He was glad he had taken the buggy. It had gone cold and the sun hadn't shown up yet. But he had to go to her anyway. No matter how cold it was and how his bones were aching. It was her birthday and he had never missed her birthday. He got off the buggy and went to her grave.
„Hello Koko! Happy birthday to you! I hope you've found someone to celebrate with you! Brought you a little birthday gift."
He put an eagle feather on her grave. Back in those days she had given him a feather as a birthday gift, too. And she had explained to him, that the native people consider the eagle's feather sacred, and that this feather was an icon of truthfulness and faithfulness. Since he couldn't kneel any longer, he got up and sat down on a rock. Now she was only in his heart for the last three months. He smiled. As long as he knew her, she has waited till he got over the death of his wife. It had always been important to Koko, that he was alright. Only then she thought of herself. He would have liked that the two most important women in his life have found their final resting place side by side. But Koko's husband had picked this place, and he would never have dared to tell him his wish.
The wind got stronger and he turned up the collar of his jacket to protect himself from the cold. If his children knew that he was at her grave in this kind of weather they'd tell him something. But he didn't want anyone to accompany him when he visited her.
He wanted to be alone with her. The wind grew stronger and he looked up.
It would surely snow today. He smiled again.
"Do you remember, Koko? The time the first snow of the year fell."
Deep in thought he remembered the time when they had met for the first time.
It surely would be snowing today.
Maybe it will start soon, so he could count snow flakes. It would be much more interesting than sitting here and doing all the exercises.
For the fifth time yet! It's been three weeks since he went to school and he hated going there. He had been looking forward to visiting school. But already after two hours he knew that he probably wouldn't have any fun here.
He had to write a test, so Mr. Fletcher could assess what class he'd be in. It was a very simple test. He could solve the tasks within an hour, and he was sure that he hadn't made a single mistake. Mr. Fletcher had examined the test for a long time, then he came to his desk, leaned towards him and talked very quietly to him. „Well boy, I don't know how you could cheat, but if you think that I will put you to the fourth grade, you're wrong! I will keep an eye on you!"
Only a week later, he stood in the corner for the first time, and that's just because he had pointed out to Mr. Fletcher that he had made a mistake in solving a math problem. In the beginning he had worked through the tasks one after the other and was always among the first to be finished.
Mr. Fletcher was not very pleased about this and told him that he had to repeat all the tasks until even the last one was finished. Now he always took his time and looked out of the window, daydreaming.
He winced. How many times had Mr. Fletcher called him repeatedly, and he just didn't get it?
Mr. Fletcher stood right in front of him with obviously enraged.
„Adam Cartwright, how often do I have to tell you! If I address you, you have to get up and say, "Yes, Sir" and not simply "Yes"! Do I have to write another letter to your father, so that he will tell you how to behave towards adults? "
Adam stood up and looked past Mr. Fletcher.
"As punishment for looking out of the window all the time and not following the lessons you will have to clean the blackboard and then you will stay in the corner till school is over."
Adam's first thought was to talk back, that he could clean his stupid board all by himself but he changed his mind. He didn't want to have another serious talk with his father in the barn. So he did what Mr. Fletcher had told him and then stood in the corner for three hours and he was not allowed to go on a break with the others, of course.
At the end of the school day Adam got a letter from Mr. Fletcher which his father was supposed to sign. With his head down he ran to his horse.
"Hey, Cartwright! What are you dreaming about? Lisa's big boobs?"
It was clear that Mitch and his friends had waited for him. He walked on to his horse.
„What's going on, Cartwright! Stay where you are! Or are you afraid?"
Why couldn't they just leave him be! Suddenly Mitch stumbled forward and was just able to prevent falling to the ground.
"What the hell . . !"
He turned around and got even more angry.
"Half breed, you're looking for trouble?"
"Not me, but you and your friends! Leave Adam alone!"
"Oh oh! Adam's got a girlfriend and she's a half breed!
Mitch hadn't finished as he knelt in the snow and held his eye.
"I'd say you take your friends and off you go!"
Mitch looked for his school books and stood up. "You'll pay for this, half breed!"
He nodded to his friends, and disappeared behind the school's shed.
"Thanks, Jessica! T'wasn't necessary! I'd have managed that!"
Adam helped her to pick up her books.
"Why don't you fight back, Adam? Why don't you just hit them? "
He shrugged. "That won't work. I'm here for only three weeks and already got five letters to take home. And if I start fighting them now I probably won't be able to come to school for a week because I just can't sit!"
"It's just the same with me. Except that I don't get any trouble at home. My parents know that Mr. Fletcher doesn't like me, because my father is an Indian."
He put his school books in his saddle bags. "At least you know why he doesn't like you. I have no clue why he didn't like me right from the beginning."
"You're too smart, Adam. He cannot handle it. Children must be stupid in his eyes, especially here. He got the notion that we all came from the cities, because our parents were too stupid to find work there."
"The question is, who's stupid!"
Jessica laughed out loud. "When Mr. Fletcher hears this, you better get yourself quite a thick cushion."
"It is true, Jessica. I don't like school. I'd rather hope we'd move elsewhere."
He leaned his face on his horse. She shouldn't see how sad he was. Jessica came to his side and punched him slightly on the arm. "Oh, Adam! You're only here for a short time.
Believe me, it is a beautiful country, and we both will have fun here."
Adam turned his head toward her. "We?"
"Well, we're friends after all, ain't we?"
Great! His first friend here in Nevada was a girl, and she was only seven years old. "Yes, we are, Jessica!"
She got on her horse. "Adam, please don't call me Jessica. My Indian name is Koko."
He had mounted his horse, too. "Where do you live, Koko? Maybe we go the same way?"
"We do. I see you every morning when you ride to school. Our house is not far from yours. I have to turn right at the Beaver Creek."
Both made their way home. They agreed to meet at the Beaver Creek the next morning.
Adam tried to ride the last part of the way as slowly as possible. He knew his father would be angry again when he would give him the letter from Mr. Fletcher. It wasn't the worst thing, that his father would be angry with him, but that he would be disappointed by Adam.
But what should Adam tell him. What Mr. Fletcher wrote in his letters, was indeed true.
He daydreamed in school, replied snottily and had fought the other boys right from the start. How could he explain to his father that it was just because Mr. Fletcher didn't like him. Adam knew exactly what his Pa'd tell him.
'Son. You cannot like everyone. But he's your teacher, so be polite, do your tasks and you won't get into trouble.'
If only it was just that simple!
He had stabled his horse and opened the door of the house. When he entered his little brother came running to him and wanted to be picked up and cradled in Adam's arm.
Adam put his satchel on the table and picked him up.
"Hello Hoss! Did you have fun with Hop Sing? "
"Baked biscuits ."
"Is there one left for me?"
"Oh yes! Even for Pa!"
"Son numbel one is pletty late. Food almost cold. Ml. Caltwlight vely angly. "
His father was already at home? Usually he wasn't home before supper, cause there was so much work to do. "I'll just take my stuff to my room, then I'll be back."
Less than five minutes later, he sat at the table and tried not to look at his father. "How did school go today, Adam?"
Without taking his eyes from his plate he answered his father. "The first few hours were all right."
Ben put the cutlery aside. "The first few hours?"
"I got another letter from Mr. Fletcher for you."
Even though his eyes were still directed downward, he knew exactly how his father looked at him right now.
"Adam would you look at me when I talk to you."
He raised his head. "Yes, Sir!"
"Can you explain to me why you cannot behave any more?" I have to work so much here, so we will get over the up-coming winter, and you've got nothing better to do than to cause even more problems? "
" It won't happen again, Pa!"
Ben's nerves were already strained by the hard work on the ranch anyway, and now his son was stepping out of line all the time. His anger and disappointment about Adam reflected in his voice. "You already said that last time. Was our conversation in the barn not sufficient? "
Most of all Adam wanted to bow his head again. He didn't want to see the disappointment in his father's eyes. "It was enough, Sir."
"Now, did you run into a fight or did you skip school?"
"No Sir. I've been day-dreaming again. "
Ben shook his head and was flabbergasted for the moment. "Adam, I really don't understand! You were looking forward to going to school and now there's nothing but trouble."
Adam gathered all of his courage. "Mr. Fletcher doesn't like me and the tasks that I get are so easy. "
Ben groaned. There it was again - this odd problem of his son. This impatience, wanting to know everything immediately. And if you couldn't explain everything just fast enough his opponent was to blame. "Adam you're new in school. Mr. Fletcher surely will give you other tasks soon. Stop thinking that no one likes you! I expect you to behave well in school from now on. I don't want to receive any further letters. You understand me, Adam? "
Ben took his knife and fork again. "As punishment, you will not only clean the barn for another week, you will also help Hop Sing in the kitchen, and I don't want you to forget about your little brother."
How happy Adam would be, if they had never found this place!