Coming out of the bedroom Audra and Nick are met by Victoria coming up the stairs and while Nick says “I’ll be back” going down the steps Victoria asks “Audra, you okay?” Audra replies, “I’m okay.”
Victoria then suggests she’d get ready for dinner in which she goes into the bathroom closing the door behind her. Meanwhile, “There; all done!” Gene says as he comes into the kitchen as he brings in the last of the baskets with Heath.
Replying, “Very good,” Victoria then asks them to get ready for dinner in which they go up the stairs together and as Gene is about to let Heath have first drabs on the bathroom he finds that it’s locked.
Turning to Heath, Gene says, “Audra must be in there. Why don’t you knock on it?” Replying, “Yes sir,” Heath does as instructed from the other side of the door, they hear, “Just a minute,” coming from Audra.
“Well,” Gene then says, “I guess you’ll have to wait. I’ll be in my room come let me know when you are done.” Once again Heath replies, “Yes sir,” as he patiently waits for Audra to come out while Gene heads for his room.
Upon reaching the bunkhouse Nick is approached by Barrett asking, “Hey Mr. Barkley, how do you like your new brother?”
“He ain’t no brother of mine,” Nick states gruffly.
“He isn’t?” Barrett then says, “But Gene said something about him being a new brother last night.”
“Gene,” Nick barks, “Just has a big mouth and doesn’t know when to keep it shut,” walking away from he says, “Good day Barrett.”
“Good day sir,” Barrett says to him as he walks inside.
Overhearing, “What was that all about?” Oscar asks coming over to him.
“I just wanted to see where that brother fits in,” Barrett notes.
“And” Oscar asks.
“He doesn’t,” Barrett replies, “Not where Old Nick is concerned at least. It should prove to be mighty interesting around here to see if and when that boy gets sent packing. We sure don’t need any bastard boy around here if that is what he is.”
“We sure don’t,” Oscar states.
Gloating, “I am gonna enjoy watching that boy be sent packing,” Barrett replies.
As Nick enters the bunkhouse he calls out to Hank who is preparing dinner for the men. Glancing up as he approaches, “Yes Nick?” he says.
Snapping, “Didn’t I tell you that my name around here is Mr. Barkley to you?” Nick asks of him who answers, “I believe you did.”
“Then,” Nick barks, “Use it! Is Duke around?” he asks as he scans the doorway that leads to the sleeping quarters.
“Sorry Mr. Barkley,” Hank replies, “He hasn’t come back as of yet.”
“When he does” Nick informs him “Tell him I was here looking for him. Tell him that after the men have their dinner two of them are to relieve Chad and Davy on the West Ridge. Also tell him to assign two men to an eight hour shift each day until the new fence is put up. Tell him I don’t want any cattle breaking free again.”
“I’ll tell him,” Hank vows, “Just as soon as he comes in.” Nick then walks out.
Back at the house after Audra comes out of the bathroom Heath goes to use it next and downstairs Victoria and Silas are working on making pickles out of cucumbers. Minutes later Heath comes out of the bathroom and knocks on Gene’s door to let him know that he is finished and while Gene comes out of his room Heath goes into his. Downstairs as Nick walks in the front door and says hello to Victoria who comes out of the kitchen and returns the greeting rather coldly. Nick begins to ask her if she is alright but when she tells him she is he lets it alone, shrugs his shoulders and quietly goes up the stairs.
As Jarrod comes into the parlor he hands Heath a drink who is seated next to Audra and Gene who begin mentioning the busy day that they had.
“I must admit,” Gene says, “It’s been quite some time since I had to pick anything and we had a lot to pick.”
“Heath,” Jarrod asks, “How did it go out there?”
“Fine sir,” Heath replies.
“Heath,” Jarrod then says, “I know you’ve only been with us a few days but you do need to start loosening up. You’re still very quiet and tensed. We won’t bite you if you spoke.” Not knowing what to say Heath glances up at him who then says, “Heath, why aren’t you trying your drink? It’s very good. Drink up.”
Replying, “Yes sir,” Heath begins sipping his drink.
Walking in “There!” Victoria says, “A couple minutes rest. Whew!” as she takes a seat and Jarrod brings her over a drink.
“Mother,” Audra asks, “Did you finish the pickles?”
“Just finished,” Victoria replies, “We still have lots of work to do before the night is over and then again tomorrow.”
As Nick walks in “Look at what the cat dragged in” Jarrod says.
“Sorry I’m late,” Nick replies as Jarrod hands him a drink he graciously takes it and sips it down.
“You’re not late Nick,” Victoria informs him.
“You did spend a long afternoon in town though,” Jarrod replies.
“Wasn’t too long,” Nick states, “Had to pick up supplies remember?”
“I remember,” Jarrod says.
“We thought maybe you got lost,” Gene quips.
“Well,” Nick states, “It took time to go into town and get back again. It’s not exactly around the corner you know. I then stopped off for a bite to eat and then I came home.”
Just then walking in Silas announces dinner being ready and with that the family gets up and proceeds onto the dining room with Gene escorting Audra and Audra escorting Heath and Nick and Jarrod escorting Victoria by each arm. On the way out Nick deposits his empty glass on the nearest table.
Once the meal has been placed before them and they’ve said grace Victoria says “Okay everyone lets eat up” glancing over at Heath “That includes you Heath, we
Have lots of work to do after we finish here.”
Replying, “Yes Ma’am,” Heath begins eating.
Victoria starts off the family conversation with the family pitching in the kitchen after dinner and Audra and Gene doing their homework and if they have anytime left before bed they could assist if still needed.
Nick then asks, “Doing what?”
“There are loaves of bread to be shaped,” Victoria replies, “Carrots to be peeled, washed and cut we all have to pitch in to get it all ready for Saturday.”
“You got my help,” Jarrod says with Nick replying, “Count me in,” but not as enthusiastic as Jarrod is.
Glancing over at Heath, “Heath would you mind assisting us afterwards?” Victoria asks.
“No Ma’am,” Heath replies.
Jarrod asks of Nick, “Did you go see Duke?”
Nick replies, “I tried he wasn’t in. I will try again later.”
Victoria asks Heath how’s the dinner with him responding “Fine Ma’am.” Then turning to Nick she says, “Nick, could you find out which of the men could stay and help out on Saturday? I will only need four if I could get that many and if we don’t need them for the entire day we could let them leave early.”
Replying “I’ll see what I could do Mother,” Nick then says to Audra, “Audra how did it go with Jessie taking the coon home the other day? You never said.”
“She had to turn it loose,” Audra informs him.
Jarrod then asks Nick how it went in town and if he was able to get everything he needed to which he says, “Not completely. I got what is available the rest of the shipment hasn’t come in yet. I will have to pick it up the next time I am in town.”
Gene then asks of Audra how Jessie liked helping out in the garden to which she replies, “She had fun.” Surprised he asks, “She did?” Shrugging her shoulders, “That is what she told me.”
“That is interesting,” Gene notes and as he eats another bite of his dinner and is thinking he then brings up, “Speaking of fun, Jarrod, Nick, I have a challenge for both of you.”
“Oh?” Nick says with Jarrod asking, “What kind of challenge Gene?”
“Heath said,” Gene mentions, “He is good at playing cards and said he could beat you. I would like to see if he could or not.”
Glaring at Heath, “Is that right,” Nick says, “You think you could beat me in a game of cards?” Swallowing hard, “If need to,” Heath answers. Nick then tells him, “Well, I like to see that.”
“So” Gene smirking asks “When do you think the challenge will take place?”
“Not tonight I’m afraid,” Victoria states.
“When it does” Gene asks “Can I watch?”
“Suit yourself,” Nick replies, “I want to see this boy eat his words when I take his money from him,” while getting an angry look from Audra.
“Jarrod,” Gene asks, “What about you?”
“When we play,” Jarrod answers, “We will see what happens. I must say I am curious to see how well Heath plays and find out just how good he is.”
Gene says, “Oh boy,” with a wicked grin, “I can’t wait for this; this oughta be fun.”
Upon finishing their dinner Silas brings in dessert which happens to be vanilla pudding. Shortly thereafter he leaves taking some of the dishes from the table with him and then bringing in the beverages which once again after everyone has been served leaves again carrying a few more dishes. Once the family has finished and are excusing themselves Audra and Gene take their desserts and beverages with them up to their rooms to work on their homework while Nick and Jarrod head for the kitchen leaving Heath and Victoria at the table.
“Well Heath it looks like it’s just you and I now,” Victoria asks, “You alright?”
Heath replies, “Yes Ma’am.”
“Do you know Heath” sighing “That I’ve been many things to many people but never Ma’am” she mentions “Somehow we will have to do something about that.”
Nervously Heath answers, “Yes um.”
“Heath,” she asks, “What’s wrong?”
As he responds “Nothing” she tells him, “Well finish eating. I will be right back.”
Replying, “Yes um,” Heath is left alone at the table to finish his dinner.
Reaching the top landing Gene asks of Audra, “Audra, has Heath ever said anything about being a kind?”
“He has,” Audra replies, “Yes.”
“What does he mean by that?” Gene wanted to know.
“Not sure” she says “Maybe it means not having a father.”
“They say he’s a kind because of that?” Gene mystified asks.
“Think so,” Audra replies, “I don’t understand it all myself to be perfectly honest.”
“Did he tell you he worked for his uncle’s hotel?” Gene inquires.
“He has,” Audra admits, “But he didn’t like it much.”
“I know” Gene replies “It seems he doesn’t like much of anything. I wonder why?”
“Not sure,” Audra states.
“There is something else he mentioned that I don’t understand,” Gene says.
“What’s that?” Audra inquires.
“He said something about staying in a box,” Gene mentions.
“He told me that too,” Audra says, “Although never heard of anyone staying inside a box before.”
“Neither have I,” Gene replies. Audra then suggests they go and do their homework and stopping their talking they go their separate ways and once they’ve gone into their rooms they begin working on their homework while enjoying their desserts and beverages in between.
In the kitchen Nick is washing the dishes, Jarrod is drying and Silas is putting them away. As Victoria walks in asking, “How is it going?” Jarrod replies, “We have everything under control.”
“Are you going to be doing the baking tonight?” Nick asks.
“No,” Victoria replies, “Just getting it ready, tomorrow will be the big day. Be right back” she tells them walking out.
Seeing Heath still at the dining table and finished with dinner Victoria has him come with her into the kitchen. Upon seeing him walking in Nick grabs the carrots, the peeler, knife and quickly excusing himself goes outside with them.
“Where did Nick go?” Victoria asks to which Jarrod answers, “Outside.” Victoria then says, “That was rather fast,” with Jarrod replying, “It was.”
“Well,” Victoria says, “Let him be,” and then upon turning to Heath she has him come over to the counter and gives him instructions on what he is to be doing. She then asks of him, “Do you think you will be alright with this?”
“Yes um,” Heath replies. Victoria then informs him if he has any questions to either ask Jarrod or Silas as she excuses herself and walks out. While Jarrod works on the apples (peeling and slicing them), Heath and Silas work side by side with shaping the dough into loaves.
Making idle conversation, “Well Heath,” Jarrod mentions, “It looks like it’s just the three of us now. Is there anything you would like to ask us?”
Replying, “No sir,” Heath continues working.
“Mr. Heath” Silas joins in, “I don’t think I’ve known anyone to be as quiet as you.”
As he doesn’t respond, “Heath,” Jarrod says, “You do have to loosen up around here we are not going to hurt you, you know.” Still not responding and thinking of a different approach Jarrod asks, “Have you been in many houses as big as this one?” Heath replies, “No sir.”
“At other ranches you worked at before here,” Jarrod inquires, “How were they?”
“Okay sir,” Heath quietly answers.
“What I mean is did you like working for them?” Jarrod asks of him who shrugs his shoulders, “Not know sir,” Heath answers.
“What about your uncle’s hotel?” Jarrod inquires, “Did you like working for him?” Shaking his head, “No sir,” he replies.
Silas then joins in, “Your uncle owns a hotel Mr. Heath?”
“Yes sir,” Heath replies.
“Does it have many rooms?” Jarrod inquires with Heath replying, “It does sir.”
“You don’t like your uncle though?” Jarrod notes.
“No sir,” Heath replies.
“Is there any particular reason why you don’t like him?” Jarrod inquires.
“There is,” Heath replies, “Just don’t sir.”
“Mr. Heath,” Silas asks, “Have you always not liked them?”
“Yes sir,” Heath replies.
“How do you like working with Duke?” Jarrod wanted to know.
“He I like,” Heath answers.
“I know you are having a problem with Nick at the moment but that won’t be for too long and I believe that the two of you will get along just fine.”
Replying “Yes sir,” Jarrod then asks how he likes Silas to which he glances over at him and says, “He’s okay sir.
“You sure do say sir a lot,” Silas brings up, “Are you always this polite?”
Heath replies, “Yes sir.” Jarrod then asks, “Do you mind us talking?” Heath replies, “No sir.”
“I must say,” Jarrod mentions, “I never met anyone who was as quiet as you. It’s rather different I must admit. Now take Nick for instance, he is not quiet at all and he always has something to say.” Heath replies, “Yes sir.”
“That’s for sure Mr. Jarrod,” Silas quips with a little chuckle at the same time.
Returning to the kitchen Victoria checks on everything and finding that everything is running smoothly she then excuses herself to grab a quick bath in which Jarrod tells her, “Go ahead, you had a busy day,” with Silas adding, “Indeed you did.” Walking out Victoria takes the back stairwell.
Resuming his talk with Heath again Jarrod asks him, “Heath, have you ever hosted a big party before?” with Heath replying, “No sir.”
“Have you ever been to any big parties of any kind or any sort of celebrations?” Jarrod asks of him who replies, “No sir.” Jarrod then says, “What about at your uncle’s hotel did he ever put on any big parties for any of the guests?”
“He has sir,” Heath admits. Jarrod then inquires, “And how were they?”
Shrugging his shoulders, “No thought to it sir,” Heath replies.
“Did you get to attend any?” Jarrod asks of him who answers, “No.”
“What did you do while they were going on?” Jarrod inquires with Heath answering, “Downstairs.”
Jarrod baffled asks, “Downstairs? When they parties were going on you were downstairs?” Heath replies, “Yes sir.” Jarrod inquires, “Why?” Heath answers, “It was where I had to go, sir.”
“You sure say that a lot,” Jarrod mentions, “Had to I mean. Why is that?”
Shrugging his shoulders, “Just is,” Heath responds.
Jarrod then asks him if he’d like to ask him any questions about Father maybe getting to know what kind of man he was to his uncle, his mother and his home to Strawberry to which Heath shrugs his shoulders not saying anything Jarrod then inquires, “What was the school like there?”
Heath mimics, “Like?”
“Yes,” Jarrod asks, “Was it big or small? Were there a lot of children in the school? Did you get along with any of them?” to which Heath answers, “I guess, and then no,” to the last question asked.
Jarrod then asks, “How come?” Heath replies, “It’s the way it was, sir.”
“The way it was?” Jarrod asks to which Heath responds, “Yes sir.”
Jarrod then asks if he was quiet in school or as ever as wild as Nick to which Heath replies, “No sir.” Jarrod then brings up, “Heath, I know you don’t know how to swim but how would you like it if I taught you how. Would you like that?”
“If you like sir,” Heath replies.
“Okay,” Jarrod says, “Maybe we will work on it as soon as a free moment comes up. This weekend is shot how about next weekend if nothing comes up?”
“If you want sir,” Heath replies.
“I want,” Jarrod says, “And we will that is if everything stays clear okay?”
“Yes sir,” Heath answers.
Jarrod asks next, “How about after we finish here we play a game or two of either gin or checkers?” Heath replies, “Yes sir.” Then excusing himself Jarrod goes outside to see how Nick is doing. Catching him peeling carrots he has with him, “Nice night,” Jarrod says going over to him, “Want some company?”
“If you like,” Nick barks, “But if you start talking about him then go right back inside; I don’t want to hear it anymore.” Jarrod asks, “What’s with you anyhow?”
“What’s wrong with me?” Nick snaps “What’s wrong with you? You keep going on and on about the same thing and I told you if and when I choose to accept him it will be of my own doing. I don’t need you or anybody else to make me decide. So, leave me alone.” Jarrod replies “You’re right Nick; we don’t want you resenting him.” Handing him the carrots “Good” Nick says “Here” as he walks away.
Jarrod asks “Where you going?” Stopping “For a walk” Nick tells him “Be in, in a few minutes” and while Jarrod goes back inside Nick grabs Coco and rides around for a bit.
Returning to the kitchen Victoria says, “Heath, are you finished?” Standing near the counter, “Yes um,” Heath replies. Victoria asks, “Where are Jarrod and Nick?”
“Outside,” Heath answers.
Victoria then asks, “And Silas?”
“His room,” Heath replies, “Said be right out.”
Inspecting everything, Victoria says to him, “You did a good job. Why don’t you go into the study for a little bit and relax?”
Replying, “Yes um,” Heath quickly leaves the kitchen and goes into the study. Seconds later Audra comes into the kitchen and helps Victoria with tidying up. After that she helps with the cucumbers.
As Silas walks in he asks, “Do you want some help?”
“No, no,” Victoria informs him, “Audra and I have it. You did more than enough. Why don’t you go and take it easy?” Silas asks, “You sure?”
“Quite sure,” Victoria then inquires, “How did you like working with Heath?”
“I like him fine,” Silas answers, “That boy is a great help, Mrs. Barkley but sure is a quiet one much different from Mr. Nick.”
“That he is,” Victoria notes, “But I think once he’s been with us awhile he should fit right in.” Upon replying, “I sure hope so, I sure do like his being around,” Silas then bids the ladies goodnight as he walks out.
While slicing the cucumbers, “Mother,” Audra says, “Earlier I was talking to Nick about Heath.”
Victoria replies “I know you did; that is why you ran inside as quickly as you did.”
“I was hoping that maybe if I said something he would listen,” Audra mentions.
“He didn’t listen?” Victoria surmises.
“No” Audra replies “He said he would try to be nicer towards him but so far I haven’t seen any sign of him doing that. He still talks mean to him.”
“I think we’ve all tried talking to him,” Victoria notes, “Except perhaps Duke who is still waiting to give it a try.”
“I sure hope he can talk some sense into him,” Audra says.
“So do I,” Victoria replies, “But at the moment Nick seems to be avoiding him.”
“What can we do Mother?” Audra asks.
“For right now not much” Victoria replies, “Let’s just leave it alone and let Nick come to terms with it on his own. If we keep harping on him it’s just going to have the opposite effect and it could end up doing more harm than good. He could end up resenting Heath more than he does now and you certainly don’t want that.”
Sighing, “I sure don’t,” Audra admits, “But I’m afraid that if Nick keeps it up Heath will end up leaving. Nick said he wouldn’t but I think he just might.”
“I have too,” Victoria states, “But for right now I think its best we just continue monitoring the situation and let it go. Maybe if we stop harping on it he just might come around, okay?”
Audra replies, “Okay,” as Victoria is placing a towel over the pans.
As Jarrod is walking in, “Where is Nick?” Victoria asks.
Placing the carrots on the counter, “Went for a walk,” Jarrod mentions.
“I see he finished the carrots,” Victoria notes.
“He did,” Jarrod then asks, “Anything else needs to be done?”
“Not right now,” Victoria then says, “Audra and I have it. Why don’t you go join Heath in the study?”
“Sounds like a gracious suggestion Lovely lady; I’ll do just that” Jarrod says.
As Jarrod leaves the kitchen, Heath is inside the study looking out the window. Coming over to him, “Lovely night out there,” Jarrod mentions.
“Yes um,” Heath replies.
Then glancing up at the sky, “And it’s a clear one,” Jarrod adds, “You could see all the stars up there.” Heath responds, “Yup.”
Jarrod then asks, “Would you be interested in a game of checkers? I’m free.”
“If you like sir,” Heath replies.
Smiling, “I like,” Jarrod then says, “Come on,” and heading over to the table Heath takes a seat while Jarrod retrieves the checkerboard and sitting across from him sets up the game. Choosing a color they proceed onto the game with Heath starting the game.
Minutes later walking in “Who’s winning?” Gene asks as he catches the game in progress. Jarrod responds, “Heath is.” Gene asks, “You mean he’s beating you?”
“Sure looks that way,” Jarrod answers. Taking a seat Gene asks if he could play the winner. Jarrod says, “I don’t see why not. Did you finish your homework?”
“I did,” Gene then asks, “Where’s Nick?”
“Hasn’t returned yet” Jarrod replies “Went riding around; he’ll be in shortly.”
“Hey I was just thinking” Gene brings up “Why don’t you and Heath play some poker so I could really see how good he is?’
“Not tonight Gene,” Jarrod tells him, “It’s late already; you have school in the morning and we have a big day ahead of us.”
“I wish I could go with you,” Gene says. Jarrod replies, “And you know you can’t do that. You can’t be missing school.”
“Yeah, yeah, school,” Gene says snickering, “I always miss out on the fun stuff.”
“There will be plenty of other opportunities for you,” Jarrod notes, “Just not tomorrow.”
Continuing to watch the game, “Heath,” Gene then says, “Sure could beat Nick in checkers and he just might beat you too. I wonder how well he will beat the two of you in poker.”
“We will find that out,” Jarrod replies, “When we play, for right now we will settle on checkers.”
While Jarrod and Heath continue their game, Nick is outside riding around various areas of the ranch. After an hour or so of deciding he’s had enough he calls it quits and returns Coco to his stall. Jarrod, after turning the game of checkers over to Gene and Heath quietly walks out of the study and going out the front door heads up the road. Not seeing any sign of Nick goes back inside and returns to watch the game going on between Gene and Heath.
Inside the bunkhouse some of the men are in the midst of a card game in the back area of the sleeping quarters when upon hearing the sound of a door opening, “Someone’s here,” Mike calls out, “Be right back,” as he goes out to the front room. Catching sight of Nick he addresses him as ‘Mr. Barkley’ when he greets him he then asks, “Isn’t it late for you being in here?”
“It is,” Nick replies, “Is Duke around?”
“He is,” Mike mentions, “But he’s asleep right now. Want me to get him?”
“No,” Nick tells him, “It could wait. Tell I will be back tomorrow.”
Replying “I will,” Mike bids him goodnight as he walks out. Returning to the back area, “Who was that?” Hank asks of Mike who replies, “Nick Barkley.”
Jim asks “This time of the night?” noting the time on his watch.
Sitting back down Mike informs them “He wanted Duke.” Upon Hank suggesting they return to the game he picks up his hand and asks “Who’s turn was it?” Johnny answers, “Yours.” Replying, “Oh,” Mike grabs a card from the deck.
In the study while watching the game between Gene and Heath finish out and realizing the time, Victoria tells both Audra and Gene to turn in and upon listening to her Gene tells Heath, “That was a good game Heath,” getting up, “You’re even good against me,” and then exchanging goodnights with the family minus Nick Audra and Gene go up the stairs.
Catching sight of Heath closing his eyes Victoria suggests he turn in as well telling him he did have a long day and upon responding, “Yes um,” Heath gets up says goodnight to Victoria and Jarrod and heads up the stairs to his room. Meanwhile as Jarrod is putting the checker game away they hear the door opening “Must be Brother Nick,” Jarrod mentions. Excusing herself Victoria gets up.
Greeting Nick as he enters the front room “Have a nice ride” Victoria asks of him who replies, “I suppose.” Victoria then asks, “Did it help?”
Replying “I guess,” Nick gives her a quick kiss, “I think I will be turning in. Had enough for one day,” and after bidding her goodnight goes up the stairs. Coming out of the study Jarrod asks of Victoria, “Will you be up for awhile?”
“I will” Victoria informs him “Going to read some more,” and after bidding him goodnight she heads for the parlor while he goes up the stairs.
Reaching the top of the stairs Jarrod calls out to Nick who says, “Yeah,” as he opens the door to his room. Jarrod then asks, “Where did you go?” Responding annoyed, “For a ride,” Nick then says, “Is that okay with you?”
“Perfectly,” Jarrod replies, “Did you go see Duke?”
“He was asleep,” Nick informs him, “I will try again tomorrow,” then bidding Jarrod goodnight he enters his room closing the door behind him with Jarrod doing the same upon reaching his.