In Answer to Letters Written

By Paula Richard 


Lancer does not belong to me. I only borrow them for fun and to try to keep the story alive. I do not make any profit.

November 5 – 9 is Dear Santa Letter Week. With that in mind, I wrote this little ficlet. Misspellings in one part are intentional.

Many thanks to Ros. I appreciate her taking time to beta this story. Unfortunately, after getting it back, I did some tweaking, so any errors are my own.


Dear Santa,

I tried hard to be good this year so you'd bring me what I want for

I would like a younger brother like the one my friend, Richard has.
I would love and care for a brother just like Richard does with his.
We could play games together. I only have Grandfather and he's at
his office or in his study a lot and doesn't have much time to spend
with me. And when I ask him to play with me, he says he's too old
for children's games.

Also would you bring my father to Boston? He lives in California and
Grandfather said he didn't want me cause my mother died when I was
born. If my father came to Boston, maybe I could make him like me
and he would take me to California with him. Please don't let
Grandfather know I asked you that. I don't think Grandfather would
want me to leave. I heard him arguing with a man who came when I was
5 and he told the man that he wouldn't let anyone take me from Boston.

Grandfather says you should always say please, so please these two
things are all I really want for Christmas and I'd be happy if I get


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Scott returned the letter to the envelope and set it on his desk. He remembered he'd been about seven or eight when he'd written the letter. He'd found the letter in the crate containing articles from his childhood. Harlan had shipped the crate of Scott's toys that had been found in the attic in the house in Boston.

Scott had written his grandfather requesting that possessions that had been left behind in Boston be shipped to Lancer. He felt this crate had been included either to remind him that Boston had been his first home, or as Harlan's way of making Scott believe the request for his possessions left the older man with hurt feelings.


Earlier in the day:

Scott had taken the crate to his room after lunch to open it as he felt he'd be embarrassed to do so with Johnny present. The embarrassment would not be so much for the type of items in the crate, but because of the number of items that it may contain. Johnny had once commented that he'd not had many possessions as a child; nor, Scott thought, had Johnny owned many possessions when he came to Lancer as a young man.

Scott took out a small bag that, if he remembered correctly, should contain about 50 or 60 marbles. He had learned if he lost any of his marbles to one boy, to play with another child who was not as skilled as he was. Scott would win enough marbles to replace those he'd lost. Harlan had punished him the first time he had lost marbles in a game. The lecture that had come with the punishment centered on the fact that it was irresponsible to gamble with his possessions.

A wooden train – painted to depict a freight train. The engine of the train had been painted in detail, including an engineer in the window of the engine. Harlan had been going to buy Scott a nicer train set, but Scott wanted the wooden one. It was hand-carved by a local craftsman, known better for his furniture-making than his toy-crafting. The man's son was one of Scott's playmates. The train that had been carved for the other child fascinated Scott -- perhaps, it was the fact that the toy was crafted by a father for his son, that appealed to Scott. Harlan frequently reminded him how much nicer the train set in the toyshop was, but Scott was content with the simple wooden set.

Next Scott removed a top. He remembered the day he'd set the top spinning on his grandfather' s desk. He'd wanted to show Harlan that he'd learned to make the top skip as it spun. Unfortunately, when the top skipped, it knocked over the ink well. Ink spilled onto a ledger that Harlan had been working in, ruining the page of figures. Harlan lectured him concerning the fact that there was a place for everything, and a man's desk was not the place for toys. Scott was sent to bed without supper that night.

The crate also contained an assortment of toy animals. There were toy horses, dogs, and animals made for a toy Noah's ark. He could recall Harlan quizzing him about the story of Noah and the ark. If he left out an important detail, or got something wrong, Harlan would insist that Scott study the story until he could answer all the questions correctly.

The crate contained other toys, but Scott could not remember playing with most of those items. Below the toys, was a small wooden box that he remembered using as a "safe" for his journals when Harlan had insisted that Scott start keeping a record of daily events and accomplishments achieved.

Scott had been surprised to find the envelope tucked in with the journals. He remembered writing the letter; he just didn't remember keeping it.

The handwriting was neat – especially for a child. Harlan demanded that Scott have good penmanship and it was required that he practice for at least an hour a day. He read the address on the envelope and shook his head. How could he believe, even as a child, that a letter like that could be mailed?

There was a knock on the door to his room and Teresa poked her head in. "Supper's in fifteen minutes."

"Thank you. I won't be much longer."

After Teresa left the room, Scott put the contents back in the crate and set the top back on. He would ask Teresa if she thought the children at the orphanage would like the toys. There would be no sense in putting the crate in the attic when the toys could be given to the children to enjoy.


The next day:

Teresa saw the envelope on the table in Scott's room when she went in to clean and get the young man's clothes for the laundry. She would remind him to put the letter with Murdoch's mail for Jelly to take to town on Wednesday when the usual run for supplies would be made.

Murdoch saw the envelope when he'd gone into Scott's room that afternoon to return a book that borrowed from Scott. Murdoch knew he could have put the book on the bookshelf in the great room, but this way Scott would know that he'd finished with the book. Murdoch also wanted to discuss a passage in the book with his older son, and felt it would be good to have the book handy during that discussion.

Johnny entered Scott's room thinking his brother may have been there. He'd not seen Scott go out to the bathhouse only a few moments before. Johnny couldn't resist examining the envelope on the table. He'd only meant to check to see if Scott was sending a letter to Harlan. The address intrigued Johnny and the fact that the envelope was not sealed made it hard to deny the temptation to sate his curiosity concerning the contents of the letter. Johnny eased the folded sheet from the envelope and read the missive.

Scott returned to his room after his bath to finish getting ready for supper. He noticed the envelope was now propped against the book on his table. He laid the envelope flat once again. He decided that before he went to bed, he would put the envelope in the box in which he kept his journals.

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The events of the day and ranch business were discussed at the supper table as usual. Teresa asked Jelly if he was still going into town on Wednesday and, if Murdoch did not object, would it be okay for her to ride with him.

"Don't forget to put your letter with the outgoing mail, Scott. That way it can be taken to the post office on Wednesday," Teresa said.

"Letter? I don't have a letter to go in the mail."

"The envelope that was on the table in your room. I thought you would want to send it out," Teresa answered.

Scott saw a knowing gleam in his brother's eyes and cringed. He realized that Teresa was talking about the letter he'd taken from the crate yesterday. Had Johnny also seen the envelope? Did anyone else read the address? He prepared for his brother and the others to tease him.

"No, I never planned on mailing it. Just wrote the letter as a way of getting some things off my chest."

"Humph! Seems ta me ya'd do better if ya just talked to someone `stead a writin' it down," Jelly opined.

Murdoch shook his head. "I guess it's good to get it off your chest, no matter what method you use. You know that if you need to talk, though, that you can discuss things with any one of us anytime."

"Yes, sir. I know that to be true. It's an old letter. I only recently came across it when I was going through some old journals. I'd forgotten that I'd even written it."

Johnny had said nothing during this exchange and Scott felt that his brother was only trying to think of a real good zinger to throw at him. It was to his relief that the subject was changed – by none other than Johnny.

"Murdoch, did you want the herd to be moved to the south pasture this week or next week?"

The previous topic was quickly forgotten and other subjects were discussed until supper was over and Teresa and Maria began to clear the dishes. As usual, Murdoch, Scott, Johnny, and Jelly went into the great room to enjoy an "after dinner" drink.

Jelly was the first to make his way to his bed for the night. Teresa was next to say good night. The three Lancer men were the only occupants of the great room when Murdoch cleared his throat then addressed his older son.

"Did you always write Santa Claus when you wanted to `get something off your chest'?"

"You read the address on the envelope?"

Scott could feel the blush coloring his cheeks. He knew he should be thankful that no one had mentioned the address to Jelly. Had the old handyman learned of the address, Scott would never hear the end of it.

"Like I said earlier, it's an old letter. I think I may have been seven or eight when I wrote it."

Once again, Johnny changed the subject, asking Murdoch about the bull that had been brought to Lancer for breeding.

It was 10:30 when the brothers both indicated that they were going to bed. Murdoch wished them a good night and stated he'd be heading to his own bed shortly.

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Scott removed his boots and stood them near the bureau. He had just unbuttoned his shirt when he heard the soft knock.

Johnny walked into Scott's room and sat on the bed.

"I saw your letter earlier…I read it. Now, I know that it wasn't right for me to read it, but I…. Well, I just wanted to see what you would have wished to get for Christmas."

Scott thought of the requests he'd made in his letter to Santa Claus: a brother and to bring his father to Boston. He could picture Johnny reading the letter and desperately trying to suppress laughter at the childish letter.


"I kept something I wrote as a kid, too. Hid it in a special pocket made into my belt. It ain't written to Santa Claus. I wrote it to the baby, Jesus. I was just a little kid; maybe I was five or six. Momma was teaching me to write. One of the padres at the mission said if you wanted something, to ask Jesus for it. Momma told me once that she believed if you wrote down what you wanted and held the paper while you prayed, you'd be more likely to get what you prayed for. I figured if it helped her get her prayers answered, I'd try writing it down and pray to Jesus."

Johnny handed the paper to Scott, who sat next to Johnny on the bed and began to read the note:

"Jesus, I aint shure youd wanna give me what Im askin for, but I shure wood like to have a bruther. Hed have ta be older so he culd take care of me when Momma aint here. I aint wantin nothin else. If I had a bruther, I woodnt be alon and the kids woodnt be so meen ta me cus hed hit em when thayd mak fun of me and be meen. I guess if you had a big bruther no one wood of put you on that cross. Momma sed I gotta thank ya for listnin to my prayer. So thanks for

Scott felt a lump form in his throat as he read the note. It took a moment before he could talk, "I wish I had been with you, that we'd grown up together at Lancer. We're together now, though, and we'll look out for each other from now on."

"You bet, Brother! We got each other's backs. It took a long time, but looks like our letters were answered," Johnny said and backhanded Scott in the stomach. "Well, good night, Scott," Johnny said and left the room.

Before crawling into bed, Scott put Johnny's note with his letter to Santa. He closed his eyes and gave his thanks that, as Johnny had said, the brothers' letters had been answered.

The End

Paula R


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