Misunderstandings Chapter One

"Thank you very much, Adam," Ruth Orowitz said as Adam Cartwright replaced items on the shelves in the Trading Post.

"It's no problem at all, Mrs. Orowitz," Adam said. "I'm more than happy to help you out while your husband is away."

"I do wish that you would let me give you some money for..."

"That's not necessary," Adam interrupted her. "You and Mr. Orowitz have already given my family so much. I'm glad to return the favor. I'm almost done here. I can lock up when I'm finished."

Ruth smiled. "You are an angel, Adam. I will see you in the morning." Ruth exited the store, leaving Adam to finish straightening things up. There were only a few bottles and bags to be put in their place, and Adam did so without complaint.

As soon as the final canister was put back, Adam grabbed the keys and exited the store. He placed his hat on his head and locked up/ Placing the key into his pocket, Adam turned to mount his horse and at the same time, glanced up in the direction of the hotel.

Slowly exiting the hotel, Adam noticed a female figure. It was dark, but she seemed to be dressed in very plain clothing. She got onto a horse and pulled away from the hotel swiftly and quietly.

He didn't know what it was, but something told Adam to follow the girl. He gave her enough time to get just far enough ahead of him so that she wouldn't know she was being followed. Adam quietly rode behind her. She picked up speed as she reached the end of town, Adam trying desperately to stay unnoticed.

Adam had been following the girl for nearly thirty minutes when she finally came to a stop in front of a small ramshackle church. Adam sat atop his horse, hidden by a distant tree as he watched her walk up to the front.

She knocked twice and the door swung open. Adam squinted in attempt to get a better look at what was going on. From inside the church, a man exited, who Adam recognized as a reverend. Holding his hand was a small child who looked to be about five. The child seemed to be exhausted as the girl bent down and kissed her on the forehead. She then stood and shook the reverend's hand.

Adam watched as he reentered the church with the child and the girl remounted her horse and turned back towards town. Again, Adam gave her a head start as not to be noticed. Not to his surprise, the journey had come full circle as the girl's horse came to a stop outside the hotel and she quietly slipped back inside.

Adam sat on his horse, motionless for a moment, pondering what he had just witnessed. But it was late. He needed to get back to the Ponderosa before his father began to wonder where he was.

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Adam's horse slowly rode into town the next morning. Ruth Orowitz had already opened the store and was helping a customer as Adam entered.

"Good morning, Mrs. Orowitz," Adam said as he put on his apron to begin work.

"Good morning, Adam," Ruth said. "Thank you, Mrs. Byron." She turned back to her customer.

"Mrs. Byron's been in three times this week already," Adam mentioned after the woman had exited the store.

"Her daughter is ill," Ruth explained. "She comes to pick up medicine."

"Do you carry those medicines? I thought medication needed to come form a doctor."

"We have some of what she needs. It should be able to help," Ruth said as a scuffle began outside.

"I ain't need any of this, Wolf!" a man yelled from the steps of the hotel. Jack Wolf stood in front of him with the girl that Adam had followed the night before.

"I'm sure we can come to some sorta understandin'." Jack reasoned.

"You need to take control of them...them...whores."

"Now you just hold on a minute." Jack stepped down closer to the man. Adam ran out of the Trading Post and to the hotel.

"Hey!" Adam called. "There are women and children out here."

"This one needs to keep and eye on his...entertainment." The man said staggering off. Jack stood motionless for a moment and then took the girl by the arm and led her back inside.

Adam backed slowly towards the Post, passing the saloon. Shelby had just turned to walk inside. "Who was that?" Adam asked her.

"The guy?" Shelby asked him as she pulled on her cigar.

"No, the red headed girl. Who is she?"

"You are kiddin', right?" Shelby let out a soft chuckle. "That there is Christine Brown. She's one of Jack's girls."

Adam stood in a state of thought as Shelby walked back into the saloon. He had not completely ignored the possibility that the girl might work for Jack, but had only hoped that it was not the case.

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Ben Cartwright sat in a chair by the window, his arms folded across his chest. It was the second night that his son had been late arriving home from town. As he sat and waited, Ben pulled out his pocketwatch. While checking the hour, Ben heard the front door open.

"Do you know what time it is?" Ben asked, rising from his chair.

"I'm sorry, Pa," Adam said as he removed his hat and took a seat.

"This is the second night in a row, Adam."

"I know. It's just that... I really can't explain why right now." Ben had a questioning look on his face. "I assure you, Pa. I'm not doing anything illegal. Please trust me."

"I don't know about this, son."

"Just please trust me."

After a short pause, Ben gave a slight nod. "The boys left you some supper by the fire."

"Thanks, Pa," Adam said with a look of gratitude on his face. He then walked over to the fireplace and picked up his supper.

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Only a few more minutes until Eli Orowitz returned to Eagle Station. Then, Adam could go back to helping his father and brothers on the Ponderosa. As he stood in front of the hotel waiting for the stage to come in, Adam decided that there was still one thing that he had to do.

The noon stage pulled up in front of the hotel. Out stepped a few wealthy looking men followed by Eli. Adam walked up to him and extended his hand.

"How was your trip?" Adam asked, helping Eli with his bags.

"Wonderful," Eli said. "I have found a new supplier for the store and he charges almost one quarter of the price I am paying now. How were things while I was away?"

"Oh, fine. Everything was just fine. Glad to have you back. Do you need me to help you with your things?"

"Oh, no," Eli said patting the boy on the back. "I think I can manage. Thank you for all of your help, Adam."

Eli grabbed his things and headed back towards the Trading Post. Adam removed his hat and pushed his hair back out of his face. He walked over to the hotel and stood at the bottom step for a moment until he finally decided to enter.

Adam walked in. It had only been the second time since the hotel had opened that he stepped foot inside. It seemed to have changed quite a bit. It was now a bustling place of business. As soon as he was inside, he noticed the amount of girls Jack had walking around the saloon in the back.

"Well, well," Adam heard Jack say as he walked out of the saloon. "Look who we got here. I never thought I'd see the day that you walk back in here."

"I don't plan on making it a habit," Adam assured him.

"So..." Jack followed Adam into the saloon. "To what do I owe this visit?"

"I didn't come looking for you. I want to see Christine Brown." Adam noticed her standing at the end of the bar and began towards her.

"I'm afraid I can't let you do that," Jack said. "You see, time equals money, and right now, Miss Brown's on my time."

Adam went into his pocket and threw a golden half eagle onto the bar at Jack. "And now she's on mine."