Cupid’s Messenger

By Debbie B ;0)
Jennie A.

Joe smiled as Adam handed him the written note that had been folded and tucked into the envelope. Adam had made sure that it was sealed before allowing his little
brother to place the secret message into his coat pocket.

"Be sure that you give it to Annabelle Hones now Little Joe. Do you understand?" whispered Adam as he helped the small boy to mount his pony, Snowflake.

"SSSure ‘nough, Adam. I promissse I won’t forget," said Little Joe giving his oldest sibling a wink of the eye.

Adam laughed softly. Joe had yet to learn how to close just one eye when winking rather than both. Adam ruffled his brother’s soft curls, "just don’t tell anyone, it’ll
be our little secret."

Hoss came from the barn leading Chubb and mounted as soon as he saw that Little Joe was ready to go. "Come on squirt, we’re gonna be late, if’n we don’t hurry,"
called Hoss as he turned his mount around and headed out of the yard. "See ya tonight Pa!" he added over his shoulder.

Joe spurred Snowflake in the flanks and followed behind Hoss turning in the saddle to face Adam, "Don’t worry big brudder, your sssecretsss sssafe wif me!" Joe
gave a big smile and Adam could not keep the laughter from bursting forth when he saw the gap in Joe’s smile where his younger brother had lost his two front teeth.
"SSSee ya later," called Joe as he rounded the barn.

As soon as Joe and Hoss arrived at school the boys hurried to stable their horses in the small barn provided for the school children's use. Miss Jones was ringing the
bell as the brother’s emerged from the stable causing Hoss to break into a run leaving Little Joe to follow behind.

"Best hurry Joseph, you’re going to be late…again," Miss Jones forced a smile to grace her face as she looked down at her most impish student.

"SSSorry, Misss Jonesss," Joe said softly.

Miss Jones scrunched up her face; she hated it when the children lost their front teeth. It would be days now that she would have to listen to this small boy hiss every
time he spoke. Already Miss Jones felt her day was starting off all wrong.

"But my brudder Adam sssaid to give thisss to you." Little Joe dug into his coat pocket and pulled the envelope out handing it to his teacher.

Miss Jones’ smile suddenly lit her eyes in surprise. "Why Joseph, is this really from Adam?" she questioned taking the envelope from the small hand.

"Yesss ma’am," grinned Joe hoping that his teacher would open the note. Joe had been tempted to open it him self but had not found the chance to do so on the way
to school. Hoss had been in a hurry and when he had tried to lag behind, Hoss would only yell at him to hurry up.

Miss Jones smiled down at Joe and ruffled his hair. "Go on inside please, Joseph. I will be in shortly." Miss Jones placed her hand on Joe’s shoulder and turned him
toward the steps forcing the small boy into the schoolhouse. Smiling in satisfaction, she held the sealed envelope to her heart and giggled softly before placing the
treasured item into her pocket until later, as it were, her class waited for her. Taking a deep breath and putting on her best smile, she fairly danced up the steps and
into the classroom happy that her day had just improved. She had no idea why Adam Cartwright would be sending her a note, but she really didn’t care, just to have
something so personal held close to her heart written by the man she adored was enough to make her heart flutter and cause her to blush.

The day seemed to drag on, Miss Jones was most anxious to open the sealed note that was safely tucked into her pocket. Every so often she slipped her hand into
the side pocket of her dress allowing her long slender fingers to tenderly caress the contents. Each time her fingers made contact with the envelope, a tiny smile
would play at the corners of her lips, as a dreamy look would come into her eyes.

"Misss Jonesss," hissed Little Joe from his seat close to the front of the class.

Abigail’s attention was drawn back to the class. "Heh?" she said softly then shook her head to rid it of it’s thoughts of Adam. "Did you say something, Joseph?"

"Yesss, ma’am. It’sss time for the lunch break. May we be excusssed, pleassse?" Joe smiled innocently up into his teacher’s face. He had been watching the funny
looks that had appeared on her face each time that her hand went into her pocket and wondered why the normally reserved teacher had suddenly started acting so

"Oh, I’m sorry, class. Yes, by all means, class dismissed." Miss Jones stood and walked to the door and watched as the children ran from the class and scattered
about the schoolyard. As soon as all of the children were safely outside Miss Jones locked the door to prevent interruption then sashayed to the safe haven of her
desk. Slowly she slipped her hand into her pocket and shuttered slightly as her trembling fingers circled around the sealed message from her beloved Romeo.
Withdrawing the envelope she allowed her eyes to rest on the neat handwriting that read: To my Juliet.

Turning the envelope over she traced where the envelope had been sealed knowing that Adam’s mouth had been pressed against the exquisite stationary. Slowly
Miss Jones’ eyes scanned the room assuring her self that she was alone. Carefully she brought the fine paper to her lips and closing her eyes, kissed the treasured

Outside peeking in the window, two little boys covered their mouths to stifle the giggles that were about to erupt from the cherub little faces. Little Joe jumped down
from the wooden crate that he had pulled over to the building so that he and his best friend, Mitch, could stand on to spy on the teacher. As soon as Joe’s feet hit the
ground, he took off running for the stand of trees that were nearby. Mitch was fast on his heels and both boys fell to the ground as the laughter they had fought so
hard to control burst forth.

"Oh Adam," giggled Little Joe as he held his stomach and rolled on the ground. "kisssy, kisssy," he continued.

"Oh Little Joe," giggled Mitch, puckering up his lips, "Adam, smoochy, smoochy." Mitch grabbed Little Joe holding him as he had seen his older brother hold his
girlfriend, "Oh Adam," cooed the taller boy to his friend causing both boys to laugh hysterically unable to say another word.

When Joe was finally able to control his laughter and catch his breath, his face took on a serious countenance as he whispered to Mitch, "it’sss a good thing that Pa
explained to me that ya can’t get a girl pregnated jussst by kisssing!"

Mitch was silent for a brief moment but when his blue eyes met the hazel eyes of his best friend the other children could hear another round of giggles across the

Inside and unaware that her secret affair with the envelope was no longer a secret, Miss Abigail Jones opened the envelope being careful not to tear the paper.
Shivering in anticipation she removed the message from it’s holder as she slowly unfolded the letter. Momentarily closing her eyes while holding her breath she
allowed just seconds to pass before permitting herself the pleasure of reading the words written to her. Slowly she read the greeting as her eyes opened wide with
wonder. Not realizing her actions, her mouth dropped opened in shock as she continued with the body of the letter. Never in her wildest fantasies had she dreamed
that her secret heartthrob, Adam Cartwright, would be asking her to the Sweetheart Dance and in such a romantic way.

My dearest Juliet,

My poor heart beateth wildly within my breast fair maiden.

Would you calm the storm from with in my chest by doing me the honor of being my guest for the Sweetheart
dance to be held on Valentine’s Day?

Send your answer soon, sweet and lovely lady that I might slumber in peaceful sleep with visions of your
loveliness dancing before my eyes.

Cupid’s messenger will carry to me your reply as I wait with anticipation of sharing an evening in your

Until then my beloved Juliet,

Yours forever,


Leaning back in the chair, she placed the invitation over her bosom suddenly feeling faint. Miss Jones closed her eyes for the second time while she envisioned herself
being held in Adam’s muscular arms as they glided across the dance floor the envy of all the young women present.

Miss Jones sat for several minutes as if in a daze as she pictured herself the bell of the ball in the arms of the man whom she considered the most handsome man of
all. Suddenly a sharp rapping on the door brought her out of her daydream and snapping back to reality realized that the noon break was over and the children
where all standing at the door ready to resume class. Abigail quickly returned the invitation to it’s hiding place well inside her dress pocket and hurried to open the
door for the children.

Smiling sheepishly as he entered, Little Joe glanced briefly into Miss Jones’ eyes as he quickly covered his mouth to stifle the giggle that was aching to burst loose
from deep within his little chest. Mitch who was following on his heels poked Little Joe in the back as they hurried to their seats and whispered softly into Joe’s ear.

"Ya better be quiet afore she finds out we were peeking. I don’t wanna spend the rest of the day standing in the corner!" said Mitch.

Joe turned to look back at his friend as Abigail walked to the front of the class and cleared her throat. Joe’s attention was drawn to the teacher’s face and was
surprised to see that the lady was smiling at him. Suspicious of sudden interest in him, he returned the smile with one of his own, showing his missing teeth in the

Miss Jones’ groaned silently to herself as the thoughts of Joe’s hissing filtered through her head. ‘Oh dear, I must try to force myself to be patient with the boy…he
is, after all, Adam’s baby brother,’ Miss Jones told herself.

"Class, let’s spend the rest of the day making our Valentines for those who wish to give one to their parents or friends. Joseph, darling, will you please pass out the
special paper that I have brought for the students to use?" ordered Miss Jones.

Joe’s surprise was evident on his face as he stared wide-eyed at the teacher. This was the first time that Miss Jones had ever asked for his help and he sat frozen to
his seat in shock.

"Joseph?" called Miss Jones when she saw that Little Joe made no move to come to the front of the class.

Joe pointed to himself, "Me, Misss Jonesss?" he asked in surprise.

Abigail laughed softly, "Well, Joseph, I don’t know of any other Joseph in this class, now do you?"

"No Ma’am," Joe replied softly and rose from his seat giving Mitch a backward glance as he rolled his dancing eyes upward to show his distaste at being Miss
Jones’ helper. Joe did as instructed and handed out the needed supplies before returning to his seat to begin work on his own Valentine to his family.

Once Miss Jones was sure that all the children were busy doing their required Valentine’s assignment, her thoughts quickly turned to the reply she wanted to
compose to her beloved. Watching the breeze gently blowing the pines that stood outside her window, Miss Jones pondered her words carefully. Suddenly as a
thought came to mind, she giggled and felt her heart flutter as unexpected pleasures invaded her mind. ‘Same on me,’ she chided herself quietly.


My Dearest Romeo,

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I shiver with anticipation

While I wait for you.

The thoughts of your arms

Holding on tight

Will certainly make it difficult

To sleep through the night

When Cupid’s arrow pierced my heart

I knew without a second guess

The reply to your epistle

Of course is yes!

In sweet accord,


Abigail sighed deeply as she carefully folded the note in half before safely tucking it into the envelope. Holding the envelope in her lap and checking to be sure that no
one was watching, Abigail quickly removed the tiny perfume bottle from her desk drawer and sprayed a small amount on the paper. Using care she then dropped a
small dab of wax onto the flap of the envelope thus sealing the contents securely until such time as it would be placed into the hands of it’s recipient. Praying silently
that she would never fall prey to giving birth to such a child as the hissing little green-eyed monster that would be her messenger she cast wary eyes in Little Joe’s

The day ended shortly thereafter and Miss Jones instructed the children to be sure to take their Valentine’s home to the special person for whom the card was
intended. As the children began gathering their possessions, she beckoned to Joe.

"Joseph, would you please come here?" she asked sweetly as she forced the smile to remain in place knowing full well that the infernal hissing would soon tamper
with her romantic thoughts that had plagued her mind throughout the long day.

"Yesss ma’am, Misss Jonesss," replied the little boy as he slowly advanced on his teacher.

Miss Jones felt the fine hairs on the back of her neck slowly come to attention as the hissing grew in volume. "Would you please be sure to give this to your brother?"
she smiled.

"To Adam?" Joe asked innocently and forced the giggle to stay down. Mitch had followed Joe to the front of the room and stood inches behind him and Joe could
hear the gurgling sounds that he made as he too forced himself to stifle the unwanted giggles.

"Well of course Adam!" snapped Abigail then suddenly realized by the look on the startled boy’s face that she had just shouted at him. Changing her tone of voice
quickly she continued, "Yes Cupid, of course Adam. He has been waiting for a reply and will expect you to bring this to him. Would you be so kind as to be sure he
gets it?"

Joe could no longer contain his laughter and chancing a backward glance at his friend he noted that Mitch had both hands over his mouth trying desperately not to
laugh. "Oh sssure, I’ll put it in hisss hand myssself, Misss Jonesss," grinned Joe taking the overly sweet smelling message from the tiny hands of his teacher. Without
saying another word, Joe crammed the note into his pocket and together he and Mitch ran from the building. If Miss Abigail Jones had been standing close to the
window, she would have heard the roar of laughter that had finally burst forth from the two small boys and would have been amazed at how high pitched it had

Suddenly Joe stopped in his tracks, the smile vanishing from his cherub little face. "Ssstupid?" whized Joe, "Ssshe called me ssstupid!" Joe turned stunned eyes to
look at Mitch.

Mitch’s mouth spread across the width of his face as he burst into laughter. "No stupid, she called you Cupid, not stupid!"

"Cupid? What’sss a cupid?" asked Little Joe, offended by his best friends laughter that was aimed at him.

"A Cupids a naked little angel that shoots arrows at people who are in love, stupid," roared Mitch.

"ANGEL!" exclaimed Joe. "I ain’t no angel and fur sssure I ain’t naked!" stated Joe matter-of-factly.

"Forget it Stupid Cupid, it’s only for love sick cows like Miss Jones anyway." Mitch kicked his pony in the sides leaving Joe to ponder the new word by himself.


Meanwhile across town, a tall handsome man was making plans of his own. Gently he strummed his guitar and hummed the melody that he hoped would woo his
beloved. Stopping briefly and gathering his lungs full, he began singing, the rich deep sound of his voice being carried away as lightly as a feather in the gentle breeze
that whispered through the pines.

Early one morning, just as the sun was rising,

I heard a maiden singing in the valley below:

"Oh don’t deceive me: Oh, never leave me.

How could you use a poor maiden so?


"Hey, Mitch, lisssten to that sssinging. My brudder Adam sssingsss that all of the time," giggled Little Joe as he pulled his pony, Snowflake to a halt. "Howdy
Missster Myersss, what’ca doin’?" asked Little Joe as he and Mitch dismounted and moved to sit on the porch with Hank Myers who was a good friend of Adam’s
and who often worked for them on the ranch.

Hank put his guitar down so that he could talk with the two small boys. "Well howdy thar Lil’ Joe, I was just practicin’ my singin’. I plan on singin’ it ta my gal friend
at the Valentine’s Day dance."

Joe and Mitch exchanged glances and both boys giggled. "Who ya plannin’ on assskin’ to the danccce, Hank?" questioned Little Joe.

Both boys knew that Hank had a terrible crush on Miss Abigail Jones and Joe was worried that he might be planning to ask her to the dance knowing that Adam
had just sent a note to her this morning. Or at least he thought Adam had asked her, she sure had been acting all silly-like as if he had, and, he reminded himself, she
had sent home a reply. To confirm the fact, Joe shoved his hand into his trousers pocket to be sure the note was still there. Yep, Adam was about to have
competition, smiled Little Joe to himself. Maybe he and Mitch had better come up with a plan to help his brother out.

Quickly jumping to his feet, Joe grabbed Mitch by the arm and began pulling him out of his seat. Mitch cast startled eyes up at his best friend and gently tried to pull
free from Joe’s grasp.

"Come on, Mitch," smiled Joe showing the few remaining teeth in his mouth. "We gotta go Hank," Joe said and gave Mitch a look that said, ‘get your butt up now’.
Mitch suddenly realized that for whatever reason, Joe was suddenly in a hurry to leave. Somehow, thought Mitch, I’ve missed something!

"Sssee ya Hank," called Joe over his shoulder as he hurried to mount his horse. Mitch jumped on his pony at the same time. "Bye Hank," shouted Mitch throwing his
arm up in the air in a goodbye wave.

"Bye ya fellas, see ya later," called Hank picking up his guitar and strumming.

"Remember, remember your vow to marry,
Remember, remember your promise to be true.
Oh, don't deceive me: Oh, never leave me.
How could you use a poor maiden so?"

The two boys had only ridden a short distance before curiosity got the better of Mitch and he pulled his pony to an abrupt stop. "What was that all about Little Joe?
Why the hurry?" he demanded.

"Damn," started Little Joe but Mitch interrupted.

"Ya better not let ya pa hear ya use that word," scolded Mitch.

"Why, is it a bad word? Adam usesss it all the time," stated Little Joe giving Mitch another stern look.

"You bet it is, but what about Miss Jones?" Mitch was still curious to find out what was going on in Joe’s head.

Don’t ya know nuthin’? Hank’sss fixin’ ta asssk Misss Jonesss to the dance. Adam already did but if’n ssshe hearsss ole Hank asssingin’ to her, Adam will end up
goin’ home alone," explained Joe to his friend.

Mitch was stunned, "Well you big idiot, do ya want him to go home with Miss Jones?

"Naw, not really. I jussst don’t wanna sssee him get hurted. That’sss all. We gotta do sssomethin’ to help him out. Hey, I gotta plan. Come on, letsss get home." Joe
kneed his pony into a trot and together the two boys high-tailed it to the Ponderosa where Joe could explain his plan.

Joe and Mitch stood with their faces pressed up against the windowpane of the kitchen door causing their noses to be flattened in the process. Intensely the young
boys watched as the family cook, Hop Sing, poured the hot molasses mixture into the pan of clean snow. Unaware of their actions, the two boys licked their lips as
the Chinese cook placed the pan on the windowsill at the far end of the kitchen allowing the candy to cool and harden.

Eyeing the candy as he continued to lick his lips, Joe nudged Mitch in the side drawing his friend’s attention away from the dessert.

"Mitch, got me an idea," said Joe as he leaned toward Mitch’s ear.

Mitch began to giggle as Joe whispered his plan in confidence knowing that he should not interfere with his older brother’s love life but being unable to help himself
he plunged ahead. Mitch could not help but wiggle his shoulders as the soft hissing sounds that whizzed through the gap in his friend’s teeth tickled his ear. Nodding
his head Mitch agreed to the plan and watched as Little Joe entered the house from the front door. Once more Mitch plastered his face against the windowpane
trying to see the interaction between Hop Sing and Little Joe taking place. Mitch quieted his giggles by covering his mouth with his hand and opened the door as Joe
gathered the necessary ingredient to make the candy. Both boys took off running to the back of the house toward the small cove of bushes that would conceal their
cupid surprise.

Kneeling in the snow both boys ran their hands along the snow smoothing out the swells that had formed from the blowing wind. Joe worked at unscrewing the zinc
lid to the jar that was filled with molasses while Mitch stuck his finger into the snow and traced out a heart shaped pattern.

"Reckon its big enough?" asked Mitch before hallowing out the inside of the pattern that he had created with his finger.

"Yep," replied Joe as he finally managed to unscrew the lid to the jar.

"Then pour it in there," directed Mitch as he leaned back watching Joe lick the sticky stuff from his fingers before tilting the jar. "Be careful to only fill the empty
spot," continued Mitch’s directions as he stuck out his finger to steal a taste from the stream that spilled forth.

Joe was the first to stand up and back away from their handiwork. Placing his hands on his hips like he had seen his father do, he turned and smiled at Mitch.

"Whatsss you think?" hissed Joe as he stared at the heart shaped candy that was beginning to harden in the snow.

"Looks good enough to eat, too bad its for Miss Jones," replied Mitch attempting to lick the sticky molasses from his own fingers.

"We’ll get it after sssupper and wrap it up all purtty like before giving it to Misss Jonesss," instructed Joe as he wiped his hand down the front of his flannel shirt.
"Bessst get inssside and cleaned up fer sssupper ‘fore Pa ssstartsss lookin’ for usss."

After much begging and pleading, Little Joe and Mitch had finally convinced Ben to let them go outside to work on a surprise for a Valentine present. Ben lit a
lantern for the boys and once the front door was closed safely behind them the boys took off running to their cove. Setting the lantern down and out of the way, the
boys had to brush off the hundreds of gnats that had become prey to the sticky molasses.

"Here let me try," offered Mitch as he watched Joe struggle to free the heart shaped candy from its earthly mold.

Joe nodded his head and shifted slightly to the left allowing Mitch to squat down opposite him. Both boys had a tight grip on the edge of the heart and pulled with all
of their available strength. Beads of sweat coated their brows despite the cold temperatures and their small muscles rippled in their arms as the boys continued to put
up a fight trying to free the candy.

"Agh! Agh!" was the only sound other than the heavy breathing produced from overexertion.

"Oomph!" Without warning the heart shaped candy finally relinquished its hold on mother earth and together the two boys fell to the ground landing on their

Looking at their prized possession laying on the fresh falling snow both boys burst into a round of giggles. Quickly they tried to stifle the noise when Ben’s voice
beckoned them to return to the house. Mitch turned the hardened sweet delight over and gasped out loud. Without uttering a word, he quickly pulled the small
blades of grass that had become glued to the bottom of the candy, off with his fingers. Noticing that his hand had become dirty, Mitch spit into his palm swiped it
down the front of his trousers before dusting the small particles of dirt from the underneath portion of the molasses snow candy. Mitch handed the treasure to Joe,
then Little Joe wrapped the tea towel that he had swiped from the dirty laundry basket around the heart, and together the two boys entered the house.

Curiosity ate at the other Cartwrights when the boys made a bee line straight for the stairs, stopping only long enough to give the explanation that they had to wrap
their gift so on one could see it. Closing the door to Joe’s room, Mitch then slid Joe’s desk chair in front of the door preventing any uninvited guests from entering.
Half an hour later the boys placed the brown paper package on Joe’s desk and stood back to admire their wrapping job.

A soft knocking interrupted the boys gibberish boy talk as Adam opened the door and wondered at the chair that slide across the floor as he stuck his head inside
and instructed them to prepare for bed.

"Hurry and get changed then come downstairs. Hop Sing has prepared a surprise for us," smiled Adam as he closed the door and returned to his comfortable chair
next to the cozy fire that was burning brightly in the huge stone fireplace.

As the boys ran down the stairs, Hop Sing was entering with the surprise and set it on the coffee table. Mitch hurried to sit on the settee while Joe took his favorite
nighttime place in his father’s lap.

Hop Sing unwrapped his candy and smiled as the gales of delight reached his ears. Joe was the first to grab the largest squiggly design biting into the hardened
candy. As Adam began to read the nighttime story to the family, Ben’s eyes fell upon the back of Joe’s nightshirt. The smile that graced his face forced Adam to call
a halt to the reading.

"Joseph, did you know that you have your nightshirt on backwards?" laughed Ben.

Joe pulled at the neck of the garment and smiled up at his father. Suddenly Ben’s laughter became louder as he hugged his sticky son to his breast. "Joseph!" he
exclaimed, "You have lost another tooth!"

"Oh good, the Teeth Fairy will come tonighth," smiled the toothless little boy. Joe’s face took on a look of panic as he realized that he could not find the tooth.
Jumping down from his father’s lap, Joe fell to his knees searching the floor.

"What’s wrong, Punkin? What’ca lookin’ fur?" asked Hoss who had joined the search.

"My toothth, I gothsss ta have ith ssso I can geth my money," cried Little Joe.

Ben gathered his distraught little boy into his lap and brushed away the tears that had begun to gather in his saddened eyes.

"It’s okay son, here," said Ben handing Joe’s half eaten candy to him, "it’s stuck in your candy," smiled Ben as he saw the disappointment erased from his son’s tear
stained face.

Joe removed his tooth from the candy and held it tightly in his fist. While wiping the sticky goo from his lips he faced his father and with a pout on his face asked, "Pa,
which toothth is my sssweeth toothth?"

Adam, who had been silent during the current escapade, could no longer refrain from speaking out. "Well Little Buddy, I think it must have been the one you just

Adam, who had held his laughter for as long as he could, doubled over as the rumbling noise broke the tension filled room. Seconds later, Hoss, Ben, Hop Sing,
Mitch and even Joe joined in and soon tears of laughter dripped from each man and boy’s eyes.

Early the next morning, Joe reached under his pillow and pulled out his silver nickel that the Tooth Fairy had left. Quickly grabbing his trousers from the day before,
Joe hurried to dress and wake up Mitch who was just begin to arise. Both boys rushed downstairs, Joe carrying the brown-papered package to the credenza where
he would be sure to remember to grab it on the way out the door.

When Joe sat down at his place at the table, he smiled and placed his nickel beside his plate so that his family could see what the fairy had left for him. It was then
that he remembered the crumpled note that Miss Jones had instructed him to give to Adam. Joe looked over at his oldest brother as he dug into his pocket pulling
the now wrinkled note from his pants.

"Here Adam, I wasss toldth to give thisssth to you," beamed Little Joe as he handed the secret message to his brother. Joe giggled as he watched Adam’s face
redden knowing that all eyes were watching his every move. To avoid any unwanted questions, Adam slipped the note into his shirt pocket and out of view of prying

The boys left in plenty of time to arrive at the school ahead of the other children even Hoss who was trailing behind them. They wanted to be the first ones there so
that they might present Miss Jones with her special token they had made for Adam to give to their teacher.

Just as they had planned, Miss Jones sat alone at her desk reviewing the day’s lessons. Entering quietly, Mitch and Little Joe walked up in front of the teacher and
without saying a word, laid the offering onto the desk. Miss Jones raised her head and looked into the eyes of each small messenger boys.

"What is this, Joseph?" cooed Miss Abigail Jones, whose heart had suddenly began to race in expectancy.

When Joe smiled, Abigail shuttered in dread; the boy had lost another damn tooth. Abigail questioned her sanity at longing to become involved with a man that could
very well produce a clone of the toothless imp such as was standing before her now.

"Thith isssth frum Adam," smiled Little Joe.

Miss Jones wiped the top of her hand with her hankie removing the droplets of spittle that had sprayed from Little Joe’s toothless mouth and forced her own mouth
into a shape that she hoped resembled a smile.

"Why thank you Joseph," cringed Miss Abigail Jones.

"He made ith himssself," volunteered Joe with a wide toothless smile that caused the teacher to turn her head in fear of being spit upon again as the hissing passed
through the empty cavity that should have held pearly whites.

By the time that the noon break finally rolled around, Miss Jones’ head was aching from all the noise that the children were making. Not to mention the fact that
every ten minutes or so Joseph Cartwright would come to her desk and ask for the umpteenth time when she was going to open her gift. Miss Jones suddenly had a
brainstorm of an idea and decided to share it with the class.

"Class, could I have your attention please. Since today is Friday and tomorrow is the Valentine’s dance, I have decided to dismiss class early today so that each of
you can have time to prepare for your special night. Class dismissed," she smiled and turned her back to the retreating children who had begun to run from the class.

Once the all the children were safely on their way home, Miss Jones locked the door and hurried to her desk. There she pulled open the second drawer from the top
on the right hand side and removed her special treat made solely by the hands of the man she adored. Taking her time to savor the moment, Abigail allowed her
fingers to lightly trace the wrapping paper as she gently caressed the string that withheld her surprise from her sparkling blue eyes.

When she could stand it no longer, she tugged gently on the string that had been tied in a neat little bow. Thinking that it would slip off easily, she was surprised when
she realized that the bow had been knotted. Pulling from the corners, the string refused to part from the paper and sighing in disgust, Abigail reached for her scissors
and cut through the aggravating string.

With care the package was turned so that she could unfold little by little the paper that held the token of love she had been presented. Once the excess paper had
been unfolded, Miss Jones tugged gently at the remainder of the paper and frowned slightly when it refused to budge. Somewhat frustrated at the foiled attempts to
remove the resisting wrapping, sighing deeply, she jerked violently at the paper causing it to rip and sending small pieces of the brown gift-wrap sailing into the air.

Looking down in astonishment she was shocked to see remnants adhered to the peculiar looking contents. Sighing again and feeling as if small particles of erosion
had begun to eat away at her ecstasy she dropped heavily into her chair nearly missing the seat and falling onto the floor.

"Hells Bells," grumbled Miss Jones slicking her fingers, "What in tarnations is this?"

Miss Jones lifted with caution, the now softened sticky glob and held it eye level desperately trying to figure out what it represented. Being careful not to allow the
sticky mess to again attach itself to her fingers, she suddenly spotted what appeared to be tiny microscopic creatures crawling on the bottom half of the unidentifiable
goop. Gagging at what she saw, she released the object allowing it to tumbled onto the desk and splatter, covering the papers that had been neatly stacked earlier in
the day. It was then that she noticed the fine fuzz that adorned sections of the glue like gunk and wondered what this so-called sweet had been wrapped in before
becoming pasted to the brown paper.

Giving in to her disappointment, Miss Jones carefully re-wrapped the creation in the remnants of paper and carried it outside. As she stood in the bright sunlight
searching for a place to deposit the concoction her ears picked up the sounds of the hogs that rooted about the near by farmhouse. Smiling to herself, she hurried to
gather the rest of her belongings loading them into her buggy she managed to drop the offending gift discreetly into the slop that was provided for the hogs who had
scurried over to the fence in anticipation of something new to devour.

Abigail watched as the swine slurped the now nearly melted blob of molasses candy and the thought briefly ran through her head that had she been as piggish as the
hogs were now, she might have ended up looking like one of their relatives. Her hand involuntarily caressed the flatness of her abdomen as she smiled in self-delight
that she still maintained some definite shape to her form.

Abigail threw the nailbrush into the sink and reached for her sewing basket. Anger had over ridden her frustration as she was forced to file down her nails. That gunk
that Adam sent by that hissing little brat of a Cartwright to present to her had hardened under her nails and nothing she had tried would remove it. Finally finishing
with her nails and shaking her head in disgust, Abigail sighed deeply, returned the file to her basket and moved into the kitchen to begin her supper.

Picking at, rather than eating her dinner her thoughts returned to her beau and by the time she had cleaned up her dinner dishes the anger had dissipated and once
more Abigail was daydreaming about being the envy of Virginia City’s available women.

Abigail stood at the foot of her bed gazing down on the pile of dresses that had ended up in a heap on the comforter. One by one she had tried them on, stood in
front of her full-length mirror and modeled for herself. Each one had been removed and tossed carelessly on to the bed thinking that it was not suitable enough to
wear for her rendezvous with her Romeo.

Reaching for the last dress that hung in the far corner of the wardrobe, Abigail slipped the red satin gown over her head and stood for the last time in front of her
mirror. Running her hands down the length of the dress, she smoothed out the wrinkles that had gathered from having hung for so long in the closet. With care she
gently tugged at the wide white lace that delicately outlined the curve of the bodice of the sleeveless garment. Deciding to go all out as the looks of this last dress
became more appealing, Abigail reached for the fine laced three-quarter length gloves and hurriedly slipped her hands into them as her excitement escalated. Abigail
smiled in satisfaction; glad now that she had filed her nails down for the gloves had become smaller after the last washing and fit snugly to her hands and arms.

Taking the imitation white pearls from her armoire she quickly placed them about her neck and secured the clasp. Not fully pleased with what she saw, though liking
the dress, Abigail stood and studied her reflection in the full-length mirror that stood at the foot of her bed. A small giggle escaped as she suddenly realized what was
missing. Quickly she dug through the abundance of clothing that still hung in the center of the large wardrobe until she found what she was looking for. Giggling in
earnest now, she raised the red satin dress over her knees and stepped into the round hooped petticoat pulling it to her waist and tying the string tightly. Lowering the
dress once again and smoothing it for the second time she now gave her reflection that stood startlingly beautiful to her thinking, a deep curtsey and the thumbs up

A small smile crossed her lips as she turned to the left allowing her self to see a side view. Taking a deep breath she straightened out her back and with the use of
both hands lifted her bosom up slightly to further enhance the view.

A sly but mischievous grin replaced the small smile as she opened the top drawer to her dresser. With her back to the mirror she put the extra stockings in their
respected place and then pivoted around to steal a glance in the mirror. Making some minor adjustments to the stockings, Abigail set her mind to work thinking how
she could make her waist line appear smaller and flatter. Once more as the idea broke through the fog that had settled in her brain, the small mischievous grin
widened across her face.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Adam slipped unnoticed from the house and into the barn. Closing the door quickly behind him, he hurried into the tack room closing
that door behind as well. Tiny chills of ecstasy washed through his veins as he dabbed at the small beads of perspiration that dotted his brow. Adam sniffed at the
over powering essence that emitted from the contents, not fully recalling where he had smelled that particular fragrance before. He wiped the palms of his sweaty
hands down the length of his trousers leg before gathering enough courage to open the dirt smudged envelope. Taking the letter out of its holder Adam swallowed
deeply, gulping for the sudden need of air that would allow him to slow the rapid beating of his heart.

Adam unfolded the reply with trembling fingers and casting a worried glance over his shoulder to assure himself that he had total and complete privacy, he at last
allowed his eyes to scan the written response. As he read the salutation, My Dearest Romeo,

Adam found himself unable to support his own body weight and slowly slipped to the ground. Feeling the sudden urge for fresh air, Adam was forced to open the
door to the tack room. Peering out to assure that he was still alone, he returned his attention back to the contents of the letter. The dimples that were not often seen
where clearly etched in the expression that now graced the handsome face of Romeo. With a squeal of delight, that sounded very much like ‘YAHOO’, Adam
rushed from the barn moving rapidly to the water trough where he quickly poured a dipper of cool water over his head in hopes of asphyxiating the blaze that had
suddenly set his heart on fire.

Saturday by mid-day, the family watched with amused faces as Adam buzzed about the yard hurrying to finish his chores. His plans were to complete his work
quickly thus giving him extra time to prepare himself for the evening ahead. The thoughts of the warm bath that he had ordered Hop Sing to have waiting for him by
4:00 p.m. caused him to hasten his steps. He had overheard Hoss telling Hop Sing to also have a bath prepared for him and Adam was afraid that if he did not finish
before his younger brother, Hoss would beat him to the awaiting tub. After what seemed an eternity to the anxious young lover, Adam permitted his black trousers to
slip from his waist and drop around his feet. Stepping carefully from the pants, Adam smiled to himself as the naked form of his manly body returned the smile that
watched him from the gilded mirror that stood in the corner of the washroom. Adam stepped into the warm water and allowed his body to sink deeply into the
depths of the oblong galvanized tub.

It was then that his eyes saw for the first time the smaller round copper tub that was only half full with what had once been clean water. Smiling devilishly to himself,
Adam knew that Hoss would be delayed due to having to clean up the mess that Little Joe had left behind. With a full smile on his lips and his thoughts on his date,
Adam reached for the soap that lay in the dish attached to the side of his tub. As his slender fingers folded around the bar of homemade lye soap, the smile suddenly
vanished from his face. The gooey substance that earlier had been a full sized bar of soap, oozed from between his fingers. It was obvious to Adam that Joe had
once again used the soap as a boat adding to his fleet of ships. Adam had to smile to himself, by the time Hoss was ready for his bath, there would be no soap,
adding to the frustration that he was confident the largest of the three brothers would be feeling by that time. Adam felt a twinge of guilt filter into his thinking but
quickly wished it away, he was feeling quite mischievous this evening and could not help himself; he was excited.


Meanwhile back at Miss Abigail Jones’ house, sleep had not come easy for Miss Jones as the repeated nightmare that consisted of toothless children chased her
throughout the long night. By the time she was forced to drag her weary body out of bed to begin the new day, Abigail looked to the heavens. Silently she prayed
that she and Adam would not produce any such heirs to the Cartwright family unless they were all born with a full set of permanent teeth.

With chores completed and running out of time, Abigail hurried to ready herself for her romantic rendezvous with her Romeo. Looking at the clock and seeing that
she had time only for the last minute touches, Abigail twisted and turned in order to prove to herself she looked more confident than she was actually feeling.


At the same time as Miss Jones was making her preparations; Ben had just joined his sons who were waiting impatiently near the front door. He was still tucking in
his shirt and adjusting his tie when he noticed the three pairs of eyes staring back at him.

"Sorry boys, I had a small problem locating the soap," explained Ben suddenly realizing just how dumb his excuse sounded. It was an excuse that his youngest son,
Joseph, would have given to save his backside from getting warmed.

Smilingly awkwardly, Ben turned his attention to his smallest son and instantly noticed that the boy’s hair was still dripping water down his back making his shirt wet.
Raising his eyebrows and rolling his eyes upward, Ben excused himself from the foyer and as he rounded the corner of the dining room bumped into Hop Sing whom
was running toward him with a towel in his hand. Ben wondered how the man always seemed to know what was needed. Thanking him Ben dried off Joe’s hair
before combing it for the second time.

As Ben turned to help Joe on with his winter coat he then become aware of the fact that the youngster had buttoned up his shirt wrong. Using up more valuable time,
Ben was forced to still the now squirming child by wrapping his arms around him, making the simple task more difficult as Ben had to properly button the boy’s shirt
while standing behind him. Ben had to further delay their departure while Hoss ran up the stairs to Joe’s room in search of what the young boy referred to as ‘the
dreaded’ string tie.

Hearing the pleas for him to hurry up, Hoss gave up on rummaging through the mess of clothing that Joe had tossed on to the floor and ran into Adam’s room to
borrow one of his. Finally the time had come for the Cartwright’s to head into town to enjoy what was certain to be an unforgettable evening at the Annual
Sweetheart Dance that was being held in the community barn.

In the middle of somewhere between the Ponderosa and Virginia City, a small family of all men were waiting, some patiently some not so patiently as the youngest
member struggled with removing his coat and suspenders. The small boy darted behind the bushes as his father stood guard whispering that he hurry.

"I couldn’t help ith, I had to pee, Pa," shouted Little Joe as he emerged from behind the concealing undergrowth that served as a shield for the natural out-of-doors

Ben’s sharp eyes noted the tangled mess that Joe had made out of his suspenders but before he could move to help the wiggly boy, Joe yelped in pain.

"Ouchth," shouted Joe as the birds that roosted in the treetops scattered, "my sssussspendersss goth me. Help."

Ben heard the expulsion of air that passed from his twenty-year old’s mouth as Adam whined, "Paaaaa, come onnnn!"

Wanting to maintain peace and harmony among his family, Ben picked Joe up and quickly placed him in the backseat next to Hoss. Before Ben could turn and sit
down himself, he was unceremoniously knocked to his butt as Adam clicked to the horses urging them forward into a fast trot.

Annabelle Hone’s violet eyes searched the crowded room hoping to catch sight of Adam Cartwright. She had been taken back by the fact that he had failed to invite
her to the biggest dance of the year. Just last week when the handsome man had come to call, he had hinted at the fact that he would be inviting her but with so many
interruptions that night, the idea must have slipped from his mind.

"Tisk, tisk," sighed Annabelle, "I have no intentions of letting Miss Prissy Overstuffed Bosom Jones get her over zealous hands on the man I have my heart set on,"
thought Annabelle.

She watched Abigail Jones swishing her backside to and fro as she walked from the building in a search of her own and slowly followed the red dress as the school-
teacher attempted to exit through the side door. Annabelle smothered a giggle as the large hoop used to force the red satin dress to form a circle about the feet of the
schoolmarm became entangled in the door frame as Abigail attempted to squeeze through. She was forced to cover her mouth to silence the laughter as she watched
in horror the way that Abigail reached down and turned the hoop up sideways so that she could better fit through the doorway. Annabelle gave Miss Jones’ the time
needed to free herself from her self made trap before resuming her surveillance of the vexatious rival.

Annabelle stopped short when she saw Adam standing under the sweetheart tree as if waiting for someone. She held her breath when out of the shadows stepped
Miss Jones with a smile plastered across her face looking to the entire world like the cat that had just caught the mouse. Annabelle started to step forward but was
halted when she felt the gentle tapping on her shoulder. Perturbed at being stopped from intervening with the scene that was taking place before her very eyes,
Annabelle turned to face the person to whom was demanding her attention.

"WHAT?" she fairly snapped before seeing who the individual might be. "Oh, I’m sorry Hank, I didn’t mean to snap, it’s just that…well…I mean," stammered
Annabelle once again turning troubled eyes to gasp lightly as she watched Abigail Jones stand on tip-toe to place a kiss on Adam’s cheek.

Hank followed the directions that Annabelle was looking and frowned when he saw the woman he loved place the kiss on the man he had just minutes before,

"Well, I do declare!" whispered Annabelle to herself, not aware of the fact that Hank had heard her remark.

"Me either," replied Hank.

The remark caused Annabelle to turn suddenly and look into Hank’s dark eyes, surprised that he had been bothered by what they were seeing. It was as Hank hung
his shoulders as if defeat had somehow won a victory in an unspoken war that she remembered that Adam had told her that his man who stood behind her was in
love with Miss Abigail Jones and had tried several times to woo her. Seeing the sadness that caused his brow to become wrinkled with deep furrows and feeling her
own happiness about to be stolen from her, Annabelle faced Hank with more resolve in her voice than she actually felt and stated firmly.

"She is with my man, and he is with your girl. Just what do you suppose we should do about that?" she demanded.

Hank saw the fire that had appeared in Annabelle’s beautiful eyes and smiled. "What’s say we go set things straight once and fur all, Miss Hones?"

"Let’s go!" Annabelle looped her arm through Hank’s and together the couple marched forward ready to do physical battle if it should come to that. Which
Annabelle hoped would not happen, she had spent hours on her new white and violet dress, taking care that the lace and tiny flowers was the exact color of her
eyes. She had no desire to have the beautiful gown ruined by acting like a ruffian in a command street fight…unless absolutely necessary.


Meanwhile, under the sweetheart tree, Adam was having problems of his own. Miss Jones had appeared from the shadows as Adam had waited patiently for
Annabelle to arrive. He was just about ready to go look for her when the teacher had suddenly appeared taking him by surprise.

As Abigail whispered into his ear, "Hello, my dearest Romeo", Adam had nearly choked on his own salvia at the words.

"Excuse me?" he asked startled when she moved around the tree in an attempt at being coy, only to place a kiss on his cheek. Adam’s mouth dropped open when
his eyes beheld the hat that adorned the teacher’s head and thinking quickly to avoid embarrassment, he pulled his lips into a smile hoping that she had not seen his
surprised reaction.

Miss Jones’ red satin hat sat somewhat askew on top of her head. The large white plume feather was enormous and when she moved to stand in front of him, the tip
end tickled his nose. Adam covered his mouth by faking a cough when he spotted the heart shaped peppermint candies that she had affixed to the top to circle the
hat. That would explain the pepperminty scent his sensitive nose had picked up on as she twirled around in front of him. Too polite to voice his reactions, Adam
rubbed at his nose and quickly scanned the area hoping that Annabelle would hurry to save him from having to spend another agonizing moment in this woman’s

Abigail batted her lashes at Adam as he stood frozen to the spot unable to move as Miss Jones pressed her body against his, forcing his back against the tree. "Do
you like my dress, Romeo?" cooed Abigail. "I picked it out special, just for you."

"Excuse me?" Adam wormed his way from under the pressure her bosom had put on his chest and stared downward, not meaning to gawk, but suddenly the teacher
seemed to be lopsided in the area she seemed to want him to notice. Miss Jones turned her back to Adam giving him a small smile across the back of her shoulder
as she slipped her hand inside of her dress to pull the stocking that had slipped back to its proper place.

Adam wondered at the funny smell that had suddenly assaulted his nose. It smelt like burnt hair. Adam glance upward at the back of the head from whence the
offending odor emitted and saw for the first time the singed strands of loose hair that had fallen from beneath the ghastly looking hat. This situation was quickly getting
out of control and Adam searched his mind for a scheme that would save his honor and his reputation.

"Oh Adam, your note was so sweet. I could hardly believe it when that precious little brother of yours placed it on my desk and told me it was from you," smiled
Abigail hoping with all of her heart that she sounded sincere in her description of the toothless little boy who hissed and often sprayed spit into her face. "And of
course I had to answer right away, I didn’t want that storm in your heart to become too much for you," Abigail giggled.

"Excuse me?" stammered Adam trying to avoid the fingers that poked from the end of the long lace gloves that had begin to roll down from the upper arms that were
also seeking to find a way in which to wrap themselves about his neck.

"And how brilliant to compose it in such a way that no one would ever guess that it was from you." Abigail was on a roll, now that her tongue had loosened, she
could do nothing to stop it.


"And the candy, a sweet idea Dear Romeo, but you should have permitted your cook to do the preparations on that little surprise," gleamed Abigail into Adam’s ear,
forcing his hand to involuntarily scratch at the tickling sensation that was caused by her breath as it hissed into his ear.

"Excuse me?" repeated Adam as he felt his world slowly and painfully begin to crumble about his feet. So much for the idea of letting Little Joe play Cupid. How
stupid could he have been to think that the boy would be able to deliver a simple message and get it correct. Adam knew that he would be hearing about this for
years to come by his family who were always on the lookout for the times that he had let his guard down so that they might have reason to make his life miserable by
their relentless teasing. Adam glanced down at the annoying woman and realized that she was still talking, as usual.

"Really Adam, darling, it was so very sweet, the way you planned everything down to the very last minute of our evening." Miss Jones tossed her head back and
tried to smile bewitchingly at Adam but stopped suddenly, the smile plastered into place when her eyes came to rest on the young couple who had unexpectedly just
joined them.

Adam heard the wind swoosh from the teacher’s lungs as she turned quickly and placed her hands on her hips. Adam followed the directions that Miss Jones’ eyes
were taking and let out his own breath in relief as Annabelle Hones and Hank Myers stopped in front of him.

In the soft glow of the moon, Adam’s eyes sought those of Annabelle’s and wished that he had not taken it upon himself to depend on his baby brother to play such
an important part in his love life. Annabelle was beautiful and he felt his heart skip a beat as he took in the sight of her. His mind was in turmoil trying to find a
gracious way out of the predicament that he now found himself prisoner of.

Adam did not miss the angry look that passed between the two young women as they faced each other, nor did he miss the look that Hank wore on his own face as
his eyes devoured Miss Abigail’s appearance. The man was obviously still very much head over heels in love with the young schoolteacher and Adam searched for a
way to use that to his best advantage.

Adam struggled to find the words to open the conversation but the combined scent of burnt peppermint Lemon Verbena tolietwater had caused his mind to become
polluted, squelching any sensible thoughts of a mature discussion.

Adam looked into Annabelle’s eyes and tried to convey the need of assistance in dealing with their predicament. Picking up on his distress signal, Annabelle turned
to Hank and smiled as she nudged him forward in the direction of Abigail. When Hank looked questioningly down at Annabelle she flashed him a reassuring smile
and pointed to his guitar.

Hank’s sad eyes suddenly sparkled as he realized what it was that Annabelle was suggesting that he do. Taking the clue, Hank began serenading the love of his life,
Miss Abigail Jones.

Early one morning, just as the sun was rising,
I heard a maiden singing in the valley below:
"Oh don't deceive me: Oh, never leave me.
How could you use a poor maiden so?

Remember; remember, your vow to marry,
Remember, remember, your promise to be true.
Oh, don’t deceive me: Oh never leave me.
Oh how could you use a poor maiden so?"

Gay is the garland, and fresh are the roses,
I've cull'd from my garden to bind upon thy brow.
Oh, don't deceive me: Oh, never leave me.
How could you use a poor maiden so?

Thus sang the maiden, her sorrows bewailing,
Thus sang the maiden in the valley below;
"Oh, don't deceive me: Oh, never leave me.
How could you use a poor maiden so?"

Astonished by what she was hearing and realizing that the love words where meant for her, Abigail felt her heart begin to race, as it had never raced before. She
struggled to breath as the two sizes too small corset that she had purchased earlier in the day to enhance her curvaceous body tried to deny the air from filling her
lungs. Forcing herself to breath deeply she was stricken by the onslaught of strange feelings that she had never before encountered. She turned startled eyes on
Romeo and wondered at the desperate look on his face.

Adam watched the play of emotions that filtered across the blushing face that seemed to be caught in a trance by the words of the song that reached out to capture
her young heart. When Abigail was finally able to look in his direction, Adam saw the plea that struggled to be voiced and knew he had his out. Without a second
thought, Romeo bowed graciously and with a nod of his head indicating that she be released from her commitment of him and seeing the smile that surprisingly turned
her face beautiful, Abigail laced her arm into Hank’s and together they strolled away.

Annabelle could not believe her luck; it had been easier than she had first anticipated. She was finally alone with the man of her dreams. Adam wrapped his arm
securely around Annabelle’s shoulders as the auburn hair beauty raised up on her toes and planted a kiss on his sensuous lips, causing Adam’s body to quiver in

Back at the barn where the dance was now in full swing, two little Cupid’s were hiding in the loft, bow and arrows ready to mark their first victim. It just so
happened that about the precise moment that Cupid Joe licked the sticky end of the rubber suction cupped arrow, pulled back on the string of his bow and released
the dart, Adam entered and stopped in the door way. Kerplunk, the arrow was stuck to his forehead as he staggered backward bumping into his father. Ben’s arms
fought to hold his son upright and as Adam turned dazed eyes upon his father’s face, the last thing he remembered before falling to the floor, was the sound of
high-pitched cackling that sounded very much like his youngest brother’s.

On the other side, across the room, Hank was having his own problems. Abigail had just been duped by Cupid Mitch and was having trouble unsticking the rubber
arrow from her bosom where it rested above her heart. To further add to her embarrassment, as she had pulled at the arrow, the oversized hoop under her dress
flipped up covering her head and causing her to sit unlady-like in the middle of the dirt floor. Hank, being a gentleman, had turned his head, but not before marveling
at the number of petticoats that were hidden under the red satin party gown. What Hank had failed to notice, as did the other partygoers, was the slight movement of
Miss Abigail’s hand as it darted out from under the upturned garment. Somehow she managed to snatch the balled up stocking from under the small wooden table
from where it had landed after falling from the front of her dress as she had spiraled backwards during her fall. Quickly so as not to be seen, Miss Jones tossed the
discriminating evidence behind the bale of hay. Satisfied that her secret was now safe the schoolteacher then turned her attention to composing herself. She
desperately hoped that the look on her flushed face was one of confidence.

Abigail finally managed to right herself. As Hank assisted her from the floor and gathered her into his arms placing a tender kiss on her forehead, Abigail’s eyes
locked with those of the two frightened boys who were trying to hide behind the bale of hay in the loft. She knew the cherub little faces would haunt her dreams for
nights to come but she winked at them and smiled when she saw their faces relax and begin to break into small mischievous smiles. How could she stay mad she
questioned herself? If not for Cupid’s messenger, she would not now be locked in a warm embrace with the man who loved her. Glancing again at the boys, she
blew a kiss in their direction and laughed as she heard their words.

"Yuck, ssshe blew usss a kisss. Better not leth the other fellasss find outh abouth thisss," hissed Little Joe as he and Mitch stuffed their weapons between the bales of
hay and moved to the ladder.

Adam was waiting at the bottom of the ladder when Joe put his foot on the last rung and turned surprised eyes up at his brother. Joe stood rooted to the spot, unable
to say anything or move. When Adam clamped his strong hand down on his shoulder, Joe felt the sting of tears fill his eyes. Using only one finger, Adam raised his
brother’s quivering chin upward to face him. Adam saw the tears that Joe struggled to hold within the rims of his hazel eyes and smiled down into the worried face.

"That was some shot, Cupid. Where’d you learn to shoot like that?" laughed Adam. Instantly, the tears disappeared, replaced with a broad smile that showed the
gaps where the missing teeth had once been.

"My big brudder learnedth me," beamed Joe relieved to know that he was not in trouble, least ways, not with Adam, Pa was another matter to be dealt with later.
But for now, Joe was satisfied that Adam scooped him up into his arms and placed a kiss on his chubby little cheek. It was then that the hazel eyes of the youngest
Cartwright son noticed the nickel-sized bruise that was centered on the forehead of the oldest Cartwright son, directly between the dark brown eyes that were filled
with laughter.

Much later on the way home, Joe who was now snuggled warmly under the blanket leaned against Adam as he fought to remain awake. He felt his brother’s arm as
it encircled his shoulders and moved closer for added warmth. Adam pulled the end of the blanket about his own shoulders and glancing down decided to see if
Cupid was still awake, whispered quietly into his ear.

"Miss Jones said something about some sort of candy that I supposedly made and sent to her. Do you have any clue as to what she was referring too?" asked Adam
as he pulled the blanket over his head and that of his brother’s.

Joe gulped and though he could not see Adam’s face, he felt the dark eyes boring into him. "We wasss jussst thrying to help ya. I thoughth ith would be nice for ya
toth give her sssome candy ssso me and Mitchth made sssome like Hop SSSing made for usss. Guesss ssshe didn’t like ith, huh, Adam?" confessed Little Joe.

"I guess not Cupid," piped Romeo.

Adam’s laughter began as a soft giggle growing into full fledged laughter as the thoughts of what the schoolteacher had be subjected to at the hands of this miniature
toothless Cupid who cuddled against him as they fought to control the laughter. Ben turned in his seat at the muffled sounds of silly laughter that filtered from beneath
the blanket that covered the heads of his two sons. He smiled as the moon’s light cast it’s glow on the quivering forms in the back seat and noticed that his middle
son was also watching the blanketed conspirators that were his brothers.



January 2002


"pregnated"? To find out about this word, please read Questions and Answers, by Debbie B ;0)


‘The World of Little House’, by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Erikksen. The Molasses-on-Snow Candy recipe follows for anyone who would like to
try it out.

Be sure to follow these directions and not those of Little Joe and Mitch’s!

1-cup molasses

1-cup brown sugar

Fresh clean snow (or finely crushed ice)

Measuring cup

Large pot


Candy thermometer or cup of cold water

Shallow pan about 9" x 13"

Clean tea towel or waxed paper

1. Mixed the molasses and sugar together in the large pot and boil until the mixture reaches the "hard crack" stage on the thermometer or until a drop of the mixture
dripped into the cold water forms a hard ball and cracks.

2. Remove the syrup from the heat. Be careful – the syrup is very, very hot.

3. Scoop fresh, clean snow into the shallow pan. You can also use finely crushed ice instead of snow.

4. Dribble a spoonful of syrup onto the snow or ice in "circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things." Make lot of different shapes.

5. When the syrup turns hard and becomes candy, lift if off the snow and place it on the tea towel or waxed paper to dry.