By: Michelle Denson

I still cannot believe my ears. I must have not heard him right. "What do you mean Joe is in charge?" Really what possessed me to demand an answer from my father. I could tell he was upset with my behavior, but really could you blame me? Leaving Little Joe in charge, he's no more than a boy!

"Adam I do not need to explain my decisions to you. While I'm away for the next few days your little brother will be in charge of ranch. Do I make myself clear?" Oh yeah Pa perfectly, I thought to myself. Did his brains get fried this morning instead of the eggs? He can't be serious! "But Pa" I began I just had to get my father to see the lack of sense in this decision. Any further words were cut off as he lifted his hand in the air, dismissing my concerns.

"Adam." It was a single word but I knew the tone behind it meant the discussion was over. I sighed heavily while in one hand I clenched my hat tightly and the other found its way to the bridge of my nose. He was mad; my father had finally lost his mind! Well if he wanted that child to run the ranch while he was gone, he'd be lucky if there was a ranch to come back to when he returned with that scamp running things. "Yes Pa" I responded without any enthusiasm.

I couldn't help bringing my eyes heavenward as I listened to Pa give his last minute instructions for stuff he wanted accomplished before he returned. Like any of it was going to happen with the boy left to run things. I set myself up to formulate a plan to have things running and in order for Pa's return. I'll give the kid a day or two his way of running things, I figure by then it'll be up to me to clean up whatever mess is created by one of Joe's little schemes. Oh what will it be this time I can only imagine. Last time Pa and I were away, Joe and Hoss ended up wanted for bank robbery. It ended up not as it appeared, but still the fuss those two stirred up in town, I still get headaches just thinking about it.

With his gear all packed behind his buckskin gelding, I sent my goodbyes along with my younger brothers as Pa rode out of the yard. I could sense the growing discomfort in my large brother with each passing minute. It was time for dooms day, Joseph Cartwright style. It was the hearty clap to my back from the boy that broke me of my thoughts. I could really have pounded him for the smug air that surrounded him. It was time to hear what our chores would be.