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Slateboards And Brothers

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by S

Murdoch Lancer walked into his ranch house. He was tired from his long ride. It was good to be home after nearly a week at the Henderson ranch.

"Murdoch, I'm so glad that you're home! I was just about ready to punch out your two sons or take a room in town!"

"Now what have they done, Teresa, and where are they?"

"In the guest bedroom."

"What? Why there?"

"They are sick and since it was too much for me to run from room to room, I made them take the twin beds in the guestroom!"

"Sick? But they were fine a week ago!"

Yes, well they decided to go looking for strays and instead of being smart enough to come in out of the rain, they stayed out there until they found the them. Now they both have laryngitis and a fever!"

Murdoch managed not to chuckle, but it was funny to think of his two speechless sons. He headed to the guest bedroom with Teresa at his heels.

As he entered, each Lancer brother held up a small slateboard with "Welcome Back, Murdoch!" written on it. Then Johnny hurriedly erased his and wrote, "I've been good." Scott countered with "NO! I've been good!"

"Enough, enough you two. You are both grown men. You can sleep in your own rooms and take care of yourselves. Teresa is too busy to take care of you yahoos."

Teresa then piped up, "Well actually Murdoch, they have been sick. I even had the doctor in to look at them."
Johnny nodded his head vigorously. On the slateboard he wrote, "He said I had a high fever." Scott looked furious. "So do I," he retaliated in a flurry of chalk dust.

I'm going to make you guys some lemonade," announced Teresa. Scott held up his board. "Any cookies left?" Johnny added, "With icing?" Teresa sighed. "I guess so." She left to get their refreshments.

Murdoch stood there looking at the two young men. "Alright, Teresa is not your nursemaid. I want you both to get up, get dressed and there's plenty of work to do--work that doesn't need a voice!"

"NO!" wrote Johnny.
"Why not?"
"We like Teresa taking care of us." Johnny stuck out his lower lip in a pout. For one instant, it reminded Murdoch of Johnny as a very little boy who would stick out his lip to get his way.

"Yeah. It's nice sharing a room." wrote Scott.
In a flash Murdoch realized that for the first time Scott and Johnny were sharing someting most siblings did naturally. Since they had not known each other as children, they'd never had the joy (or sorrow) of a shared bedroom. It made Murdoch sad to think that neither son had had someone to take care of him as a child. Teresa's loving care meant a great deal to both.

"Well alright you can stay here today, but tomorrow it's back to your own rooms."

In a raspy voice Scott replied, "Thanks, Murdoch." "SCOTT!" The older Lancer blushed. "My voice came back a little bit this morning."

"How dare you make Teresa do all that work and feel sorry for you! Out of bed now!"

"Don't yell at him, Murdoch." croaked another voice. "If you're mad at him, yell at me too."

"So you were faking too?"

"NO! It's just that all of that tea and lemon finally worked."

Teresa entered with a tray. "Well I'm glad to hear that all of my care has paid off. Drink this, then get some sleep."

"Teresa, aren't you furious with them?

"Murdoch, they really were sick. Plus I must admit it was interestng being 'in charge' of them for a few days. You know what babies men can be!" 3 male faces looked astonished. "Babies?"
"Now I'm going to take a long, hot bath and then maybe I'll make dinner."

That evening the two patients joined the others for dinner. "So glad to see you dressed," kidded Teresa. Both Lancers were dressed in robes. "Those presents I got for you last Christmas have come in handy."
After dinner, Scott and Johnny went back to the guestroom. They played cards 'til late.
In the morning, Murdoch, Scott and Johnny entered the kitchen. Usually Teresa was there with hot coffee and biscuits. Today the stove was cold. A note lay on the kitchen table: "Sorry guys. I woke up with a horrible cold. I'm staying in bed. Could you please do the laundry, collect the eggs, wash the windows and bring me a cup of tea? Oh, and I'd love some biscuits with the preserves I put up."
Murdoch looked at his sons. Johnny looked at Scott and his father. Scott looked at his brother and Murdoch. All three started to tiptoe out the back door.

"Where do you think you're gong?"a congested voice whispered. They turned. Teresa stood there looking pale and with a red nose. "I took care of you, now you have to help me."

"Uh, Teresa's right. Johnny, you and Scott should help since she obviously got her cold from you two." Both brothers started to protest that the other was at fault.

"Actually Murdoch, I think I caught it from you."
"Me? But I've been gone a week."
"Yes, but remember that day you were laid low before you left?"
"Oh that. That was nothing."
"You certainly were peevish for nothing." Both Lancer sons tried unsuccessfully to hide the smirks on their faces.

So for the better part of the day, the 3 Lancer men washed windows, collected eggs, did laundry and made the meals. That night they crowded into Teresa's room. "Please Teresa, say you're feeling better," pleaded Johnny. "I can't take another day like today."

Teresa opened her mouth to make a snappy reply but nothing came out! All 3 males groaned. "How much longer would she be sick?"

Teresa began to laugh. They looked at her as if she was delirious. "GOTCHA!" For 1 second puzzled looks prevailed. Then all 3 men joined in the laughter. "Alright, Teresa, from now on we'll try to not take you for granted."

"Good! But I still want some lemonade and cookies--with icing!"