Christmas at the Ponderosa

Guest stars: The Baker girls are coming to town.
Punishment can come to all ages adult-to-child as the story develops,
keep in mind the time the characters live in and what was normal then.
All characters my fiction or borrowed (thanks for the loan)

Adam came riding into the front yard, jumped off his horse and ran into
the house. "Everyone we got letters, letters from California."
The other members of the household came to see what he had brought from
town.
"Here Pa, you have three, Joe here is yours, Hoss yours, Hopsing they are
all in Chinese, to I guess these five are for you."
"How about you?" Joe asked.
"Four" and took off for a chair in the corner of the living room.
Ben was surprised to see one of the letters he received was from Julie
(Lee), he opened it first.
Dear Mr. Cartwright, if you don't mind I would like to call you Uncle
Ben, Ma says it is all right with her if it is with you. I am writing to
say how sorry I am that I caused all the trouble I did when you visited
us at Thanksgiving. And before you think otherwise, Ma is not making me
write this. I really gave it no thought when I had you arrested, tried to
get Adam in trouble, and got Joe in so much trouble too. I hope you have
forgiven me, and if Ma does decide that we can come to Nevada for
Christmas won't be unhappy to see me. You swing a mean belt, sir, my
backside was sore forever, but by the time I recovered, some how my anger
had cooled down too. I can't say you will never want to do it again, but
I can assure you it will not be for the same reasons. Lee
Ben smiled big and shook his head, he had his doubts about Lesley's plan
of him giving Lee her punishment for all she had done, but it looked like
her mother did know her, it seemed to have worked.
The second letter was from Lesley:
Dearest Ben: I still don't know if we can make it for Christmas. The
business is slow now that winter is coming, but California winters are
not as bad as yours. We still have things that must be attended to. I
would love to see you and the boys though and I am still trying to figure
out how to make it possible. I miss you very much, I know it has been
only a short time since we were together, but some how it seems much
longer. Ben I know this will embarrass you, but I have to tell you, the
night we, well the night you, well ah, you remember what you did to me,
Alex had come down stairs, and she saw you. I couldn't figure out why she
would smile at me and snicker for the longest time, finally she could not
keep it a secret any longer. She did not tell the other girls, I am sure
of that. I thought you should know in case she tell Adam. I will try my
best to be there Christmas, please have the mistletoe waiting, we don't
have any in California. Love to you all, Lesley.
Oh, my gosh, Alex saw me spank her mother, Ben thought, if she tells
Adam, I will never live it down. Oh, so what, I am still the parent here,
he continued to think about it and his cheeks began turning red. He still
wasn't sure why he did it, it just seem to be the thing to do at the
time. And for some reason, Lesley didn't seem too mad at him either. And
she had hit him first.
Adam had read his letters and came back over to where his Father was
sitting. "Are your letters any more hopeful, Pa?" he asked.
"Nothing definite, but I am sure they will be here if they can, ah what
did Alex have to say, if you want to share that is?" Ben ask trying to
not pry, but dying to know if she had mentioned him.
"Oh, just about wanted to be here for Christmas, how busy it was at the
office, things like that, why do you ask?"
Was he baiting me, Ben thought, "No reason, just asking."
"Oh, yeah, she did make one statement I though was curious, she said
after we left she understood the term 'Like father, Like son', any idea
what she meant by that?"
Remembering the story of how Adam had swatted Alex, Ben just replied,
"Haven't a clue."

The weather was turning bad. Winter was coming in from all sides. Ben had
been working the boys hard getting ready for the first cold snap, and
this was going to be it. Everyone was grumbling about all the extra work,
but each one knew it had to be done. They might be snowed in for several
days or longer. They needed everything ready for the stock and themselves
to survive.
Ben was having one other problem, Little Joe. He was working, doing all
he was told to do, but he seemed to have his mind a long way off.
"Joseph, that is the third time you have dropped that bucket, if you
don't get a move on you will never get that barrel filled, now pay
attention to what you are doing son!"
Joe replied, "yes sir," but he still was not back fully. As soon as he
had finished filling the barrels around the house with water, he sneaked
back into the barn over near the wall where they had a lantern burning.
He pulled out his letter from Lee and read the paragraph one more time.
I don't care what she says, we are coming to Eagle Station for Christmas.
All three of us have made up our mines, if Ma don't give the word soon,
we will catch the first stage out by ourselves and be in Eagle Station by
the day before Christmas Eve. Once we leave she will have to follow, and
we should all be there by Christmas. DON'T TELL YOUR PA! He would find
someway to tell ma.
This was a great secret, until the weather started getting so bad, now he
didn't know if the girls could make it or not. What if they got caught in
a snow storm and he knew about it and didn't say anything. Just the
thought of how mad Pa would be sent a shiver down his spine all the way
to his bottom. He folded up his letter and went back to work.
Two days before Christmas the snow started to fall, not fast at first,
but steady.
That night after everyone had gone to bed they were awaken by pounding on
the front door.
Ben in his nightshirt came into the front room, he stepped on an ember
that had popped out of the fireplace, a little green wood maybe, "DAMN"
he yelped.
The boys were out of their room by then and saw him hopping across the
floor. Joe ducked back behind his big brothers, hoping whoever was at the
door would help Pa forget who brought in the last load of wood.
Mr. Cartwright, it's me Dark Cloud, please answer. Pound, Pound.
"Hold on, I am coming."
Ben opened the door and in came a very cold young brave. "What is the
trouble, son."
"We were out hunting, and found them," he was breathing so hard he was
about to drop. Ben had him sit down and told Adam to get some Brandy. He
had the boy drink just a little to start with he knew Dark Cloud had very
little experience with liquor. "Now continue, please."
"On the edge of Blue Mountain, we found a coach with three women in it,
they were almost frozen, I came ahead to tell you. We need help to get
them here.
Please I can show you the way, but it is getting worse as we sit here."
"Adam you and Hoss get dressed, put on everything you can. Joe get a
canteen and put some of whiskey in it, don't ask questions just move."
But the time Adam and Hoss were ready so was Ben. Dark Cloud looked a lot
better. Ben had insisted that he add a few layers also. "Joe get the fire
built up and wake Hopsing, tell him we will be bring some people in with
possible frostbite and suffering from the cold, he will know what to do."
With that he and the other three were gone out the door.
Joe had done what he was told, got Hopsing up and worked on the fire.
Hopsing had given him a few chores to do to get ready also. He had got
all the extra bedding out and brought in more wood from the side of the
house. He was just about to bring in the last of the water to boil when
he caught a glimpse of riders coming. "Hopsing I think they are here."
The door crashed open and Ben, Adam, and Hoss entered one behind the
other caring a bundle. Ben and Adam place theirs on each end of the sofa,
Hoss on the big stuffed chair. They started to peel off layers of
blankets and clothing. "Joe take each of these blankets and stuff and lay
them out so they can dry, we may need them later."
"Who are they Pa?"
"We don't know Joe, they haven't said anything and we could not unwrap
them out in the cold now could we?"
Hopsing was there with hot tea with a touch of spirits in it, and the
blankets he had been warming by the fire for their return. The men had
the blankets off, but they found the women were all wearing pants! Ben
wasn't sure how to proceed, but he knew they had to get the clothes off
and quickly. "Boys, cover them with a blanket and go underneath and
remove their clothes. Make sure the blanket stays over them."
"PA!" Hoss said, what if they are naked underneath?"
"This is an emergency Hoss, just do it."
Hoss shook his head but did as he was told. The last thing they took off
was the scarfs they had around their faces, the wet clothes being their
first concern. Ben looked at the three. "Who are they Pa?"
"Well, Joe I think you know them, say hello to Alex, Em, and Lee--the
Baker Girls."

The sun was very bright the next morning shining in the window,
reflection from the snow. But at least it had stopped snowing for the
time being.
Alex sat up, but was careful not to let the blanket drop from her
shoulders. "Wake up it's Christmas Eve, she shouted at the girls, we have
to get up and help with the chores Ma maybe right behind us and we want
Ben Cartwright on our side remember."
The other two grumbled but started to get up and between shivers started
to dress. Lee was sneezing, but Alex could find no temperature. Just a
side effect from the cold she thought.
The girls ran out side to find the boys already working, Em went to help
Hoss with the milking, Alex to help Adam with the horses, and Lee went to
the chicken coop with Little Joe. Ben looked out and smiled at all the
activity in the yard. As the group made their way back to the house a
snowball fight started. They were dodging and running. Little Joe fell
into a bank of snow that had accumulated by the barn, head first and Adam
was pulling him out. About that time Hoss yelled to the house, "Pa looks
like a rider coming in."
Ben put on his coat and walked out on the porch. Sure enough, it was Big
Dan from town. "Morning Ben, how's the family?"
"All well at the moment, want to lite down and have some coffee?"
"Naw, got to keep moving, going up to the high country for a little
while, missing the out doors a mite. Need to move or it will be dark a
fore I get to my campsite. Shelby ask me to deliver this telegram as I
rode by, now that we got a line in to Eagle Station, they come in about
two a week, place is getting down right civilized." He handed over the
telegram. "Need to get moving see you in a month or so."
"Thanks Dan, you be careful up there, we need you in Eagle Station." Ben
replied.
By that time the young people had settled down, "finish up out here, Ben
said, breakfast is almost ready." And he went into the house.
"Wonder who that could be from, Hoss asked to no one in particular, hate
those things they always seem to bring bad news."
The girls looked at each other, and hoped.
"ALEX, EM, LEE get in here NOW!"
Adam looked at Alex, "What did you three do now?"
Alex bit her upper lip, and started toward the house. "I said NOW" they
heard and quickened their pace.
The girls came into the house and were followed by the boys, all pulled
off their coats, scarfs, gloves at the door and moved into the living
room near the fire.
Ben was deep red and that vein was about to bust. Oh, oh, Adam though,
not even 24 hours and they are in for it already. Damn, hope we aren't
involved.
"Would you like to explain this note I just got from your mother, and sit
down while you can, this may not take long." Ben said firmly.
All three looked at each other then at the boys and finally at Ben. "What
does she say Uncle Ben, Lee asked, can't explain if we don't know."
"I don't think you need me to read it, but I will---
Girls left for Nevada stop
no permission given stop
if they make it there blister their butts.
Lesley
"Now do you think you can explain?"
"Alex you are the oldest start talking."
"We wanted to be here for Christmas, Ma wouldn't make up her mind, we
knew she wanted to be here with you, if we were here she would have no
choice but to follow. So we pooled our money and came. I am sorry if we
have caused trouble, but everything has worked out, and it is Christmas."
Em chimed in, "there wasn't any reason for us to be in California, school
was going to be out for the holidays, and the work was slow at the
shipping office, we just couldn't get her to say we were going, so we
came."
"After all Pa, if it worked out, their ma would be here by tomorrow if
she followed them, and we would be together Christmas, ah, after all,"
Little Joe added and then wished he had kept his mouth shut.
"Don't tell me you knew of this hair brain plan, too, Joseph!"
"AH, only what Lee wrote me in her letter, sir."
"I told him not to tell, Uncle Ben." Lee added.
Ben turned and went out the door, grabbing his coat as he went.
Adam looked over at the three frightened girls, "we better go eat, it may
be the last meal you can sit through for a long time. He was awfully mad,
he may not be back in for a while. What on earth made you think you could
get away with this?"
"We had no idea Eagle Station had got a telegraph in, and by the time she
got here and saw your Pa, we figured she would be cooled off enough just
to yell a little and after all dang it, it's Christmas." Em explained.
"I can't understand why I can't keep my big mouth shut, Joe was saying
under his breath, I just open it up and out comes the very stuff that
will get me a whippin'.
"Don't worry Joe, it's us he is mad at, by the time he get done with us
you will only be an after thought, maybe," Lee told him.
"Yeah, well you don't know Pa as good as you think you do." Joe
countered.
"...as well as you think you do, Adam corrected.
"Like I said, they don't."
Ben had been gone for some time, breakfast was over and the girls had
done the dishes up and went back into their room. "Sisters, I think this
is not going to be pretty," Alex said as she heard the front door shut.
"Where are they?" he ask Adam, Adam nodded toward the bedroom and Ben
proceed to knock on the door and enter.
The three of them were sitting on Alex's bed, all prim and proper waiting
for the storm they knew was fixing to descend on them.
"You left with out permission, you nearly got yourselves killed, you
could have gotten others hurt saving you, you scared your mother to death
and she doesn't even know the rest of the story, you showed a total lack
of respect for me and your mother, and most of all you LIED."
Disrespect, disobedience, lying, the three worst crimes you could commit
in Ben Cartwright's house and they were guilty of all three. Lee started
to tear up, Em wasn't far behind.
"Can you think of one reason I shouldn't do as your mother told me to,
and spank all three of you right now?"
Lee whispered, "It's Christmas."
The fire that was in Ben's eyes was suddenly hit with a snowball. He
actually started laughing. The boys could hear him out side. "Adam do you
think he has gone crazy?" Joe asked.
"Your mother was right, you are all a handful. You know you can't go
unpunished for this, and I owe each of you a lickin' anyway collectable
at my time of choosing. If your mother gets here soon I wouldn't want to
be in your shoes, but I am not going to make her angry with me for not
punishing you either. So, two out and one remain, he stood up and
unbuckled his belt. "Uncle Ben, couldn't you just use your hand?" Lee
asked.
"Ok, but I must warn you that if I use my hand, it's over the knee and
bare bottomed."
Lee got up and hurried out the door, followed by Em.
Joe met them and ask just as quickly as possible, "what happened, why did
he laugh, what's he gonna do?
"He isn't as mad, but he is still gonna spank us, because of ma, and he
said he owed us one anyway, Em answered, we had our choice of hand or
belt."
Adam looked at them quickly, "I hope you took belt."
"No, why?"
"You said he wasn't as mad, with the belt you could have left your pants
on, or at least your long johns, and you wouldn't have gotten as many
licks. With his hand it will be bare bottom, and you will be blistered
when he gets through, he has a large hand and a strong arm. Believe me I
have had both, if he ain't that mad take the belt."
Ben walked over and placed his chair near the bed. He pointed to his
knees, and Alex got up and walked the two steps to him. She bent over his
lap. "No girl, drop the pants." Alex stood back up undone her pants and
dropped them to her ankles, she still had on her long johns as she bent
over. Ben unbuttoned the flap and exposed her bare bottom. "This is not
the way I had intended on spending Christmas Eve with you girls, but you
made your choice, and now you have to live with it. The spanking started
the first stinging slap hit her bare bottom. Adam was right, Alex was
almost out of breath from yelling, crying, and begging him to stop. He
backside was as red and a fire ember and almost as hot. She had counted
27 licks before she lost count. Then he stopped. "Do you know why this
had to be done?" he asked as he rubbed her lower back and she sobbed.
"Yes, sir, BUT not this much!"
Wrong answer, it earned her another 10 swats.
Ben let Alex wash her face before sending her out and Lee came in. "Well
Miss I think we have been here before haven't we?
"Yes sir, but can I change my mind and go with the belt?"
"Been talking to Adam, right?" He pulled her over to him and helped undo
her pants, over she went and the flap took down. Lee didn't fare any
better than her big sister, Adam was right he did have a strong arm. He
stood her up and helped button the flap back over her glowing butt.
(could have been Rudolph's nose if they had know about him then)
Two girls down and one to go. Em came into the room. "Sir, is there any
chance we can not do this, I am sorry, you know ma is going to blister us
again when she gets here, how about it?"
"You know trying to get out of punishment is a full time job for
children, but trying to change my mind after I just punished your
sisters, takes courage." Em smiled as sweetly as she could, maybe it
worked.
"Pants down, bend over."
For some reason it seemed to the others that this one took longer......
Ben followed Em out the door, her face said it all her question only
earned her more swats than her sisters. "Joseph, I think we have a talk
comin' too, don't we?"
Dang it, he remember, oh, well he knew Pa never forgot, he was just
hoping.
"Son, why on earth didn't you tell me about the girl's plan? You knew
they could get in trouble, and I don't just mean the kind that would get
them punished, I mean the kind like the storm. I know you just wanted
them here, but you used very poor judgement in this and I am not pleased
with you at all."
"Does that mean I am going to get tanned, too."
"What do you think?"
Joe looked up at his father, Ben was taking off his belt. Joe turned and
leaned over the bed. Eight licks, but he kept his pants on. Adam was
right. It still hurt like blue blazes, but he had been spanked worse.
Ben walked back in and looked at all the tear stained faces. "Like I said
this is not the way I planned Christmas to be, but you made your choices.
Girls, the rest of the day you will stay in your room, you can come out
at suppertime. Adam, Hoss, we need to get out and check the stock again,
Joe you can help Hopsing with kitchen chores. He picked up his hat and
coat and started to the door.
"Girls I am glad you are here, and I am sorry we had to start off like
this, but just think Christmas day is tomorrow, and your mother might be
here by then," he smiled and started out the door.
As the girls got up to go to their room, Alex looked up and Adam, "I knew
when he spanked mother he had a mean streak in him, and he just proved it
again reminding us she was coming."
"SPANKED YOUR MA!" Adam shouted, and looked at her with his eyes dancing.
"When, where, why, what are you talking about?"
Alex just went in the room, now she would have to tell her sisters, but
the boys could just wait for an answer to that question.

Ma's back, be afraid, be very afraid
Christmas morning just as the sun was coming up the girls could hear
sounds from the living room.
"OH! Em yelped as she turned over on her back I forgot." Quickly she
turned back onto her side. "How did you all sleep last night?"
"On my stomach what do you think, Lee answered, stupid question."
Alex had managed to ease over to the edge of the bed and get up with our
putting her full weight on her bottom. "Get used to it ladies, we still
have another one of these to look forward to."
"Oh, Alex, why would you want to mention that, maybe Ma will be happy to
see us and after what Uncle Ben did, she might be forgiving, it's
Christmas," Lee said sounding as hopeful as she could.
"Maybe, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it."
"Hee hee, from what Joe tells me you better not be betting anything
around here, or you will get another tanning, Lee said, Uncle Ben does
not approve of gambling at all."
"We better get in there, the chores need to be done and we have to help
Hopsing with Christmas dinner." Alex said as she headed for the door.
Breakfast was on the table, but no one was to be seen, even Hopsing was
gone.
The girls started cleaning up the pots and pans from breakfast cooking,
Alex went over and started to sweep in front of the fireplace to get the
ashes that popped from the fire cleaned up. They had the house looking
great by the time the Cartwright men came back into the house.
"The house looks fine girls, Ben told them, Hopsing had an emergency in
town and had to leave, it was nice of you to pick up the chores and get
the house back in order. Okay lets eat breakfast."
"Pa just this once, can't we.....
"No, Joe, we can't, breakfast and then the stockings, now sit down and
eat and don't gulp cause you aren't going anywhere until everyone is
finished."
Breakfast took for ever it seemed like to Joe, but finally Pa said they
could all go into the living room.
Each stocking was filled with candy, apples, nuts, and a big orange in
the toe. But also in each one was a special gift. Adam got a fancy new
leather belt with his initials burned into the back, Hoss got a pocket
watch, and Little Joe got "nothing".
"Thanks Pa, came from Adam and Hoss, they seemed very pleased with their
gifts, Joe just looked at him and said nothing. He knew the stories that
if you weren't good you got coal, switches, or nothing for Christmas, and
he knew this year had been one of his worst for getting into trouble. He
figured Pa would still give him one special gift, but he never said a
word. The older boys never asked him what he got, never even let on that
they noticed he didn't have anything extra in his stocking.
Ben got up and went over to the cedar chest by the fireplace. Girls, I
didn't know if you would be here this Christmas, but I felt it might be a
safe "bet". He brought out three more stocking one for each of the girls.
The calm faces of the three were suddenly bright and they had smiles from
ear to ear. Thank you they shouted in one voice and took the gifts. The
same things were in their stockings as in the boys, except, Alex had
perfume, Em had powder, and Lee two velvet ribbons, red and blue. They
were very excited. Ben would wait until later when the boys were not in
hearing range to tell them the boys helped with buying their gifts, they
wanted Christmas special for everyone. Ben had even told the boys they
could for go any gift for him to help with the girls gifts. He would have
the best gift watching the girls with theirs.
Alex eased up from the sofa and went into the bedroom she came back out
with a box wrapped in gold paper and tied with green string. "This is for
you, sir."
Ben didn't know what to say, he took the package and placed it in his
lap. "You did not need to give me a gift, your visit was gift enough."
"Please open it, then we can tell you the story behind it." Em said.
Ben slowly opened the package inside he found two perfect matched dueling
pistols in their case. Someone had polished them and every piece of metal
on them shined. "These are beautiful, but I can't take this it is way to
expensive a gift."
"But you don't understand, Uncle Ben, tell him Alex."
"These were our Pa's guns, they were given to him by his father on his
twenty-first birthday. He gave them to us and said we could do with them
as we saw fit, because he figured he would never have a son to give them
too. We had thought to give them to the first grandson, but we decided
together that we wanted you to have them instead. You see you are a great
deal like out Pa was, and you certainly acted like him yesterday he could
spank hard too, so we know we made the right decision. Please say you
will keep them, it is what we all want. Right girls?
The answers came quickly and positively.
Ben was at a loss. He picked up the guns and closed the lid. He got up
and took them over to the small desk he had been using and put them in
the top drawer. He then turned and came back he picked up each of the
girls and gave them a bear hug and a kiss on the forehead. "Thank you I
will cherish them forever."
Even Little Joe had forgotten he had not received a gift watching the
girls and his father, but now that it was over, it dawned on him again.
"Pa?"
"Something wrong, son?"
"No, I guess not." Dejected he got up put on his coat and went out of the
house toward the barn. He was feeling so sorry for himself, wishing he
had been better this year, he hadn't noticed that Adam had left the house
ahead of him.
Ben had got everyone up and they followed Joe as far as the porch. Joe
had kicked a clump of mud sticking up out of the snow and then he heard a
noise. He looked up and Adam was walking Paint out of the barn. Joe's
eyes got big as a full moon. Paint was wearing a new saddle, all shined
up and pretty. He took off in a run, "this is great!"
Adam picked him up and put him on the horse. "We need to measure the
stirrups to you leg length," with that he started working on them. Adam
finished and Joe took off around the yard, up to the edge of the barn,
and then in a run headed for the open area near the ranch house. Whooping
all the way.
"Something tells me he is pleased with his gift Pa." Adam said as he came
back onto the porch. "Me too, son," Pa agreed, he had out grown the other
one". Remembering how cold it was they all went back into the house.
The girls had done a great job with Christmas dinner, everything smelled
wonderful and the house was warm and full of laughter. They all had sung
carols as they worked, and the time passed quickly.
Just as they sat down, three on pillows, they heard the buggy pull up in
front of the house. "Must be Hopsing, glad he made it back." Ben said.
Hopsing came in the front door, sat his bags down, and then was followed
in by Mrs. Lesley Alexandria Appleton Baker.

"Hello Lesley, welcome," Ben said as he started to stand up.
Lesley dropped her two bags, put her hands on her hips, "I want all three
of you in that room, not one word, just move."
Lesley never said another word just followed her three daughters into
Ben's room.
No one at the table spoke a word. Ben picked up his coffee cup and took a
drink. Adam looked over at his brothers, who were watching the ladies go
into the next room.
"Pa, now that we are somewhat alone, may I ask you a question?"Adam said
very nonchalantly.
"Technically you just did, but yes you may."
"Why did you spank Les, ah sorry, Miss Lesley?"
Ben almost dropped his cup. "Where did that come from?"
"Alex mentioned it last night, thinking back on our trip to San
Francisco, I believe I know when, I was just asking why? I guess that is
why Alex wrote in my letter the saying about like father like son."
"I can think of a better quote, 'children should be seen and not heard',
son, I don't think this is the time to discuss this."
The look on Ben's face told Adam to drop the subject quickly. The other
boys did not pursue it either, it could wait.
The Cartwrights had sat at the table for a long time, finally they
started getting up and moving into the living room. No sounds were coming
from the bedroom in fact they had not heard a word since they all went
in. A few muffled sounds finally came out, but nothing they could
understand.
"Do you think she killed them, Joe asked, and she is trying to get rid of
the bodies?"
"Don't be stupid, Little Joe, Hoss said, she's their Ma, she doesn't have
to hide the bodies."
"We would have heard something if she killed them, struggle, gun shot,
something," Adam added.
"Would you three shut up, Ben said, I see no reason for this type of
discussion."
"But Pa, it's been nearly two hours!" Joe whined.
Suddenly the door opened, Lesley walked out and over to Ben, "Wonderful
to see you again, Ben" and she kissed him. She then went over and shook
hands with Adam and Hoss, greeted them, and she hugged Little Joe. "Well
we have kept this dinner waiting long enough, let's enjoy it, shall we.
GIRLS."
The three came out of the bed room single file, all the faces were puffy
and it was obvious they had been crying, but they each took their seats
where they had left their pillows and picked up their napkins.
"Boys, take your seats, Ben instructed, and Lesley, as our guest will
your say grace?"
By the time a very quite dinner was finished it was nearly four thirty,
Ben turned to the boys, "better get the evening chores done." They got up
and put on their coats and left the house. Lesley turned to the girls,
"you may need to help them." They left as quickly as they could get
dressed and out the door.
"Well my dear Ben, how are things at the Ponderosa?" and then that laugh
he had missed so much.
"You really know how to brighten a holiday, Lesley," Ben said to her, he
had moved over to the love seat and sat down to loosen his belt a notch.
He patted the seat next to him and she came over and sat with him. It was
only a few minutes before they were arm in arm and sharing long and
loving kisses. "You know this got you in trouble before," Ben said. "Yes,
but it was worth it." replied Lesley.
Out side as the girls made their way to the barn, they met the boys who
started talking all at once. "Shut up!" Adam yelled. "Ok, in a lower
tone, what happened?"
Alex started, "she came in and sat down, she asked us if we were ok, she
told us how badly we had scared her, and how disappointed she was that we
did this, and then she ask about the trip and wanted to know all about
it."
Em picked up the story, "she listened to every detail, we even told her
about getting caught in the snow, she looked very pale like she was very
scared, then we told her how you all had saved us, I think she cried a
little."
Lee went on from there, "She asked us if your Pa had punished us for what
we did, and we told her yes, she made us show her our bottoms to prove
it. Then she told us if we ever did a stunt like this again, we would
never sit again, ever!"
"You mean she did tan you again!" Joe asked.
"Not exactly," Lee answered.
"What is 'not exactly', Hoss asked, either she did or she didn't."
"She got one of your father's belts, we just knew we were dead, but she
had each of us bend over and she gave us three licks, that's all, just
three," Em answered.
Alex added, "and I don't think she put a lot into them, as sore as our
bottoms were anyway, three licks didn't make it that much worse. But then
she had us sit, which wasn't easy and listed to the disappointed,
disrespect, disobedience, dishonest, lecture I think all parents had to
learn before they could become parents. You know the one. There is no way
you can hear it without bawling and they know it."
Adam shook his head, "Yeah, but I think it is because you have heard it
enough growing up, that you have it in your tucked away in your head to
use on your own kids. No matter how many times you hear it, it always
make you sick at your stomach, the guilt behind the lecture."
"Did she say anything about have to go back to San Francisco?" Hoss
asked.
"No, in fact she said if we had waited she was coming home the day we
left to tell us she had closed the shop through the holidays, and the
month of January. We will be here for at least a month! Em answered, just
think if we had waiting, we could be sitting in comfort today, you just
can't trust parents sometimes."
Alex added, "Of course we won't stay with you all of the time, if the
snow clears we will most likely go to Uncle Angus' and stay there, but we
will be here most of the time anyway."
Little Joe was very excited, "this is great, we can go ice sliding, and
build some sleds to go down the mountains, and we will have a great
time."
"Just no rafting, ok little brother?" Hoss said with a half smile.
"Of course not, silly goose, we aren't going to get in trouble ever
again, not like that are we Adam?"
"No, Joe never again like that." Adam said, but he suddenly got that old
tingle on the back of his neck..........
THE END FOR NOW