"Ah, there you are, Mr. Standish."

Ezra turned around and greeted the surveyor. "I see you have finally escaped the confines of your hotel room, Mr. Eddington."

"Oh, I’m sorry about that, Mr. Standish. I’m afraid it’s the only way I can completely concentrate on the final product."

Looking down at the rolled papers in the man’s hand, the gambler smiled. "Can I assume that you have completed your task?"

Returning the smile, Percival Eddington handed the papers to the southerner. "Yes, sir! And here are the two copies that Miss Langdon requested be left with you. I trust you will secure them until she arrives."

"Yes, of course," Standish confirmed as he took the rolls.

"The maps covers the entire area she asked for, plus a bit more of course. I’ve show east to the Organ Mountain pass, west to the Andreas Tributary, north to the Langdon lake head, and South… Well there isn’t anything much south of here until you hit the border."

The gambler acknowledged Eddington’s statement by cocking his head. "Yes, and sometimes our even twenty miles is too close."

The surveyor returned the jovial smile. "I’ll be leaving on the morning stage. I’ve got two copies of my own. I’ll be registering one at the county seat in Las Cruces, and the other in Santa Fe."

"I’ll be sure to inform Miss Langdon of that fact, Mr. Eddington."

"I’m sure she’ll be expecting the information. That is what she paid for, after all," he smiled. "When will she be here?"

The gambler distracted himself with the activity happening up and down the street. "I haven’t been availed of that specific information, Mr. Eddington. But I can assure you that all of her affairs will be in order when she does arrive."

Percival smiled. "I’m sure they will, Mr. Standish." Turning to leave, he hesitated. "Will I see you in the saloon later?"

"I am at your disposal, sir, " the gambler smiled. Watching the man as he tipped his hat and headed down the street, Ezra looked down at the maps. Removing the band, he stretched the papers out in front of him and studied the pictograph. "Very nice work, Mr. Eddington," he mumbled to himself.

"It’s quite alright, Mrs. Johnstone," Jackson smiled as he backed into the sheriff’s office. "Just doin’ my job, ma’am," he tipped his hat and smiled politely before making his way inside and closing the door.

Sitting behind the desk, Sanchez chuckled. "Mine tellin’ me what all that was about?" he asked curiously.

Nathan stood in front of him and shook his head. "Folks sure are acting strange this mornin’, Josiah. I ain’t talked ta Rain all week, and she brings me breakfast in bed first thing. Like nothin’ ever happened between us. Then Miss Inez, comes in ta collect the tray and offers ta take my clothes ta the laundry for a good cleanin’."

Raising an eyebrow, the preacher sat up in the chair. "And Mrs. Johnstone?" he motioned to the closed door.

Jackson forced back a chuckle. "She was just headed over to the bathhouse and stopped to remind me how much of a help I was when their boy got his foot stuck in the drain last year."

Josiah chuckled. "Reckon Daniel was a might embarrassed by the whole incident. But then again… six year olds can be curious about the strangest things."

"Wonder what made the woman think about that now?"

"I was just deliberatin’ the same thing, brother. Mr. Cooper and his wife were just in here. Said they was thinkin’ about when little Jacob wandered off, and we spent the day looking for ‘im."

"And he was curled up in the hay loft all afternoon," Nathan laughed.


The smile wavered on the healer’s face and he looked at Sanchez. "We have done some good around here, ain’t we, Josiah?"

"Reckon so," he smiled back

"Mr. Larabee," The banker called to the gunslinger as he passed by.

Responding to the summons, Chris walked over to the man and offered a small smile. "Somethin’ I can do for you, Mr. Granger? Is there a problem?"

"Oh, no sir, Mr. Larabee," the man smiled. "I just wanted to thank you," he offered his hand.

The blond held out his hand at the gesture, but frowned as they exchanged the shake. "I’m… not sure I know what you mean, Mr. Granger."

Patrick McCarthy came out of the bank and offered his hand to the gunslinger as well.

Chris was polite. He smiled as best he could under the circumstance and returned the offered hand. As the two men stood staring at him, the gunslinger couldn’t help but frown again. "Nothin’s wrong?" he questioned the two men again.

"Just saying how much we appreciate your work, Mr. Larabee," Granger repeated and looked at his assistant.

"Yes sir, Mr. Larabee," McCarthy added.

Taken aback at the display, Chris faked a smiled and tipped his hat as he departed.

The two men smiled at each other as they watched the gunslinger leave. Having his back to them as he left, they couldn’t see the confusion written all over the Larabee’s face.

"Have a safe trip back to Denver, Mr. Eddington," Ezra offered his hand.

"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Standish. And thank you for all your assistance. I couldn’t have completed this job without your expertise at the surrounding topography."

"Why thank you, Mr. Eddington. I do believe that is a compliment I have not heard before."

"And probably won’t hear again," the man laughed.

Completing the handshake, Percival Eddington boarded the stage, and Ezra turned to leave. Spotting Judge Travis and Miss Perkins, the gambler decided he would prefer to depart quickly rather than be caught up in any unwanted conversation.

Making sure Standish was gone, Louisa smiled as Orin offered his hand to her. "You have them all safely tucked away, Judge?" she shook the offered hand gently.

"Indeed, Miss Perkins. I’ll keep them safe until they are needed. I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you."

The woman smiled. "That’s alright, Judge. I don’t regret coming. If nothing else, I think things are clearer now than when I arrived."

Orin Travis smiled at the young woman before noticing the man approaching behind her. "Well, if you’ll excuse me, Miss Perkins. I have a poster to put up with my grandson."

"Good bye, Judge," she smiled as she watched him leave. Her expression changed as she turned and caught sight of the ladies man.

"You weren’t plannin’ on leavin’ without sayin’ goodbye, now were ya?"

Bowing her head, Louisa’s lip curled. "I thought we said our farewells last night, Buck."

Looking deep into the woman’s eyes, Wilmington had no expression on his face. "Yeah… we did," he glanced at the ground before resting his hand on the lady’s forearm. "I just…"

"Don’t, Buck… don’t make this any harder than it has to be," she turned to get on the stage.

"I’ll always remember you, Louisa," he called out as she boarded the coach.

Miss Perkins sat in the seat beside the window and looked out at her one-time fiancée. "And I you, Buck Wilmington." Holding her hand up in a gesture of goodbye, she smiled and shoed him away.

The ladies man took a deep breath and smiled one last time before raising his hand to say goodbye. Biting his lower lip, he turned and walked away.

Louisa Perkins watched the tall rogue head down the street and she too, took a deep breath as a tear welled in her eye. "Good bye, Buck," she whispered.

"Mornin’, Mr. Tanner."

Vin instantly recognized the voice. When he looked up the smile was already on his face. "Mornin’, Miss Nettie," the tracker stood up.

"Ah, now don’t you go gettin’ up on my account, son. You go right on scribbin’."

"Ain’t nothin’," the sharpshooter tucked the pencil and paper into his coat pocket.

Mrs. Wells looked the young man in the eye. "It is somethin’, Vin… and you know it," she looked at the tracker and smiled that familiar cocky smile of hers. "And when you’re ready ta talk ta me about it," she raised her eyebrows, "I’ll be right here waitin’ for ya."

Tanner glanced at the boardwalk before looking back at the feisty old lady. "Yes, ma’am," he said after pursing his lip.

"Now, that ain’t what I came for," she continued. "I just wanted to stop by and say thank you."

The tracker frowned.

"For always bein’ there for me, son," she patted his arm. "For lookin’ out for an old lady who ain’t nothin’ special… ‘cept, of course, when folks is needin’ a good talkin’ to."

Vin laughed and licked his lip again. "Miss Nettie… I always need a good talkin’ too… and I welcome it from you, any time."

Mrs. Wells cocked her head. "Careful what you wish fer, son."

Tanner smiled, "Yes, ma’am."

"I’ll be seeing ya later, Mr. Tanner," she patted his arm again before turning to continue down the street.

"Yes, ma’am," Vin repeated as he watched her go.

As Buck walked towards the sheriff’s office he could see Claire Watson sitting outside with a huge bouquet in her hands. He smiled as he approached. "Well, if it ain’t Miss Watson hidin’ behind those beautiful flowers. I almost didn’t see you there," he knelt down in front of her. "You’s just as pretty as the rest."

Claire looked at the ladies man sternly. "My Ma says boys say things like that ta make a girl like ‘em. I don’t got ‘a sick my brother’s on you do I, Mr. Wilmington?"

Buck covered his laugh by clearing his throat, "Well… I reckon Tommy and Benny and James could put a good beatin’ on me, don’t you, Miss Claire?"

"His name is Benjamin," the girl replied curtly.

The ladies man smirked, "You’re right, Claire. Ben’s gettin’ ta be a proper young man now. He wouldn’t like it if I kept callin’ him Benny."

"You ain’t never called him, Benny."

Still smiling, Buck tried to steer the conversation. "Well," he rubbed his chin. "I reckon your right." He smiled, then looked about for the rest of the Watson family. "You waitin’ on someone, Miss Claire?"


"Oh, and who might that be," the ladies man looked about again.


Buck frowned.

"I come ta give you these flowers, Mr. Wilmington. I picked ‘em from my Ma’s special garden." Noticing the surprised look on Buck’s face, the young girl smiled. "Ma said I could," she quickly added.

Buck looked even more confused. "Now why would you wanna go do a thing like that, Claire?"

The young girl’s smile wavered as she looked at the man crouched in front of her. "Cause I wanted to say thank you, Mr. Wilmington. " She bowed her head and continued. "I ain’t never told no one how scared I was… I thought James was gonna die when we was sittin’ up in that tree." A tear rolled down the girl’s face as she looked back into Buck’s eyes. "When you came along and chased them dogs away I wanted ta cry… but I knew I had ta be strong, so’s James wouldn’t see how scared I was."

"Oh darling," Buck said emotionally as he wiped her tears away.

"Thank you for coming ta rescue us, Mr. Wilmington," she forced a smile. "And thank you for gettin’ James ta Doctor Jackson so fast."

Buck fought back his emotions and smiled for the young girl.

Wiping her face on her sleeve, Claire Watson tried to gather her feelings. "You ain’t gonna tell no one I was cryin’, is ya, Mr. Wilmington?"

Clearly taken aback by the girl’s display, Buck shook his head. "No, Claire… but I reckon maybe you should tell your Ma or Pa how ya feel though," he smiled.

"Here," Miss Watson handed the flowers to the ladies man. "I gotta go, now."

"Thank You, Claire," he whispered.

"No…" she said sharply before the lip curled. "Thank you, Mr. Wilmington," she gave a small curtsy, before running off down the street.

Buck smiled faintly as the young girl disappeared into the crowd. He stood up, closed his eyes and took a long deep breath of their fragrance. The ladies man needed a minute to gather himself, and being buried inside a bouquet seemed as good as a place as any.

"Hold up there, JD."

John Dunne stood with Haven outside the livery. He was all ready to mount up and ride out of town for the morning rounds. Hearing his name, the young man turned in the direction of the summons and smiled. "Mornin’, Judge."

"I’m glad I caught you, JD. There’s no reason to do the patrol today, you can take your horse back inside."

Dunne frowned. "Chris ain’t told me no different."

Orin Travis smiled at the kid. "No, he hasn’t. But I’m pulling rank on him this time. I want everyone saddled up and ready to ride out after lunch. Let everyone know, will you."

"Sure, Judge," JD smiled. "Reckon you’re about the only one around here who can do that... out rank Chris Larabee, I mean. ‘Cause we all know he ain’t gonna turn around and shoot ya for givin’ an order without talkin’ ta him first. But then again, maybe you aught ‘a…"


"Yeah, Judge."

"You can put your horse away now."

"Oh, yeah."

Orin smiled. He was about to walk away when he remembered the real reason he’d been looking for Dunne. "Oh, JD."

The kid turned back to face the older man.

"Thank you."

Once more, the kid frowned.

Judge Travis smiled. "If it weren’t for you, young man. We wouldn’t be here today."

Dunne crumpled his face up in confusion, "Hah!"

Travis laughed. "If it weren’t for you volunteering to be the new sheriff that day two years ago, it’s likely none of you boys would be here." The older man looked at Dunne thoughtfully. "And if you boys hadn’t stuck around… who knows where Four Corners might be today."

JD thought on the words and slowly began to nod his head. He smiled. "Yeah, that’s right… all this happened because of me." He showed the judge a big grin. "Thanks, Judge."

"No, JD. Thank you." Returning the kid’s smile, Orin headed over to the schoolhouse to meet Billy.

Dunne’s grin was larger than life as he watched the judge walk away. Thoroughly pleased with himself, JD took Haven back into the livery.

Mrs. Travis had been searching around town for some time now and was still unable to locate the peacekeeper she was looking for. Frustrated with her efforts, she decided to try the one place where he might be. Entering the hotel, she mounted the stairs and walked to the room she knew to be his.

Grinning to herself, Mary recalled the day Ezra had moved out of the boarding house. She knew it wasn’t the surroundings that had compelled his departure. It was most likely the foot traffic at all hours of the day and night. After all, the gambler did keep unusual hours, most of the time. The southerner had made his customary complaints to the assembled onlookers before the adjustment were made, ‘I believe the acquisition of new quarters is the only way I can be expected to sustain a dignified existence in this God forsaken municipality’.

Ezra had only smiled when Nettie Wells put him in his place, ‘Don’t reckon that definition quite fits this town anymore, son. And I’m sure I can round up a few men who’d back me on that … least seven of ‘em… last time I counted.’

The door in front of the widow opened and both parties were caught of guard.

"Oh, Mr. Standish. You scared me."

"Yes, Mrs. Travis, I might say the same thing of you," the gambler smiled politely. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Yes…" Mary looked around the hallway to see if they were alone. "May I come in?"

The southerner frowned, but quickly regained his composure. "Yes, of course," he waved the lady in and closed the door.

Walking to the window, Mary glanced out then turned to look around. As she had expected, the room was neatly arranged.

Ezra watched the widow as she made her observations. He couldn’t quite fathom why the lovely lady might come to his room, but he didn’t mind her being there one little bit. "Is there another surreptitious assignment that you have for me, Mrs. Travis?"

Mary glanced up and laughed quietly to herself. "Oh… no, Mr. Standish. I’ve just come to…" Moving closer to the gambler, the newspaperwoman bowed her head before looking back into the man’s eyes. "I just wanted to thank you for saving my life, Mr. Standish."

The southerner found himself frowning again. "If you are referring to the Lucius Stutz incident, Mrs. Travis, I do believe you have previously conveyed your gratitude… I do, however, accept your show of appreciation most graciously."

Mary looked at Ezra cautiously. "Do you, Mr. Standish?"

There was a long pause.

The woman continued, "I say thank you… and you say your welcome as though I’m giving you a newspaper. You stepped in front of that bullet without thinking, yet I get the strangest feeling … that you don’t allow yourself to contemplate what it really means to save a life."

Ezra bowed his head. "I believe I understand the sentiment, Mrs. Travis…" Trying hard to maintain his poker face, the gambler continued, "Perhaps I don’t allow myself the… feelings," he walked towards the window, " but I do realize."

Silence ensued before the gambler turned to look at the widow. His lip curled gently as he looked at the woman.

Mary returned the southerner’s smile. "I came here merely to say thank you, Mr. Standish, not to judge. But I would also like you to know that I’ve notice a change in you these past few months," she smiled. "And I can’t help but wonder if your own brush with death isn’t the cause."

Realizing where Mary was going with their conversation, Ezra took a deep breath. He slowly walked back towards the newspaperwoman. He knew she was still digging for information about the incident back in May. "I can assure you, Mrs. Travis, that my own… brush with death, as you put it, doesn’t even begin to enter my thoughts. You see," he moved closer. "When I affected the demise of that would-be bank robber, consequently causing his horse to descend upon my…" Standish lost his composure momentarily, but quickly regained it. "Body…" he continued. "It left me with a fortunate condition called amnesia," he cocked his head. "I don’t remember a thing."

Mary stared into the gambler’s cool green eyes questioningly. "Nothing?" she asked suspiciously.

Ezra raised his eyebrows and shrugged.

Mary could only play along. She knew something was being kept from her, but now wasn’t the time to dig for the information. "I see…" she lied. Deciding it best to leave this subject alone, she smiled graciously. "Well, as for the attempt on my life… I have the fortunate condition of remembering the details, Mr. Standish. And I thank you again for everything."

The southerner forced a grin at the widow’s concluding remarks. He was more than happy to move off of their current topic.

Turning for the door, Mrs. Travis stopped before opening it. Staring at the doorknob in her hand, Mary smiled to herself. "One of these days Ezra Standish, I am going to find out what makes you the man you are."

The gambler watched the lady leave. "Some things, my dear lady," he whispered, "are better left undiscovered."

"Aw, hell," Tanner reacted as he walked into the sheriff’s office. "What’s with all these people taday."

Nathan looked up from his coffee cup as the tracker closed the door. "What’s the matter, Vin?"

Tanner shrugged. "Mr. Haynes just stopped me on the way over here. Shook my hand and thanked me again for trackin’ them dogs," the sharpshooter sat down. "Then said thanks for showin’ ‘im how ta do them carvin’s too."

"All those Indian designs?" the preacher questioned.

Tanner nodded. "Miss Nettie cornered me too."

Sanchez smiled. "Well, I reckon…"

"Alright, bye now," Buck waved the couple off as he stepped into the room. "You all have yourselves a nice day," he called out before closing the door.

"Was that…"

"Yep," Wilmington acknowledged. "Lucy and Luther and little Eudora. I can’t believe they name that baby Eudora…" he sat down. "Just ain’t my day for seein’ little girls, is all."

Nathan ‘s expression was confused as he smirked. "So what’d they want?"

Wilmington looked up from the stove where he was pouring his coffee. "Um… oh, well, it seems like Luther just wanted ta say thank ya."

Jackson raised his eyebrows questioningly.

"For makin’ him realize what a fool he was bein’."

"When Miss Lucy informed you…?" the preacher started to query.

Buck nodded and slumped on the desk with his cup. "Can you believe it? Don’t suppose no man’s ever thanked me before for bein’ with his lady."

Sanchez smiled at the remark. "But that was before, Lucy and Luther met, Buck. That don’t count."

"Well, yeah… but still, most fellas don’t take lightly…"

The gunslinger entered and slammed the door. All eyes turned to look at him.

The ladies man smirked. "Let me guess. Someone said thank you."

Larabee stared at the four men in front of him. "Someone?" the blond whispered menacingly. "How about the whole damn town."

"Now take it easy, Chris," the preacher piped up. "It’s a day for sayin’ thanks."

"Reckon this town’s takin’ it a might too far," Tanner commented from the back of the room.

The door opened as Dunne joined his fellow peacekeepers.

Glancing over his shoulder at the newcomer, Larabee spoke to the room. "Well, I’m gonna take a ride out to my shack. Reckon I can pass the day in quiet out there."

"Ah, no can do, Chris," the kid said enthusiastically.

The blond glanced over his shoulder again. "What?"

"I’d be careful where you’re stepping, son," the preacher smiled a warning.

"Ain’t you supposed ta be doin’ the mornin’ rounds, kid?" Tanner added.

"Ah… ah, well, it ain’t… I mean… Judge Travis said so." Dunne moved into the center of the room, but continued to look at Chris. "I saw him a while back. He told me ta skip the patrol. Told me ta tell you all ta be saddled up after lunch. He wants everyone ta take a ride with him."

Suddenly concerned, the gunslinger’s eyes glared. "Somethin’ wrong?" he asked.

Dunne shrugged. "Don’t think so… didn’t say much," he smiled. "Did thank me though," he looked around. "For keeping us all together…"

"Standish cleared his throat as he closed the door. "Excuse me, Mr. Dunne? Did I hear you say that someone had offered you the credit for the presence of seven peacekeepers in this quaint little community?"

JD nodded enthusiastically. "Judge said it’s all ‘cause ‘a me."

"Remind me ta shoot that kid before the day’s done," Wilmington chuckled.

"Get in line," Tanner added.

"Hey wait…" JD protested as the room erupted in laughter.

"Actually, Mr. Dunne," Standish interjected. "That was after our triumph at the Seminole Village. The credit for our chance encounter should actually go to Mr. Jackson and his careless medicinal proficiency."

"What?" It was Nathan’s turn to question the conversation.

"Well," the gambler raised an eyebrow and moved closer to the desk. Glancing at the healer he smiled before looking around at the other men, "I do believe our gathering would not have occurred had Mr. Jackson not lost a patient, and been attempting to procure himself a… quick death at the end of a short rope, as they say."

Jackson put a hand to his throat, "Don’t go remindin’ me, Ezra."

"Well, then Chris and Vin deserve some of the blame too," Sanchez added as he looked at the two men.

"Yeah," Nathan added. "It was them who decided ta act like heroes and take on a whole trail herd by themselves."

"So it’s everyone else’s fault," Wilmington smiled. "Me and Josiah had nothin’ ta do with it."

Sanchez returned the ladies man’s smile with his own toothy grin before frowning. He looked at the rogue questioningly. "If we had nothin’ ta do with it, Buck. How come we were the ones who came back all bandaged up?"

Wilmington sat forward and frowned as well. Lookin’ at JD he narrowed his eyes. "Yeah… thanks ta a certain kid, I know…"

"Now come on, Buck," Dunne protested. "That was a long time ago… And besides, I didn’t have nothin’ ta do with the second time."

Wilmington flinched, "Ah kid, why’d ya have ta go bring that up."

Again the room erupted in quiet laughter, before all eyes turned to look at the opening door.

"Ah, good," Orin Travis smiled as he looked around the room. "I see everyone’s here."

"I told ‘em what you said, Judge."

"Very good, JD."

"Somethin’ wrong, Judge?" Larabee questioned.

"Oh no, Chris," he looked around the room. "You boys have yourselves a good meal and be ready to ride. I’ll meet you at the livery at one o’clock."

Orin and Chris exchanged serious looks.

"That’s an order, Mr. Larabee," he added before leaving.

The gunslinger turned to look at the rest of his men. All seven faces showed varying degrees of confusion and surprise.

The ride out of town had been a quiet one. The usual banter flew back and forth. Mostly, the men all agreed that the townsfolk were acting a little strange today, and they were happy to be leaving for a while. Judge Travis rode out ahead of everyone and engaged in little conversation. Several miles out of town they hit the southeastern crossroads and headed north towards Baker Pass.

"Where you reckon he’s takin’ us?" Tanner questioned his leader after a while.

"Nowhere is particular, Mr. Tanner," the Judge replied as Chris shrugged his shoulder. Orin guided his horse over to the side of the trail and dismounted. Tying the animal to a nearby tree, he placed his hands behind his back and started to walk.

The seven men all looked at each other. They still had no idea why they were out here but they knew when to follow orders. One by one they all accompanied the Judge along the trail and into the clearing.

Travis breathed deeply and gazed around at the surrounding countryside. The trail through Baker Pass wasn’t high or wide, but it still provided a nice overview of the landscape. Sensing the gathered men behind him, Orin turned and looked them over one by one.

"Gentleman," he began, but took another breath.

"Sometimes it’s best just ta spit it out, Judge," Jackson commented.

Orin smiled. ‘Well-said, Nathan. Alright," he relaxed his arms and crossed them in front of him. "I know I warned you about a reporter snooping around."

"The fella from New York?" Wilmington questioned.

"Yes, Buck…"

"But then you go and bring a reporter with you on this trip?"

Judge Travis looked Chris in the eye and nodded. "Yes, but I have my reasons. I’m not gonna go into all of that right now though, but you have to allow the man to do his job."

"We’ve been doin’ our job’s, Judge," the preacher commented. "But we don’t need a reporter snooping around."

Buck cleared his throat, "Especially with Vin…"

Orin nodded again and approached Tanner. Looking the young man in the eye, he smiled. "Yes, especially because of you." Turning to face the men again he pursed his lips. "I’ve given Mr. Crawford specific instructions. No names will be mentioned in the article."

"This fella’s writing a story about us?" JD blurted out.

Orin smiled before looking at the ground. "Yes, and I’ve authorized one photograph to accompany the editorial."

Standish stepped forward. "Are you sure that’s wise, Judge. After all, Mr. Tanner is a fugitive. The whereabouts of whom, you have been aware of, for quite some time now." The southerner looked at Vin again before refocusing on Orin. "This particular play might be ill-advised for all parties concerned."

Judge Travis nodded then stared at Larabee. They exchanged a look of puzzlement before Orin again glanced over at the tracker. "I’d like you to stay close to town for the next few months, Vin. I have an opportunity… that may only come once. You need to be here when it arrives."

The sharpshooter looked into the eyes of the older man questioningly. "What ‘a ya mean, Judge?"

Orin Travis licked his bottom lip nervously. "Conflicting information, Mr. Tanner… and the possibility of a witness."

All eyes focused on Travis quickly.

"Witness?" Vin repeated as he slowly shook his head. "There weren’t no witness, Judge."

Travis only smiled. "Just stay where I can find you, Vin…"

Tanner stared at Orin before looking back at the ground.

"And as for the photograph," Travis continued. "Let’s make sure you stay away from the sun. Keep your head down," he looked around at the gathered men, "And Josiah."

The preacher stepped closer.

Looking at the big man and his large hat, Orin smiled. "You stick right beside him. Cast a big shadow, alright?"

Sanchez smiled widely as he nodded. "Alright, Judge," he acknowledged, slapping Tanner on the back.

"Good," Orin seemed happy with the plan.

"What aren’t you tellin’ us?" Larabee asked quietly.

All eyes gazed at the man in black then watched the Judge as he bowed his head.

Walking slowly towards the gunslinger, Travis looked up to stare the man straight in the eyes. "Make this work, Chris… this story needs to reflect well for all of you," he looked around at the men.

Brows furrowed at the cryptic words.

Orin smiled at Larabee one more time. "You don’t have to do anything else, Chris… just make the situation here look good, is all." Forcing a quick grin to his lips, the Judge straightened his coat. "Well, its time we headed back to town," he looked at his watch and walked back towards his horse.

"He journey’s us out to the middle of nowhere, then provides us little information with which to ascertain our predicament," Standish deduced. "Is it not a wonder that his methods might be suspect."

Travis glanced back at the gambler suspiciously. ‘That’s closer to the truth than you know, my friend’ he considered. Shrugging off the thought, he turned and took hold of the reigns. "Don’t make me reconsider that pardon, Ezra," Travis called back as he mounted. Pointing his horse back towards the trail, the Judge moved out.

The southerner stood and watched as the other men followed their boss. Smirking at Orin’s comment, he followed close behind.