Warning: This is still a work in progress.
Magnificent Seven Ranch: Broken Promises
To get the background of this story you need to read my first story, "Lessons".
Vin knew if he was caught running Peso so fast, he would be in big trouble, but he was in a tremendous hurry to get home to talk to Chris. While at school he heard some of the older boys talking about the Founder’s Day Charity Horse Race. He knew if he and Peso were in the race, they would win. He just needed Chris’ permission. As he approached the ranch, he slowed down and walked Peso to the hitching post. He jumped off Peso and ran into the house.
"CHRIS!" Vin headed for the den. "CHRIS!"
"What’s all the fuss young man?"
"Miz Nettie! You seen Chris?"
"I think he’s down in the coral, breaking some new horses."
"Thanks!" Vin ran out the door before Nettie could tell him not to run.
"Youngin’s." Nettie mumbled as she headed in to finish supper.
Vin ran all the way to the coral. Once he saw Chris and Josiah he started hollering, "CHRIS!"
Chris heard the yelling and turned just in time to catch Vin as he leapt into Chris’ arms. "Whoa, Little man, what’s wrong?"
"Nuthin’s wrong. Guess what I heard today?" Vin asked excitedly.
"What?" Chris asked with exaggerated excitement.
"There’s gonna be a big horse race on Founder’s Day."
"I know. Did you want to watch?" Chris was trying to understand why a horse race had Vin so excited.
"Watch?" Vin paused. It had never occurred to him that Chris wouldn’t let him ride. "Well…"
"What Vin?" Chris was confused.
"Well, I sorta…I was thinkin’…" Vin stammered.
Josiah smiled. He had already figured out why Vin was excited and decided to save him. "I think what Vin is trying to say is that he wants to enter the race. Am I right Vin?"
"Yeah. I know Peso could win and the entry fee ain’t much. I got it in the bank."
"You want to race Peso in the Founder’s Day race?" Chris asked.
"Yes sir. Please Chris. I know we can win."
Chris looked to Josiah for a clue what to do. Josiah nodded with a smile. Chris set Vin down and knelt before his baby brother. "How much is the entry fee?"
"That is a lot of money Vin. Are you sure you want to use it for a horse race?"
"Sure. The winnin’s is a hundred dollars."
"You could lose. Then you would be ten dollars poorer. It takes over three months for you to earn ten dollars."
Vin thought for a minute. Yes it took a long time to save ten dollars but he couldn’t see how Peso could lose. "I still want to try. Please?"
"Let me think about it, okay? You’d be racing against adults."
"How long?" Vin bounced.
"Give me a couple of days, without being pestered about it. I’ll give you my decision on Sunday."
"Did Buck meet you guys at school?" Josiah changed the subject as they headed back to the house.
"Yeah, but I came ahead of everyone else." They reached the yard as the rest of the family rode into the yard. Chris waved at everyone and then noticed Peso. He was all lathered up as he stood at the hitching post. "Vin?"
"Is there a reason Peso is all lathered?"
Vin looked at Peso and realized he had forgotten how hard he had ridden home and then just left his horse in his excitement. "We ran ahead. I’ll take care of him now." Vin hurried to take care of Peso.
"When you’re finished, come find me." Chris said as he went to greet everyone.
"Yes sir." Dejectedly, Vin led Peso to the barn and put him up. "I’m sorry Peso. I forgot ya and now Chris is gonna lecture me on proper horse care." Vin gave Peso fresh water and oats. "Crap!"
"I wouldn’t let anyone hear you say that." Buck said as he entered the barn.
"Sorry Buck." Vin finished up and started out of the barn.
"Vin? Are you alright?" Buck asked in concern.
"Yeah." Vin moved to leave then turned back to Buck. "No. I really blew it Buck."
Buck opened his arms and Vin collapsed into them and cried. "Sh, it’s okay Vin. What’s wrong? You were really excited and happy when I meet you at school."
"I rode home fast and I asked Chris and ‘Siah if I could sign-up for the horse race on Founder’s Day."
"But in my excitement, I forgot to take care of Peso first. He was all hot and lathered and now Chris is gonna lecture me ‘bout it. He probably won’t let me ride in the race now." Vin started to cry again.
"It’s okay. Chris won’t let a small oversight influence his decision. He’ll be fair."
"Really?" Vin wiped his eyes and nose on his sleeve.
Buck grimaced and handed him a hanky. "Really. Now go see him and don’t worry."
"Thanks Buck." Vin blew his nose quickly and handed the hanky back to Buck as he ran out of the barn.
Again Buck grimaced. Yuck. "You’re very welcome junior."
Vin found Chris enjoying a cup of coffee in front of the fireplace. He entered quietly. "Chris?"
Chris looked up with a smile that faded when he noticed Vin had been crying. "Are you okay Vin?"
"Yeah." Vin whispered with his head down.
Chris motioned Vin over to him and gently stroked his cheeks. "Why were you crying then?"
"I’m sorry Chris." The tears ran down his cheeks.
"Hey. What’s wrong?" Chris picked Vin up and held him close.
"I didn’t mean to fergit Peso. Please let me race. I’m ‘sponsible. Really." Vin buried his face in Chris’ shoulder and sobbed.
"Sh, I know you wouldn’t neglect Peso. You were excited and that’s okay. Was Peso alright?" Vin nodded. "No harm done then."
Vin looked at Chris and sniffled. "Why’d ya want me then?"
"Did you think I was angry?" Vin nodded. "And you thought I was gonna say no to the race because of Peso?" Again Vin nodded. "I said I would think about it and I meant it. I wanted you to come find me because I had an idea."
"Since the race is usually for adults, I though I would check to see if the committee would like to have a separate race for the kids. I would feel better if you were racing against other kids, instead of adults."
"What if they don’t wanna?" Vin snuggled in Chris’ embrace.
"I promise to still consider it. Okay?" Chris rubbed Vin’s back.
"Good. Now let’s get washed up for supper."
Chris rode into town after dropping the kids off at school. It was the last week of school for the summer and he was hoping to arrange a kid’s race for Founder’s Day so Vin could race with his peers instead of adults. Chris and Josiah had already agreed to let Vin race, either way. Chris entered the town hall to find Jeff Roberts. Roberts was in charge of the Founder’s Day activities.
"Hey Chris. What brings you to town?"
"You Jeff. I had an idea for Founder’s Day that I wanted to run by you."
"Great! Let’s go to my office and hear your idea." They both entered a small room that had obviously been a storage closet before an office. "So what’s your idea?"
Chris outlined his idea about the kid’s horse race and waited as Jeff thought about it. "Why do you want this Chris?"
"Vin wanted to enter the race."
"Little Vin? Does he know it’s for adults?"
"Yes he does, but if the kid’s had a separate race, Josiah and I would feel better about giving him permission to do it."
"If I can’t arrange it, are you going to let Vin race with the adults?"
"Yes. Josiah and I talked about it last night. We think it could be a learning experience even if he doesn’t win."
"What of the entry fee? Ten dollars is a lot for a kid."
"True, but Vin understands that and still wants to do it. Besides, Josiah and I are prepared to ‘help’ with the fee if needed."
"Okay. Let me ask around and see if there is any other interest in the idea and I’ll get back to you within the next couple of weeks."
"Thanks Jeff. I’ll tell Vin on Sunday and he can start training." Chris and Jeff said their good-byes and Chris headed toward the Clarion.
As Chris entered the newspaper office, he found Mary trying to un-jam the printing press. She looked up and Chris smiled at the rumpled looking hair and the smudge of ink on her cheek. "Hey Mary. Having some trouble?"
"Whatever gave you that idea Chris?" Mary scowled. Chris just took her into his arms and kissed her. Mary was smiling when they came up for air.
"Better?" He asked with a cocky smile.
"Definitely." Mary leaned into the strong embrace. "Billy’s coming home in two weeks and I can’t wait for you to meet him. He’s staying for good this time. No more boarding school."
"That’s great Mary. The town’s safer now and the schoolteacher is tough as nails. She has to be to deal with my brothers all day."
Mary laughed. "I hope Billy fits in. Can you help me get everything ready before he gets here?"
"Sure. I just spoke to Jeff Roberts about a Founder’s Day horse race just for the kids. Maybe Billy could get involved with that."
"Vin wants to enter."
"Ah. Billy doesn’t ride much. He’s only five."
"Vin’s been riding longer than he’s been walking."
"He grew up with Indians."
"True. But Peso is pretty fast. Besides, we can teach young Billy how to handle a horse." Chris moved away from Mary. "I still have some errands to run, so I’ll be back to get you for lunch?"
"I’ll be ready."
"Until then." They kissed good-bye and Chris headed out to finish his errands.
Vin exited the schoolhouse with a great sigh. He really hated school, but the last week before the summer was always the longest. He would be glad when tomorrow was over and school would be done for two months. Vin stood still for a moment and looked for his brother Chris. Chris had been spending so much time in town this last week that Vin was looking forward to spending some time with him. Chris had promised he could race at the Founders Day festivities but was waiting to find out whether he would be with the adults or other kids. Chris promised to take Vin to the General store to get some new boots for the race, after school today.
"Hey Vin?" Vin turned and saw Ezra approach from the schoolhouse.
"I just saw Josiah. He said to come along."
"Josiah? But Chris said…"
"Yeah I know. Josiah said something came up and that he would take you over to the store. Come on." Ezra led Vin over to the family buckboard where Josiah had everyone’s horse ready to go.
"Hey Vin. What do you say we go get you some new boots? Okay?" Josiah noticed how sad Vin looked. He knew Vin would be upset about the change of plans but no amount of arguing with Chris the night before could change his mind.
"I suppose. What happened to Chris?" Vin asked as he climbed onto Peso.
"He had something to do so he asked me to pick you guys up and take you shopping for your boots and then head home."
"He gonna be home fer supper?" Vin asked.
"No. He was going to have dinner in town. He may get home before it’s time for bed, but I wouldn’t count on it." Vin didn’t say anything else. Josiah noticed that Vin was keeping his head down so no one could see the tears glistening in his eyes. He promised was all Vin was thinking.
The entire time in the General store, Vin only spoke when asked a direct question. After getting the boots and a small bag of sweets for each brother, they all headed home for supper. Normal supper chatter was subdued on account of Vin being so sad.
After Chris put his horse up for the night, he headed for the house. He hadn’t meant to be so late but Mary kept going on and on about her son Billy. Chris noticed the house was quiet as he entered. Everyone must be in bed, everyone but Josiah who was waiting up.
"Did you have a good time brother?" Josiah asked.
"Yes, but I had planned on getting home before the boys went to bed."
"I’m sure they would have like that, but they understood." Josiah never once looked up from his book.
"But…" Chris knew not everyone was that understanding.
"No but." Josiah closed his book and stood and stretched his back.
"I’m sorry Josiah. How many times am I going to have to say it? Mary insisted it had to be tonight so she could prepare for Billy coming home."
"It’s not me you should be apologizing to. Vin didn’t say a single word while we got his boots. He said nothing all the way home and nothing throughout supper or the rest of the evening. He sat on the porch and waited for you until bedtime. He said nothing as I tucked him in but I could hear him crying after I checked on everyone an hour later. You made that boy a promise and then broke it. Vin’s the one you need to apologize to." Josiah paused. "I’m tired and I’m going to bed. I’ll see you in the morning."
"Good Night Josiah. Thanks."
Chris checked the house and locked the door and headed upstairs. He checked on all the boys and then went in to see Vin. Vin’s room was dark but the moonlight came through the window and shone on the small lump on the bed. Chris sat gently on the edge of the bed and smiled down at Vin. "I’m so sorry Cowboy." Chris whispered.
"You promised." A small reply was barely heard.
"I know and I’m sorry. Something came up at the last minute and I didn’t have time to tell you about it. Can you forgive me?"
Vin rolled over and looked at Chris. He knew Chris didn’t do it on purpose but it still hurt. Tears welled in his eyes and Chris gathered him into his arms.
"Sh. I’m sorry Vin. I’ll try to do better."
Vin let Chris rock him until he was almost asleep. "I forgive ya." Chris heard the whisper.
"Thanks Vin. I love you very much."
"Love ya too." Vin said as he fell asleep.
Chris stayed that way for a few minutes and then settled Vin under the covers. With a quick kiss, Chris left Vin’s room and went to bed.
Vin led Peso into the barn. Since he was registered in the Founder’s Day race, he was spending all his spare time conditioning Peso. Chris was so preoccupied with Mrs. Travis and her son’s arrival, that Vin hardly saw him anymore. Vin would still be out working with Peso if he hadn’t been told to be home early to wash up for dinner. Mrs. Travis and her son Billy were coming for dinner. Vin couldn’t care less if they were having company, it only meant he had to shorten his time preparing for the race.
As Vin exited the barn, he noticed Casey playing on the porch with no shoes or shirt on. When she saw Vin, she smiled and headed off the porch toward him. Vin wasn’t in the mood to deal with Casey, so he climbed up to the top rail of the corral, out of Casey’s reach.
"What ya want baby?"
"Horsey ride, peas?" Casey toddled toward the woodpile that was in her path. As she rounded the woodpile, several things happened at once.
Vin saw the danger first and acted by pulling out his slingshot and a rock. His aim was true as he killed his target. However, the rock bounced and hit Casey in the stomach. Her piercing cry brought everyone outside to see what was wrong.
Nettie scooped Casey up and tried to calm her down. "Shh. What happened baby?"
"Vin!" Casey hiccupped as she pointed to Vin.
Chris, who had heard the sad proclamation, turned to Vin and saw the slingshot. Walking up to him, Chris yelled, "What did you do?" Before Vin could answer, Chris continued. "Did you hit Casey?"
"Yes." Vin stammered. "But it was an accident."
"How many times have I told you not to use your slingshot near people?"
"I…" Vin tried to explain but Chris wasn’t listening.
"Go wait for me in your room Vin. And I’ll take that slingshot." Chris held out his hand expecting obedience.
Vin was stunned and then got angry and yelled, "NO!" Vin dodged Chris and ran to the barn.
"VIN! GET BACK HERE NOW!" Chris yelled.
Vin didn’t stop until he reached the hayloft. Then he threw himself into a pile of hay and sobbed.
Chris was about to follow him, when Ezra approached carefully. "Chris?"
"Not now Ezra."
"But it was an accident. I saw."
Chris turned toward Ezra. "It wouldn’t have happened if Vin wasn’t fooling around with that slingshot."
"But…" Chris cut Ezra off.
"He wasn’t playing! Look!" Ezra pointed toward the woodpile. Josiah glanced in the direction Ezra was pointing and understood immediately. Unfortunately, Chris wasn’t listening and was headed toward the barn to deal with Vin. Before he got three steps away, Josiah called him back. "Chris you need to see this."
"Not now Josiah."
Chris stopped when he heard the anger in Josiah’s voice. "What?"
"You will look at what Ezra is trying to show you." Josiah pointed. Chris followed his line of sight and noticed what all the fuss was about. At the base of the woodpile lay a dead rattlesnake.
Chris groaned and put his head into his hands. "I did it again."
"Yes you did and I’m getting real tired of you jumping to conclusions Chris."
"I’m sorry Josiah."
"That’s not going to cut it anymore. You trust Vin don’t you?"
"Yes! Of course I do."
"Then start listening or I’m going to have a lengthy ‘talk’ with you."
Chris’ head shot up and his jaw dropped. "You wouldn’t dare."
"I wouldn’t test me Christopher. I’m tired of you not listening before you act because you’re angry. You would punish any of the boys if they let their anger get the better of them, so I won’t hesitate to correct you. I am bigger than you, little brother."
"I said I was sorry and I’ll talk to Vin and fix it."
"See that you do. He saved Casey’s life by killing that snake. She had no shirt or shoes on and that rattler would have killed her within minutes. She’s just a baby."
"Is she okay?" Chris asked.
"Yeah, just scared. Vin’s rock must have bounced up and hit her but she’s okay. Go talk to Vin. Mary and Billy will be here soon."
Chris nodded and headed for the barn and a distraught little brother.
Vin was easy to find. All Chris had to do was follow the heart wrenching sobs. Chris climbed into the hayloft and sat close to Vin as he spoke softly. "I’m really sorry Vin. I seem to be a little slow lately, but I’m gonna try to listen better. You saved Casey. Thank you."
Vin looked up and hiccupped. "She okay?"
Chris smiled and opened his arms in invitation. Vin didn’t hesitate and snuggled into Chris’ arms. "It just scared her but she’s okay. Thanks to you."
"I didn’t mean to hit her." Vin said in a small voice.
"You didn’t really. Your rock bounced and hit her. She may have a tiny bruise but she’s okay."
"It happened so fast. I’m sorry."
"It was an accident and I don’t blame you." Chris held Vin tighter. "Let’s get washed up for supper. Mrs. Travis and Billy should be here soon too."
"Is Billy nice?"
"I imagine so. I haven’t met him yet, but he’s five and his pa died a couple of years ago. I want you to make him feel welcome, okay?"
"I love you Vin. You have a good heart and I’m proud of you." Chris kissed Vin’s head and then both brothers headed into the house.
As Vin walked into the living room, Nettie scooped him up and hugged him close. "Thank you Kevin. You saved Casey’s life." Nettie kissed his cheek.
"Weren’t nothin’ Miz Nettie. I’s sorry the rock bounced."
"She’s fine." Nettie pointed toward the fireplace where Josiah was rocking Casey. Vin wandered over and stood at Josiah’s knee. "I’s sorry Case."
Casey raised her head off Josiah’s shoulder and smiled at Vin. She didn’t speak, since she had her thumb in her mouth, but held out her free arm for a hug. Vin hugged her back.
"She’s going to be fine son. Thanks to you." Josiah smiled.
Vin blushed and released Casey as he stepped back. Casey snuggled back into Josiah’s embrace and let him rock her. "I’ll go wash up fer supper." Vin left the room quickly.
Mary and Billy showed up as Vin returned to the living room. Chris introduced everyone and then retired for supper. Vin became the center of attention again when Mary was told of his brave act that saved Casey. Vin, who hated the attention, excused himself as soon as possible and went to check on Peso. JD & Billy became fast friends as they played until Mary announced it was time to head back to town. Chris escorted them back to town as Josiah and Buck put children to bed. Everyone again thanked God for Casey’s life.
Jeff Roberts was nervous. When he had looked into a separate race for the kids at the Founder’s Day festivities, there had been more interest in one of the Larabee brothers racing, especially when that brother was young Vin. As with any sporting event, men liked to gamble on the results. When word got out that eight-year-old Vin Tanner-Larabee was racing, the odds jumped. Most men couldn’t see a young boy winning until word got out how good Vin and Peso were.
Stewart James, a local cattleman, wanted a large piece of the pie. He set up the odds at 10 to 1 for Vin, win or lose. Then he placed a $5000.00 bet that Vin would lose. When James heard that Vin was good, he decided he needed a little insurance to hedge his bets.
Vin was rubbing down Peso after a practice race when Ezra stormed into the barn.
“Of all the ludicrous, stupid, moronic, brainless, asinine…Argh!” Ezra screamed in frustration.
“What’s up Ez?” Vin asked.
“Buck! He seems to think I’m his personal valet. Get this. Get that. Just because he’s older, he gets away with slacking off and making me do his work.”
“What’s wrong with Buck that he can’t do his own chores?”
“He’s hung over.” Ezra sighed and sat down on a hay bale.
“Why don’t you jest tell Chris or Josiah? They would have something to say.”
“They are not here at the moment. Josiah had some business at the lumber mill and Chris took JD into town to play with Billy. I hate to say it, but I wish I could go to school. I wouldn’t have to deal with Buck then.”
“School? Don’t know which would be worse. JD and Billy became fast friends though didn’t they?” Vin smiled.
“It got you off the hook. I saw how you looked at Billy when Chris was mooning over Miss Mary.”
“So she gots a kid. Chris loves me ‘cause I’m his brother.” Vin tried to sound brave. It did bother him that Billy liked Chris, but he was so busy with Peso, that it hadn’t been a problem yet.
“He would become Chris’ son if Chris and Miss Mary get married.” Ezra pointed out.
“Chris wouldn’t put them above us. ‘Sides, Chris was married before. I loved Adam.”
“We had pa too.”
“I’m okay Ez. Fer now.”
“Okay Vin, if you say so.” Ezra closed his eyes and tried to relax.
“Just ignore him Ez. You know Josiah wouldn’t approve of how he’s treating you.”
“I’m going to climb into the hayloft and read, in case anyone but Buck asks. You may consider joining me, he may get you too.” Ezra laughed as he climbed up the hayloft ladder.
Vin considered hiding as he finished with Peso, but didn’t get the chance to do anything as Buck entered the barn. “Vin? Have you seen Ezra?” Buck asked as he staggered into the barn.
“Are you okay Buck? Ya don’t look so good.” Vin deflected.
“I’m fine. Where is everyone anyway?”
“Don’t know where everyone is Bucklin.”
Buck groaned. “Keep getting’ smart with me boy and I’ll have ta tan yer britches.”
“What! You can’t be serious. ‘Sides yer too sick ta even try it.”
“I’m warnin’ ya Vin. Stop.”
“And ya smell funny.” Vin wrinkled his nose at the smell of old whisky. “Maybe you should take a bath Bucklin.”
“That’s it! No more sass from you boy.” Buck grabbed Vin and swatted his bottom a couple of times. Before he could add more swats, Ezra jumped from the hayloft and pushed Buck away.
“Leave him alone!” Ezra yelled.
Buck turned to Ezra. “Where have you been? I’ve been callin’ you for 20 minutes.”
“Leave us alone Buck.” Vin screamed as tears ran down his face.
“What’s going on in here?” A voice boomed.
“JOSIAH!” Vin and Ezra ran to their oldest brother and hid behind him. The force of both boys running into him almost sent Josiah off his feet. When he looked at his little brothers, he saw the tears and fear in their eyes. He then looked at Buck and noticed how sick he looked. Great, he’s been drinking.
“Boys? What’s the problem?” Josiah asked.
“Buck has been making Ez do his chores then he spanked me fer no reason.” Vin said with tears in his eyes.
“I did not spank him; yet!” Buck said.
Josiah put his hand out to silence Buck then turned to Ezra. “Is this true Ezra?”
“Yes sir. He’s been making me do his work all afternoon and when I came out here to get away for a minute, Buck came out and attacked Vin. He hit Vin twice before I pushed him away.” Ezra wiped at his eyes.
Josiah turned back to Buck. “Well? Why did you spank Vin if you were looking for Ezra?”
“He was mouthing off Josiah.” Buck defended.
“Where you making Ezra do your chores?”
“No.” Buck lied. The look Josiah gave him told him he just made a big mistake.
“No?” Josiah said with a disapproving look.
“Well…” Buck stammered. “He could have helped.” Buck got a raised eyebrow in response. “I’ll shut up now.” Buck slumped onto a hay bale.
Josiah turned back to Vin and Ezra. “Boys? Are your chores done?” Both nodded. “Then go play and please stay out of the barn for a few minutes while I talk to Buck.”
“Yes sir.” They both replied.
After the boys were gone, Josiah turned back to Buck. “Well?”
Buck looked at Josiah and grimaced at the angry face. “Well what?”
“Do I need to make a list? What brought all this on?”
“The drinking Buck. You’re older now but you know pa would never tolerate you drinking to excess. Coming in drunk is one. Having Ezra pick up your chores because you’re hung over is two, and hitting Vin? Then you lied about it Buck.”
“I only swatted him twice.” Buck defended.
“I’m not so concerned about the swats Buck. I’m concerned about the drinking and the lying.”
“I’m old enough to have a drink Josiah.”
“Yes. ‘A’ drink and never lying.”
“It’s no big deal Josiah.”
“It is a big deal Buck. As an older brother you’re an example to the younger boys. I’m trying to teach them not to lie and you did it right in front of them. I can’t let that go.”
“No lying applies to everyone and so do the consequences.”
“What, you’re not seriously thinking about…”
“Yes, I am. If any of the boys lied to me they know they can expect a tanning.”
“But I’m twenty years old.” Buck raged.
“How old was Chris the last time pa tanned him?” Josiah asked.
“I don’t remember.” Buck groused.
“You don’t? You should since pa tanned you the same day for being involved.”
Buck decided to change his tactics. “I’m sorry Josiah. I’ll apologize to Vin too. I didn’t mean to drink so much last night, I just got carried away and I won’t do it again.”
“That’s good Buck. I’m glad you see you were wrong, but it’s not going to change my mind.” Josiah began to remove his belt.
“Josiah! Please.” Buck backed up and pleaded.
“Don’t fight me on this Buck. Please come here. You know the position.”
Josiah pointed as he doubled up his belt. Buck sighed as he moved closer to his bigger brother. “You can consider yourself confined to the ranch for the next two weeks.”
“What about Founder’s Day?” Buck asked as he approached Josiah.
“I’ll consider it. Now bend over.” Josiah pointed to the nearby stall.
“I’m really sorry Josiah.” Buck said as he leaned against the stall door.
“Not yet you’re not.” Josiah said as he started to yield a little correction.
“Boys?” Ezra and Vin spun around and saw Chris a top his horse with a sleeping JD in front of him. “What are you two up to?” Chris asked.
“We ain’t up ta nothin’ Chris.” Vin said.
“Then why are you sneaking around the barn?”
“We were just leaving. Josiah’s talkin’ to Buck.”
Chris tilted his head and heard the unmistakable crack of a belt accompanied with soft moans. He turned back to Ezra and Vin. “A ‘talk’ talk?”
“He lied to Josiah.” Ezra stated.
“Ouch.” Chris said in sympathy as he dismounted with JD. He held JD on his shoulder as he tied his horse to the hitching post.
“Ain’t Buck too old fer a tannin’?”
“No Vin. Pa used to say none of us were too old for correction. I was twenty-two the last time pa ‘talked’ to me.” Chris led the boys toward the house and woke JD. He sent the sleepy boy to the outhouse then went inside the house. Ezra and Vin followed thinking about how much trouble they could get in to before they were ‘too old’.