by: Sarah Stodola
“Daisy! C’mere!” Uncle Jesse’s voice came. Daisy skidded to a halt from chasing a goat and took off in the other direction, hair flying freely behind her. She ran at full speed across the spring field and leaped up the porch stairs to launch herself into her uncle’s arms. He laughed and hugged her, then set her down and gestured to the house. “Why don’t you go in? Luke! Bo!” he yelled for his other two kids.
The boys came bounding onto the porch, and Bo asked excitedly, “Is it time?”
“Time for what?” Daisy spun to face him. “What’s goin’ on?”
“You’ll see,” her uncle smiled, and ushered her in after the boys.
Daisy went through the living room, not hearing a sound, and was pushed gently into the kitchen. She froze when she saw the table.
“Surprise!” everyone yelled, laughing and grinning. Besides her cousins, Enos and his mother were there, plus Rosco, Hogg, Cooter, the telephone operator Trudy, and… Aunt Roseanne?!
Daisy leaped into her aunt’s arms with a squeal of joy. “Aunt Roseanne, what are you doing here?!”
“Daisy,” the adult admonished gently, “how could I ever not come on a day this important?”
She grinned up at her aunt. Roseanne had changed, slightly, from the last time she’d been to Hazzard. The elegant dress was not gone, and never would be, but her spine was not quite as stiff; she was not quite as uncomfortable in this simple country setting.
Daisy finally spun around to look at everyone else there. “Wow! What’s this all about?”
“Aw, don’t tell me you forgot!” Bo grinned, pulling his now-shorter cousin into a rough sideways hug. A growth spurt that winter had put him at three inches taller than Daisy, now pushing on Luke. Though the older boy was growing enough, too, that Bo probably wouldn’t pass him, at least not any time soon. “It’s your birthday!”
Her mouth dropped open, and she looked at everything again. “Whoa… gosh yeah, I forgot! How could I?!” She was nine years old today.
“Maybe ’cause you never had a real party before,” Luke shrugged. “Well, c’mon! Make a wish and blow out the candles!”
Daisy turned to look at the gaily decorated cake on the table. “I… I don’t know what to wish for. I’ve got everything!”
“Well, just blow ’em out then,” Enos urged her. “So’s we can eat!”
She laughed and leaned her hands on the table while everyone else sang “Happy Birthday”, then blew the candles out.
While Jesse was serving everyone lemon cake, Aunt Roseanne came up to Daisy, and, smiling, pressed a small box into her hand. “Happy birthday, Daisy Duke,” she whispered. “We all love you.”
Daisy looked up at her aunt with surprise, then slowly unwrapped the tiny present. She opened the velvet-covered box inside and gasped. “Aunt Roseanne..!”
“Me and the boys chose it, and she bought it,” Jesse’s voice came from over her shoulder. He was smiling proudly, and he gestured to the box. “Go ahead.”
Daisy put the box down on the counter, then lifted the small gold locket off its bed and held it up, spinning it with one finger in the shaft of sunlight coming through the kitchen window. She looked up at her aunt and uncle both. “Thank you!”
“Anything I can do…” Roseanne started, then broke off, smiling and shaking her head slightly at herself. “I know, money’s not important. But I was glad to help Jesse and the boys in this. Why don’t you read the inscription?”
Daisy looked down at the locket in her hand, then carefully turned it over and held it in the light. Slowly, she read out loud, “The brightest gold cannot compare to the light of a true family’s love. Love, Jesse and Roseanne.”
Slowly, she looked back up at her aunt, and reached to put her arms around the proper lady’s waist in a hug. “I love you, Aunt Roseanne,” she whispered, then stepped back, undoing the clasp of the necklace. Jesse took it and gently put it on for her, and she looked down at it, touching the shiny gold with a finger. “I’ll wear it always!” she swore.
“Okay, then let’s eat!” Bo laughed from beside her, diving for the plates of cake on the table. Daisy and Luke were right behind him.
“Oh, yes, weren’t you a bunch!” Jesse laughed, coming out of his reminiscing. The three kids had joined him around the table with the photo album for a session of story-telling. “An’ you ain’t changed much, neither,” he mused half to himself.
Then he glanced down at the hand sneaking its way into the bowl of pea pods. “Hey!” he slapped it away, then took a second look at the bowl, to see it almost empty.
Daisy, the culprit, giggled and shrugged. She noticed that the boys were wearing guilty grins too.
“Oh!” Jesse threw his hands into the air. “Well, that’s one batch of peas that we ain’t gonna have for dinner!”
Luke started to reply, but suddenly the whoop of sirens split the air. All four Dukes froze in mid-motion, listening.
“Oh no, him again,” Bo groaned, pushing away from the table and standing. “I think we’d better make tracks, Luke.”
“Good idea.” The older boy was already halfway to the door.
Jesse and Daisy walked out to the porch just in time to see two police cars howling their way into the farmyard. The boys were already sliding through the windows of their car, the General Lee. Bo gunned the engine and it came to life with a powerful roar-growl. The orange car shot forward, then went into a sliding one-eighty to face the direction the police cruisers were coming from. Just as the white cars skidded to a halt, the General roared past them, down toward the road.
“After ’em, after ’em!” Hogg shouted from one car, and the other spun the follow the Duke boys.
“Sorry ’bout all this!” Enos called to his two friends before going off to chase his other two friends. Daisy smiled, knowing he wouldn’t catch them even if he tried, which he probably wouldn’t, at least not very hard.
But that was not true for Hogg and Rosco, who were climbing out of the other police car. “You’re aidin’ and abettin’ criminals!” Hogg yelled, stomping his way up to the porch. “An’ we’re gonna catch ’em this time! We got proof!”
“Proof?” Daisy grinned. “You can’t have proof for something that we didn’t do, Boss.”
“Oh yeah?” Rosco pointed his finger at her. “Well, let me tell ya…”
“Oh forget it,” Hogg groused, pulling on his sheriff’s arm. “Let’s go get those boys!”
“Oh, no you don’t!” Daisy shouted, and was halfway across the farmyard even before the two men, who were closer, were. She stood between them and their car, hair tossed back and hands on her hips, glaring at them defiantly. “You ain’t throwing my cousins in jail for something they didn’t even do.”
“Oh yeah?” Rosco repeated, shoving past her. “I’d like to see you try to stop us!”
“Yeah, try and stop us!” Hogg repeated, glaring at her and starting to follow the sheriff.
Daisy spun and grabbed Rosco by the arm, swinging him around to knock into Hogg and send the heavyset man sprawling to the ground, then flipping a shouting Rosco over in a quick judo throw to land beside his boss. “I just did,” she smiled mock-sweetly.
Coughing and sputtering, the two picked themselves up and stumbled for the police cruiser. Daisy didn’t move to stop them this time, figuring that Luke and Bo had had enough time to get away by now.
Rosco stood outside his door for a second, stuttering in his fury. “Sometimes I… I wish I’d never helped you stay here in Hazzard, Daisy Duke!” he finally managed.
“Me too! Now let’s go!” Boss Hogg hauled him into the car. Sirens going, the sheriff’s car sped off down the drive.
Laughing, Daisy turned to see her uncle coming up behind her. He was smiling and shaking his head.
“The three of you sure *ain’t* changed!” he said again.
Daisy put an arm around his waist and leaned her head against his shoulder, smiling happily. “Nope, we haven’t, Uncle Jesse. And we never will. C’mon, let’s go get dinner ready. The boys will be back in half an hour.”
The two Dukes turned and went back into the house, glad just to have their whole family together. Life went on, everything perfectly normal. Well, normal for Hazzard County, at least!