This time I simply couldn't think of a title. Sorry about that. Hope you could enjoy it anyway ;)
A big thank to Gaben who betaed this chapter for me.
Sarah and Adam stood just in front of Cormac front door. Sara winced at the loud voice that boomed through the house when the local smithy yelled for his daughter to appear at once. Within seconds Kylie was scrambling down the stairs and quickly made her way over to him. "Did you help Sara to cheat?"
Kylie looked at Sara's forlorn expression and mirrored it, as she turned back to look into her father's angry eyes. "I… uhm… yes, daddy." She mumbled feebly.
"You know exactly what I think about that young lady. Helping to cheat is nearly as worse as cheating itself. You help the other person to betray themselves and help them lie." He turned her sideways and added swift smack to her behind. Kylie yelped and quickly threw her hand back.
"I told her so, but then she said she didn't wanna talk to me anymore, cuz she said, she was goin' to be in trouble, cause of me!" She sniffed, while trying to rub the sting out of her behind. "And… and I never had a good friend afore and I didn't want to lose her." Kylie started to cry.
Cormac looked downright furious and Adam had blushed with embarrassment. Sara had left out that little detail. He felt how her little hand gripped his harder and crouched down in front of her so they were at the same eye-level. "Did you do that, Sara? Did you tell her that you wouldn't talk to her anymore if she didn't let you copy her homework?" He all but growled. He was deeply disappointed. He had always considered her to be caring person.
"No, daddy. It wasn't like that. I… I told her I didn't want to talk to her cuz she got me in trouble for not letting me copy her homework." Sara protested, "It was the other way around." She added in hope that her father would understand. He obviously didn't. He turned her sideways and added the sharpest smack she had ever experienced to her backside. She yelped and tears sprung into her eyes.
"Sara Elizabeth Cartwright. I don't even know where to begin. I'm so angry with you right now. There is no difference between what Kylie said and your version of the story. You wouldn't have gotten in all this trouble in the beginning, if you had asked for help instead of cheating. And now your best friend tells me that you abused that friendship by bullying her into helping you with your homework. I'm deeply disappointed young lady." He stood up keeping his daughters hand in a firm grip. After that lecture Sara started to cry. She hadn't exactly understood everything that her father had meant, but she had realized that she had done something really mean to her friend.
"I'm so... hic… sorry. I didn't wanna get ya into trouble and I didn't wanta be mean to ya, I jist…hic… tried to get myself outta this trouble. And I's sorry for getting ya into trouble… hic… I didn't mean ta do that. You are bestest friend…I didn't…hic…mean…ta cause…hic…all this trouble." She sniffed scrubbing at her nose.
"It's okay. I forgive ya." Kylie stepped forward and pulled Sara into a tight hug.
"Are ya still my friend?"
"Yep, the bestest." The other girl gave Sara a big smile, which she couldn't help but to return.
"That was very kind of you Kylie." Cormac said and stroked his daughter's head.
"Am I still in trouble?"
"We'll talk about it later, but for now, go back in and do your homework."
Kylie nodded, gave her friend a last sympathetic look and disappeared into the house. Adam scrubbed the back of his head. He had no idea what to say. Sara would be one sorry little girl, once they had gotten back home.
"I'm sorry Cormac. I had no idea of this until now."
"It's alright." He replied and crouched down in front of Sara. "But, you will not repeat this, am I clear young lady?"
"Yes, sir." Sara quickly replied somewhat intimidated by the large blacksmith.
"Good." He gave her a small smile. "I know you're a good girl, Sara and meant no ill by your actions. But you have to think how it feels for the others when you do something like that."
Sara nodded and gripped her father's hand tighter.
"Alright. We'll better head home now. We've got some things to deal with, and I've heard you have to help Hop Sing with the laundry." He raised an eyebrow at her and Sara blushed.
A few hours later at the Ponderosa
Sara was standing in front of a large vessel nearly filled to the brim with warm water. She held a washboard in one hand and her bedclothes in the others. Hop Sing had showed her how to wash them, but hadn't seemed to make any progresses. With a frustrated sound she tossed it back into the water, only earning herself a swat from an irritated Hop Sing.
"Continue cleaning little missy. Little girl made mess now she has to clean mess." He scolded and went on to dump another arm full of clothes into another barrel of hot water.
"But Hop Sing. I've been scrubbing at this one since I gotten home." She pouted. The Chinese cook looked up and simply motioned her to continue. "No fair."
"It is fair, little lady and I suggest you to stop your whining, or you'll earn yourself some more smacks to your bottom." Adam warned behind her.
Sara quickly closed her mouth, when she remembered what had happened shortly after they had come back. Her father had given her a thorough scolding and announced if she ever misbehaved again while he was away and someone was babysitting her, she would get another spanking as soon he heard of her misdeeds. And as a reminder she had been turned over his knees as soon as she had changed into a pair of overalls and received three firm swats.
"What time is it dad?" She asked.
"Your time isn't up yet."
Sara harrumphed, grabbed the bed cloth with both hands and rubbed it furiously against the washboard. Why couldn't anyone make blankets which weren't so sticky to dog hair? Black Knight would never, ever be allowed to get into her bed again. Well… maybe she would allow him once or twice, if she was sure that no one would see him.
She looked down on the ground and wiggled her toes. The yard had gotten all muddy from the spilled water and the barrels weren't waterproof. Suddenly she heard the clippity-clop of hooves and looked up in hope one of her uncle's had come back and save her from all this work. However, when she spotted her grandfather, she ducked her head and grabbed the blanket tighter. She had hoped he wouldn't get home until late, and hopefully she would be asleep, and maybe he would forget everything naughty she had done, completely or at least until the next day. Suddenly she felt a light tap on her shoulder and looked up into her father's eyes.
"I think you owe your grandpa an explanation, Sara. Go ahead and tell him."
"Okay." She mumbled, "I'm jist goin' to finish this and then I go to…"
"Oh no, young lady. You go right now!" He stated emphasizing the now with a light smack to his daughters rump. Slowly Sara made her way over to the barn. Once she arrived, Ben had already unsaddled, Buck and was grooming him with a brush.
"Hello little one." He greeted her warmly.
"Uhm… grandpa… I got somethin' to tell ya."
Ben frowned sensing the child's unease. He finished of grooming his horse, then walked over to his fidgeting grandchild. He crouched down in front of her and stroked her head. "So what did you want to tell me?" He prompted gently.
Sara stammered at the beginning: she didn't want to tell him anything, but she sagged when she realised she really needed to. Slowly she gained confidence and rambled on about all her misdeeds. She looked up feeling the tears that had started to trickle down her cheeks again. "And dad said he would leave it up to ya." She finished, then quickly looked down at her muddy feet when she saw the disappointment in his eyes.
Ben sighed and shook his head. "I'm very disappointed in you Sara. That's not the first time you've lied to me. Do you remember the fair? The next day you promised not to lie to me again, yet now you're telling me you've got caught in telling another lie. To top off that; you've cheated in an exam, cheated with your homework and mistreated your good friend, Kylie. I want you to go up to your room, and think about how you will stop your habit with lying. I'll be up shortly and then I want to hear a good answer." Everything was said in a calm voice, but Sara was already crying after the second sentence. Sniffling she turned around and ran into the house. She only stopped to brush off her feet, then continued her way into the house.
Ben shook his head. How hadn't he seen that coming? He felt like a fool and a part of him was angry with Sara, for tricking him like that. However, he knew she had still much to learn. When he stood up Adam came into the barn and raised an eyebrow at him.
"What will you do now?" He asked, "I left it up to you; since you were in charge, when she did all of these things."
"Well, first I wanted to ask you if she has told me everything." Ben replied. "She told me about the lying, the homework and how she cheated on the test and how she treated Kylie."
"That sums it up pretty well."
"Adam… I should have seen these things. I just wanted to think I could trust her, but obviously I can't." His face turned grim, "She will learn that I'm not always lenient with her and that lying has a price."
"Well, before you spank her, I wanted to tell you a few things too. I think a part of the reason she did these things is; she thought she was stupid not being able to solve exercises Kylie could. And she didn't want to disappoint any of us."
"I will consider that, but I also intend on letting her know that blatantly lying is inexcusable and terribly hurtful."
Meanwhile inside, Sara was having a difficult time thinking of how she could stop her lying. Most of the time, she didn't think of it as a bad thing, she had done it a lot of time before; had to, it kept her alive. But, now everyone thought it was a horrible thing to do. She did feel guilty when they found out, but before that, she never really thought about it. She simply did it. Suddenly she heard footsteps approach her room. She sat down on the edge of her bed, nervously swinging her legs. She had to simply just stop lying, but it wasn't that easy. Her mouth often moved, before she could think what to say. The door opened and she spotted her grandpa. He still had that disappointed look in his eyes and she felt the tears well up into her eyes again. She didn't want him to be sad.
When Ben saw the tears spill out of Sara's eyes his heart melted. "Come here little one." He sat down on bedside chair and spread out his arms. Hesitantly, Sara made her way over to him and allowed him to pull her onto his lap. "Why do you keep lying to me? It makes me very sad that you don't trust me."
"I… don't want to make ya sad, grandpa. I jist don't want to get inta trouble and then I say things I don't mean ta say. Ya know?" She hiccupped and scrubbed at her eyes.
"I can understand that, but lying is a very naughty thing to do. You hurt yourself and others and in the end you have yourself ensnared in a net of lies you can't get out off. You've already experienced that, didn't you?"
"Kinda, it always felt bad and I was real nervous, when ya came to school, cause I was afraid ya might find out, that's why I always wanted to go so early." She admitted and looked down, "I wanted to be sure to have enough time to copy Kylie's homework."
"Good, I think you've understood the importance of telling the truth, but there were several other things you did wrong. Can you tell me why it was wrong?"
"I cheated and that's bad, cuz I don't learn anythin' and that means I don't get smart like Kylie, but Miss Evans said I'm good at other stuff, like I knew that the snake I put into Garrett's desk wasn't poison." She looked proudly up at him.
"That doesn't mean that was a good thing to do Sara and I'm sure Adam explained to you why." Ben frowned.
Sara nodded and continued, "And I was also very mean to Kylie, cause I told her I didn't want to talk with her no more, because she didn't want to let me copy her homework, which is a very wrong thing to do. I mean not talking to Kylie and copying homework, both things are wrong."
"Good, you've understood what you did wrong and why it was wrong to do it." He praised, "Then there's only one more thing to do." Ben stood her up and started to unbutton her pants.
"No, grandpa please. Ya don't hafta do that. I'm sorry." She pleaded and tried to squirm out of his grip.
"You've earned every bit of this spanking, Sara, now stop fighting." He ordered and managed to undo one of the straps of her bib overall. Sara stopped, but instead she started to cry softly as he pulled down her pants and guided her across his knees. Wasting no time he quickly brought his hand down with a sharp smack on her bottom. Sara yelped and her earlier accepting of Ben's decision disappeared, when she felt the sting in her backside. She started to kick and wriggle for all she was worth, but Ben simply trapped her legs under one of his and continued to smack her backside at the same steady pace. The girl's crying turned into hitched sobbing, when she realized she wasn't getting anywhere.
Ben had never spanked Sara before. He had always been the one who had spoiled her and given her some special treats. She would have never thought he would actually spank her until she was sure she would never be able to sit down again. He was a lot worse than Uncle Joe. As suddenly as Ben had started, he stopped and helped her to stand up. Sara shifted her weight from foot to foot trying to sooth the furious sting in her backside. As that didn't work out she went over to rub the seat of her underwear clad behind.
Ben let her cry and rub for a couple of minutes before picking her up and settling her down on his lap, where she tucked herself in against his chest trying to take some weight of her burning backside. Gently he rubbed her back and arm as she cried herself out against his shoulder. Once she had calmed down enough to listen to him he released her out of his grip.
"Sara, it's over now. You and I are the same as always. We were before I spanked you. I want you to remember that I love you and always will. I also want you to remember to mind me and stop lying. It may have been useful for you earlier, before you came to live with us, but now you have to stop it. It will only get you into trouble and hurt those who love you."
"I've noticed that." She sniffed and reached back to rub her behind.
Ben chuckled and placed a soft kiss on the top of her head. "You will always be my special little girl."
"I love ya too grandpa, and I will do my bestest to stop lying and I will never ever do something naughty again. I promise." She declared.
Ben was moved by her honest naivety, though there was no way she would able to keep the last promise. At least in the way she thought of it. She would always be a little troublemaker, but as long as it was the harmless mischief of a child, he would look at her promise as a kept one. "I know you will." He replied and kissed her forehead, then suggested, "Now, why don't we go down and set the table together? I'm sure Hop Sing will be happy about the help."
Meanwhile in Rhys' room
The young soldier woke up slowly and looked around. He was still somewhat groggy but at least he hadn't been haunted by any nightmares this time, instead he had dreamed of his home when his parents had been alive.
He even felt a bit better. His leg was barely hurting and he wasn't as tired either. Slowly he sat up in the bed and looked for his clothes. Once he had gotten dressed he looked for his crutches, but they were gone. With a small curse, he hobbled out of the room and steadied himself heavily on the rail above the stairs. He spotted Ben and Sara setting the table together.
"Mister Cartwright! May I please have mah crutches back? I know what the doctor said, but Ah can't keep still for such a long time. However, Ah promise you not to go further than your veranda."
Ben looked up and saw Rhys looking down at him. "One more day and then you get them, Rhys."
The young man snorted and hopped down the stairs on his good leg. Ben watched him closely ready to step in case Rhys stumbled. However, Rhys succeeded quite gracefully and with a somewhat triumphant grin on his face landed safely at the bottom of the stairs. "As you see, Ah don't necessarily need them, but I would appreciate if you would give them to me. Hopping around on one leg is quite arduous."
Ben glared at Rhys and growled, "Alright, you'll get your crutches, but if I see you as much as sticking a toe further out than the veranda, you'll lose your crutches until you're completely healed."
"Good." The young man sighed in relief. Now he would be able to get out of the room and maybe escape his nightmares. His memories of this morning's happenings were a blur of pictures from his dreams and Hoss keeping him still to keep him from ripping up the wound in his leg again. He didn't want that something like that to happen again. When he realized that he had been standing still for a while he blushed and quickly headed over to the blue chair in front of the fireplace. As soon as his leg was well enough he would leave them. They were taking a big risk, by taking him in and helping him.
He looked over at Sara, who reminded him so much of his own little sister. He was risking their safety by being here, their family. It was nice to feel part of a family again, but he couldn't allow them to be in danger at his expense. He hoped his baby sister was just as safe. Yes, as soon as he was better he would go out and look for her.
Alright, soon the real plot will start to roll on. Rhys needed these few days to recover, but that's everything I'm going to tell you. I hope you enjoyed it and please review.