THE BIG VALLEY

MISSING EUGENE

This is a story adding a little sister to the Barkley clan, Kathleen Ann Barkley. She was a special surprise late baby to Victoria and Thomas Barkley. Victoria had Kathleen when she was 40. Assuming the ages of Jarrod to be 32, Nick to be 28, Heath to be 24, Audra to be 19 and Eugene to be 17, Kathleen would be 12. At this point, Tom Barkley had been dead 6 years. Kathleen had a slight build like that of her mother and long black hair, the same color as Nicks. Her eyes were as blue as Jarrod's. She looked a bit like all of the Barkleys.

Kathleen had been up since 5:00 am, she had gone out for a ride, without permission of course. She wasn't allowed to go anywhere without permission or one of her brothers or Audra. She frequently snuck out early in the morning to go for a ride before the rest of the family was required to be at the breakfast table. She had to be especially careful this morning. Mother was in Denver, which left Jarrod in charge. She was much more likely to get in trouble with Jarrod for being out without permission, than with Mother. She cautiously opened the front door and looked around, whew she thought, coast is clear! She tipped toed up the steps looking behind her, only to run smack into Heath.

"Oh my goodness Heath, you scared me to death." she whispered as Heath grabbed her arms so she wouldn't fall.

"Kathleen?" Heath asked startled. He narrowed his eyes. "Have you been out riding?"

She nodded her head. "Heath, please don't tell, I'm going to go change my clothes right now."

"Boy howdy girl, if Jarrod catches you, you're gonna be in a mess of trouble." Heath said shaking his head.

"Please Heath," she begged.

He just shook his head. "Best get changed."

Kathleen stood on her toes and gave Heath a kiss on the cheek, "Thanks big brother!" she said running for her room.

"You're welcome baby sister." he said smiling. He reveled in the fact that Kathleen accepted him as one of her big brothers. He headed for the dining room and breakfast. He arrived to breakfast to find the rest of the family at the table. "Morning." he said.

"Good Morning," he heard from around the table.

"Heath, did you hear Kathleen?" asked Jarrod.

"Yep, she's getting dressed, I think." said Heath, which he knew to be the flat out truth.

Kathleen flew into the room 15 minutes late. "Good Morning" she said as she rushed over to Jarrod to give him a kiss.

Jarrod lifted his face for a kiss and gave her a light swat on the bottom, "Your late missy."

"Sorry," she said looking at Jarrod.

"You know young lady, you've been late every morning for the last week." Nick said shaking his fork at her.

"I know, I know. I'm sorry." Kathleen said quickly.

Audra eyed her sister. Audra was Kathleen's second best friend in the whole world. Audra figured Kathleen had gone riding, but she wasn't going to say anything.

Kathleen had been riding every morning. She was feeling a bit neglected with Mother being gone. Nobody seemed to have much time for her. Audra had been so busy with the building of an orphanage in Stockton, that she hadn't spent much time with Kathleen. Jarrod was always at his office working on some case or another and Heath and Nick were just too busy with the ranch. She sorely missed her brother Eugene. She hated that he had gone to college. He had been her playmate and confident, her very best friend in the whole world, next to Audra. Her mind was lost in thought on Eugene and how much she missed him.

"Kathleen Ann, eat your breakfast." Jarrod prodded her.

Kathleen didn't hear him.

"Kathleen," Jarrod said raising his voice.

"What?" she said irritably.

Jarrod's eyes narrowed, "Excuse me?"

Kathleen sighed. Why did she have to answer "Yes sir" and "No sir" to Jarrod, after all he was her brother and not her father? Of course Jarrod was really the only "father" she could really remember. Once Father had died, Jarrod took over as male head of the Barkley household and Mother deferred punishment and correction to Jarrod, well most of the time. She sighed again, "Yes sir?"

"That's better." Jarrod said nodding his head. "Eat your breakfast."

Kathleen scowled at him, but didn't want to get in trouble, so finished her breakfast in silence.

The rest of the family finished their breakfasts and excused themselves, leaving Kathleen and Jarrod. Kathleen hesitated, she had been wanting to ask Jarrod a question.

"Jarrod," she said hesitantly.

"Yes, baby?" he answered. He always called her baby. In fact the whole family called her "baby". She was the "baby sister" and Audra was the "little sister." Quite frankly, Kathleen didn't care for any moniker.

"Would you take me to visit Eugene?" she asked.

"Eugene?" questioned Jarrod.

"Uh huh, I really miss him." she said wistfully.

"No, Kathleen, I have to get ready for trial and I don't have time. Eugene'll be home for Thanksgiving holiday." Jarrod said shaking his head no.

"But that's two whole months away." she whined.

"I'm sorry baby, maybe Mother can take you when she gets back. She'll be back in a week."

Kathleen slumped in her chair, "But I want to see him now. Why can't I just take the train by myself?" she asked petulantly.

"Because you're 12 and you can't take the train alone. Now, go finish your lessons." Jarrod said pushing back from the table.

Kathleen scowled.

"I'm serious Kathleen, I want your lessons done before I get home. Understand?" Jarrod said wagging a finger at her.

"Yes Jarrod," she sighed as she got up from the table.

"And Kathleen Ann?" Jarrod started.

"Yes Jarrod?" Kathleen answered.

"If I catch you out riding again before breakfast without permission, you'll have earned yourself a trip over my knee. Understand?"

Kathleen looked at Jarrod dumbfounded. How did he know? "Yes sir." she said as she headed for her room.

Kathleen went to her room and threw herself down on her bed. She was crying when Audra stopped to check on her before going off to a meeting regarding the orphanage. "Kathleen, what's wrong?"

"Oh nothing, Jarrod's just bossy. Audra, will you take me to see Eugene?" Kathleen asked turning hopeful eyes toward her big sister.

"You're really missing him, aren't you?" Audra asked putting her arms around her little sister. Kathleen rested her head on Audra's chest. "Kathleen, there is no way that Jarrod is going to let us go on a train by ourselves. If Mother were here, she might take us."

"That's not fair!" Kathleen shouted.

"Don't shout at me. I'm just telling you what you already know." Audra said patting Kathleen's back.

"I know." said Kathleen looking down.

"I tell you what sweetie, when I'm done with these meetings about the orphanage, I'll take you into Stockton for lunch. It'll just be a couple of days. How about that?"

"Ok," Kathleen conceded, "Thanks Audra, I love you."

Audra gave her a hug and a kiss, "I love you too. Now I have to be off. I'll see you after lunch ok?"

"Ok."

Kathleen started her lessons. Mother had left her lessons for the two weeks that she would be gone in Denver. She had lessons for each day. She got to her math problems, ugh, Algebra. She hated Algebra. She started day dreaming about a trip to see Eugene. The more she thought about it, the more the plan shaped up. Why couldn't she take the train to see Eugene? She could find the college, all she needed was some directions. She could certainly ride to Stockton by herself and get the train from Stockton to the college. Yep, that was what she was going to do. Everyone was busy, they wouldn't even know she was gone until dinner time. She quickly wrote a note about where she was and put in on her pillow. She threw a couple of dresses in a bag and headed for the barn.

She got to the barn to saddle her horse, Bailey. She heaved a sigh of relief, no one was around. She mounted up and headed for Stockton. She was sure she knew the way, she had never ridden to Stockton by herself. However, she had ridden many times with someone in the family. She enjoyed her solitary ride into Stockton. She knew Jarrod would be at his office. So, all she had to do was avoid Jarrod and get a ticket for the train and she would be home free.

She reached Stockton and headed for the livery stable. Sam, the boy who worked in the livery greeted her at the door. "Ain't you one of the Barkleys?" he asked.

"Yes, my name is Kathleen. Can you stable my horse? Her name is Bailey. I'll probably be gone three or four days."

"Sure Miss. Where you going?"

"Oh, I'm going to see my brother Eugene. He goes to college at Berkley." she said proudly.

"Uh Miss, you gotta pay in advance." Sam said apologetically.

"Oh," Kathleen frowned. "How much?"

"How many days, Miss?" Sam asked.

"I think 4 days, yes 4 days should do it." Kathleen said confidently.

"Miss, who's going with you? Don't I need to stable their horses?" Sam asked. He thought it sure was strange this little girl allowed to be in town and taking a train all by herself.

"Oh no, I'm going by myself. I do it all the time. How much?"

"That'd be $2 a day Miss, so $8." Sam said shaking his head. What kind of people let a little girl like that take a train ride all by herself. Why she didn't look to be more than 8 or 9.

Meanwhile, Kathleen dug out $8 and handed it to Sam. "Thank you." she said as she headed for the train station. She was thinking up a story for Mr. Ellis at the train station. Lord, she hoped she remembered all the stories she was telling. She went up to the window to buy her ticket. Mr. Ellis looked down at her.

"What can I do you for, Miss Kathleen?"

"Umm, Jarrod sent me over to buy a ticket to Berkeley. He's going to visit Eugene."

Mr. Ellis eyed her. "Jarrod let you come over here by yourself?"

"Yes sir. Gosh, Mr. Ellis, I am 12." Kathleen said, irritation dripping from her voice.

Mr. Ellis shook his head. What in the world was Barkley thinking letting a 12 year old girl come over to the train depot by herself? He gave Kathleen a ticket.

"How much, Mr. Ellis?" Kathleen asked.

"Oh, I'll just put it on your monthly bill. Didn't Jarrod tell you to put it on the monthly bill?" he asked curiously.

"Oh, uh, yes sir, I guess I forgot." she stammered. Kathleen looked at the big clock on the depot wall. It was 11:30, the train left at noon. All she had to do was avoid running into Jarrod for the next 30 minutes. Before she knew it, the train had arrived and was loading up passengers. She gave the conductor her ticket.

The conductor eyed her, "Ain't you a little young to be traveling?"

"Um, my mother already got on the train. She'll be awful mad if I don't go find her." Kathleen lied.

"Well, best get going little lady." said the conductor as he handed back her ticket.

Kathleen breathed a sigh of relief. She was home free. She was headed to Berkeley to see Eugene.

Audra arrived home in the early afternoon. She walked into the house to find no one home. That wasn't really that unusual, she figured Kathleen had finished her lessons and was out riding, Nick and Heath were out working the ranch, and Jarrod was in town at his office. She quickly changed her clothes and put on pants and a shirt for riding. Audra thought she would try and find Kathleen. She had seemed so distraught earlier in the day. She checked all of Kathleen's favorite places, but she came up empty handed. She just figured that she missed her and would see her at home.

Jarrod locked up his office around 6:00 pm and went to pick up his horse from the livery. He arrived at the livery and found Sam there. "Hello Sam, will you get my horse for me?" Jarrod inquired.

"Yes, sir Mr. Barkley. Uh, Mr. Barkley?" Sam asked.

"Yes, Sam?"

"I know it ain't my place or nothing, but ain't your sister a might young to take the train by herself?"

Jarrod looked perplexed, "Oh, Audra doesn't generally take the train by herself."

"No sir, not Miss Audra, I'm talking about that baby sister of yours."

"Kathleen?" asked Jarrod laughing, "Sam, she's barely allowed to ride on the ranch by herself. She isn't even allowed to ride to town by herself. She certainly wouldn't be riding the train."

"Well Sir," Sam said scratching his head, "She paid me to stable her horse Bailey for 4 days whilst she went to visit her brother."

'WHAT?" Jarrod exploded.

"Yes sir, that's what she told me." Sam said shaking his head in disbelief.

"Hold my horse Sam, I'm going over to the depot. Mr. Ellis was still at the depot.

"Mr. Barkley, what are you doing here? I thought you were on your way to see that brother of yours at Berkley."

Jarrod drew a deep breath, "Just why did you think that Mr. Ellis?"

"Well sir, that baby sister of yours came in and bought a ticket for you to Berkley. She said you was going to visit your brother. If you don't mind me saying so sir, you ought not to be sending a little girl like that to buy a train ticket."

"Thanks for the advice Mr. Ellis, but I did not send Kathleen to buy a ticket to Berkley. She apparently bought that ticket for herself." Jarrod said his anger starting to boil over. "When is the next train to Berkley?"

Mr. Ellis checked his log. "Noon tomorrow."

"Fine", said Jarrod, "I'll be needing a ticket."

Jarrod headed back toward the stable to get his horse and head for home.

Meanwhile, the family was starting to gather for dinner. Jarrod wasn't home yet, but should be home anytime.

"Audra, go tell Kathleen its dinner time." Nick barked.

"Nick, I haven't seen Kathleen since before I went to the orphanage." Audra said.

"Well, she's probably in her room." said Nick.

"No Nick," Heath said descending the stairs, "I just checked in her room so I could tell her it's time for dinner."

Nick starting steaming, "Where is she? She knows we eat dinner at 7:00 pm. If she doesn't get here in 5 minutes, that girl won't be sitting for dinner!"

Jarrod arrived as Nick was ranting about Kathleen being late for dinner. "What are you blustering about Nick?" asked Jarrod.

"Oh, that baby sister of ours is late."

"She won't be home for dinner," said Jarrod, "she took the train to Berkley."

WHAT? BY HERSELF? ARE YOU CRAZY?" Nick starting shouting.

"Calm down Nick, I know. I have a ticket to take the next train to Berkley. I'm sure by now she's in Berkley with Eugene and we should have wire in the morning saying she's safe."

"I'm going to take a belt to that girl," Nick muttered.

"You're going to have to get in line Brother Nick, you're going to have to get in line." Jarrod said.

Meanwhile, Kathleen was enjoying her ride on the train to Berkeley. She felt very grown up. As she settled in, she starting thinking about finding Eugene once she arrived. Usually, Mother rented a buggy to go to Eugene's dormitory. She probably couldn't drive a buggy by herself, but maybe she could just rent a horse to ride over to the college. She arrived in Berkeley around 6:00 pm. She got off the train and looked around. Ah, she spotted the livery. She hurried over to the livery.

"Sir, I would like to rent a horse please?" Kathleen asked the man at the livery.

The man looked down and to his surprise, saw a little girl. "Where's your ma or pa, I ain't renting no horse to no kid."

"I'm not a kid, I'm just small for my age. My mother is not here, I'm going to Berkeley." Kathleen stated evenly.

"Oh sure missy, you ain't no kid and you're going to Berkeley. Well, I don't think you're old enough for college."

"Oh for heaven's sake, I'm just going to visit my brother at Berkeley, I'm not going to school there." Kathleen said shaking her head with disbelief.

"I see and where's your ma or pa?"

"I already told you, they're not here." Kathleen said impatiently.

The man eyed Kathleen. She's awful young to be running around Berkeley unattended. He had a little girl, 10 years old. Surely, this little gal couldn't be more than that. He'd probably better take her to see her brother before she got herself in some kind of trouble.

"I'll tell you what missy, I'll take you to the college." the man said.

"Uh, uh mister, I'm not suppose to go with strangers." Kathleen said warily.

"Well, I don't see as you have much choice. You can either go with me to the sheriff or I'll take you to find your brother."

Kathleen eyed him, she didn't want to go to the sheriff, he'd just wire Jarrod. He probably wouldn't let her see Eugene at all.

"Ok, can you just take me to my brother's dormitory?"

"Sure, what's his name?"

"Eugene Barkley."

"Barkley?"

"Yes, Eugene Barkley."

"You mean, you're one of the Barkley's from Stockton?"

"Yes."

"Where's your family?"

"In Stockton." Kathleen said innocently.

"You mean, they let you come on the train by yourself?" he asked incredulously.

"Ummm, sure, gosh, I am 12, what's the big deal." Kathleen said hotly.

The man's eyes narrowed. "Your family don't know that you're here, do they?"

"Sure they do." Kathleen said looking at the ground.

Ah, then he knew. He knew that her family didn't know she was there. His daughter couldn't look him in the eye when she lied and neither could this little one.

"Well come on Miss Barkley. We better go find your brother." the man said grabbing her by the arm.

"Heh, let go, you're hurting me."

"I ought to paddle you within an inch of your life little lady. If you was mine that's what I'd be doing. You're probably scaring your family half to death." he said roughly plunking her into a buggy.

"I told you, they know I'm here." Kathleen said defensively.

"Sure they do." he said.

"I left them a note." Kathleen said. Oops, she let it slip out. He was probably going to take her to the sheriff for sure.

"Oh a note. Well that's just fine. Supposing they don't see this note. Come on, we're going to stop by the telegraph office and wire your family. Then I'll take you to your brother."

Kathleen just sat in the buggy fuming. This wasn't working out the way she wanted it at all. She still hadn't even seen Eugene. They arrived at the telegraph office. The man lifted her out. She tried to turn away and break free. The man held her arm tight. He bent down and whispered, "Miss Barkley, if you try and get away from me or cause any trouble of any kind before I take you to your brother, I will paddle your bare behind, whether or not your mine. Do I make myself clear?"

Kathleen started to retort. The man gave her one swift swat on her bottom.

"Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes sir." Kathleen said sullenly.

"Fine, just so we understand each other." the man nodded. He turned toward the telegraph agent. "I need to send a telegraph to Stockton, Jeff.

"Sure thing Zeke," said Jeff.

Zeke looked at Kathleen. "What's your name?"

Kathleen just glared at him.

Zeke turned her around and gave her another swat on the bottom. Only this time it really hurt.

"Ow, stop that, you're not my Mother or one of my brothers." Kathleen said reaching for her bottom.

"Listen little lady, I already told you any more trouble and I'll paddle your bare behind. Now, the next time, that's what you'll get. Now what's your name?"

"Kathleen", she scowled.

Zeke wrote out the message:

To: Stockton Barkleys

Kathleen in Berkely. STOP

With Eugene Barkley. STOP

Zeke Barton

"Here Jeff, send this." Zeke handed the wire over.

"Come on Kathleen," Zeke said grabbing her arm. Zeke lifted her into the buggy and headed for Berkley. Kathleen just scowled the whole way to the college.

When he reached the college grounds, Kathleen finally spoke. "Ok, I can make it from here."

"Oh no little lady, I'm delivering you right to your brother. Which dormitory is he in?"

Kathleen just glared at him.

Zeke made a move to take her over his knee.

Kathleen remembered what he had said about the next spanking being bare bottomed. "Ok, ok, you bully, he's at Sanderson."

"Better watch that mouth little girl, or I'll paddle you yet. I don't abide my youngins being fresh or anyone else's for that matter."

Kathleen started to retort and thought better. "Just wait until my brother finds out you spanked me."

"Oh missy, I'm not too worried, I'll bet that isn't even half what you get when your brother does get hold of you." Zeke said laughing. Jarrod Barkley had a reputation as being a tough as nails attorney, he doubted that he would be very soft with his sister.

They reached Sanderson Hall. Zeke walked Kathleen into the dormitory. He approached the desk. "I need to see Eugene Barkley."

"Well sir, it's too late for visitors. I'm sorry." said the boy at the desk.

Zeke looked at the boy, "Listen, son. This little girl came all the way from Stockton to see her brother and I want to make sure she sees him. Now, please go get him."

The boy ran off to get Eugene. Eugene came running into the lobby of his dorm. He saw Kathleen.

Kathleen broke away from Zeke and went running into the arms of her brother. "Gene, Gene, I missed you!" she cried.

Eugene hugged her, "Kathleen what are you doing here? And who is this man?"

"Well son, I'm Zeke Barton. Your little sister came into my livery and wanted to rent a horse to come see you. Only she was by herself. I wasn't renting a horse to no little girl."

"So, Mr. Barton, you brought her here?" asked Eugene.

Eugene held Kathleen at arm's length. "Kathleen, who's here with you?"

Kathleen didn't look at Gene, she looked at the floor. Eugene grabbed her chin. "Look at me Kathleen, I asked you who's here with you?"

Zeke was enjoying this immensely.

"No one." she whispered.

Eugene went white, "You came by yourself?"

Kathleen nodded.

"Oh my Lord. Does Mother know you're here?"

"No, she's in Denver."

"Jarrod gave you permission to come?" asked Eugene confused.

"Ummm, not exactly."

"WHAT?" Eugene shouted, "WHAT'S THAT MEAN?"

"Well, I left the family a note."

"A NOTE? ARE YOU CRAZY? JARROD'S GOING TO SKIN YOU ALIVE." Eugene shouted.

Kathleen started to cry. "Gene, please stop shouting."

Eugene gathered his sister up in his arms, "Ssh, baby, ssh, I'm sorry I shouted. We need to go send a wire to let them know you're ok."

Zeke finally spoke, "Young man, I already sent a wire to your family letting them know she was with you."

Eugene sighed gratefully. "Thanks, Mr. Barton." Eugene turned to Kathleen. "Baby, you can't stay here, this is a men's dormitory. We'll have to go stay at the hotel in town." He looked at Zeke. "Mr. Barton, can you take us into town?"

Zeke smiled, "Sure son, sure."

Eugene looked at Kathleen, "Ok, Kathleen Ann, you stay right here. I need to pack a couple of things for the hotel."

Kathleen nodded her head and sat on a chair in the lobby.

Eugene raced back to his room. After a few minutes, Eugene appeared. "Ok, ready Mr. Barton." He took Kathleen by the hand and led her to the buggy. He lifted her into the buggy shaking his head. "Kathleen, what were you thinking? Jarrod's going to be furious."

Kathleen hugged her brother. "I just missed you Gene. Everybody's so busy. I just wanted to see you and nobody would take me. I just missed you." she whispered.

Eugene shook his head as he put his arm around his baby sister and brought her close for a hug. "Ok, baby, we can talk about this later, let's get dinner and a room."

The family had finished up dinner and were heading for the library, when they heard a knock at the front door. "I'll get it." said Nick. He opened the door to find Eric Martin from the telegraph office.

"Mr. Barkley, this telegram came in and I figured I'd better get it to you right away."

"Thanks," Nick said tossing the man payment and closing the door.

Nick opened the telegram, "Jarrod, Heath, Audra," he shouted, "Kathleen is with Eugene."

Nick handed the telegram to Jarrod. "I wonder who Zeke Barton is and why he sent a telegram and not Eugene."

"Well, we know she is safe for now. I'm taking the train to Berkley tomorrow." said Jarrod lighting a cigar.

"Now Jarrod. Don't be too hard on her." said Audra putting her hand on Jarrod's arm.

Jarrod raised his eyebrows at his little sister. "Oh, you think I should just go pick her up and not punish her?"

"Well, yes." Audra said, always the peace maker. "Jarrod, she just feels neglected. We've all been too busy to pay her much attention. She just misses Gene because he is her best friend. She just needed someone to talk to."

"Oh, I think she and I will have a little talk, only I don't think there is going to be much talking." Jarrod said angrily.

Heath watched this exchange. Boy howdy, he felt sorry for Kathleen. In the time he had come to live with his new family, he had never seen Jarrod so angry. He stole a look at Nick, Nick blustered and yelled a lot, but he didn't remember Nick ever being so angry with Kathleen either. Every once in a while Nick would give her a swat or two, but never more than that. In fact Kathleen was usually pretty good and didn't need much discipline, just a reminder now and again. But this time, even Heath was feeling the need to give his baby sister a few swats. The whole family had been terrified, including him. He couldn't imagine what it would be like to not have the little spitfire around. That little girl had all her brothers wrapped around her little finger. She had given Heath her unconditional love the minute she met him. He couldn't imagine not having that love any more.

While the family discussed Kathleen and her impromptu trip to Berkley, Gene was getting himself and Kathleen settled in the hotel. "We'll send Jarrod another wire in the morning when the telegraph office opens up." Gene told Kathleen.

"Oh Gene, can't we wait just a little?" Kathleen begged.

"Kathleen, you know either Jarrod, Nick or Heath is gonna be on that train tomorrow to get you." Gene said shaking his head.

"Why can't I stay for just a few days Gene? Please?" she begged.

He shook his head. "Baby I have school, I need to be in class. I'm sorry."

Kathleen started to cry. "You don't have time, either."

"Oh baby, is that what this is about? You feel like no one has time for you?"

Kathleen nodded her head miserably. Gene pulled his sister close to him. "Kathleen, sometimes its hard. I know that everyone seems to be too busy, especially with Mother away. But it doesn't mean they don't love you. They're just a little busy."

"It's not the same. I hate that you are here. I don't have anybody to talk to. No one will take me to town or go riding. I've been sneaking out to ride in the morning by myself."

Gene's eyes got big. "Does Jarrod know about you riding in the morning?"

Kathleen nodded again, "Yeah, he said if he caught me again, I earned a trip over his knee." she said mournfully.

Gene shook his head. "Oh boy, little girl, you are in some kind of trouble."

"I know, Heath said the same thing."

"Kathleen, you can't just run off because things aren't going your way. Why didn't you talk to Audra?"

Kathleen just shrugged her shoulders. "I just wanted you," she said with tears rolling down her face.

Gene hugged her again. "Come on, let's get some sleep. Tomorrow will come soon enough."

The next morning, Gene and Kathleen headed to the telegraph office. When they arrived, a telegram was waiting for Gene. He opened the telegram. He looked at Kathleen. "Jarrod will be on the noon train to Berkeley. He should be here at 6:00."

Kathleen sighed. She wasn't going to get to spend much time with Gene. Gene took one look at her and thought she was going to cry again. Gene took her chin in his hand, "I know you are disappointed, but I don't have class this afternoon. I'll bring you back to town and show you around before Jarrod gets here."

"Ok," she said.

Gene took Kathleen back to the college with him so he could attend his classes. He explained the situation to his professors. Kathleen was allowed to sit in his classes as long as she was very quiet. The day passed rather quickly. Gene finished his classes and took Kathleen back to town to have lunch and wait for Jarrod. As the 6:00 hour approached, Kathleen became very quiet. Gene looked at his little sister and his heart went out to her. There was no way she was going to get off the hook with Jarrod. Jarrod was probably going to give her the tanning of her life before they left to head back to Stockton. That was going to be one mighty uncomfortable train ride.

"Come on baby, we need to go meet Jarrod at the train." said Gene.

"Couldn't we go back to the college and wait for him there?" asked Kathleen hoping to delay the inevitable.

"No way, little sister. Jarrod is already mad. I don't plan on making him any madder than he already is. He will expect us to meet his train." Gene was shaking his head. Was his little sister crazy? Gene had been on the receiving end of Jarrod's anger a few times and wasn't interested in repeating that particular scenario again. He was 17 and far beyond the age of a tanning, but he wasn't sure that Jarrod thought the same thing. In fact, the last one hadn't been too long before Gene left for college. As quiet and calm as Jarrod could be, he was a stickler for discipline and respect. Plus if you sassed Mother or disrespected her in any way, your hide was history. He didn't dole out punishment very often, but when he did, the recipient didn't sit very well for awhile.

"Come on girl, let's get it over with." said Gene grabbing Kathleen by the hand and leading her toward the train station. Kathleen looked like she was going to face a firing squad.

The two reached the train station just as the train was pulling in. Jarrod finally disembarked and found the two youngest Barkleys waiting for him on the platform. "Hi, Jarrod!" Gene stepped forward giving his oldest brother a hug.

"Gene." Jarrod returned the hug.

Jarrod looked over at Kathleen, "Kathleen." he greeted.

"Jarrod." she mumbled.

"Gene, who is Zeke Barton? He sent us the first telegram about Kathleen." Jarrod asked.

"Oh, he owns the livery. He was just worried about Kathleen being here on her own. So, he brought her to me." Gene explained quickly.

"Well, I want to go thank him for taking care of Kathleen. Come on." Jarrod said motioning the two children to follow him.

Kathleen held onto Gene's hand for dear life and stayed as far away from Jarrod as possible. They arrived at the livery. "Mr. Barton?" asked Jarrod.

Zeke looked up. "Yes?"

"I'm Jarrod Barkley. I understand that you took care of my sister Kathleen. I'd like to express my gratitude." Jarrod said offering his hand to Zeke.

Zeke shook his hand. "You got a pretty sassy lil gal there, Mr. Barkley."

Kathleen swallowed hard.

Jarrod's eyebrows went up. "Really, Mr. Barton?"

Zeke took Jarrod aside and explained the entire story, swats and all. He explained how he promised the girl a spanking on her bare bottom for any misbehavior. "I hope I didn't overstep my bounds Mr. Barkley, but that threat sure seemed to work." he chuckled. "That threat seems to work with my brood."

Jarrod laughed along with Zeke, "Well, Mr. Barton you may not have carried out your threat, but I assure you that I will. I'd like to rent a rig to return my brother to his dormitory."

"Sure thing Mr. Barkley," said Zeke as he readied a rig.

The Barkleys got in the rig. They rode silently out to the college. Jarrod stopped in front of Gene's dormitory. He jumped out to give Gene a hug. Gene lifted Kathleen out. She gave him a hug and a kiss and whispered, "I miss you Gene, I love you."

Gene hugged her and gave her a kiss. "Hang in there baby, Jarrod will get over it."

He helped Kathleen back into the rig. He leaned over to Jarrod. "Jarrod, that's an awful long train ride to be sitting sore."

Jarrod eyed his baby brother. "It sure is and if you don't want to be sitting sore in class, you'll just go on up to your room and get studying."

Gene smiled, "Bye Jarrod. Bye Kathleen."

Jarrod looked at Kathleen sitting in the rig. She looked so miserable, Jarrod almost softened. "Come on young lady, we are taking the 11:00 train back to Stockton."

Kathleen didn't say much. She just sat there with her hands folded in her lap. She wanted to get her punishment over with. The reached to livery. Jarrod handed the rig back to Zeke and paid him for the rental. He looked at Kathleen. "Is your luggage in the hotel?"

"Yes, Jarrod." she whispered.

"Come on then, let's get you checked out and ready to go."

They arrived at the hotel. She dreaded every step toward the hotel. She dragged her way up to the hotel room. They reached the hotel room. Jarrod took one look at her. "Sit down." he said.

She complied immediately.

"Kathleen Ann, I don't know when I have ever been so angry with you. Can you imagine how upset we all were when we found you gone? Do you realize how dangerous it is for a young girl like you to travel by yourself? Do you know what could have happened if Mr. Barton hadn't taken care of you?"

Kathleen just nodded her head. The tears were flowing. "Jarrod, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I promise not to do it again."

"Oh you are so right, that you won't do this again. Do you know that Nick is so upset and worried, he threatened to take a belt to you?"

Kathleen gasped. Nick had never really spanked her. He just gave her a well placed swat now and again.

Jarrod sat in a chair across from her. "Come here." he commanded.

Kathleen hesitated, but obeyed. Jarrod drew her over his knee and proceeded to give her the bare bottomed spanking that Mr. Barton had threatened her with. He stood her up and looked into her blue eyes filled with tears. "You will never ever do anything like this again, understand?"

She shook her head in acknowledgement. Jarrod drew her sobbing form onto his lap. He hugged her tight. "Kathleen, we were so afraid that something would happen to you. None of us could bear it if you had gotten hurt or worse." Jarrod held her while she cried herself out. He sat and rocked her like he had rocked her so many times in the past when she was hurt or upset. When she was done, he set her on her feet and said, "You ready to go home?"

She nodded her head. Jarrod picked up her bag and held out his hand to her. She put her small hand in his rather large one and walked with him to the train station. They boarded the train and headed for Stockton to an anxiously waiting family.