_A Piece Of Heaven_

Characters; Ethan 35, Claire 14, Joseph 12, Ben 8, George 7

(Based on the TV series Paradise)

Background:Ethan Cord is an ex gunfighter living in Paradise, Colorado in the late 1800's. Paradise is a mining town. Ethan became the guardian of his sister's four children in August of 1897, after she died of tuberculosis. Ethan's sister, Lucy Cord Carroll was living with her children in St. Louis, Missouri and working as a singer in the theater. Ethan has purchased a small ranch. He is determined to raise the children as young ladies and gentlemen as his sister would want them to be. Although he tries to stop using his gun as a way to make a living, he is called on to help out the local sheriff at times. In June of 1898, Ethan legally adopted his niece and nephews.

Chapter 1

Exciting News

The Ranch : September 1898

In June, Ethan and the children have returned home from a week-long trip to Colorado Springs. Ethan legally adopted the children and conducted business while there. They have been busy during July and August with ranch work. Ethan and the boys have added on to the cabin. Ethan decided to expand the cabin by building three bedrooms on the back and a bigger front room. Each of the older children now has their own small bedroom, while the younger two share a room. The new front room has a side door that opens outside to a long porch.

Riding up to the barn, Ethan dismounts, leads his stallion inside and grooms him before going to the house.

As Ethan enters from the porch he calls "Claire, boys, I have some news." The children are busy helping Claire get supper ready. Ben and George are setting the table while Claire is busy stirring a pot of stew.

As Ethan sits at the table, he asks "Where's Joseph? Isn't he supposed to be helping with supper?" Ethan thinks "If he's gone off somewhere and left them alone he's going to hear from me!"

"He is helping Uncle Ethan." Claire tells him. "He just went out back for a minute. I'm sure he'll be here soon."

The side door opens and Joseph comes in carrying three large logs. "Oh, Hi, Uncle Ethan, how was your trip to town? Did you see the twins there?" Jeff and Jason Anderson are his two best friends. Joseph, Jeff and Jason are all the same age.

"Hello Joseph. No, I didn't see those two mischief makers in town. Now, put the wood away and come sit down. I have some exciting news. Well, as you all know, Paradise has become a boom town since silver was discovered in the mine. There have been many new miners' families moving into Paradise in the past few months."

Ben speaks up "Yeah, we're not the only younger children living in Paradise! We have friends to play with now."

Ethan smiles at him. "That brings me to my news. Claire, you will really like this news. We are getting…." He stops and pretends to forget what he was going to say.

"Uncle Ethan!" Claire says.

"Hmm?" Asks Ethan. He enjoys teasing the children like this.

Joseph says "Come on, Uncle Ethan. Quit teasing us and tell us the news."

Ethan grins at him. "The news is, the town founders have hired a teacher for the new school. School will begin in two weeks. The new teacher's name is Abigail Harrison. She was teaching in Littleton but has decided to live with relatives here."

Ben and Joseph frown at this news. Neither boy likes sitting in school all day when they could be outside.

Claire exclaims excitedly " Uncle Ethan, that's just wonderful! I can't wait to learn something new. I've read the fifth reader so many times I know the stories by heart! I know multiplication but we never did get past that. Oh! I'm so glad we get to go to school again."

George starts chanting "I'm going to school ! I'm going to school ! I am finally old enough to go to school just like you Joseph! "

"Don't get too excited, you'll find out soon enough, school is not fun!"

"Joseph! That is enough of that kind of talk! Let George decide for himself." Ethan tells him.

Claire thinks I know the boys all need new shirts. Theirs are getting too small and are patched on the elbows. They could use new pants too.

"Uncle Ethan?" She asks.

"Yes, Claire?"

"The boys need new shirts and pants but, I won't have time to make them before school starts. Could we go into town tomorrow so, I can find some ready made clothes for them? We're going to need several things before school starts."

"Claire, you go ahead and make out a list of what you think you all will need. We'll go over it when you're finished so I'll know how much money you might need." Ethan replies.

"Thank you, Uncle Ethan. I'll work on it while the boys clean up after supper."

Later that evening

Claire has been finishing her list, while Joseph and the boys wash dishes and clean up from supper. She does the cooking but Uncle Ethan insists the boys do the cleaning up. None of her brothers ever like cleaning anything!

She hears Joseph say "Ben, you wash the stew pot and cups. I've already washed the other two pots and the silverware. George is drying the forks and spoons. All that's left to do is wash and dry the stew pot, the cups, and wipe down the table."

George answers "I'll wipe down the table Ben, if you'll put the pots away. I can't reach the cabinet."

Claire hears Ben being difficult again "No! I don't want to wash that pot. You always make me do the worst ones. I'm not going to do it, Joseph! If you want that pot washed then you do it!" he yells.

Just then she hears her uncle's voice. "Benjamin! Come Here!"

Claire goes out into the front room, leaving the list on her new writing desk. "I need to ask Uncle Ethan about the readers. I'll come back and finish the list." She thinks. As she watches Ben slowly walk to their uncle, she thinks "A turtle can move faster than that! He knew better than to yell and act up so now he has to face Uncle Ethan. He's going to be lucky if he doesn't get punished."

Ben is dragging his feet as he walks as slowly as he can. He knows he's in trouble just from the way his Uncle called him by his full name. "Uncle Ethan sounds mad enough to wallop me this time. Maybe if I call him Papa like George does he won't do it." He thinks as he reaches his Uncle's chair.

Putting on his best smile and innocent eyes, he answers "Yes Papa?"

Ethan, well aware of why he is being called Papa all of a sudden, gives Ben a stern look. "Ben, you know you and your brothers are to clean up after meals. Isn't that right?"

"Yes sir." Ben answers quietly, not at all happy with the sternness he's hearing from his Uncle.

"You also know that I don't put up with children having tantrums and not doing what they are told to do." Ethan waits for a response from Ben. Seeing a slight nod, he continues.

"Ben, I strongly suggest you march yourself back in there and do what Joseph tells you to do! You will also apologize to him for shouting. The choice is yours to make. However, if you choose not to do it, then you will find yourself with a very sore backside! Do you have any questions, Benjamin?"

"No, Sir." Ben answers, bottom lip trembling.

"What is your decision?" Ethan asks sternly.

"I'll help clean up and apologize."

"Good choice, now go do what you were told to do without arguing or shouting. When you finish, you will go spend the rest of the evening in your room. This is your punishment for shouting and for being defiant."

"Yes Sir." Ben answers still fighting back tears.

Ben walks back to wash that pot. "Stupid pot! You got me in trouble!" he thinks but doesn't dare say it as he brushes the tears off his face.

When he finishes helping clean up, he goes towards his room. He sees the school list on Claire's writing desk, through her open door. Ben thinks "I know some things we need that she wouldn't put on the list. I'll do it."

Knowing he isn't allowed to go in Claire's room without her permission, he checks behind him to see if anyone is watching. "Okay! Everyone's busy, I can go fix the list."

While in her room Ben hears Claire talking "Uncle Ethan, I have the list ready, but I need to know one thing. Do you want us to get a set of all the readers or just the ones we think we might need?"

"I think we should go ahead and buy the ones you don't already have. Don't you have some already?" Ethan asks her.

"Well, the ones we have are Papa's old ones from when he went to school. I don't believe they are still using those in the schools. It's been a long time since he was in early school."

"Yeah, and I for one don't want to touch anything that bast… UM, hateful one, touched." Joseph speaks up changing what he was about to say at the look he received from Ethan. He remembers well, the whipping he received for using that word once before.

Claire can't help but smile at her brother's quick change of words.

"Claire, let's take a look at what you have on the list and we'll see if we have enough money for a whole set of new books. Don't forget you'll need books for Mathematics, a speller and probably some others. We may have to wait until the teacher tells you what to get before we buy a whole set of readers."

'Yes sir, I'll just go get that list from my room." Claire answers.

Hearing this, Ben moves quickly into his own room hoping he isn't caught. "Claire would be really mad if she caught me in her room without permission!" he thinks.

Listening while Claire and his Uncle continue to talk about the list, he hears Ethan say, "Claire, I approve of everything you have on the list except for the last few things here on the bottom of the list. I agree you all need, clothes, writing and slate pencils, writing tablets, slates, books and lunch pails. Do you really think these last few things are necessary for school?" Ethan asks grinning as he hands Claire the list.

Looking at the list she sees the words: lmun drops, likrish, jawbrakrs, jingr snaps and sukrs written on the bottom of the list.

"Uncle Ethan, this is Ben's handwriting. I didn't put that on there. He must've snuck into my room. I know I didn't tell him to go put these on the list!" Claire calls angrily "BEN! COME OUT HERE!"

"I can't come out there, Claire. Uncle Ethan said I'm not supposed to leave the room the rest of the night." Ben calls back hoping that will work so he doesn't have to come out.

Then he hears Ethan say "Come out here right now, Ben. Your sister wants to talk to you!"

DRAT IT! This is one time I want to stay in my room! Ben thinks as he walks slowly out to the front room.

When he reaches his Uncle and sister, Claire asks "Ben, did you mess with my list tonight?"

"No Claire, I didn't mess with it." Ben answers watching his sister's face as she looks shocked.

"He just lied to me!" Claire is thinking. Then she hears Ethan say "Benjamin Ethan Cord, you had better rethink that answer young man! Do you remember what happened to you in Colorado Springs when you lied to Joseph?"

Gulping, Ben answers "Yes Sir, I remember real well."

He had been caught sliding on the hotel stairway banister after being warned several times to stay off of it. When confronted by Joseph, he lied not knowing he had been seen. After Joseph told their Uncle, Ethan whipped him with his belt for lying and defying a direct order.

"Very well then, let's go over this again. Look carefully at Claire's list and listen to me. Did. You. Write. This. On. The. List?" Ethan asks showing Ben the words he means.

Panicked now, Ben is desperately trying to think of a way out of this problem. "I'm going to get another whipping for lying if I'm not really careful."

Turning to look at his sister instead of his angry Uncle, he says "Claire? I didn't mean to say I hadn't written on the list. When you asked me if I had messed with the list, I thought you meant tear it or something like that."

Ben thinks "There that might work." He looks up at his uncle, hoping he believes his story.

"All right, Ben. I can see how you might have been confused by Claire's question so I won't punish you for lying. However, you still went into her room without her permission. You know you aren't allowed in Joseph or Claire's bedroom without their permission. Isn't that right?"

Ben sighs and thinks "Drat it, I'm still in trouble!"

He answers his uncle's question with a very polite "Yes Sir. Please don't wallop me, I'm sorry I went in her room without asking! I just thought we could use the treats for our lunch pails for school."

"We won't be taking candy to school, Ben. We take sandwiches and fruit if we have any. We might take a slice of cake or a few cookies for a treat but not candy. You know candy is only for special occasions such as Christmas or Birthdays." Claire tells him.

"Ben, you broke the house rule by going into Claire's room without permission. Your punishment is that you are housebound all day tomorrow." Ethan tells him "You are to stay in your room or the front room and there will be no going outside. Now apologize to your sister and stay out of her room unless she or I give you permission."

"Yes Sir." Ben says "I'm sorry I went in your room without asking, Claire."

Claire tells him "Stay out of my room, Ben or you will be sorry. You better behave yourself from now on or you will be getting another spanking! You are really lucky you didn't this time. If I had been in charge I would have spanked you for how you have acted tonight! I am ashamed of you Ben!"

Listening to her scold her young brother and seeing the tears in Ben's eyes, Ethan says "All right Claire, that's enough scolding. Ben apologized and he will do better from now on. Let it lie, please."

"Yes Uncle Ethan." Claire answers with a final glare at Ben.

Turning to Ben, Ethan says "Ben, you are still confined to your room for arguing and disobeying earlier tonight so you may go back to your room. Everything will be better in the morning, son. I'll be in later to tuck you in and say good night when George comes to bed."

"Yes sir, Good night Uncle Ethan." With a quick glance at his sister, he walks to his room.

George is sitting on their bed when he walks in. "I heard all of that, Ben. You are really lucky Papa didn't give you a whipping for going into Claire's room and lying about messing with the list. Especially when he's already had to punish you tonight for your little fussy spell!"

"I know. I thought I was in for it, there for a while. I'm glad I didn't get a whipping, but I wish I didn't have to stay inside all day tomorrow. There's nothing to do inside!"

George looks at him and teases "Well, you can always go back out there and tell them you did know what Claire meant by "messing with" the list. I'm sure Papa won't mind taking you out to the barn and warming the seat of your pants. You know he told us he would take us to the barn and take the strap to our backside if we ever lied."

"No thanks, on second thought I'd rather stay in my room tomorrow!"

"I kind of thought you would." George says grinning.

"Hey, George?"


"How about you staying here with me tomorrow?"

"No, I want to go to town, Ben. Claire says I can help pick out the school things! Oh, Ben aren't you excited about school? I can't wait to start! It's going to be fun to learn new things. I bet the teacher's real nice too."

"Keep hoping George. I'm not nearly as happy about going as you seem to be. I didn't like going to school when we went those two months in St. Louis. The man teacher was mean. Maybe a Lady will be nicer like you said. It won't matter much since Uncle Ethan would spank me if I didn't go to school. What I want to know is why Claire and Joseph can't just keep teaching me. They've taught us both to read some and do math so what do we need school for?"

"I don't know Ben. Maybe there's some things Claire and Joseph donst know and have to learn before they can teach us. Maybe there's some law or something that says all kids are to go to school. I know you donst like school but will you go just for me? I donst want to be the only little kid there."

"Yes George, I'll go for you and to keep my backside from getting spanked. Besides, you need to go to learn to stop saying the word 'donst' when you mean don't!"

"Yeah, and I want to learn to read better. The words in the books we have keep jumping around and messing me up. Claire says I'll get better but I'm not too sure."

"Joseph said he's going to play checkers with me tonight so I'm going back out front. I'll see you later Ben." George says as he leaves Ben sulking on his bed.

That's fine. Go play and leave me all alone. A true friend would stay and talk not go off without me. At least I have Bunny to hug. Ben thinks as he curls up with his stuffed rag rabbit.