The dark shy was peaceful as the stars shun brightly. Every now and then a shooting star would streak by the night sky, two children lying on top of the mercantile roof would gasp in astonishment.
Ezra Standish a young boy, of twelve who only last month received his first ever surprise birthday party, is remembering the events that came together. The five men who’d become guardians to the young southerner along with Mary Travis, Gloria Potter and Inez Recillos help organized the event.
For once Ezra was stun speechless, much to the amazement of his friend and instigator of the festivities one Vin Tanner. He smiled happily at the look his older friend exhibited.
Sitting on the roof Ezra couldn’t help remembering that day as a bounty of gifts were given and received with enthusiasm. ‘Yes, these last few months were great,’ he mused.
Vin could hear Ezra’s heart, when it was peaceful and he knew when the southerner was thinking about the party, his heart sped up some. He smiled to himself as another shooting star streaked through the sky.
“It’s nice out.” Vin states.
“Yes it is.” Ezra responds.
They grow quiet again continuing to watch the sky, with no moon out the sky is clear and full of stars, more stars then Vin could have image. The young Texan shivers, he forgot his coat again.
Ezra seems to notice, “Vin are you cold?” Although, the middle of July and the days went from warm to hot by mid day. However the nights could be very cold.
“Yeah a little,” he looked over at his friend.
“Then perhaps we should return to the chapel?”
For the last couple of days the boys have been staying with the ex-preacher.
Chris, Buck and JD were requested to transport two prisoners from Eagle Bend where Judge Travis would meet them with all the necessary documents for the transfer to Yuma Prison.
“Okay,” Vin replies dejectedly.
The boys really missed their beds, the gunslinger also, but mainly the quiet. Josiah while not a heavy sleeper per se, he is a loud sleeper and unless you are asleep before him, you pretty much couldn’t.
So the boys climbed of the roof, using their secret way. Touching the ground, they hurry before Josiah should miss them.
When they reach the church, the boys creep through the back rather than the front door, basically because the front doors creak and the back door doesn’t; Josiah is working on fixing it; as the boys walk through the doors, it is quiet, suddenly Vin stiffens, and Ezra noticed and stops.
“I wondered where you’d gone?” Josiah’s voice resonated in the empty church.
“Hey Josiah,” Vin smiles.
“You boys were on the roof again.” It was a statement rather than a question.
Both boys nod.
“Now you know Chris doesn’t like it when you’re up there.” He said.
Again they nod.
The ex-preacher sighs, “Couldn’t sleep?” He questioned.
They both shook their heads, ‘no.’
“Why don’t you try again,” the ex-preacher made to guide them to their room, but the boys stood there ground and didn’t budge. “What?” He asked.
Both boys look at one another.
“You think we could have a ten minutes head start?” Vin asked.
The big preacher frowns looking at both of them and then it dawns on him what they mean, and smiles. The two boys relax knowing the big man isn’t mad.
“All right I’ll give you ten minutes before I go to sleep.” He nearly laughs as the two boys scramble to there room. “Don’t forget to put your nightshirt on.”
“Hurry up Ez,” Vin strips and tosses his clothes aside, which makes the southerners head spin.
“Mr. Tanner a little decorum.” He looks aghast at the younger boy, as he was down to his underwear and struggling with his nightshirt.
“Hurry up Ez we ain’t got that much time.” For Vin whose hearing is far more sensitive then the southerners he has reason to rush.
Ezra shakes his head as he meticulously hangs his jacket, shirt and folds his pants and then slips on his nightshirt, while he places his boots at the end of the bed.
Vin watches all that from bed as he jumps in and places the covers over his shoulders, waiting for the southerner to turn out the lamp. “Wish you could read me a story but we ain’t got time. Can you read me one when Chris gets back?”
“Of course Mr. Tanner,” as he sits in bed and pulls the covers over his waist, he has all ready turn the lights off. “Good night Vin.”
“Night Ez.” Vin wiggles in bed getting comfortable.
They were both sound asleep, when Josiah pops his head in to check on them.
The next morning finds the two men and two boys seating in front of the jail. Around them the town began to come alive with the towns daily activities. Vin sitting to Nathan’s right is swing his legs back and forth, fidgeting as usual as Ezra spies him while sitting at Josiah’s left.
Ezra was about to say something when Vin jumps and shouts, “I can see them coming.” The others automatically squint to the left but see nothing. The young southerner really has to speak with Vin about controlling his gifts. “Come on Ez lets go meet them?”
Ezra shakes his head, “Mr. Tanner if you are not careful, you will fall off that boardwalk.” Vin froze and stares at Ezra.
Now Ezra did not shout or even scold, but the young Texan stands still as if it was. It is actually the first time Vin takes to heart the reprimand.
When Ezra notices Vin’s posture, he quickly gets up and sprints to his friend before he falls, Ezra’s touch has an immediate affect on the young boy as it brings him out of the trance.
Josiah and Nathan didn’t seem to notice or if they did they didn’t voice their concerns.
“Are you all right?” Ezra questions.
“Yeah,” and in a whispered tone, “what happen?” This time Vin shows fear. Whether or not he notices that he blacked out, isn’t what concerns him, it is not knowing how Ezra got to him without his noticing that confused him.
“I’m not sure, you seem about to keel over,” Ezra frowns at not knowing himself.
Nathan noticed the whispered tones, “something wrong?” He asks.
Vin immediately grasp Ezra’s arm in apprehension. The southerner smiles and pats his friend in reassurance.
“Everything’s find, Mr. Jackson. Vin why don’t you get Nugget and we’ll ride out to meet Chris.”
Vin smiles, “all right!” He was about to sprint out to the livery but stops and turns, “can we go bareback Ez?”
“Bareback, that is not how a gentleman rides his trusted steed.”
“Please,” he pleads, with that look that Ezra always seems to give into.
Ezra sighs, closing his eyes in defeat. “All right Mr. Tanner.”
“Yeah,” he jumps off the boardwalk and runs to the livery, the strange fugue all ready forgotten.
Josiah and Nathan both laugh at the joyful enthusiasm of the young Texan.
“I see nothing humorous gentlemen. If I am to teach our young compatriot civility I am failing him.” He sighs.
“Come now little brother, Vin will become the man he has always been destine to be.”
Ezra immediately pictures his friend dress in buckskin and riding on an unsaddled Indian pony. “Oh good Lord, all my hard work wasted.” He sighs again.
A few minutes later, Vin sits a top of the young mare Nugget. His arms stretch out to grasp Ezra, “let’s go Ez.”
“Mr. Tanner, am I to assume I will be riding in the rear,” Ezra stands pointing to the rump of their horse.
Vin chuckles, “yeah Ez, now lets go.”
Ezra sighs as the young Texan moves his mount over to the boardwalk and the southerner jumps on the back.
“Then let us depart,” Ezra gasps as Vin lets out at a fast clip, holding with one arm around the Texan’s waist and his other hand holding down his black crown hat, they ride out.
Be careful, boys.” Josiah shouts at the retreating boys.
* * * * * * *
Chris Larabee is tired; he is definitely feeling these long journeys on his muscles and bones. Next to him rides his longtime friend Buck Wilmington and next to him is there other friend JD Dunne.
Chris listens to the usual banter between both his companions. ‘Those two could talk about anything and not really say anything.’ Chris muses.
Directing his attention to town he sees a horse and rider… no riders approaching at a fast clip. He smiles when he realizes who the riders are.
Buck and JD look up as well seeing the now approaching riders, “well looky who we have here.” Buck boasted as the two young boys stop in front of the three men. “Morning boys.” He greets.
“Hey Buck,” Vin replies.
“Morning Mr. Wilmington,” Ezra greets, trying to slow down he’s pounding heart. ‘That was indeed a most exhilarating ride,’ as the southerner could finally breathed.
“What brings you boys out here?” Chris asks.
Vin just grins at the terse question, “hey cowboy,” was the Texan answer, which makes Chris shake his head making Buck laughed, as he receives one of Larabee’s glares.
Vin turns Nugget to ride along side Diablo’s right, which she did without trouble, the young mare is quite fond of the big gelding. She thinks of him as her big brother. Diablo grunts in greeting.
“Did everything go okay? Any trouble? No one got hurt right?” Vin throws out his rapid questions, bringing a chuckle to Ezra.
“Yeah, everything went find, no trouble, and as you can see we’re all in one piece.” Chris replies.
Vin settles quietly next to the dark clad gunslinger. He is glad his surrogate father, brother and friend are back.
The five rode back at a leisurely pace, Chris searches his saddlebags and pulls out something wrapped in white cloth. Then he hands it to the young Texan.
Vin looks up at Larabee as he opens the gift, he gasps at the shinning new mouth organ he now views. “Chris,” he said, unable to say anything with that lump in his throat. ‘Its always there when Chris surprises him with something like this,’ Vin thought. “Thank you,” he manages to say.
“Your welcome kid,” as the gunslinger smiles.
Ezra looks at the gift and too smiles; he will show his friend how to use it, in case Vin is unfamiliar with the instrument.
Chris searches his bag again and pulls another item and then hands the package to the young southerner.
To say Ezra was shock would be an understatement, as he carefully opens the package and pulls out a shinning new red pocketknife. It isn’t just a knife either as it has other useful attachments too. “Mr. Larabee… I don’t…” He trails unsure of how to proceed; no one had ever given him a gift upon their return, not even his own mother. Looking again at the knife, he took Vin’s response and applied it to his situation. “Thank you.”
Chris smiled, “your welcome.”
They ride back in silence, at least for a while as both Buck and JD return to their earlier discussion and Chris watches the boys as they look over their gifts.
“Ez?” Vin called in question.
“Yes Mr. Tanner.” Ezra always referred to him as such in front of the others.
“You know how to play one of these, right?” Vin asks still turning the mouth organ around, looking at the design as well as the holes where the air travels through.
“In deed I do, and knowing how talented you are, I have every bit of confidence you will be playing a ballad in no time at all.” Ezra responds.
Vin grins to himself, knowing Ezra would teach him. “Thanks Ez.”
As they continue to travel, Chris decides to converse with the boys, “everything quiet?” He asks.
Vin looks up, “yeah, Nathan had to set Mr. Yosemite’s toe, cause one of the…” He pauses a moment trying to remember the correct word. “Ornery horses step on him.” Looking at the gunslinger, “you should have seen it, it was big and purple. Mr. Yosemite tried not to cry, but he had tears in his eyes. Ain’t that right Ez?” Making sure the others believe him.
“Of course, Mr. Tanner, but let us not embarrass Mr. Yosemite by recounting that tail again.” Ezra admonishes.
He turns slightly to Ezra and then back to Chris, “you won’t say anything right cowboy?” He asks quietly.
“Don’t worry kid,” turning to Buck and JD who are also listening, “right boys?” Looking sternly at the two.
Buck and JD knew better than to tease Vin when he asks them for their word. Especially backed by the gunslinger.
“Our lips are sealed,” which Buck gestured by placing his hand across his lips and sealing them, making Vin laugh.
“Anything else happen?” Chris gets control of the conversation.
“Nah,” he pause then asks a question “Chris… you think next time we could stay at Miss Nettie’s?” Which surprises the gunslinger.
Buck, however seems to catch on to what the boys are referring too. “Josiah a bit loud, junior?”
Vin’s eyes looked at the gregarious gunslinger, the Texan lowers his head and nods.
JD laughs, “you think Josiah’s bad try sleeping next to Buck,” he looks over to the dark clad gunslinger for back up, “right Chris?”
Chris laughs, which Buck merely says, “hey,” swiping at the kid, bringing laughs from both boys.
When the laughter dies down he looks at the boys. “I’ll see what I can do?” Bringing nods from both boys in hope, to a more peaceful slumber.
* * * * * * *
Josiah and Nathan see the arrival of there five brothers as they ride in.
“Morning boys, the trip went all right?”
“Was as quiet as a church mouse.” JD replies.
“Now son, there are no mice in my church.” He admonishes the young sheriff.
Vin looks at the two men, “ah Josiah.” The young Texan interrupts, “actually, there’s a whole family living in the church.” He said making Buck laugh.
“Well looks like you have neighbors ay preacher man?” JD laughs.
Nathan slaps his older friend, “now the Christian thing to do is invite them over for supper.” The healer is getting into the mood of his friends, as he too is glad to have his brothers back.
They dismount and stretch; JD takes the reins of the three horses and taking them, while Buck and Chris head straight for the saloon followed by Nathan and Josiah.
Vin and Ezra follow the young easterner still astride Nugget, all three headed for the livery.
As the men sat down, Inez brought over mugs and coffee for the men. She thought back to when the boys first came to Four Corners. Soon after the men began to change, especially Mr. Larabee, as now his mornings consistent of coffee instead of beer or whisky. The boys are a wonderful addition to the family.
“Morning darlin,” as always Buck greets Inez with his most charming smile.
“Senor Buck,” she returns the greeting while pouring his coffee. She returns to the bar Inez hears JD’s words.
“Give it up Buck, Inez ain’t going to fall for it.” He chuckles at Buck’s dreamy look towards the departing senorita.
Buck hits the boy’s hat, knocking it of, “you don’t know nothing kid, and I can tell I’m wearing her down.” He sighs at that realization.
JD shakes his head, while the others cover their grins with their coffee mugs held by their lips.
For the next half hour the men discuss whatever pertinent news occurred during their absence, apparently there was a new addition to the territory, weighing 7lbs 8oz plus Jake Hanson one of the local merchants is running for Mayor.
That’s all the town needs a bigot to be in power, everyone knew the man has issues with Nathan and his practicing medicine. Of course, it never stops the towns people from coming to the healer most of them trusting the kind hearted black man.
* * * * * * *
Outside the saloon the man in question is walking along the boardwalk, talking with people asking there concerns, ideas, hopes and other issues. All the while assuring them that by becoming Mayor he would do he’s utmost to make changes. One, which he secretly hopes for, is to get enough people to vote the five gunslingers and the two boys and run them out of town.
I mean who are these men to harbor a half-breed and a con artist in their decent town. Yes, if elected to office he’d find enough people and present a petition to Judge Travis to rid them of the five gunslingers. After all this town is growing and if it continues to grow the revenue alone would insure the survival of Four Corners and allow them to hire a real doctor and real lawmen.
Hanson heard the footsteps but was concentrating on his plans for the future that he really didn’t pay them any mind until he was bump.
* * * * * * * Vin was racing to reach the saloon while he left the southerner to care for the horses. When the boys place Nugget in her stall he heard the sounds of a small creature across the last stall. Investigating the sound they discovered two kittens suckling there mother, she of course was startled but didn’t move, fear evident, but her motherly instincts wouldn’t let her leave.
Ezra familiar with the skittish nature of abandon animals pulls Vin back and quiets the young Texan. “Shh…” he whispers, “it would be best to give her space and not frighten her into leaving behind her children.”
Vin whispers back, “You think she’d leave?” He asked.
“She might, let us leave her for now, perhaps a saucer of milk and food for her would be in order.”
Vin was excited, “I’ll go ask Chris maybe he can help.” The young Texan replies as he made his way quietly out the livery.
As soon as Vin leaves the livery he races to the saloon, knowing Chris and the others would be eating breakfast and discussing things.
It was already mid-morning and the hustle and bustle had Vin dodging people left and right.
Vin heard his name being called turns to see who it is when he slams into Mr. Hanson, and falls on his rear. Startled he looks up to see the angry glare of the gentlemen in question. The glare wasn’t as intimidating as Chris’; still Vin is trying to get use to the fact that not all adults will strike him. Unfortunately Mr. Hanson looks like he would, with that in mind the young Texan flinches.
Ezra finishes tending the young mare and exits the livery, chuckling to him self-picturing Vin explaining to Chris why he needs a saucer of milk and food. Knowing the gunslinger he would insist on carrying the items and could only imagine what the populace would say when they see the dark clad gunslinger.
Walking up on to the boardwalk Ezra makes his way to the saloon tipping his hat to the passing ladies, he froze when he saw Vin on the floor and a scowling Jake Hanson towering over his young friend.
With instinct born of experience, the southerner with no other thought then to rescue Vin, sprints towards the two. Ezra places him self in front of the Texan ready to receive whatever abuse to his person, when another hand connects to an arm grabs Hanson’s and turn him around.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Chris’ menacing tone chills the man’s backbone, for Hanson couldn’t seem to reply.
“The gentleman, and I use the term loosely was about to strike our Mr. Tanner, for what reason I do not know.” Ezra spoke still protecting his young charge.
Chris not looking at the southerner glares at the cowering man in front of him, “you were going to hit my boy?” Whether the gunslinger registered what he just said he didn’t show it, Vin on the other hand didn’t miss the implication of the words and his heart fluttered with hope. “You don’t ever hit a child, you understand?” The other man nods as Chris releases him and he quickly retreats.
The gunslinger kneels to the fallen boy, “you okay Vin?” He saw the confusion and fear in the boy’s face when Hanson confronted him.
Vin nods, relief flowing through him, “I’m okay cowboy,” he said, receiving a chuckle from the older man as the tension leaves him hearing Vin’s sense of humor.
Ezra shook his head, “Vin Tanner you never seize to amaze me.” He too chuckles.
Vin looks at both his friends as the gunslinger helps him up. “That a good thing?” He asks.
Ezra only laughed louder, “Where you are concern I have no doubt.”
“You two going to tell me what happen,” Larabee needed an explanation he would never understand anyone wanting to hurt a child.
“I’m not sure, Mr. Larabee;” Ezra answers looking to Vin for clarification.
“I bump into Mr. Hanson, he weren’t too happy.” The boy bows his head waiting for his reprimand. It never came.
“That’s no reason, for Hanson to act that way.” He said instead.
“But,” Vin started but the gunslinger didn’t let him finish.
“No Vin, no grown man has the right to hit a child, it’s wrong and so long as you’re living here I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen.” Vin nods but a smile grace's his face.
“Well then now that we’ve clarified that have you asked Mr. Larabee for his assistance as yet?”
Suddenly Vin remembers why he was running in the first place, “no, I forgot,” he replies.
Chris frowns, the humor in the southerners tone did not bode well for him, “forgot what exactly?”
Vin excited once again answers, “we found kittens and their momma, we need milk and food for them.”
‘Oh no,’ Chris thought, ‘pets.’ “Okay lets go see what we can find,” with that the tall gunslinger and two boys head over to the restaurant, see if Mrs. Rosenberg can spare some milk.
After Hanson was able to escape from Larabee, he breathed and then became angry. He knew people must have seen the debacle and wonder if they thought of him as a coward. ‘Because he wasn’t,” he thought. Larabee all but threaten him the man is a menace to there fair town. He scowled again when he thought of the two boys; to Hanson they were the instigators, that little half-breed and the southern bastard were to blame.
Across the boardwalk stood another man who’d seen the commotion. Stewart James was not happy with the lawmen of Four Corners and although he didn’t like Hanson he might be able to steer him in a certain direction, after all the man wanted to run for Mayor, he’d need backing for that.
* * * * * * *
Late afternoon found Josiah in the saloon sipping coffee while keeping an eye on his young charge.
Ezra sat in the back, playing poker with a few of the ranch hands that come into town on Saturdays. These men often play with the young boy and you’d think they learn by now, but still they have to show face, after all who loses to a child.
“You cheated, I know you did.” One man shouts.
“Now sir, please lower your voice.” ‘It never fails why can’t people accept that I am the better player.’ Ezra thought. “With that in mind perhaps, you’d like to try your luck again?” He said without pride or gloating simply asking a valid question.
The other man took offence threw his cards and left. The other two watch keeping an eye on the preacher, they too stood and walked out.
Josiah sighs, he wasn’t sure allowing the boy to play poker was a good idea. He understood why Chris agreed. But still the ex-preacher had a hard time accepting that the boy’s mother would leave him with such a heavy burden – to ply his god-given talent or he’d be of no use to her. But the boy was serious, the only reason Chris allowed the boy to play poker was the fact he saw the fear in the southerners eyes. He believed his mother would leave him. Thinking on it further, Josiah wasn’t sure the men who grew fond of the boy would be happy in seeing mother and son reunited; it would mean losing one of their little brothers.
Josiah got up from his table and walked over, “you have a good day?”
Ezra looks up at the ex-preacher who waits to be invited. Ezra nods and the big man sits next to him. “Good enough Mr. Sanchez.” He replies.
* * * * * * *
Over at the jail Vin sits inside finishing his homework. Mrs. Travis left the boy with some writing exercises to help the Texan catch up with the other children, who seem to have a head start in reading and writing. Mary didn’t understand how that could happen; she’d always thought that orphanages provided an education to their charges.
Finally, Vin sighs as he puts his writing tool down. He is still having trouble with his printing, but it looks better than it had a few weeks back. He knew Ezra was the one who is helping with his progress.
“JD,” he looks up at the young sheriff that sits in front looking at the current wanted posters.
“Finish, can I go over and play with Billy?” He asks.
“You want me to look at your homework, first?”
“Nah, Ezra’ll do it later, thanks.” He is stands up and walks the front door, but doesn’t leave until it’s okay.
“All right, but straight there and don’t be no trouble to Mrs. Travis.” He shouts as the young Texan is all ready out the door.
“Okay,” Vin shouts back as he runs to the Clarion.
Rounding to the back of the newspaper where he knew Billy would be there, then Vin once again bumps into something big, looking up it’s Jake Hanson.
“You were lucky today, but your luck will soon run out.” He tells the boy. “One of these days Larabee won’t be there to protect you, maybe he’ll leave town or even be killed;” the young Texan flinches at that thought, Hanson smiles when he notices. “Yeah being a gunslinger who knows someone will come and will be faster then he. Then who’ll protect a half breed, freak like you?” After his say he turns and goes. Leaving a confusion and hurt child.
Hanson saw the fear in the boy’s eyes. ‘That’ll teach him to think he’s better than white folk,’ he thought.
Vin still on the ground has tears in his eyes, ‘could someone really kill Chris, and what did he mean a gunslinger, Chris is a lawman,’ he thought.
Vin stood and is about to go in the Clarion, but stops he really isn’t in the mood to play; instead he walks over to the saloon. In front there is always a chair and table outside, basically because Chris or one of the others will sit outside looking around town making sure everything is find. Vin decides to sit in the chair and wait for Ezra to finish his poker game.
Swinging his legs to and fro Vin sits in the chair and waits patiently. He didn’t have to wait long, seeing two men leave in a huff mumbling about a southern cheater clues the young Texan that his friend will be out soon.
* * * * * * *
Josiah watches his little brother walk out the saloon with out a care in the world, while counting his winnings. That boy is a natural gamester.
Ezra steps outside the saloon and takes a breath, the one thing he didn’t like about poker is the smoking, and why men like the foul thing is beyond him.
The young southerner looks to his right surprise to see his young friend sitting there. “Vin, I thought you would be at Mrs. Travis this afternoon?”
“Hey Ez,” the boy greets. “You through with poker?”
“Yes indeed, is there a problem?” He asks.
“Kinda, you got a minute, maybe we can walk?”
“Of course, Vin.” He motions the boy forward. “Shall we depart?”
Vin jumps off the chair and leads the southerner up the street instead of the livery.
“Are we traveling by foot?”
“Yeah, ain’t far, is that okay?”
“As you wish.” Ezra figures this must be serious Vin looks upset.
* * * * * * *
It took nearly half an hour of walking to reach their destination, which really is just outside of town; we are after all talking about two small boys.
Vin grins as he finds his landmark, “there it is.” He shouts running into the bushes.
“Mr. Tanner, Vin wait a moment,” cries the southerner who then sprints to reach his friend.
“Up here Ezra,” Vin waves his hands as Ezra enters the bushes.
Looking up the southerner isn’t sure if he’d make it up. The side looks steep.
“It’s easy Ez, there’s a rope by that tree,” Vin said as if he read Ezra’s thoughts.
So Ezra walks over to the tree and pulls the rope, then begins the climb. As he reaches the top the Texan waiting across the next obstacle calls out, “this way Ez,” a bridge of dirt packed from years of mudslides that it reaches over to the large boulder where Vin now stands.
Ezra seems to sigh, but none the less crosses it. Once on top of the boulder with Vin he breathes easier. “Vin what are we doing here?” He asks.
“Look, you can see the whole town from here.” He comments.
“Wonderful, but you haven’t answered the question?”
Vin sits down and Ezra follows and sits down himself.
“This here is my thinking rock.” He states.
“How did you find it?”
Looking at his fingers, Vin replies, “Chris showed me, said this is where he sits sometimes to look at the town without no one knowing.” He looks at the southerner, “you won’t tell any one will you?” He asks.
“Did Mr. Larabee say this was a secret place?” Ezra was curious.
“Nah, but it’s quiet here.” He answers.
Sensing his need for secrecy Ezra agrees, “then this rock will be our secret.”
“Thanks,” the boy grins.
“Now that we have establish this, pray tell what is wrong?”
Vin shrugs not sure how to answer the question.
“Are you still thinking about this morning?”
Vin shook his head ‘no’. Ezra sighs trying to get information from Vin could be a trial at times. “Then is something else bothering you?”
Vin nods, but didn’t say anything more.
“Do you wish to talk about it, and I don’t want to see your head move up or down or from side to side. Talk to me.”
Vin not put off by the tone, looks at the southerner with his well known lop sided grin, which only makes Ezra shake his head in exasperation. The southerner refuses to say another word and waits for Vin to communicate.
Vin looks away, twiddling his fingers again and then he spoke, “what’s a half breed?” He asks.
“Half breed?” He question, “Why do you ask?” He wonders where this was going.
“Mr. Hanson, he said I was a half breed freak.”
“Good Lord, does that man have no shame?” Ezra shook his head. “Did he say that to you this morning?”
Vin shook his head ‘no,’
“I ran into him when I’s headed to visit Billy’s.”
“The man was waiting for you?” Ezra couldn’t believe it. Looking at his friend he frowns. “He said something else.” It is more a statement than a question.
“He said I was lucky this morning, but one day Chris won’t be there. He could be gone or dead.” With that last statement Vin’s eyes clouded with unshed tears. He wouldn’t want Chris to ever die.
Ezra squeezes his young friends shoulders in comfort. “You can rest assured that will never happen.” Ezra spoke with confidence.
‘Half-breed - one born of parents of different races – specifically applied to the off spring of an American Indian and a white person.’ At least that’s how Ezra explained the term to his young friend after returning to town. Which only made Vin confused, as both his parents were white. Ezra further explained that because the Texan had been seen spending time with the Indians and even dressing like them must have confused the man that he was a half-breed. ‘Ah’, Vin had said, then continued, ‘he’s jealous.’ At least that’s how Vin saw it and Ezra wasn’t going to dissuade that belief.
* * * * * * *
The next morning found the two boys and five men in church with the Sunday congregation. Josiah although not a practicing preacher recites words from the good Bible this fine morning.
After mass services are let out Josiah meets the parishioners as they begin to leave, some talking others just shaking hands and still others merely nodding their heads at the ex-preachers words.
Chris and Buck went to the saloon for a late breakfast, having arrived late from patrol. JD escorted Casey and Mrs. Wells to their homestead and Nathan decides since it is a slow day he’d visit Rain at the Seminole Village. Josiah returns to the church to finish sanding the back windowsills.
That left Vin and Ezra to patrol the town. Although not official lawmen the town often saw the children walking up and down the boardwalk greeting people and making sure no trouble was found.
As they are passing the Clarion, Vin stops, closes his eyes and in hails, he smiles a very euphoric expression. Ezra stops next to him not sure what is going on, he’s never seen that look before.
“Vin, what’s wrong?” He asks.
“Can’t you smell it?” Vin asks his eyes still close with a silly look on his face as he takes another whiff.
“Smell what?” He asks, while sniffing the air around him, with no luck.
“It’s pecan pie, Ez. Mrs. Travis is baking pecan pie.” Vin sighs, “Momma always loved to bake pecan pie.” In hailing again he begins to recall as he pictures his mother in her kitchen, humming a cheerful tone and baking pecan pie. ‘She did so like pecan pie,’ Vin thought. With is eyes still closed, his mother begins to turn, he sees her profile, as clear as if he were there seating on the kitchen chair watching her. She is almost visible to him. Vin saw the pie about to be place on the table and looks up and gasps, he’d forgotten so much of how she looked. Her hair flowing freely as a breeze enters through the window, her skin lightly tan from working in their garden and out in the small orchard they had. Her freckles, he could almost count each one on her beautiful face and those blue eyes, just like his. He has her eyes, he thought smiling at that realization and her nose, a very perfect nose. Suddenly she turns to look at him her startling blue eyes staring right at him and she whispers, ‘this is just for you honey-bear.’ Vin opens his eyes startled, “She use to call me honey-bear.” He said, as he looks at his friend. “Lets go look okay Ez?”
“Now Vin perhaps Mrs. Travis would not like the intrusion.” Ezra shrugs.
“Nah, it’ll be okay.” He pulls Ezra with him towards the back of the Clarion. Sure enough Mary Travis is indeed baking, while humming a happy tune as well. Vin smiles as he knocks on the back door and enters before asked too.
“Mr. Tanner,” Ezra exclaims, “this is not how a gentlemen conducts himself.” He said as he too walks in right behind the Texan.
Mary looks to her side and smiles, “well boys what brings you here?” Having all ready a feeling on that as she pulls out the first pecan pie from the oven.
“Pecan Pie ma’am,” is Vin’s straightforward response licking his lips.
“I see,” she replies chuckling at the look of sheer delight pass across Vin’s face. “Then you are just in time. This one here needs to cool first, but it’s yours if you help me finish the second one?”
This time Ezra responds with hat in hand, “I am at your service dear lady.” He replies now getting into the spirit of the aroma of the pecan pie.
“Very well,” she nods and then takes out two aprons and hands them to the boys. Then motioning to the Texan, “Vin I’d like for you to mix three eggs for me?”
The Texan using a step stool he reaches the kitchen counter and begins to mix using a fork. Ezra watches the whole process.
“Like this Mrs. Travis?” Vin with tongue curved to one side as he beats the eggs.
“Yes that’s find, now I’ll pour 2/3rds of sugar and a dash of salt.” As the additional ingredients are introduced she continues with the recipe. “Keep stirring until it all dissolves.” She smiles. “You’re doing a good job Vin.”
“What about me Mrs. Travis, how can I help?” “All right we’re going to take 1/3rd of butter and melt it in this sauce pan. I’ll pour the butter into the pan and you keep an eye on it until it melts, and mind your fingers.”
Ezra walks over to the stove with sauce pan and butter, and then places it on top watching as the butter begins to sizzle and melt. He smiles, ‘this is fun,’ he thought. Mother would never approve of menial labor, but then she isn’t here.
“Now Vin while Ezra’s melting butter, we’ll pour one (1) cup of dark corn syrup and continue to stir,” she watches as the Texan continues to mix the ingredients.
“Mrs. Travis it’s done.” Ezra calls out.
“Good, bring it over and let’s pour the melted butter,” Mary gives the southerner a small kitchen towel to wrap around the handle of the pan, the young boy then pours the content into the mix and Mary helps Vin mix harder as the ingredients are becoming too much for the young boy. “All right boys now we’re going to put in one (1) cup of half pecans, Ezra can you bring them over?”
“Sure Mrs. Travis,” there is indeed excitement in the air as the southerner brings the last part of the mixture.
“Okay pour it in, that’s it, let’s mix a little more. Now we’ll pour the whole thing into the nine (9) inch pie plate I have ready.” She said.
Mary pours the whole mixture while both boys look on engrossed in the process. Once the ingredients settle in the pie, she covers the pie with foil and places it in the oven.
“Okay boys now comes the waiting period, we’ll wait for twenty-five (25) minutes and then remove the foil and continue to bake for another twenty-five (25) minutes.”
(A side bar note since I’m not familiar with stoves in those times whether or not they had temperature knobs this pie should be cooked at 350 degrees.)
“Wow, Mrs. Travis, can we eat the other now?” Vin asks.
“Mr. Tanner, what kind of manners are those?” The southerner gasps.
So Vin amends his question, “please.”
Ezra threw his hands in the air in exasperation. Mary just laughs.
“Well boys we’re going to let it cool a little more and when Mr. Larabee arrives we’ll cut the pie, all right?”
“Chris is coming here?”
“Yes, I sent Billy to invite him for dessert, he loves pecan pie too.” She said.
“You hear that Ez, Chris likes pecan too.”
“Yes I heard, no doubt he’ll be eating a much bigger portion.” Ezra replies crossing his arms around his chest, who was hoping for a larger piece.
Behind the southerner a voice rings out, “you got that right.” Chris replies entering with Billy and hearing Ezra’s last remark.
“Hey Chris,” Vin smiles.
“Mr. Larabee, are you not aware it is impolite to eavesdrop.”
“Yeah, but you said it loud enough the whole town probably heard.”
Making Billy and Vin laugh.
“Now gentlemen, I’ll have no arguing in my kitchen.” Mary admonishes looking pointly at the dark clad gunslinger.
“Yes ma’am,” the gunslinger surrenders, he isn’t about to lose out on a slice of pie.
“Now Billy why don’t you take Chris and the boys and show them the new picture graphs your grandfather sent.”
“Okay Ma, come on guys we can see them in the living room.” Billy guides them out of the kitchen having worn out their welcome.
Chris stays behind a few moments, “can I help with anything?” He asks.
“No I have everything under control. Why don’t you keep the boys company and I’ll make coffee, the pie should be cool and ready by then.”
“All right Mary.” He replies as he heads to the front room.
The afternoon passes quickly as the boys and two adults talk about various things. Nothing specific as conversation goes from school, mice in the church, tracking, the fine art of gambling, as well as the printing press. All in all it is a quiet afternoon.
* * * * * * *
While outside Hanson, is still trying to draw out supports for his bid of office. Although, no other candidate is running against him – the town’s folk are still reluctant to support the man.
“Mr. Hanson,” Stewart James calls out, walking to him, with cane in hand.
Jake turns as his name is called noticing James walking to him. “Why Mr. James, what brings you into town this afternoon?” He asks.
James cringes at the overly loud and friendly response. The man is determined to be appointed Mayor. Though the town’s people really didn’t care one way or another, it would probably end in an honoree position any way.
“I was hoping to have a moment of your time.” James inquired.
“Of course sir, I could use some lunch would you like to join me? All this campaigning makes a man hungry and I understand the meat is from your ranch?”
The man can talk, “that would be fine.” James replied.
So both men sat and talk, James addressing various issues pertaining to the expansion of the town and his concerns of the Indian Village so close to town, which of course Hanson is of the same mind. As these issues are of concern to him as well.
The discussion continued as the bases for his campaign would be to bring true law to Four Corners as well as a qualified Doctor, and not having to rely on the five gunslingers, who sometimes bring there own enemies to town brining needless trouble.
James promise his full support in the efforts to the future Mayors appointment Hanson beam all ready seeing him self in office.
The next morning finds Ezra and Vin on top of their thinking rock; at least that’s what the young Texan calls it.
“All right Vin, it’s time we start a few exercises in controlling your senses.”
“Why?” Vin wants to know.
“Well since your hearing is so sensitive I think we should practice adjusting your hearing so for instance Josiah won’t keep you up at night.”
Vin smiles, “I like that plan, what we going to do?”
“Since we can see the town from our new perch. I want you to use your eye sight and your hearing at the same time.” Ezra explains.
“So how we start?”
“All right lets start with the Clarion, look out at the town can you see the newspaper?”
Vin turns to town and focuses at the Clarion, “yeah got it.” He answers.
“Good, is there anyone there?”
“Yep, Miss Maggie and Mr. Conklin.”
“Good, now using your eyes let the sounds filter through as you see their lips moving. Focus and let your sight bring you the words of Miss Maggie and Mr. Conklin.” The southerner directed.
“’Kay,” Vin concentrated and then the voices came into focus as easily as his sight. “Got it,” Vin smiles, this was getting easy.
* * * * * * *
“Miss Maggie, I was wondering if you can sew a pair of trousers for me? I was hoping to wear these tomorrow.” Handing his torn pants to the town’s seamstress. She looks at them and smiled.
“Of course Mr. Conklin, I can have them ready in the morning.” He sighed they are his favorite.
“Thank you ma’am.” Conklin tips his hat as he moves down the boardwalk. Miss Maggie chuckles as she walks back to her shop. Mr. Conklin has torn his pants from his behind again.
Ezra laughs as Vin recounts the by play of the entire conversation to the southerner.
“Perhaps Mr. Conklin would be wise to purchase a new pair of trousers.” He comments making Vin laugh louder.
“Yeah,” he chuckles. “Now what?”
“Can you still hear their conversation?”
The moment he turns away, Vin didn’t even realize he’d lost their voices. “No can’t hear them no more.” He replies.
“I thought as much, since you were focus on them with both your sight as well as your hearing, you turning cause them both to shut down.” Ezra was tapping his index finger to his lips thinking.
“Oh, is that good or bad?” Vin wanted to know.
“It means you can learn to control your senses.” I hope, Ezra thought.
“And I won’t be hearing Josiah snore.”
“Exactly,” Ezra smiled.
“So what now?”
“We practice some more, now look for someone we don’t know and listen to their conversation.”
“I don’t know Ez, you think that’s okay?” To Vin that sounded like eavesdropping, especially since he would be hearing something that maybe these strangers didn’t want no one to know.
“Not to worry Vin, we are just practicing,” Ezra sooth not wanting his young friend to learn he was looking for potential marks for the up coming poker game that would be on Friday.
“Okay,” Vin replies looking back into town to find strangers.
After a few moments Vin picks up on two men walking pass the saloon. They are both in deep conversation.
* * * * * * *
“Fred, I don’t know, you heard about those five gunslingers. Others have tried to rob the bank.”
“Yeah, I heard, but we have surprise on our side no one will think to rob the bank this early.”
* * * * * * *
Back at the rock two boys, look at one another frighten by what the Texan had just heard.
“What‘a we do?” Vin asks.
“We inform Mr. Larabee.” Ezra states, as both boys make their way back to town.
* * * * * * *
Inside the bank Fred Ford and his cousin Fred Hollingsworth, secure the bank, the manager cooperating with the two robbers as he hands two large satchels of money.
“All right ladies and gentlemen, you keep cooperating and no one gets hurt.” With his gun he directs the customers and employees to lie down on the floor. “I see one head pop outside and I’ll blow it off. I hope I’ve made my self clear.” They all nod.
“Lets get out of here, I got a bad feeling.” Ford remarked.
“You worry too much Freddie, we’re home free.” Hollingsworth replies.
Both cousins make their way outside and are about to get on their horses when they hear a voice that chills their spines.
“I think you boys better drop those bags and guns real slow.” Chris and his men are waiting for the criminals.
When the cousin’s turns to face the sound of the voice they notice the street is empty. Freddie tries going back inside, when he sees a tall lanky man with a mustache shaking his head to back away.
“Now I ain’t asking again, drop your weapons.” They did and raised their arms.
“Told you I had a bad feeling.” Freddie comments.
“Shut up,” Fred sneers.
Buck and JD grab each man wishing that all robberies ended so peacefully.
Josiah sent a prayer, Nathan was just glad he didn’t have to patch anyone today.
Chris watches as his men escorted the two bank robbers to jail. He causally picks up both satchels and opens the door to the bank. “Mr. Markle,” He calls out noticing the people lying on the floor.
Markle looks up relieved. “Mr. Larabee, we were just robbed.” He gasps getting up off the floor.
“Yeah, I know, we got them, here’s the money.” Handing the two bags over.
The bank manager smiles, “thank you Mr. Larabee.”
The other people smile also as they too get up.
“Mr. Larabee is it really safe?” The cook of the only restaurant open asks.
“Yes, Mrs. Rosenberg. It’s safe.”
“Thank you young man, you make sure you come to dinner tonight, I understand you enjoy pecan pie.” She smiles at him.
Chris smiles back, he is going to have a word with Mrs. Travis. “Yes ma’am I do.” He replies.
The dark clad gunslinger escorts the robust older woman who happens to be the best cook this side of Mississippi, at least that’s how Ezra had put it and Chris had to agree.
Ana Rosenberg squeezes the gunslingers hand and nods to him as she heads to the restaurant. Chris watches her go, glad everything worked out.
“We did good cowboy?” Vin asks.
Both boys stood side by side looking at their guardian. The older man smiles. “You did real good.”
Vin beams, elbowing his partner as Ezra also looks proud.
Wednesday afternoon, found Jake Hanson addressing the townspeople on the future of Four Corners. Mary stood in front writing down Hanson’s words of fighting to bring law and order. Mary was shock by that last comment. She thought that the town was doing find with the law they currently have and is about to voice her opinion when a rider comes barreling down the main path of town.
The people turn to see what is going on, Chris Larabee standing in the back of the crowd listening to Hanson’s speech also notices the rider.
Vin Tanner rides hard down the main street calling out, “Chris… Chris!” He notices the crowd on the streets and frantically looks for the dark clad gunslinger.
Hanson turns to look at who ever is shouting during his speech. He curses as he sees who it is. ‘That no good half breed.’ Hanson turns from the people for a moment and then he speaks again. “This is what I have been talking about, orphan children having the run of our town, look at how this child rides into town without any regard of the decent folk walking by.”
Just as Hanson finish’s his triad, Vin stops his horse still searching for Chris as Hanson grabs him and pulls him to show the people what he is talking about. “First it is the Indians who come into town disrupting our livelihood now it’s their half breed children who ride as though the devil himself is chasing them.” He shouts as Vin struggles to get away from the man.
A few of the ladies gasp at the poor treatment of the young boy, Mary Travis who bounds up to the boardwalk pushes Hanson aside just as one angry Chris Larabee arrives, he pins the man against a building roughly as Mary pulls Vin to her.
“I warned you about hurting my boy, now I want you out of town and if I see you any where near Vin, I’ll shoot you, do you hear me!” He shouts.
The whole crowd is murmuring as most of them agree with the gunslinger, no one should hurt a child, especially when that person expresses concern about law and order publicly, while others find objectionable at the mistreatment of one of the citizens of Four Corners, by the gunslinger.
Josiah arrives seeing the young Texan riding hard, the ex-preacher was perched on top of the church repairing yet another shingle. Racing to the boardwalk he sees Chris pull Hanson away from Vin.
“Brother Chris let him go,” Josiah whispers trying to calm the man.
“He hurt Vin,” he all but growls at the preacher.
“And you are scaring Vin.” Josiah replies.
Chris releases the man, also pulling away from the big man, Josiah moves away not wanting to crowd the gunslinger.
The gunslinger approaches the young boy, kneeling down, “you okay?”
Vin nods, “Chris, Ezra and Chanu are trap inside a mine, I need help,” as he starts to explain the situation, barely able to take a breath.
“Whoa, whoa, when did this happen and where?” He asks.
“We went to visit the Seminole people and just before we rode up to their village Ezra saw the mine, he wanted to go exploring. Chanu went with him, but I couldn’t,” guilt played across his face. “It was too small.” Vin would give anything to be with them.
“Vin it’s okay, if you went in none of us would have known where to look. Now lets ride and go find them.” The older man replies.
Buck and JD arrive to hear the last part of the conversation; it only takes one look from the ladies man to send the kid running off to saddle the horses.
“I’ll go get Nathan,” Josiah replies as he takes off to the clinic.
“Chris how can we help?” Mary and some of the other town’s people have gathered around the boy and men.
“We’re going to have to ride hard Mary, but thanks for asking.” He sighs hopping none of this was happening.
“Chris how we going to get our boys out?” A cave in, who knows how long it would take to dig them out. Buck looks at his long time friend hoping he has a plan.
“Mr. Larabee, I have dynamite, and I know how to use it. Used it during the war.” Johnny Henning a young man about Nathan’s age spoke above the crowd. Stepping forward, he was one of the new comers to Four Corners and lives just outside of town.
Chris eyes him and nods as the man runs to his horse, “meet me at my place it’s on your way to the village, I’ll be ready.” He shouts as he rides out.
Nathan arrives running behind the ex-preacher; his make shift medical bag in hand. “We ready to leave?” He asks.
“Yeah,” Chris takes Vin’s hand and both walk to the livery Josiah and Nathan right along side them.
Things are moving fast as the lives of two young boys hang in the balance.
* * * * * * *
The abandon mine just outside the Seminole Village is dark and quiet. Near the front of the mine huddled together are two small boys shivering.
“Chanu are you doing okay?” The southerner asks.
The young Indian boy looks up at the southerner and nods his head. “Yes I am doing fine.” He answers.
‘Aha,’ Ezra thought, the southerner can feel the boy shivering; taking his jacket off he wraps it around his young friend. “Do not worry, Vin will bring help soon.” He assures the boy.
Chanu nods knowing the truth of those words.
The mine is cold and damp and after a few hours – the southerner is sure has pass – he starts to feel the chill himself. He wraps his arms around the younger boy hoping to bring warmth to both their bodies.
* * * * * *
Chris and the others arrive pass nightfall, he can see Vin is shivering as he sits huddled in his mount. The day started out hot but now without the suns ray the temperature quickly drops.
“Vin, get on off that horse,” the young Texan obeys and jumps off, Chris takes off his small duster and places it on the shoulders of the boy. “You hang onto it for me okay?” He asks.
Smiling the boy replies, “sure cowboy.” As they both walk to the entrance of the mine. Chris, Josiah and Nathan having brought three lanterns light them up.
Henning surveys the area, deciding the most vulnerable areas of the mine, so as to use the least amount of dynamite.
Vin watches intently the activity around him, “Chris,” the boy reaches for his hand, “how we gonna let Ezra know what’s going on?” In everyone’s haste to get at the boys another reminds them of an additional dilemma.
“Shit,” Chris walks over to Henning, “hold on, we need to let the boys know what’s going to happen.”
“Mr. Larabee, I don’t know how much rubble is on the other side, they might not even hear you or we might not hear them.” Henning’s tried to explain.
Chris lookd at the demolish expert. “I don’t care, we’re going to try,” with that he looks to his men, Josiah having the loudest voice starts first.
“EZRA CAN YOU HEAR ME SON?” The big man shoutd as loud as he possibly could.
Inside the cave both boys are asleep having succumb to the cold as well as exhaustion. Again shouts gather as Buck and JD add their voices.
Chris walks over to the healer, “Nathan, what are the chances they’re both still alive?” The hard truth of the matter is that the two boys have been in the cave for several hours.
“I don’t know Chris, if they have been injured… its impossible to know.” Nathan wants more than anything for the boys to be okay.
Vin taps the gunslingers arm, “I can hear Ezra’s heart beat.” The young boy states; Chris just stares at him to hear another’s heart beat from such distance, the boy never fails to amaze the gunslinger.
Kneeling in front of the Texan he asks, “do you know if he can hear us?”
“He hasn’t heard us yet. Think he might have fallen asleep.”
The healer is now worried more, if Ezra and Chanu are asleep, getting them out now is imperative. “Chris we gotta risk the dynamite or we’ll loose them both.”
“We could kill them if they’re too close.” Chris didn’t want to risk it; he knew too well what dynamite could do to the human body. He shutters at the memories.
Josiah and Buck heard as well and called out louder.
Ezra stirs for the first time some one is calling him, but wasn’t sure who. He is about to go back to sleep, but hears his name again.
“Mr. Sanchez?” He whispers, throat somewhat dry.
“Chris, I hear him, louder Josiah.” Vin encourages.
Now coming fully awake, Ezra stands and reaches the blocked entrance, “hello, can you hear me?” Ezra asks as loud as he can.
Vin smiles in relief, “I can hear him, and he hears us.” No one but the young Texan can hear him and those who know Vin did not doubt him.
“Josiah tell him to move back, as far as he can, that we plan to dynamite.” Chris orders.
“Right brother,” as loud as possible he shouts again, “Ezra move back, we have dynamite.” The ex-preacher feels as his throat is on its last shout. “Let Vin know that you understand.”
Ezra smiles, Vin made it; as if there was ever any doubt. “Vin, give me a moment to get Chanu?”
“He heard you, he’s getting Chanu and he’ll let me know when he’s ready.”
Nathan sighed in relief glad the southerner is coherent.
Inside the mine, Ezra scrambles back to Chanu and roust him. “Chanu, wake up they are here. Come on my friend we’re to be rescued.”
Chanu slowly opens his eyes and looking at the older boy he asks, “really?”
Ezra laughs, “Really, now let us depart this dismal place, shall we?” With that he helps the young Indian to his feet and they both slowly walk as far back as they can. The young southerner is well aware of how dangerous dynamite can be, hoping they don’t use too much as they could bring down the whole mine.
Which is precisely how Henning felt as he places a cluster of three sticks together in only two areas, where he believes will have the most impact with out causing more damage to the interior of the mine.
Back inside, Ezra finally is able to let Vin know they are hopefully far enough. “Alright Vin, we’re ready.” In a whispered tone he sighs, “I hope.”
“All right Chris they’re ready.” Vin informs him.
“Henning, you ready?” The peacekeeper asks.
“Yeah,” looking at the others, “okay every one back, I’m going to light the fuses.” The rest all fall back, and Henning giving himself enough fuse to light it and run, strikes the match and starts on the first set of dynamite, followed by the second. Running to a safe distance he yells out, “fire in the hole!”
The blast is loud as was expected, waiting for the dust to clear Henning peers from a large boulder he hid behind and smiles, it worked.
Chris and the others see as well, all approaching calmly as the dust flows towards them.
“There they are,” yells JD.
Vin is all ready there; his two friends now near the entrance of the mine. Everyone cheers, while Nathan grabs blankets and races to the two boys. Josiah and Buck helping.
“How ya boys doing?” The healer asks, while wrapping them in blankets.
“Cold, but otherwise unharmed.” Ezra answers for both.
“What the hell were you thinking, going into a mine? Have you any idea how dangerous that was?” Chris asks.
“Obviously I do now, but at the time I thought it would be for an interesting excursion.” Looking at the gunslinger with innocent green eyes.
Chris just glares at the boy, knowing it wouldn’t do any good to argue with him. “You okay?”
“Yes sir,” Ezra gives him one of Vin’s lopsided grins. Chris just shakes his head; he is going gray before his time.
“Is my father here?” Chanu asks through chattering teeth.
“He should be, we had someone from town ride out.” The healer answers, the young boy nods in relief, glad to be going home soon.
“You sure your okay?” The young Texan wants to hear it again from his brother’s lips, cause that’s how Vin feels about the southerner, as a brother.
“Yes Vin, I’m okay. Thank you, your timing as always is impeccable.” Ezra smiles, Vin laughs and hugs him in front of everyone. Bringing laughter all around as they see the look of shock on the southerners face.
After a couple days of bed rest, under the watchful eyes of Nathan Jackson, Ezra was finally release much to the relief of Vin Tanner, who really missed him.
The following day the five peacekeepers and two boys travel to the Indian Village, where Kojay and Chanu wait.
Josiah and Nathan delivered a message the day before requesting the presence of all seven. Of course, the ex-preacher and healer would not comment on the reason for the invitation.
As father and son stood tall and dress in what Vin would say is their Sunday best, they wait. Chanu seems to be fidgeting, the cloths look comfortable, tan buckskin with fringe on the sides of the pant legs and along the sides of the arms, also decorated with turquoise color beads in front of the shirt. Both father and son are a sight to behold.
Today is going to be a special day, a celebration, for the safe return of Chanu to his people and for a special request by the young boy, a bond he wishes to form with the two boys, a ceremony to bond the boys as Blood Brothers.
* * * * * * *
Sitting in a circle the peacekeepers as well as the members of the tribe watch as the three boys all stand within the circle. Kojay the leader of the tribe begins.
“My son Chanu; has made a special request. He wishes to be united with his two friends as what our people call Blood Brothers. Before the ceremony, my son would ask you for your approval.” He looks at both boys.
Chanu faces his friends, “Vin, Ezra, my people have agreed to accept you as my Blood Brothers.” He pauses a moment before continuing, “If you agree we will join our blood and become brothers…”
“What’s he mean Buck,” JD whispers to his friend.
“Not sure kid.” The gregarious man looks over at the ex-preacher.
The healer is also concern, “what’s going on Josiah?” He wasn’t aware there would be blood involved.
“Be patient brothers, all will be revealed soon,” the big man replies.
The boy continues, “we will cut our arms and join them, mixing our blood to finish the bond.” He pauses again looking at the two boys for any signs of distress. “Will you accept?” He asks.
Chanu looks at both boys waiting for an answer. After only a moment the southerner response, “Chanu, I am honored and accept the joining of Blood Brothers.”
Vin smiles and simply states, “me too.” Not much on fancy words like his brother.
Chanu nods his head as his father hands him the ceremonial knife, which will be used for the cutting.
Nathan isn’t too happy about this and moves to stop it. Josiah holds him back, “Nathan, it is there right.”
“They could get an infection if the knife isn’t clean.” To the healer who has dedicated his life to healing does not approve.
“It is,” Josiah looks at him sternly.
Chris listens to the comments of his friends, hearing Josiah’s reassuring tone and makes no move to stop the ceremony.
Chanu takes the knife, with his left hand he cuts his right forearm between his elbow and wrist, the cut is about two inches and deep enough for the blood to flow as his face reflexes a grimace of pain. When done he hands the knife to Ezra.
The southerner takes it without hesitation having already pulled back his shirtsleeve, cuts himself quickly and showing only a slight grimace, all the while looking at Chanu in approval hands the ceremonial dagger – as the southerner would refer to it – to Vin. The Texan also takes it without hesitation and cuts his forearm as well.
Kojay then takes his sons bleeding arm and joins it with Ezra, saying a silent prayer in there Native tongue. When completed, Chanu moves to Vin and Kojay repeats the prayer joining their arms.
“Vin and Ezra, you are now a part of our tribe and are brothers to my son becoming my children and the children of my people. Welcome.” He finishes, hugging both boys as the tribe stands welcoming the two boys. When the ceremony is completed, Chanu’s older brother Jon'na-ye wraps the arms of all three brothers to stop the bleeding, he smiles at all three.
Kojay now looks to the five men from Four Corners, “Chris Larabee,” he calls prompting the gunslinger to move towards him. “We are family now, just as your children have become Blood Brothers, so too are you five men now spirit brothers to my people.”
The gunslinger wasn’t sure what that meant but shakes Kojay’s forearm in acceptance, followed by Josiah, Nathan, Buck and JD.
The rest of the afternoon and evening is spent in cerebration of today’s joining.
Oh, and if you are wondering about Jake Hanson, he was not elected Mayor, that position is still open.
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