Finding Gold and Meeting a Judge

Characters; Ethan Cord 34, Claire Carroll 13 ,Joseph Carroll 11, Ben Carroll 7 and George Carroll 6 (Based on the TV series Paradise)

Background: Ethan Cord is an ex gunfighter living in Paradise, Colorado in the late 1890's. Paradise is a mining town. Ethan has recently become the sole guardian of his sister's four children. She was living with her children in St. Louis, Missouri and working as a singer in stage shows. The children came to live with their Uncle after she died from tuberculosis.

Ethan purchased a small ranch and is determined to keep the children together as he struggles to make a living. Although he wants to stop using his gun as a way to make a living, he is called on to help out the local sheriff at times.

Chapter 1: The First Day Of The Trip

June, 1897:

Ethan decides to take his niece and nephews to Colorado Springs for almost a week. The children have been with him for ten months. He has decided to arrange to adopt the children. This is the story of all that happens during the trip and the visit to Colorado Springs.

Calling a family meeting, Ethan announces "Children, day after tomorrow we are taking a trip to the city. We'll be traveling to Colorado Springs as I have some business there. We'll be away six days so we need to get clothes packed. We'll also need to get the wagon ready. Joseph, you can help me with this. I need your help to get the wagon bows and the cover on. Claire, if you could think of something to take along for trail meals, we need that also. I think if you make some johnnycake and bring some carrots and beans that will be enough for one day. Ben, George, you two are going to help Claire get everything packed."

"Uncle Ethan?"

"Yes George?"

"Why can't we go on the train? I like the train. It was fun coming from St. Louis to Paradise."

"George, the train tickets just cost too much right now. Another time, we'll take a train trip again." Ethan answers.

"We're going to have an adventure, George! We'll be sleeping under the stars and having a cookfire!" Joseph exclaims excitedly.

"Is a cookfire fun, Joseph?" Ben asks.

"It is in the stories, Ben. Cooking over the open fire just like cowboys do."

"Well, let's get busy everyone. We have much to prepare before tomorrow. Come Joseph."

"Uncle Ethan? Will you let me drive the wagon? You've been teaching me and said I was doing well." Joseph asks as he ties the canvas cover to the wagon box.

"I will at times, Joseph. I'm taking Lightning also. You and I will take turns driving."

The following day:

"Uncle Ethan?" George calls from the back of the wagon.

"Yes George?"

"I need to wet! I'm in a hurry too!"

"George! You don't say 'I need to wet.' Say 'I have to go to the outhouse.' It's more polite."

"But Claire, there isn't a outhouse here! I need to go Uncle Ethan!"

"He's already wiggling really bad, Uncle Ethan. We best stop or he's going to wet the wagon!" Ben calls out.

"We're stopping George. Hold it just a few more minutes, son." Ethan calls back from where he's riding beside the wagon.

"Joseph, we'll make camp right up there by that line of trees. There's a stream there where we can water the horses."

"Claire, you can use the stream to get water for whatever you need. We'll be camping there for the night" Ethan tells the older children.

"Can George and I wade in the water, Uncle Ethan?" Ben asks after they have stopped and George finishes his business.

"You may not want to, Ben. That water might be pretty cold." Ethan answers

"Uncle Ethan, its June. How can the water be cold in the summer?"

"It's water that comes off the top of the mountains, Ben. It can be very cold even in June." Ethan answers smiling at the boy's skeptical look.

"But if it's not too cold, can we get in?"

We'll see when we get there, Ben. Right now we have a camp to set up. " Ethan replies.

"Ben, you and George need to go get us some branches for a fire. We'll need smaller twigs too. Go look along the tree line, but don't go near the water."

"Yes, Sir" Ben answers with a sigh. He really wants to get in that water.

"Come on George, let's get the firewood." As they gather branches Ben looks longingly at the clear water. It is sparkling in the sunlight.

"Look George!" Ben calls excitedly. "There's something yellow and shiny in the stream. Let's go in and look at it! It's probably GOLD! "

"Ben, I'm NOT going in that water! Uncle Ethan said to get branches and not to go near the water. If you get in that water, I'll tell."

"Don't you want to get rich George?" asks Ben

George looks at the water, then says "Yes, but right now, I'd rather be able to sit down to eat supper! I'm hungry! If you want to get walloped, you go ahead and get in the water. I'm not going!"

"OK, OK! You don't ever want to go on an adventure. Come on let's finish getting all the branches we can carry." Ben tells him.

When the boys get back to the campsite, they see Claire has the cooking pot ready for the fire. Claire tells them "Lay out the some of the bigger branches under the pot. We'll use the twigs to start the fire."

When they finish Ben asks "Uncle Ethan, can we PLEASE go back and wade in the water now?"

Ethan looks at the pile of branches the boys gathered.

"You boys did a great job getting our firewood and helping to lay out the fire. It looks like we have enough left for the breakfast fire too! Well Boys, I felt of the water, while letting the horses drink and it isn't too cold to wade in. The weather has been warmer than usual this winter. Joseph, Claire, would you like to try your luck at catching some fish for supper while I take the boys wading? "

Claire answers "I'll take the boys wading, Uncle Ethan. You and Joseph can get fish for supper."

"C'mon Claire, George! Let's go! " Ben urges beginning to walk.

"Boys?" At the tone of Ethan's voice, both boys stop and look at him before they run off.

"Boys, I want your promise that you'll listen and mind what Claire tells you."

"I promise, Uncle Ethan." George is quick to tell him. Ethan looks at Ben who has that stubborn look he gets at times.

"Ben!" Ethan's voice has that warning sound to it. Ben realizes he'd better answer or he won't be going.

"Yes, Sir, I'll be good and do what Claire says."

"Good to hear, Ben. Now go, but don't get your clothes wet. Be sure to roll up your pant legs before you go in the water."

Ben and George take Claire up to the spot where Ben saw the shiny yellow rocks in the water.

"Claire, LOOK! It's gold! " Ben calls to his sister. We can take all this back to Paradise and we'll be so rich!"

Claire looks at the "gold". She knows by looking that it is iron pyrite or "fool's gold". Uncle Ethan has shown both she and Joseph what real gold and fool's gold look like. Looking at her excited little brothers she makes a decision. She'll let her uncle explain the difference to the boys!

"That's really nice, Ben. Just leave it there while you and George wade. We'll take some back and show Uncle Ethan."

After about 30 minutes, she calls the boys to come out. "Ben, George, time to go back to camp."

George comes right away, Ben continues to wade and play.

"Ben, come on, it's time to go!" Claire says watching as Ben keeps walking away from her.

"Ben, do you want me to tell Uncle Ethan you didn't mind me?"

"No. I'm coming," Ben says as he climbs out of the stream.

"I'm sorry, Claire, I just saw a big gold piece right over there. You're not going to tell him I didn't come when you called are you? He might spank me!"

"No, not this time but I will tell him the next time you don't mind me. Now both of you can pick out one gold piece to carry back down to show Uncle Ethan and Joseph."

The boys scamper to grab the biggest one they can find.

"George! Over here! There's some really big ones! You get one and I'll get the other! We'll have to get Joseph to come back and help get some more." Ben calls to his brother.

When they get back to camp, they find Joseph and Ethan sitting next to the fire. Joseph has already started scraping the carrots for the meal.

"Where are the fish? " Claire asks.

"They weren't biting. Uncle Ethan says the water is still too cold right now." Joseph tells her.

"I'll take the gun and go get us some rabbits I saw back up the way we came." Ethan reassures Claire.

"I can get the johnny cake and start it warming and the potatoes too." Claire replies.

"Wait on the johnny cake until I come back with the meat. We'll have time to warm it then. You can go ahead and hang the pot of beans and the potatoes at the edge of the fire and let them begin to heat we'll finish when I return. Cover the pot and the potatoes with the ashes and they will keep warm.

"Joseph, I need you to stay here and watch out for Claire and the boys. I'll be back in an hour." Ethan tells the boy as he sees him picking up the ammunition bag.

"Can't I go with you? Please?" Joseph asks. "Claire can mind the boys! I want to go on the hunt with you. I could put snares out for tomorrow."

"No, Joseph. You are needed here to protect your brothers and sister. We won't be here tomorrow, son. I have to be in the city by then. Everyone stay here in sight of the wagon. Ben, George, You mind Joseph and Claire while I'm away. They are in charge. Do you hear me?" He asks sternly.

"Yes, sir." Ben and George answer as Ben remembers their gold.

"Uncle Ethan, we have something to show you." Ben says pulling the gold out of his pocket. "Look what we found up at the stream."

Ethan answers "Ben, I just can't stay and look at it right now. I have to go hunting while there is enough light to see. I'll look at it as soon as I get back."

"Boys, come here please." Ethan says pointing to the ground in front of him. When both younger boys obey he says; "Now remember what I tell you, STAY with Joseph and Claire and in sight of this wagon. I don't want to hear that you didn't mind them when I get back! This is wild country and it's too dangerous to wander off!"

Ethan leaves the children by the wagon as he rides his horse back along the trail they came up on. He finds the wooded area and manages to get five of the wild hares he had seen on the drive by the woods earlier in the day. He skins the animals and prepares them for cooking before he rides back to the children. This takes a little longer than he anticipated. Realizing he has been gone over two hours, Ethan heads back to the wagon ready to pop these rabbits in the cooking pot.

Back at the wagon, Joseph has taken the horses back down to the stream to drink. When he comes back, Claire asks "Joseph, why didn't the boys come back up with you?"

"What'dya mean, they weren't down there with me."

"Aren't they here with you?" He asks

"No, I saw them walk off right after you left with the mare and I thought they were going to help you!" Claire says.

"Joseph, you know this stream turns into rapids right past that bend, don't you?" She asks.

"Don't worry Claire. We'll find them. They couldn't have gone too far."

Joseph calls " BEN! GEORGE! ANSWER ME RIGHT NOW ! " When he doesn't hear anything he starts towards the stream.

Claire calls "Wait Joseph, I think I know where they went."

She tells Joseph about the boys finding the "gold".

Joseph starts running up the hill towards the top of the stream. When he gets to the top of the hill, he sees two very wet little boys trudging back towards him. They are holding their shirts out in front of them making a pouch. Joseph waits for them to catch up to him. He gives them both a stern look and asks

"Just what do you two think you are doing up here? You were told to stay by the wagon! What is that you have in your shirts?"

Ben grins at him. "We came up here to get more gold. Look we're rich, Joseph! We can buy anything we want!"

Joseph just takes them both by the hand and walks them back to the wagon. When they get there he makes them leave the "gold" on the ground as he lifts them into the wagon.

"Both of you are going to stay INSIDE the wagon until Uncle Ethan comes back. You both disobeyed him. For your sake, I hope he is in a good mood when he gets back." He tells them. Ben and George look at each other. Both know they are in serious trouble.

"Ben?" George asks through their silent connection, sniffling. Both boys are able to talk by thinking and the other 'hears' the message.


"Is he going to spank us?"

"Joseph? No, Uncle Ethan won't let him spank us. He'd be getting a spanking if he did. I remember Uncle Ethan said so last time Joseph walloped me. I'd tell on him if he spanks us!"

"Not Joseph! Uncle Ethan! Is he gonna spank us, do you think? We didn't mind him or Joseph and Claire either! I don't want a spanking. I haven't gotten one from him and don't want him to spank me!" George says beginning to cry.

"Maybe not. We've been good all day. Don't cry yet George. Wait until he gets back and cry when he is scolding us. That will stop him from putting us over his knee. I'm sure of it."

When Ethan returns he hears the story of the "gold rush".

"Uncle Ethan, the boys wandered off while I was taking the horses to drink. Claire thought they went with me but they actually went back up the hill. You see, they found gold rocks up there. I guess we can call it the 'Carroll Gold Rush. I put them in the wagon and made them stay there." Joseph explains when Ethan asks where the younger boys are.

Hearing this news, Ethan has a stern conversation with his two younger nephews.

"Ben! George! What did I tell you two before I went hunting?" He asks after lifting them out of the wagon bed.

"To stay with Joseph and Claire." Ben answers as George begins to cry. "But Uncle Ethan, we found gold up there and had to go get it before someone took it."

"Ben, that is no excuse for disobeying my instructions! Since you both disobeyed me and left the wagon by yourselves, you will stay inside the wagon the rest of the night. You just lost the chance to sit by the campfire as you will be eating in the wagon! After your supper, you will go straight to bed. No playing around or talking at all! The next time either one of you does not mind me, you will find yourself over my lap getting your backside warmed! We will have a talk about the gold you found tomorrow morning."

"Yes sir." Ben answers as George sobs.

"Stop crying George. Now both of you go to the bushes with Joseph and then come here. I'll put you in the wagon. Both of you will put on your nightshirt and go to sleep. Remember, I said NO talking or playing, boys."

"We got lucky, I think, George. He was more mad than I thought he would be. It's a good thing you can cry when you want to 'cause that saved our bottoms!" Ben sends silently to his brother.

At the other side of the wagon bed, wrapped in a blanket, George replies "I don't cry when I want to, I was scwared Ben. I thought he was going to spank us. If he knew we were talking to each other like this he might spank us for talking. I'm going to sleep now so I don't get spanked."

The next morning,Ethan wakes the boys calling "Boys, time to get up. Get dressed and come out. Claire has breakfast cooking."

"Yummy!" George declares around a mouthful of beans and johnnycake.

"George Carroll! Mind your table manners! No talking with your mouth full."

"Sorry Claire. But we're outside not at a table." George answers, puzzled.

"He has you there, Claire!" Ethan chuckles. "George, it's not polite to speak with food in your mouth no matter where you are."

"Yes sir. Are we staying here today? The wagon seats are hard and the wagon is bumpy."

"No, I'm afraid not, son. We have to get to Colorado Springs by tonight. Now, let me tell you boys about your gold pieces."

After trying to explain the difference in fool's gold and real gold, Ethan tells the two youngest "Don't feel bad about being fooled into thinking that was real gold. There have been many grownups fooled by it too. Maybe someday we'll find some real gold, but this just isn't it."

He and the boys take most of their gold back up to the top of the stream. He lets the boys keep two of the "gold pieces" to take with them to Colorado Springs.

"Time to leave boys. We have to get moving so we can get to Colorado Springs before dark. Both of you go do your business and then come back to me." Ethan commands having learned to tell the younger boys this so they won't be stopping twice in two hours. Traveling with children is much different than traveling alone.