Saloon Girl At Ten Paces

BY : SisterWine
Category: M through R > Magnificent Seven
Dragon prints: 118
Disclaimer: Mirisch Corp. own The Magnificent Seven(1998). Rio Bravo (1959) was written by Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett & B. H. McCampbell, directed by Howard Hawks. I make no moneys from or claim to Rio Bravo (film) or Magnificent Seven (TV show).

Chris hammered the last few nails into the freshly replaced roof and sat back to wipe his brow before reaching for his canteen that hung from a single nail he had left as the last nail to hammer in. Taking a good swallow, he sighed and screwed the cap back on before dropping it over the side of the house to where Vin was waiting to catch it. Two good hits of the hammer and the roof was done. "How's the floor coming?" He called down to the tracker. The had become a four man job after the fire had ravaged it yet they were able to rebuild it in record time.

"Just about done. Buck's putin' in the wash basin and Josiah and Nathan are working on the cabinets." Vin called up as Chris made his way down from the peak of the roof and then down the ladder. "Think they'll like it?" He asked as Chris stepped down from the last rung and paused to stand a moment in the shade of the house. They had to rebuild the cabin from the ground up as the fire from the attempt on Billy's life had gutted everything that had been left of its previous life with the Travises. Vin's heart sank as he recalled the look on Mary's face, when they assessed the damage in the morning hours. It had taken a while for the permits to come through and then gather clean, fresh wood to build a new, more sturdy cabin for Mary and Billy.

Taking a look at the finished side of the house and running his hand along the sill of the window, Vin had put in, Chris nodded. "They might. We get that porch done within the next day, or two, they can move in and get settled without worry of doing anything else."

Vin agreed. "You sure Mary wants to do this?" Opening his own canteen, Vin took a long drink of cool water and then wiped his mouth on his sleeve before replacing the cap on the canteen.

"That's what she said. Billy wasn't too sure about it but I guess he's settled into the room we added onto the paper just fine. This place holds too many bad memories for them. It's time to move on." Chris rest his hand on the freshly sanded sill and let his fingers run over the tiniest indications of grain.

Buck strode to the side of the house where Vin and Chris stood and patted a thick log, one of many that made up the side wall. "Looks good on the inside. Josiah's finishing up the cradle and tomorrow, he and Nathan'll start on the corral and Vin and I'll get the porch on." He sounded upbeat but out of breath as securing the wash basin had taken time, energy and patience he really didn't have. He was eager to get back to the Saloon and settle in with a good beer and a soft woman.

******

Ezra sat at the card table, on the raised platform of the dining room and shuffled his cards, lazily. Three weeks since the empty Marshal's wagon rumbled out of town and Judge Oren Travis was on his way back to see for himself, the update on Jesse's condition. Ezra's chest had never hurt so much from a woman hitting him so many times, with not just her fists but her tears. He paused in his shuffling to rub a deft hand across his sore chest and stare at the green felt on the table, looking up only when he heard a familiar voice.

"Don't tell me this town's never heard of poker?" A warm smile greeted his confusion. Pulling out the chair that was in front of her, she placed her bag on the seat and draped her coat over the back. "I thought you'd be in jail, not on the committee to put others into one."

Standing up, Ezra made his way around the table to embrace the woman he hadn't seen in 20 years. "It's a slow learning process, my dear." He smiled and looked her over, noting the womanly changes time had unveiled. "What brings you to this tiny corner, dear cousin?" Pulling out the chair beside him and offering it to her, he waited for her to sit and pushed it in, before sitting back down in his own seat. He sat with his back to the wall and faced the dining area, spotting Buck and Vin as they entered the Saloon and hoping they wouldn't notice the beautiful woman, sitting with him. Turning his attention back to her, he smiled and scooped the deck of cards up that he had dropped onto the table, as he stood to embrace her.

Brushing the wrinkles from her skirt, she leaned back and gave him a wry grin. "Maude mentioned you had settled down so, I came to see my favourite cousin."

Ezra chuckled to himself. "I wouldn't put it 'settling down', my dear. I have simply given a lateral move, into my profession while accommodating the townsfolk with some safety. So far, it's been a very lucrative business. Now really, darlin', the last I heard, you were making the rounds at the poker tables, in New Orleans."

She smiled and leaned forward, placing her elbows on the table. "I've been spending a little time, here and there. Maude seemed to get a laugh when she received my letter, as well. I stopped in Rio Bravo, Texas, for a spell, and then decided to take a stroll westward. It seems Maude is quite insistent on this place, seeing as her only boy is holed up here." Glancing down at Ezra's hands as he shuffled the cards, she extended her hand as an offer for a game and Ezra was happy to oblige. "Do you enjoy this lifestyle?" Watching his hands as he shuffled the cards and counting the cards as he dealt them, she scooped up her hand and glanced them over.

"I am constantly on my toes, my dear." Placing the rest of the deck between them, he arranged his own hand and then looked up to meet her gaze. "Mother informed me you also have had a taste for the law. Are there nuptials, in the future, pray tell?" He smiled as he caught her blush.

Buck gathered his mug from the bar and took a sip before making his way up to Ezra, as he caught sight of the woman sitting next to and chatting with the gambler. "Hey, Ezra! Who is this fine lady, you're with?" Sitting down and leaning back in the chair, he winked at the brunette woman as she met eyes with him and smiled. He had just come from watching Jesse, as the young outlaw recovered in Nathan's upstairs room that he operated out of. He met Vin as the tracker joined him at the bottom of the stairs and both decided to cool off from the summer sun, with a beer.

Sighing and introducing them, Ezra tossed a guarded look over at his friend. "Buck Wilmington, my associate, this is my--"

"Call me, Feathers." She held out a hand and watched as he reached across the table, standing back up and kissing the back of it.

Winking at her and sitting back down, he repeated the name. "Feathers, huh?" Buck grinned.

Clearing his throat, Ezra sat forward and changed the subject. "How is our young friend doing?" Hoping to spare his cousin Buck's wandering charm, he waited for Buck to turn his attention from staring at the lovely woman across from them, to him. "Ahem."

"What? Um..." Buck shook himself out of the trance he was in and glanced over at his friend. "Nathan says he should be comin' around, soon. The judge arrived this morning on the stage. He and Lyla are over at Mary's, talkin' about droppin' the charges against Jesse." Taking a sip of beer, Buck turned his gaze back to Feathers. "What brings you to our cozy little town?"

Feathers smiled and eyed Ezra, who concealed a cringe. "I'm just here to see some family that's been hiding, for a long time."

Buck nodded. "Is there a... Mister..... Feathers?" A coy smile and a hopeful look had passed as him being merely the flirtatious type. He couldn't stop staring at her beauty. Buck found himself forgetting everyone else in the room as he stared intently into her big brown eyes. He was in love. This time, for real.

Nodding, she grinned at Buck. "There was."

Ezra sighed and stood up, tossing the cards in his hand, onto the table. "I'm sure my cousin would enjoy some rest and comforts before getting into any elaborate discussions of her private life. Mister Wilmington." His slight show of uncomfortability caused both Buck and Feathers to look up at him in question but stand before Ezra escorted her over to the door of the Saloon. After the embarrassing show Maude had put his through, Ezra had regretted letting his compatriots learn about any more of his kin. He knew Feathers wouldn't be as extravagant as his mother but, he was not about to take any chances.

Buck nodded a farewell to Feathers and watched them as Ezra walked her to the door. A word struck him, from Ezra's departing sentence. "Cousin?" Grabbing his glass, he headed back to where Vin stood, talking to another patron, and excitedly tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, Vin, did you know that Ezra has a cousin in town?" He took another sip of his beer as Vin turned to raise an eyebrow at him.

*********

Nathan placed a blanket over Lyla, folding it down, over her shoulders for added warmth. As he let the blanket drape over her, he heard her sigh quietly in her sleep and whispered for her to rest. She hadn't moved from his rocking chair since the judge had cleared Jesse and freed him from custody. He had finally talked her into getting some rest, while Jesse was still unconscious, to which she greatly needed. Hearing a soft knock at the door and turning to look who had opened it and stepped in, Nathan put a finger to his lips and quietly made his way to step back outside to talk to Mary and Chris.

"How's Jesse doing?" Chris nodded to the closed door. He had watched as Nathan struggled to keep Jesse alive while digging out the bullet from the young man's gut and somehow managing to miss the vital organs. The surgery lasted hours that felt like days and, to make matters worse, Lyla had refused to leave Jesse's side until it was all over. Chris and Ezra had talked her into cleaning up and changing clothes, as Jesse's blood had soiled her brand new dress.

Shaking his head and sighing, Nathan looked down at the floor and paused a moment before answering. "His fever came down a little bit but he still hasn't come to. Bullet came out clean and there shouldn't be any damage but, won't know that until he wakes up."

Mary folded her arms about her, as if comforting herself. "How's Lyla holding up?" She had been worried about the young woman since Chris and Buck brought Jesse upstairs and left Ezra to contain Lyla and calm her down.

"Well, I managed to get her to eat something but not much. She's resting now." Nathan paused for a breath. "She could use a hot meal and a decent rest but I know she won't move until Jesse comes to. It's not doing the baby any good with her getting all worked up. Took a few days but managed to get her quieted down. She's still a little hoarse from crying so much."

Mary sighed and nodded. "Anything we can do?"

Nathan shook his head. "She just needs rest and a good meal. I've been helping her with a letter to his mother. She seems compelled to write about his progress. At least it's something to keep her busy." He paused again to glance at the door and listen for a sound. "Buck's been in a few times, asking how Jesse was doing also. I think Jesse really got to him."

"Before the sentencing, Jesse told us Buck reminded him of his father. I suppose Buck took it kinda personal." Chris offered. He recalled the day Sheriff Drake shot up the town and nearly killed his sister over the hatred for the young McCall. It had been a tense time indeed, as well as the days that followed. Chris had even spent a few nights by Jesse's side, waiting for the young, recently cleared outlaw to wake up or show any signs of life. Sighing and glancing back to the door, Chris made eye contact with Nathan and told him to keep him advised of Jesse's condition.

Mary gave a weak smile. "I'll sit with her awhile. See if there's anything she needs." She looked from Chris to Nathan. "Why don't you get some rest, Nathan. I'll look after them." She watched as Chris and Nathan nodded and made their way back downstairs before opening the door slowly and peering in before quietly entering and moving to sit on the edge of the bed at Jesse's left, as Lyla slept in the high-backed rocking chair, to his right. A small table with the wash basin and clean water sat with a clean cloth draped over the side, waiting for the caretaker to return. With the back of her hand, she felt his forehead for fever. Her hand felt the warmth and clammy skin and she grimaced as she turned back to the cloth and basin, wetting the cloth with cool water and placing the folded cloth on his forehead. Mary looked over with a concerned expression as she watched and listened to soft mewls of Lyla's sleep. She looked back down at his pained but sleeping face and whispered, "hold on, Jesse. Lyla needs you more than ever, right now."

 

Continued.



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