Great story Adamant. Joe and Adam are true to character as they both learn what it really means to be brothers.
Adam faces his own jealousy toward Joe's feelings for Clay:
"Adam sat quietly and Joe took back the bottle that Adam had placed on the ground. He lay back against his saddle propped on the ground and drank more. And Adam finally had to admit to himself that he was jealous of Clay. He had never faced it before, refused to recognize the emotion, but he was. He was jealous because Joe had a connection with Clay that he didn’t have with Joe--their mothers--and because Clay and Joe bore such a strong resemblance to one another. But most of all, because Joe worshipped Clay as he had once worshipped Adam." I always enjoy a peek into Adam's mind.
Clay is not the brother Joe wants him to be or thinks he is:
'"But I have to find Adam and tell him what’s going on.” Joe stood and stared at Clay. Clay should understand. Adam was his brother just as Clay was his brother. They had come all this way just to find Clay and Adam had no reason to accompany Joe except that Joe was his brother and might need him--no, did need him. Joe realized that by now, without Adam along, he might have been shot in Chihuahua or have died of thirst because he chose to take an unknown route to Mexico. Thank God, Joe thought, for Adam’s methodical, albeit annoying, manner of accomplishing a goal.'
"If only Joe hadn’t insisted they go back for Adam and if only Adam hadn’t had to have his own horse, he could be safely gone--they could all be safely gone. Family, Clay thought, what a burdensome thing; a man’s life was easier without family."
In true Cartwright form, Joe and Adam stick together as brothers at the end and Clay moves on to take care of himself. To Clay, as he stated above, family is a burden-something you only want around when you ned it. I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Joe since he seems to really want a brotherly (Cartwright) relationship with Clay that Clay is not able to enter into.
The final result is a strengthening of the bond between true brothers. Thanks Adamant!
Thank you for such a wonderful review. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it--and as I read what you quoted, I still wanted to change some wording. :) You are a perceptive reader and picked out what I was trying to convey--that family means an interdependence and a reliance--and love--for one another. One always does for family just because they are.