I never imagined Linda already engaged when she met Ben. From the way they talked about the incident in the episode, I assumed that she pursued Ben originally, but chose to jump ship when a more attractive prospect crossed her path.
That said, there were several things I liked very much about this story.
For one, having Ben and Adam travel overland to New Orleans instead of by clipper was fascinating. I've rarely seen writers depict Ben's (many) trips to New Orleans as land journeys, but taking the expense of ship fares into account, I think it deserves to be considered.
Secondly, the characterization. Adam, I feel, is the best--a perfect 10-year-old version of his wary, incisive self. Despite his politeness, I don't think he ever liked Linda, and you bring that across so well. You've created an intriguing younger version of the Linda we see in "The Countess"--manipulative and charming, but slightly less practiced in playing a part. Her dismay at the thought of a rustic life rings true. :) Ben is obviously a loving father and an attractive, manly fellow, and you've managed to reveal the trusting, oblivious streak that allows him to fall for women like Linda without violating his dignity.
I especially appreciate your portrayal of Adam's concern at the beginning: "if something bad was going to happen on the trip, he wanted to be there when it happened.... What if his father just disappeared and never returned? Adam's mind ran ahead as to how he, Hop Sing and Hoss would manage with his father dead." That's exactly the way I thought and felt as a child. I think it's probably common for children who have experienced major loss (especially death) early in life. It gave me strong sympathy with young Adam from the start of the story.
Thank you, Adamant!
Thank you for the review and your take on the plot and characters. Whenever I see the episode, "The Countess," it always strikes me that Adam is polite to Linda but not perticularly pleased to see her again nor she, him. And their earlier meeting in New Orleans when Adam was almost 11 created part of the plot. Also, in "Marie, my Love," Ben is there to sell furs (Part of the plot momentum in another story) so why not then as well?
It's good to hear that young Adam is not portrayed as an overly-fearful child but as one who realizes that bad things can happen to anyone. And although Linda is the villain, I wanted her motivations to be understandable.
Thanks for reading and for leaving a review that indicates thoughtful reflection.