be back to school before you
know it and other plans can be made then." Ben hesitated as he watched the expressions on his son’s face. "Is that all that is bothering you, son?"

"No, Pa, it isn’t. You see the last two days, well, I’m sorry Little Joe, I really am. It’s not that I didn’t want ya around, it’s just that..well, Pa I should have said
somethin’ to ya but was afraid of what might happen."

Ben placed an encouraging hand on his son’s shoulder. Hoss swallowed and continued. "See, shortshanks, Miss Ugavitch told me to stay away from ya and let ya
make your own friends. She told me that I had a right to live my own life without ya hangin’ on to me." Hoss hesitated again and looked at Little Joe. "I am so sorry,
Little Joe. I was afraid not to listen to her. She threatened to tell Pa a bunch of lies if I didn’t listen to her. I was afraid that she might have and then I would be in
trouble with Pa and heck, I don’t know anymore. I just feel awful, can ya forgive me?"

Joe slid down from Adam’s lap and ran to Hoss. "I forgives ya. Can you take me fishin’ with ya?"

Hoss picked up Joe and sat him in his lap. "I would luv to take ya fishin’ with me, little brother."



Ben guided the two boys into the classroom. They both were nervous as their father led them to the front of the room to meet their new teacher.

"Hello, boys. My name is Miss Jones."

Hoss extended his hand and introduced himself. "This here is my little brother, Joe, but most people call him Little Joe."

Miss Jones accepted Joe’s hand and returned his smile. "Mr. Cartwright, I just wanted to thank you again for appointing me teacher for these students. I am so
happy to be here and can not wait for class to begin."

Ben rested a hand on his son’s shoulders. "I am happy that you accepted the position, Miss Jones. These children really need an understanding adult to help them
learn. I am sure that our children will be rewarded by your gifts of teaching."

Ben stopped at the doorway and looked back towards the front of the classroom. He smiled when he saw Little Joe sitting next to his brother, Hoss. Both boys
turned around and smiled at their father as he waved goodbye to them. Ben felt at ease that his children, his reason for being what he was, were safe in the hands of
Miss Jones.


October 2001