Ben Cartwright was pacing nervously outside the room where his fourth wife Rachel was giving birth to their child. He heard her scream and cringed he didn't like his wife being in pain and even though he knew it was part of the process it still tore him up inside. Suddenly the door flew open and the doctor appeared.
"Congratulations Ben!" the doctor exclaimed.
Ben ran into the room before the doctor could tell him if it was a boy or girl.
Rachel was sitting up in bed with her baby in her arms when her husband entered.
"Oh Ben come see your daughter." She said with a smile.
"It's a girl!" Ben said excitedly as he went to his wife's side to see the bundle in her arms.
"Isn't she beautiful Ben?" Rachel asked as she smiled at her husband.
"She takes after you, she's gorgeous." Ben said with a smile.
"What are we going to name her Ben?" Rachel asked knowing they had only picked out boys names sure they would have a son. "I wanted to name our child after my father but James is hardly a name for a girl." She said sadly.
"Well I would have to agree with you there but what if we named her Jamie? I know it's an unusual name for a girl but then at least we could still name her after your father." Ben suggested.
Rachel thought a minuet then looked down at her daughter and finally spoke.
"Is your name Jamie?" She asked the little baby in her arms. The baby made some grunting sounds and Rachel smiled. "I think she likes it." She said with a giggle as she just looked at her baby. Then she looked up at Ben. "I love you so much."
"I love you too." Ben said with a smile as he leaned in and kissed Rachel.
Now fast forward a couple of years Rachel is in Virginia City in the general store picking out a few little odds and ends for her family while her husband was doing some business at the bank. Just as she was exiting the store two men who had been fighting in the saloon now had their guns drawn in the street and were shooting at each other. Right as she stepped out of the store a stray bullet struck her and she fell. Upon hearing the shots Ben ran from the bank to see what was going on. He came out in time to see the bullet hit his wife and to see her fall. He ran over too her but it was too late she was gone.
It has been fourteen years since her mother's death and Jamie has blossomed into a beautiful young woman and the young men in town are starting to take notice much to her father and brothers' dismay. On a particular day Jamie and Joe are fighting over a young man who wants to court her.
"Joe I can't believe you!" Jamie screamed at her brother as they entered the house.
"What did I do that was so wrong?" He yelled back at her.
Ben hearing the commotion in his house came in to see what was going on. He walked in just in time to see Joe yelling at his sister.
"Joseph you don't yell at your sister!" Ben said sternly to his son. "Now can one of you tell me what is going on here?" He asked exasperated.
"Joe here can't except that I am not a little girl anymore!" Jamie informed her father still very angry at her brother
"Oh?" Ben said in a questioning tone.
"Yes, he got into a fight with Tom Hardy just because he was talking to me." Jamie said as she crossed her arms.
"I thought Tom was your friend?" Ben asked confused
"He is Pa but…but..." Joe stammered.
"But what Joseph?" His father asked him obviously not understanding
"I don't want him talking to my little sister is all." Joe said almost embarrassed by his answer.
"First of all I am standing right here so please don't talk about me as if I'm not and second I am not a little girl anymore Joe!" Jamie exclaimed
"I think your brother is still very protective of you sweetheart." Ben said smiling at his daughter.
"But daddy he is ruining my life!" She exclaimed. "Tom was one of the last men in town who would talk to me and now he probably won't even look at me again." She said with tears in her eyes.
Seeing how upset his sister was over this Joe felt horrible. He never meant to make her cry he loved his sister very much and wanted nothing more than to see her happy it was just that when his friends started taking notice of her he didn't like it at all. It was hard for him to see her as a woman rather than his baby sister.
"I'm sorry." Joe said looking at his feet and feeling very ashamed of himself. "I didn't realize." He said looking at his sister again. "It's just all our lives you have been my baby sister." He said looking her straight in the eye then reaching out and pulling her into a hug. "And I guess I will always see you that way." He whispered as he hugged her.
"Joe one of these days you are going to have to realize that I am not a little girl anymore." Jamie said as she hugged him back.
"Now that you two have settled that can we please get to our chores?" Ben asked with a smile.
"Yes daddy." Jamie said as she left the house to go outside and start on her chores.
"Oh Joe…" Ben called after his son as he was leaving the house himself.
"Yeah Pa?" Joe turned to face his father.
"Can you tell Adam that I need to speak to him?" Ben asked his son.
"Sure Pa." Joe smiled
"He is helping Hoss fix the north fence." He called after his son as he disappeared out the door.
Joe mounted Cochise and rode off toward the north fence line to find his older brother. On his way he saw Tom who not only was his friend but happened to be a hand on the Ponderosa. He decided to go apologize to him about what had happened that afternoon.
"Hey Tom!" Joe yelled as he rode over to where Tom was watching the heard graze.
"What do you want Joe?" Tom asked still angry
"I wanted to tell you I'm sorry about this afternoon." Joe said in matter of fact tone.
"Forget it." Tom said annoyed.
"No I am not going to forget it you're my friend and she is my sister and if you two like each other I just wanted to let you know that I am ok with it." Joe said quite pleased with himself.
"Look Joe even if I did want to court your sister I wouldn't need your permission or approval you aren't her daddy." Tom said turning in his saddle and looking at Joe.
"You mean you aren't interested in courting Jamie?" Joe asked confused.
"No we are just friends and if you would've just listened I was trying to tell you that in town." Tom said now looking straight ahead.
"Ok well fine then I just wanted to say that I was sorry so now that I have done that I guess I better go I've got to find Adam anyway." Joe said as he turned Cochise around and left Tom with the heard.
A few minutes later he saw Adam and Hoss working on a section of the north fence and rode up to them. Upon hearing a horse approach Adam and Hoss looked up to see their little brother riding toward
"Hey there Joe did you come to help us?" Adam asked his youngest brother.
"Pa sent me out here to get you." Joe informed him.
"For what?" Adam asked.
"I don't know he just wants you to go back to the house." Joe said. "I will stay here and help Hoss finish the fence." He added as Adam mounted Sport.
"Thanks Joe." Adam said as he rode off toward the house leaving his brothers to finish the fence.
It wasn't long before Adam reached the house. He tethered Sport and walked into the house to see his father sitting at his desk looking through some papers.
"You wanted to see me?" Adam asked causing his father to look up.
"Yes, there is something I need to talk to you about but you can't tell your brothers or your sister just yet." Ben said with a serious look on his face.
"Ok, what is it Pa?" He asked concerned.
"Well, I got a letter from Matilda Jones." Ben said pausing long enough for Adam to interject.
"Isn't that Rachel's mother?" Adam asked before his father could continue.
"Yes that she is." Ben said.
"If I remember correctly she was an awful woman who didn't want anything to do with Rachel after she married you." Adam said with a look like he had a bad taste in his mouth.
"Yeah she didn't approve of Rachel marrying me she wanted her to marry a man more fitting of San Francisco society so when we ran off and got married she disowned her." Ben replied with a bit of sadness in his voice.
"So what does she want?" Adam asked confused.
"I don't know she didn't say, all she said was she was coming and that she has something important she needed to discuss with me." Ben said with as much confusion in his voice as there was on his son's face.
The next few days past by quickly and uneventfully, not much was going on the Ponderosa so Ben gave his children a day of relaxation. Hoss and Adam went hunting, Little Joe went into Virginia City where he immediately got involved in a poker game at the saloon and Jamie took her horse Prince for a ride to her favorite spot. Ben stayed back at the house he was sitting on the front porch smoking his pipe and enjoying the quiet that came with his children and the hands being away. He was lost in thought when he was snapped back to reality by the sound of a buggy coming up to the house. He saw an older distinguished looking woman sitting in the buggy.
"Hello can I help you ma'am?" Ben asked as he approached the buggy.
"Is this the Ponderosa?" She asked curtly.
"Yes it is ma'am." He said.
"Well then if I could speak to Ben Cartwright." She said with the same lake of emotion as her first question.
"I am Ben Cartwright how can I help you?" He asked politely.
"I am Mrs. Matilda Jones and I have come to speak to you about my granddaughter. I Trust you got my letter." She said sternly.
"Yes I did, let's go inside and talk." Ben said with just as stern a look on his face as he helped her down from the buggy.
Once inside he offered her a seat on the settee. He then offered her a drink that she politely but coldly refused. After getting a cup of coffee for himself he settled in the chair across from her.
"So Mrs. Jones what is it that you want with my daughter?" He asked her firmly.
"Well Mr. Cartwright as you know Rachel was my daughter…" she started
"Yes and I also remember that when she married me you disowned her. So forgive me for not understanding why all of the sudden after 16 years you are showing an interest in my daughter." Ben said almost disgusted with the woman sitting in front of him.
"Mr. Cartwright it was only recently I learned of my daughter's death and the fact that she had a child. Upon hearing the news that I had a granddaughter I naturally wanted to come see her." She said with a stern look in her eye.
"How come I feel like you have some other reason for coming here?" Ben asked suspiciously.
"You would be right to assume that as a matter of fact there is the matter of Rachel's wishes regarding the girl." Matilda said flatly.
"I am sure I have no idea what you are talking about." Ben said raising his voice slightly.
"Well, you see I have a document here that states in the event of Rachel's untimely death upon the girl's sixteenth birthday I am to take her back to San Francisco with me and teach her to be a proper lady and have her marry a proper gentleman." She said quite pleased with herself.
"Excuse me if I have a hard time believing that my wife would draw up such a document without my knowledge especially with how she felt about you." Ben retorted getting angry.
"If you don't believe me here it is." She pulled a very legal looking document out of a satchel she was carrying with her and handed it to Ben.
"This appears to be a Will." Ben said confused."
"That it is. You see now that I have a legal right to my granddaughter." Matilda said pursing her lips.
Ben was very confused he couldn't believe that his wife would do this behind his back especially since the woman sitting before him had disowned her upon her marriage to him. He didn't know if this document was really legal but he did know that he wasn't going to give up his little girl without one hell of a fight.
"Well Mrs. Jones of course I want my attorney to look into this." Ben said with a stern look at Matilda.
"That's fine but you'll find it is all legal and proper." She said as she stood up to leave.
And with that they got up as he showed her out. Once Matilda had left Ben collapsed into his chair just staring at the piece of paper in his hand. He didn't want to believe that he might lose his precious daughter. He was still staring off into space when he heard the door open and Jamie walked in followed by her brothers.
"Hi daddy!" She said as she ran over and threw her arms around his neck.
"Hi sweetheart, how was your day?" He asked still a little lost in thought.
"It was good. What's that?" She asked noticing the paper in his hand.
"Oh it's nothing just a letter I need to reply to is all." He lied as he stood up, walked over to his desk and put it in the drawer for safe keeping.
"Why don't you go get washed up for supper while talk to your brothers about their day." He said as he hugged her and kissed the top of her head. She smiled at him and then he watched as she went upstairs to her room to wash up. Then he turned to his sons who had just returned from washing up themselves.
"Boys I need to talk to you about something very important and I don't want you telling your sister do you understand?" Ben asked looking sternly at his sons.
"Yes Pa." They said.
"Well as Adam already knows a week or so back I got a letter from Matilda Jones, who you all know his Rachel's mother who disowned her when she married me and came to live here on the ranch." He said still looking at his sons.
"Yeah Pa we remember her but what does she want after all these years?" Joe asked a little confused as to why this woman was suddenly interested in their family when she had wanted nothing to do with them when Rachel was alive.
"Well she is in town and she came by the house today and brought me this." Ben said as he walked over to his desk and took out the piece of paper that he had previously hid from his daughter and handed it to Adam.
"Pa this looks like a will and it says that in the event of Rachel's untimely death Jamie is to go live with Matilda upon her sixteenth birthday, which is in a couple of weeks." Joe said reading the words in disbelief.
"Matilda told me it was Rachel's will." Ben said curtly.
"That's impossible Rachel would never have gone behind your back and drawn up a will like this." Adam said angrily.
"She can't take her can she Pa?" Hoss asked worried not only about losing his little sister but also about what that would do to his father.
"I am not about to let that happen Hoss I promise you that." Ben said seeing the worry in his son's eyes.
"Supper ready get cold be all ruin if you don't come eat!" Hop Sing said breaking the silence.
"Ok Hop Sing we're coming. Remember boys not a word of this to your sister." Ben said looking at his sons sternly to get his point across.
They nodded in agreement as Ben placed the paper back in his desk. As he turned around he saw Jamie coming down the stairs.
"Well there's my little girl." Ben said with a smile as he put his arm around her.
"Daddy I'm not a little girl anymore." She said with a smile as she hugged him.
"You'll always be my little girl." He whispered as he kissed the top of her head.
She just smiled and they both went and took their place at the table and ate supper.