|Of Hounds and Harlots
Author: fozrulz PM
AU: 2nd story in Ellie series. WARNING: Spanking scene. Please read my profile.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Chapters: 3 - Words: 25,647 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 3 - Published: 08-14-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7285253
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
CHRISTMAS, QUARTERS AND CANDY
This is story that happened when Ellie was 7, she is remembering some time from the past. This story is for Amy Sue who gave me the idea.
Ellie was thirteen and finally old enough to begin learning to cook. She was standing in the kitchen holding a huge knife about to chop some carrots for dinner under Hop Sing's watchful eye. As usual she was staring off into space. She heard "Missy, missy, missy Eleanor!"
Startled out of her day dream, she turned to Hop Sing. "Yes sir?"
"Missy watch what you do, that big knife, very sharp." he admonished shaking his head.
"Oh Hop Sing, I know, I remember one time that I touched this knife and couldn't sit down for days afterwards," she said grinning.
Hop Sing smiled, he remembered that day like it was yesterday. It all started the week after Christmas when Ellie was about 7 and Joe was 12.
Ellie woke up early that Christmas morning. She couldn't wait, she just knew Santa was going to bring her something special. She didn't ask for anything special except more stories for Adam or Papa to read to her and she had wanted that doll she saw in the store. The one that looked so much like the picture of mama that papa had on his desk. She had never told anyone she wanted it and by the time she wanted to show it to Papa, it was gone. She sure wanted that doll. She was hoping maybe Santa would bring some picture books, she liked stories with princesses and kings and daring rescues. She quickly climbed out of bed and ran into her Papa's room.
She opened the door, no easy feat for her since the handle was much higher than her head. "Papa, Papa, wake up! It's Christmas! It's Christmas! Do you think Santa came? Come on Papa, can I go downstairs?" she shouted.
Pa rolled over and looked out the window. It wasn't even light out. In fact it was pitch black outside. He figured it had to be about 4:30 am. "Ellie, baby it's too early. You have to wait until 7:00 and it's, …." he said reaching for his pocket watch, "not even 5:00 yet."
"But Papa…."Ellie begged.
Pa pulled the covers back and patted the bed. "Come lay down with me for a little while. Let your brother's sleep." Let me sleep, he thought.
"Papa, it's Christmas….." Ellie begged.
"Eleanor, you can either go back to your room or get in bed with me." Pa growled.
Ellie knew that voice. That was the count and swat behinds voice, only he didn't sound like he was going to count first. "Yes Papa," she yawned. Ellie climbed into her Papa's big bed and snuggled up against his chest. Pa pulled the blankets over her and sighed. He rubbed her back and before he knew it she was fast asleep. He yawned himself and relaxed. Soon, he was asleep.
The next time he awoke, it was light outside. He extricated himself from Ellie and rolled over to grab his pocket watch. Ah, 7:30, he thought, I got to sleep in. He yawned as he stood up. He looked at his baby, she was still sound asleep and looked lost in that big bed of his. He chuckled as he quickly shaved and dressed. He could smell coffee and bacon cooking. As he descended the stairs he saw his two oldest at the table. Adam was drinking coffee and Hoss was drinking hot chocolate.
"Merry Christmas, boys." he said cheerfully.
"Merry Christmas, Pa." the boys replied.
"Where's your brother?" asked Pa as he took his place at the head of the table.
Adam laughed, "He's in my bed Pa, still asleep."
Pa looked at Adam curiously, "In your bed?"
"Yeah, he came in about 5 this morning and woke me up to go down for Christmas. I told him to go back to bed, that he couldn't get up until 7 just like always. He started pouting, so I let him get in bed with me just like he did when he was little." Adam said still chuckling. "He still goes to sleep when you rub his back. So I just rubbed his back until he fell asleep. Of course, I didn't get back to sleep."
Pa laughed. "Ellie did the same thing around 4:30, but I got back to sleep. Well, let's eat breakfast and get the basic chores done."
"We already did them, Pa." said Hoss between bites.
Pa beamed at the boys, "Why thank you boys. What a very nice thing to do on Christmas morning."
Both boys just smiled. As they looked across at each other, their youngest brother was coming down the stairs, still in his night shirt, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and still yawning.
"Merry Christmas, Joe." said Pa smiling at the disheveled appearance of his youngest son.
"Merry Christmas, Pa." said Joe walking over to his Pa's outstretched arm.
Pa pulled him in for a hug. Joe leaned into him, not really awake, yet. "Uh son, why don't you go get dressed and come back down for breakfast."
"Aw, Pa, cain't I eat breakfast and open presents and then change?" Joe asked stifling a yawn.
Pa raised his eyebrows, "Joseph, please and get your sister moving. She's in my bed."
"Your bed, what's she doing in your bed?" asked Joe.
"Same thing you were doing in Adam's." Pa chuckled.
Joe grinned sheepishly. "Ok Pa, I'm going." he said ducking Pa's swat toward his backside.
Joe ran up the stairs and down the hall to Pa's room. He took a flying leap and jumped on Pa's bed. He shook his sister, "Come on Sissy, come on, it's Christmas."
Ellie's eyes popped open. "Oh boy, let's go!" she exclaimed as she jumped up.
"Wait, wait," shouted Joe to the fleeting figure. Ellie hadn't even heard him, she was off like a shot downstairs. Joe shook his head. He knew that Pa'd send her right back up to get dressed.
Ellie ran down the stairs and was about to jump from the third stair to the bottom landing, when Adam caught her up. "Heh Addy, let me go! It's Christmas! I want to see what Santa brought."
Adam chuckled as he caught Ellie. "Whoa, whoa little girl. He held her tight as she struggled. "You know the rules, get dressed, eat breakfast and then open presents."
Ellie struggled in Adam's arms. She looked over his shoulder at Pa. "Please Papa, please?" she begged.
Pa chuckled, "No, no baby. Do as Adam says."
Ellie started to put on a major pout. Adam set her down facing the stairs. He leaned down as he landed a light swat to her rear, "Best go now before that swat turns into a whipping for being sassy." he whispered.
"But Ad…." she started.
Adam leaned down again, "Do I need to finish what I started?"
"Uh, uh, no." Ellie said as she started up the stairs.
Adam grabbed her up and gave her a kiss. "Merry Christmas and hurry we want to open our presents too." he said as he set her down on the stairs.
Ellie giggled as she ran up the stairs. She quickly dressed in her Christmas dress. She thought it was the most beautiful dress she had ever seen. Papa brought it for her, all the way from San Francisco. It was green velvet with a white collar and cuffs and a big white sash. She put the dress on but couldn't button it. She went in search of Joe. She pushed his door open.
"I need help, Joe," she said as she walked in.
Lucky for Joe, he had just finished buttoning his pants. "Jeez sissy, knock before you come in." he growled.
"Why?" asked Ellie as she turned her back so he could button her up.
"Move your hair." he said exasperated.
"Why?" she asked.
"Because I don't want to button your hair in your dress, dummy."
"Heh, I'm not a dummy and I was asking why I should knock." she said stamping her foot.
Joe rolled his eyes, "Because it ain't polite to just barge into someone's room, they might not be dressed."
"So, I seen you in your drawers lots of times Joe." Ellie said swinging her hair back into place.
Joe just rolled his eyes. There was no way he was going to explain that one to her. She was just a baby, she didn't understand his new found modesty. He changed the subject. "Come on, don't you want to see what Santa brought?" he asked grabbing her hand.
The both ran down the stairs to the breakfast table, just as Hop Sing was putting the second round of food on the table. He was putting fresh scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, biscuits and Ellie's favorite strawberry jam. Ellie slid into her seat, but not before she sighed wistfully and gave a longing stare at the Christmas tree.
"Eleanor Grace and Joseph, eat your breakfast. If you don't we'll just be sitting here staring at those presents under the tree." said Pa, his eyes dancing with laughter.
The two children dug into their breakfast and were finished in record speed. As Ellie shoved the last fork full of eggs into her mouth, she asked, "Papa, can we open presents now?"
Pa eyed his youngest two, they were practically vibrating out of their skins. He laughed, "Yes, let's go open presents."
The children whooped and ran to the tree. Pa made his way to the blue chair and waited for the tradition to begin. The tradition was that the youngest handed out presents to each person and then once every one had a present, they could begin opening that present. Then they would start the process over until all the presents were gone. Of course this year, there were a few extra presents for Ellie and Joe from Santa.
Ellie started handing out presents. She waited and everyone started opening their gifts. Ellie started to open her gift from Santa, her eyes got as round as saucers. When she tore the paper, she was staring into the eyes of that doll from Mr. Callahan's. The doll with the blue dress, the one that looked just like her Mama's picture. Ellie took a breath, she looked at her Papa.
"Papa," she breathed, "it's the doll I wanted from Mr. Callahan's store. I didn't even ask Santa for it. How did he know?"
"I don't know," said Pa, "you must have been a good girl this year. Santa knows everything."
"Wow," said Ellie.
Everyone opened their gifts. Joe had a new rifle from Santa. Adam had new saddlebags from Pa, and Hoss had a pistol from Pa. Pa had a new dress jacket from Adam. "Ok," said Pa, "Ellie it's time to get another gift. Ellie didn't even hear him. She was enamored with her new doll. Pa cleared his throat, "Ellie," he said a little louder.
Ellie looked at him questioningly, "Yes Papa?"
"Next round of gifts." he said.
"Oh sorry," she said as she jumped up and handed out the gifts.
They finally got to the bottom of the gifts. It took a little while, because Joe and Ellie had a couple of gifts from Santa and everyone had gotten gifts for each family member. The family had finally opened everything except the stockings. While Adam was getting the stockings down, Pa turned to address his two youngest boys.
"Hoss, Joe, you both received guns for Christmas."
Hoss and Joe turned to their father, "Yes sir?"
"The same rules apply as always. Joseph, you may not use that rifle without my permission or without either Adam, Hoss or me with you."
"Aww, Pa," whined Joe, "I'm 12 now."
"I know how old you are Joseph, the rule stands. If you break that rule, you won't like the consequences. Is that clear?" Pa retorted.
Joe sighed. He didn't want to get in trouble on Christmas. "Yes sir, it's clear."
"Good, let's open the stockings." said Pa as each one dumped out his or her stocking.
Ellie couldn't believe it, she had 4 quarters. Four whole quarters. She would have had to save for weeks to have that much. Her stocking also had an orange, some nuts and some peppermint sticks. She couldn't believe her good fortune. She was very tired after all the excitement. She had started yawning as she made her way to her Papa's lap. She climbed in his lap with her doll in hand and settled in. Pa picked her up and moved toward the rocker. He figured a few minutes of rocking her and she would be asleep.
Joe was eyeing the contents of his stocking. He had the same stuff as Ellie, plus he had a couple of boxes of rifle shells. As he was gathering his things together to take them upstairs, Pa stopped him.
"Joseph, those shells and the rifle go in the gun case."
"Aw Pa, please, can't I have them in my room." Joe begged.
"Joseph, you know the rule, no loose guns in the house. Too many accidents can happen."
"Ok," Joe sighed.
"Excuse me, young man?"
"Oh, I meant, Yes sir!" said Joe as he walked toward the gun case.
Pa nodded as Joe went and placed his gun and shells in the cabinet. Ellie was fast asleep in her Papa's arms. He looked down and smiled at her. Adam looked over and smiled.
"Guess our little whirlwind finally got quiet." observed Adam.
"Pa, want me to take her up?" asked Hoss.
"Please son, thank you." said Pa as he handed her off to Hoss. "Well," he said, "how about helping me get this mess picked up," looking at his oldest.
"Sure Pa," said Adam.
With the mess cleaned up and the gifts put away, the family relaxed with their Christmas gifts, while Ellie took a nap. Ellie woke up a couple hours later, she was starving. She made her way down the stairs and over to her father. "I'm….hun….gry…" she yawned.
Pa laughed as he held out his arm to receive her in a big hug. "Me too baby, let's see what Hop Sing has for lunch?"
As the family settled around the table. The questions started.
"Pa, can I go shoot my rifle? Please? I'll be real careful. Honest." Joe said begging his father.
"Papa, do I get to spend my quarters? Can we go to Mr. Callahan's?" asked Ellie.
Pa just chuckled at all the questions. "First, let's eat lunch. Second, Joseph, I will take you out to shoot that rifle later this afternoon. Third Ellie, the store isn't even open today. You need to save your quarters for later."
On hearing that she couldn't spend her quarters, Ellie slumped. Pa smiled. She sure could put on pout when she wanted to. "Ellie, we can go to Mr. Callahan's next week, he's going to be closed until New Years."
"Aww, Papa, that's so long. A whole week?" she asked.
"Eleanor, that will be quite enough. No pouting, it's Christmas. You have all kinds of new toys to play with."
Ellie looked at her Papa. "I know Papa, I'm sorry. I really do love everything. I love my new doll, my puppy, the paper, the colors, the new bridle Hoss made, really."
By this time, Joe had plowed through his lunch. "Ok Pa, I'm ready to go try out my rifle."
Pa shook his head, "Joe, I haven't even started to eat yet."
Adam laughed, "It's ok Pa, let me take him. He's going to drive us all crazy if I don't."
Pa laughed, "You boys go ahead."
"Yippee!" yelled Joe. He was off like a shot to get the gun and some shells.
The next few days were filled with much of the same. Every day Joe would get someone to take him to shoot his rifle. Ellie pretty much stayed inside. Pa wouldn't let her go out in the cold too much. He didn't want to her to have a relapse of her cold. She was satisfied playing dolls and drawing with her new colors and paper. Finally, on the third day after Christmas, she couldn't stand the boredom any more.
"Papa, can I go see Marybeth?" she asked plaintively as she looked up from the picture she was drawing.
Just then, Joe walked in. Yeah, Pa, I sure would like to go see Michael."
Pa eyed them. "I guess it would be ok. Maybe Hoss'll take you."
"Aww Pa, I can take us. I am 12. You let Adam and Hoss go off when they was 12." Joe said.
Pa hesitated. "Well, I guess it would be ok. You need to be back before supper, which means you need to leave before 5:00."
"Yes sir, thanks Pa." said Joe enthusiastically.
Joe was trying to think of a way to take his rifle over to Michael's house without Pa being any wiser. He knew he wasn't suppose to touch that rifle without Pa or one of his brothers being right there. Luckily he hadn't taken the rifle out of the case, it was still on his horse. He could just say he forgot to, yeah, it was a great plan. Now, if he could only get Pa to let them leave quickly, before Pa asked about the rifle.
"Come on Sissy," said Joe poking his sister in the shoulder, "Let's go."
She shot Joe a menacing glance. "Gosh, Joe, just a minute." she said as she stood up.
"Eleanor Grace, put those colors and paper up in your room before you leave." Pa admonished.
"Yes sir," she said gathering all her supplies and taking them to her room.
Ellie raced down the stairs with her mittens, hat and scarf. Pa took her coat down off the peg and buttoned her up. "Papa, can I take my new doll?" she asked.
Joe held his breath. He didn't want Pa to remember about the rifle.
"Sure, sure baby." Pa said as he pushed her toward the door. "Joseph?"
"You be careful and watch for your sister, now. You hear?" Pa said sternly.
"Uh, yes sir. Can we go, Pa?"
"Go on with you." Pa said smiling.
Joe grabbed Ellie's hand. "Come on Sissy, time's a wasting." Joe said hastily as he dragged Ellie outside. He helped Ellie mount her pony and the two took off. Joe breathed a sigh of relief. Neither Adam or Hoss had seem them leave and no one was any wiser about the rifle.
Joe and Ellie road the 5 miles over to the Cummings ranch, the 5 Star. Joe dismounted and helped Ellie down. "Come on," he said as he knocked on the door.
The door opened and there stood Miss Liza, Michael and Marybeth's mother. "Hi Miss Liza!" greeted the children.
"Ellie!" yelled Marybeth.
"Joe!" yelled Michael.
"Boy, am I glad to see you." said Marybeth. "I was getting bored, no one to play with."
"You got Michael." said Ellie.
"Yeah and you got Joe." countered Marybeth.
"Oh," Ellie smiled. "Yeah, Joe don't want to play with me much. All he cares about is that new rifle."
Marybeth's eyes got big, "Joe got a rifle?"
"Yeah, and all he wants to do is practice." Ellie huffed.
"Well don't you worry, let's go play, tea party." said Marybeth grabbing her friend's hand. "Heh," said Marybeth, whatcha got there?" she asked pointed to Ellie's doll.
"Oh, I almost forgot," said Ellie excitedly, "Santa brought me a new doll. Isn't she pretty?"
"Oh my, she sure is." said Marybeth. "Guess what, Santa brought me a fancy doll too. She has red hair and a green dress. Just like me. Mama made her a matching dress."
Ellie's eyes got big, "Really, can I see?"
"Sure, come on." said Marybeth pulling Ellie toward her room.
Ellie turned toward Liza, "Miss Liza you suppose you could make a dress for my doll, matching my Christmas dress?"
Liza smiled. "Sure sweetie, you just show me the dress at the New Year's party and I'll make one for your dolly. What are you going to name her?"
"Marie," said Ellie shyly, "like my mama."
Liza hugged her. "Go on and play girls." She turned to the boys. "Shouldn't you boys go put up Joe and Ellie's ponies?"
"Oh, yes ma'am." said Joe punching his friend in the arm. "Come on Michael."
Michael shrugged into his jacket. "Heh Joe, did your Pa get you that rifle you wanted?"
"Um no Michael, Santa brought it," Joe said loudly for Ellie's benefit. Ellie thought Santa brought the rifle. Michael looked at Joe a little funny. Joe jerked his head toward the girls.
"Oh, wow, Santa sure was good to you," said Michael catching on.
The two boys exited the house. "Jeez Michael, I almost messed that up. Ellie still believes in Santa and she thinks that Santa gave me the rifle." Joe said exasperated.
Michael laughed, "Yeah, I know so does Marybeth. We still all pretend about Santa for her."
Joe lowered his voice as they entered the barn. "You want to see it?"
"See what Joe?" asked Michael as he pulled off Windy's saddle.
"My new rifle, dummy."
"You brought your rifle? You mean, your Pa let you bring your rifle over here?" Michael asked in amazement.
"Well sure," said Joe.
"Come on Joe," said Michael, "I know your Pa better than that. The last time your Pa caught us near the gun case, he done swatted both of us and told us it was gonna turn into more that a swat if he caught us near it again."
"Okay, okay, I sneaked it out, well kinda, anyway." said Joe.
Just then Michael's father entered the barn. "Um.., Hi, Mr. Aaron!" said Joe lowering the rifle to the floor behind Blackie's feet.
"Heh Pa," said Michael.
Aaron eyed the two boys. They sure looked guilty about something. "What's going on boys?" he asked suspiciously.
"Nothing Pa," said Michael fidgeting.
"Nothing, Mr. Aaron." said Joe trying to put on his best innocent face.
Aaron's eyes narrowed. He didn't believe those two for one minute. Something was definitely up. "Michael John if you're lying to me, I'm going to tan your behind." and then he looked at Joe. "Joseph, the same goes for you. Understood?"
"Yes, sir." the boys said swallowing nervously. Joe wasn't sure which he was most afraid of Mr. Aaron tanning his behind or his own Pa if he found out he took the rifle out of the house.
"Boys, step out of the stall." Aaron commanded.
The boys stood immobile.
"NOW!" he barked.
The boys jumped and scrambled out of the stall. The rifle lay right there in plain sight in front of Blackie's feet. Aaron walked in the stall and looked around. He didn't see anything amiss. Blackie had backed up and amazingly hadn't stepped on the rifle. Joe breathed a sigh of relief. Joe was praying as hard as he could that Mr. Aaron was not going to see the rifle. However, God wasn't listening or he was and the answer was a resounding "No!".
Aaron's boot touched something hard. He looked down at his feet and saw the rifle. He bent down to pick up the rifle. He turned around to face Joe, "Joseph, is this your rifle?"
Joe sighed. "Yes sir."
"Do you have permission to have this rifle out?" Aaron ground out. He knew that Ben Cartwright would not have allowed his 12 year old son to have a rifle without supervision.
Aaron was getting angry, "Joseph, I asked you a question young man."
"No sir, I don't have permission." Joe nearly whispered. He knew he better not lie to Mr. Aaron. He figured Mr. Aaron was going to tan him, he didn't want to make it any worse. Joe stood there holding his breath.
Mr. Aaron laid the rifle down and walked toward the two boys. The boys shrank back. He grabbed Joe's arm, whirled him around and gave him two very hard swats on the behind and then he did the same to Michael. "I'll be keeping this rifle and I will ride home with you and give it to your father." he said walking back and picking up the rifle. He took the rifle and left the boys standing in the barn.
Joe was rubbing his behind, "Boy, your Pa swats hard."
"Yeah, tell me about it. I thought he was going to tan the daylights out both of us." said Michael.
"I don't want your Pa to get any other ideas," said Joe, "can we just stay out in the barn?"
"Naw, it's too cold. Let's just go up in my room. We can play marbles or something." said Michael shaking his head.
"Just so long as we're out of the way." said Joe, "I don't want anymore swats from your Pa, I have a feeling I'm going to be getting more than that when I get home."
"Yeah," said Michael, "I don't think my Pa is done with me either."
The boys went to play in Michael's room in an effort to stay out of Michael's Pa's sight. In the meantime, the girls were playing in Marybeth's room. Finally, much to Joe's dismay, Mr. Aaron came in Michael's room and told them it was time for Joe and Ellie to head home. Joe was hoping that maybe Mr. Aaron would forget about coming home with him. However, it was not to be.
"Joseph, go saddle your's and Ellie's ponies. I'll be right there to take you home." Aaron said sternly.
"Yes sir!" said Joe responding immediately. He wasn't about to add disobedience to his list of crimes. Joe sighed as he headed out. He knew he was probably going to get tanned and restricted to the house. He figured he probably wouldn't be seeing that rifle anytime soon, either.
Joe came back in the house. "Mr. Aaron, the ponies are ready."
"Ellie!" called Aaron, "It's time to go."
"Coming Mr. Aaron," Ellie called. She was ready to go home. She was tired.
The threesome mounted up and headed for the Ponderosa. Joe was very quiet all the way home. Ellie didn't really notice because she was having trouble staying awake. Aaron noticed Ellie slumping. He chuckled to himself. He guessed he would have to let her ride with him so she didn't fall off her pony. He called a halt. Ellie pulled up beside Aaron. He reached over and lifted her off his pony and put her in front of him.
Ellie looked at him questioningly, "Mr. Aaron, why are you doing that? I can ride."
"Because you are about to fall asleep in the saddle and I don't want you to get hurt."
"Oh, I'm fine. I can do it." she countered.
Aaron's eyes narrowed. "The matter is not up for discussion." he said tersely.
Ellie knew better than to argue with Aaron. Aaron held Windy's lead as they resumed their ride toward the Ponderosa. As they came into the yard, Pa came out to greet them. "Merry Christmas, Aaron. Thank you for bringing the children home." Pa greeted them warmly.
Aaron nodded down at Ellie. Pa smiled knowingly. That little girl of his could fall asleep anywhere. He reached up as Aaron handed her down.
"Ben, I need a word with you." Aaron said grimly.
Pa took Ellie. "Come on in Aaron, I'll get one of the boys to take Ellie up." Pa said as he entered the house. Aaron followed closely behind with Joe's new rifle.
"Pa?" asked Adam as he watched his father enter the house with his little sister in his arms.
"Adam, will you take her up?" Pa asked handing her off.
"So, Aaron, is there some kind of problem?" asked Pa as he turned toward his friend.
Aaron hesitated and then handed the rifle to him. Pa's eyebrows went up. "This looks like Joe's new rifle." he said surprised.
"Yes it is," said Aaron, "Joe had it and was showing Michael in the barn and then they tried to hide it from me."
Pa sighed, 'I told him not to touch that rifle without permission or supervision."
"I figured as much," Aaron said nodding his head. Aaron went on to explain the entire situation, swats and all.
Pa was shaking his head. "Much obliged Aaron, for bringing the children home." Pa said extending his hand for a handshake.
"Any time my friend, any time." said Aaron as he moved to leave. Pa walked him out and then headed for the barn.
"Joseph?" Pa asked as he entered the barn.
"I'm over here, Pa" Joe said, "by Windy."
Pa rounded the corner.
"I'm sorry Pa." Joe blurted out.
"Sorry for getting caught or sorry you did something wrong?" asked Pa.
Joe looked confused. "Ain't it the same thing?" he asked.
"No son, sorry you got caught means that you're not really sorry you did it, but you're sorry you're going to get punished."
"Oh," said Joe.
"Sorry you did something is feeling bad for doing something wrong and it bothers your conscious,"
"Oh," said Joe again, looking at the floor.
"So, which is it, boy?" Pa asked.
Joe took a big breath, "I guess it's a little of both Pa."
"Joe, why did you take your rifle over to Michael's?"
"Well Pa, it didn't start out deliberate." Joe said.
"Go on," Pa sighed.
"Well, I left the rifle in the case and I found it there when I went to get the horses ready to go to Michael's. I just kind of left it there, so it was there when we got to Michael's."
"I see," said Pa, "But you knew it was there before you left?"
"And you could have brought it in the house then?"
"I see. Well young man, you are restricted to your room for the rest of Christmas vacation, you can come out for chores, meals and church. And you won't be seeing that rifle until I feel that I can trust you."
"That's it?" asked Joe.
"Does there need to be more?" asked Pa.
"Oh, no sir. Not at all." said Joe hastily. He couldn't believe he escaped a tanning.
"Go on in the house now." Pa said motioning Joe toward the house.
Joe quickly scrambled by Pa heading toward the house. But not before, Pa swatted his backside as hard as he could. Joe about tripped. He turned to look at his father.
"If I ever catch you with that rifle again without permission, the swat you just got will be like a feather. Do you understand me?" Pa said.
"Oh yes sir," said Joe rubbing his behind, "I understand, Pa."
Joe turned and hurried toward the house. He didn't want his Pa to get any more ideas or give his Pa a target. The next few days passed uneventfully. Well, with Joe on restriction, not much went on. The day finally came when Mr. Callahan's mercantile was open again. Ellie couldn't wait when she heard that Adam was going into town for supplies.
Ellie ran breathlessly into Adam's room and pushed open the door without knocking. "Addy, Addy, can I go?"
Adam turned around to see the little whirlwind. "Ellie, you should knock before you come barging into someone's room."
"Oh sorry. Can I go, huh, Addy? Can I go?"
Adam chuckled. "Go? Where do you want to go?"
"I want to take my Christmas quarters and go to Mr. Callahan's. Please, please Adam, I'll be really good, I promise." Ellie was tugging on his shirt tail and looking up into his eyes. She was just bubbling with excitement. She'd been cooped up at the Ponderosa long enough.
"Well, you get Pa's permission and it's ok with me."
Ellie's eyes lit up. She threw herself into his arms. "Thanks. I'll go ask Papa." Ellie turned to run out of the room and she stopped at the door and she turned to face her brother. "Adam, you think Papa will let Joe come?"
Adam sighed, "I doubt it Princess, he's on restriction. Pa doesn't normally give in. Once you're on restriction, it usually stands."
"Well, I'm gonna ask him, cuz me and Joe wants to go together." Ellie said stubbornly, her little mouth turning into a frown.
"You can ask if you want, but you better be nice because if you aren't Pa isn't going to let you go either. No sassing." Adam advised.
"Ok," she said turning toward the door again. Ellie raced down the hall to her Papa's room. She started to barge in and then remembered what Adam had said about knocking. She knocked and heard "Come in."
Ellie pushed the big door open. "Papa, can I go to town with Adam? Please? I'll be real good? Honest!"
Pa laughed, she had spoken so fast he could barely understand her. He put on his serious face. "Why do you want to go to town?"
"I want to spend my Christmas quarters. Please Papa! I'll be real good, honest!"
Pa laughed again. "Sure baby, you can go. Best behavior understand?"
"Yes sir! Thank you!" Ellie said flinging herself into his arms. Pa released her and she stood back. "Papa, can Joe go? We were going to spend our quarters together."
Pa's eyebrows furrowed. "No, Ellie, Joe is on restriction and don't ask again."
Ellie sighed, "Yes sir." She was excited to go, but she really wanted Joe to go. She went to Joe's room. She pushed his door open. "Heh, Joe?" she asked.
"Yeah," Joe sighed. He was very tired of being in his room. For once in his life, he couldn't wait for school to start, so he was off restriction.
"Adam's going to town and I'm going. I asked Pa if you could come and he said "No", but I could bring ya back something."
Joe just sighed dejectedly again, "No, it's ok Sissy. But thanks anyway."
Ellie felt really bad. She wanted Joe to go. Well, maybe she'd just bring something back for him anyway. She got ready to go and headed downstairs to meet Adam. Adam had just come in from hitching up the team. He looked at his little sister, she had no hat, no mittens, her coat was buttoned wrong and she had no shoes on.
He grinned. "Ellie, you need your boots, your hat and your mittens."
Ellie just looked at him.
"Come on," he said walking toward her. He grabbed her hand and knelt down to her. He fixed her coat and took her hat and mittens out of the drawer and handed them to her. "Go get your boots." he said pushing her toward the stairs.
Ellie ran up the stairs and came flying back down with her boots. She sat on the bottom stair to put them on.
"Do you have your quarters?" asked Adam.
"Oh, I forgot them." said Ellie. She finished putting her boots on and raced back up the stairs.
Finally, they were ready to head into town. Ellie just couldn't wait. She had seen some water color paints she wanted. She didn't know, the paints were twenty-five cents, she thought that maybe that was too much. Her mind drifted to Joe, the more she thought about it, the more she missed him. She really wanted to go to the store with him. He always helped her pick out the best stuff. Maybe she could bring him something back. She knew he liked fudge. Maybe she could bring him back a block of fudge. Ellie had no idea that Adam had been talking to her for 5 minutes.
"Ellie? Ellie? ELLIE?" Adam shouted.
"What?" she asked.
"I've been trying to get your attention for 5 minutes. "
"I was asking what you wanted to buy with your Christmas money?"
"Oh, I was thinking about those paints, you know the water color ones. Joe got me paper for Christmas." she said absent mindedly.
Adam looked curiously at his little sister. "Ellie, what's wrong. You look like you lost your best friend."
"I want Joe," she sighed heavily.
Adam looked surprised. "Really, why?"
"Yeah, well he helps me pick out good stuff. I don't know, me and Joe was gonna come together. Sometime we put our money together and share. It ain't the same."
Adam laughed to himself. Ellie sure would get stuck on one of her brothers for the day. No matter who it was, no one else would please her but the one she wanted. She always went to Pa, but she wouldn't always be satisfied with Adam if she wanted Hoss or Hoss if she wanted Joe. Adam just sighed.
"Well baby, what about bringing back Joe a little something." Adam supplied.
"Really, you don't think Papa'll be mad if I do. You know Joe's on restriction still. Papa don't like us doing stuff for the one in trouble. Papa never lets you into my room to read when I'm in trouble." she said shaking her head.
Adam grinned. "Don't worry, you can get something small and I'll take care of Pa."
"Really Adam? Really?" Ellie asked not quite believing her oldest brother could get Pa to not be mad.
"Yep, you just wait and see. Ok? Now, how about a smile?" asked Adam as he patted the side of her face.
"Ok, Adam. Ok. I'm gonna be real good. You just wait and see." said Ellie as she settled against Adam on the buckboard seat.
Adam and Ellie finally reached town and Mr. Callahan's store. Adam lifted Ellie down from the buckboard. "Ellie, it's cold, go on in the store and stand right in the front."
Ellie huffed, "Adam, cain't I look around. I promise not to touch nothing without permission."
"No, you stay right in the front by the register until I'm ready."
"But Adam," whined Ellie.
Adam took off his gloves as he looked over at his sister. "Ellie, you said you'd be a good girl for me. You promised Pa."
"Ok," Ellie whispered, "ok."
Ellie went in the store and waited inside the door for Adam. Adam came in and handed his list to Mr. Callahan. "About an hour, David?" he asked.
Mr. Callahan looked over the list and scratched his chin. "Yep, be ready in about an hour."
Adam held is hand out for Ellie. "You ready to shop?" he asked.
"Adam, can we go to the sweet shop. I want to get Joe some fudge." she said looking up into her brother's eyes.
Adam had to smile. Ellie sure had her mind set on Joe today. "Sure," he said.
Adam and Ellie walked to the sweet shop and acquired the fudge and then they made it back to Mr. Callahan's just in time for the order to be loaded into the buckboard. Ellie was very happy, she had gotten something that she and Joe could share. Ellie carefully placed the fudge in her pocket. Adam picked her up and placed her in the buckboard. The jostling of the buckboard lulled Ellie to sleep. Adam just smiled at his sister. She had fallen asleep leaning against him. He carefully laid her down with her head on his knee. Ellie woke up right as they arrived home.
Hoss had heard the buckboard coming in and went outside to meet Adam. He lifted Ellie down and with a soft pat on her behind pointed toward the house. "Get inside Ellie, it's cold out here."
Ellie ran for the door. She couldn't wait to show Joe what she had bought. She had spent twenty-five whole cents and she still had some left over to go back when Joe could go with her. She ran straight up to Joe's room and pushed open the door. "Look-it Joe, look it." Ellie exclaimed.
Joe looked up from his bed. "Watcha got there Sissy?"
"I bought us some fudge to share." she said excitedly as she pulled the block of fudge from her pocket.
Joe's eyes lit up. He surely loved fudge. "Really, what kind?" he asked holding his hand out.
"Just plain." Ellie said handing him the block.
Joe put it on his desk. "Oh Sissy, it's frozen, we're going to have to wait a little bit." Joe said trying to break off a piece.
"I got an idea." Ellie said running out of the room. She thought about Hop Sing's big knife that he used to cut vegetables with. She knew normally she wasn't allowed to touch knives of any kind. In fact someone still cut up her meat for her. She thought, well just this once, she just wanted to cut fudge. It's not like she was doing something bad. She got to the bottom of the stairs and looked around, luckily no one was in the great room. She slinked into the kitchen and looked around. Everyone must have been outside helping Adam with the supplies. Hop Sing kept the knives on a block on the counter. Ellie couldn't reach. She dragged a chair over to the counter and stood up on the counter. She reached the knife and very carefully removed it from the block and snuck back through the great room and back to Joe's room.
Joe was sitting at his desk looking at the fudge with a forlorn look on his face. "Joe," Ellie whispered.
"What?" he asked.
"Look," she said showing him the knife. "We can cut the fudge with this."
Joe blanched, "Sissy, give me that. You ain't allowed to touch that knife. If Pa catches us with that knife, we're both going to get in trouble."
"Come on Joe, just cut the fudge and I'll put it back. Honest. Just one piece," she begged.
Against his better judgment, Joe took the knife and tried cutting the fudge. "I don't know Sissy, I still think it's too frozen." said Joe testing the knife on the fudge.
"Well, let's just wait." said Ellie.
Joe shook his head. "Well, we can wait a few minutes."
Ellie went to pick up the knife. "Sissy, don't touch it." hissed Joe.
Ellie stamped her foot. "Aww, Joe, I just want to look at it." she pouted.
Joe took the knife. "Ok, let's see if it works now." Joe took the knife and holding the end of the knife, one hand on the top and the bottom, with his palms on the top, Joe tried to cut the fudge. He pressed down hard and his hand slipped. "Ow!" he yelled as the knife sliced into his finger.
Ellie looked on horrified. Joe was bleeding all over the place. She forgot about the knife and raced down the stairs calling for her papa. She raced outside without her coat to the buckboard. "Papa, papa," she called, "Joe is hurt."
Pa dropped the bag of flour he had and raced toward the house. "What happened?" he asked as he made it to Joe's room. Joe looked ashen.
"Cut my self." he whispered. "Pa, it hurts real bad." Joe said shakily.
Pa grabbed Joe and led him to the wash basin. "Ellie go get your brothers, I need bandages and send the other one for Dr. Martin."
Ellie raced to do Pa's bidding. She was running and crying and feeling very guilty for bringing Joe the knife. She ran right into Hoss. He gathered her up. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"Joe,…just….hurt, …..knife…cut…Uncle Paul.." she sobbed hysterically.
Hoss didn't really understand, but he figured he better go get Dr. Martin. He handed a weeping Ellie to Adam. "Papa…bandages…." she managed. Adam raced into the house with Ellie, while Hoss headed for Dr. Martin.
A couple of hours later, Joe had stitches, Paul was having a cup of coffee with Ben and Adam and Hoss were relaxing in the great room. Thankfully, Joe just needed a few stitches and all was calm and peaceful again. Paul had given Joe something to make him sleep and he was resting.
Then there was Ellie, she was laying down on her belly because her Papa had given her the very first bare-bottomed spanking she had every had. Once he calmed Joe down and got the story of the knife, he had whipped her soundly and told her that she never better touch that knife again.
Ellie laughed at herself. That Christmas seemed so long ago. Here she was holding that knife, she sure had come a long way.