Josiah looked up to see who was calling upon him. After all it was after eight. What he saw shocked, but pleased him.
"Josiah," a weak voiced Samantha says walking through the door.
"Yes," he says.
"Can I talk to you about something," she asks, walking over and taking a seat beside him.
"Sure," he says, pleased Samantha has come to confide in him.
"Well, when I first came here you remember hearing that I once had a brother," she says.
Josiah nods his head.
"Well, can I talk to you about something?" Samantha asks, sitting down in the pew next to him.
"Of course, Im always open for confidence," the preacher states.
"Well, I technically used my brothers death as a reason not to go back to the town I lived in, when Mary and Chris helped me get a job, but I did have one thing in that town that I loved more n life itself. A thing that I could have went back to, but there was one problem," she says.
"What was that?" Josiah asks.
"Well, a little boy named Joshua. He was about Billys age when I started taking care of him, about a year before my brother was killed. I loved him like a little brother, would do anything for him. I taught him how to ride a horse, and the smile on his face when he would get on a horse, seemed to make my life worth living. But a short time after my brother was killed, when I got arrested for the stealing of my own horse, Joshua watched them chain me up and he asked me if I would come back, and I told him one day I would. I hugged him and gave him a kiss on the head and his mother sent him in the store, then turned to me, angry because she thought I had actually stolen the horse, and told me never to see her son again or she would kill me herself. She had the nerve to say she didnt want her son around people like me. As they were taking me away I watched as Joshua chased after me crying," she replies, tears rolling down her cheeks. She quickly brushes them away.
Josiah nods his head, "So what brings all of this up now?"
"Well, I just got a telegram today from his mother, and even though its been so long, hes nearly twelve now, he wants to see me. Hes real sick and is going to die soon, and he wants to see me," she responds, wiping away more tears.
Josiah places his hand on her shoulder.
"I guess what Im trying to say is that, I want you to tell the boys about it, because Im heading out at daybreak tomorrow. Ive got to get there before its too late. Its a two-day ride, so Ill have to hurry. Ill be back as soon as I can, tell them not to worry about me. Ill be fine," she says.
"I will do," Josiah says.
She hugs the older man and gets up to leave. She walks towards the doors, then turns back to Josiah.
"Oh, thanks," she says.
"Anytime," he replies.
+ + + + + + +
The next morning Samantha is on her horse and gone before Josiah can make it over to the saloon. He tells the boys the story Samantha told him last night.
"Where is she now?" Vin asks.
"On her way to see him," he replies.
"By herself, she knows thats risky," Chris says.
"She said to tell you shed be fine," Josiah responds.
"And you didnt think to stop her," Ezra states.
"Josiah knows if shes gonna do something shell do it, no matter what anybody says," JD comments.
"But you know as well as I do what kind of men are out there. Im not saying she cant take care of herself, but I know I wont sleep at all with her out there alone," Buck says.
"Youre right Buck, she can take care of herself, but if it was five to one, she wouldnt stand a chance," Nathan says.
"And thats why were gonna go after her, right Chris," JD says.
"We can follow her close enough to keep an eye on her, but not escort her like some child," Chris states.
"Well then, Ill go get the horses," Buck says.
"Ill join you," Ezra replies.
They walk out to get the horses.
"Ill go tell Mrs. Travis," JD says, walking out as well.
+ + + + + + +
Later that night after Samantha has stopped to make camp, she decides to go down to the stream, which she conveniently camped close to. As she walks she hears a twig break about fifty-foot to her right. She freezes in her tracks. She listens for a few minutes, but nothing makes a sound. She finishes walking to the stream and leans down to fill her canteen, then hears another twig break. Once again she listens, but hears nothing else.
"All right, come on out," she says, drawing her gun.
She hears footsteps coming from behind her and immediately turns around, pointing her gun at her unwelcome visitor, whose hands are held in the air.
"Good way to get yourself shot Ezra," she says, placing her gun back in her holster.
"You have exquisite hearing my dear," he says, the look on his face is similar to that of a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar.
"No sir, you just dont excel in spying on people," she says matching his southern drawl.
He flashes a grin as she walks over to him.
"Now, where are the others?" she asks.
"Im alone," he replies.
"Ezra, Im not stupid," she responds.
"Follow me," he states, turning to leave.
As he and Samantha walk up to the camp, the boys hear the footsteps and as in reflex reach for their guns.
"Look what I found wondering around by the stream," Samantha states.
"Ezra," JD says, a little mad.
"Now, its not my fault she has distinct hearing," he replies.
"No, youre just noisy," Nathan responds.
"You boys mind telling me what youre doing here," Samantha interrupts.
"Well, we talked it over and we decided it wasnt safe for you to travel alone, so we decided to follow," Buck says.
"Oh, so youre treating me like a child," she states, looking him straight in the face.
"No, treating you like a child would be escorting you," he replies.
"No, escorting me would be gentleman like," she argues.
"Well either way, its just showing we care," Ezra states.
"He does have a point," Josiah responds.
She smiles on this thought.
"I guess so, but next time just ride up to me," she says.
"Deal," Chris says.
+ + + + + + +
When they arrive in town Samantha heads for the hotel. Not wanting to show up in her riding clothes. A few minutes later she meets the boys outside of the saloon, wearing a skirt and shirt shed gotten from Inez.
"You all can stay here, I best do this alone," Samantha states.
"Good luck," Vin says.
"Thanks," she replies.
They walk in the saloon, and Samantha heads across the street.
She walks in and sees a young boy lying in a bed and a woman sitting in a chair. The woman gets up to greet her.
"Hi, Mrs. Jameson," Samantha greets.
"Hi, Samantha," Mrs. Jameson says, giving her a hug.
Then she waves her hand towards the bed and Samantha walks over.
"Hey Josh," she says, fighting back tears.
"Sam," he asks questionably.
"Yep, I told you I would come back," she replies.
"You got real pretty," he states.
"Thanks," she says smiling, "and you got real handsome."
"Ive missed you," he responds.
"Ive missed you too," she replies, ignoring the tear rolling down her cheek.
"I knew youd come back, I kept tellin momma you would," he says weakly.
"I would have come back sooner," she says, then looks to his mother, "but I got wrapped up in some things."
"Thats alright," he responds.
"Josh, you know I love you," she says, placing a hand on his shoulder.
"I know Sam, I love you too. You were the sister I never had," he replies, his voice getting weaker.
Samantha smiles and nods.
"Promise me something," he says.
"Anything," she replies.
"I want you to marry a man that will take good care of you, 'cause I want you to grow old and have lots of kids as handsome as me," he responds with a smile.
She smiles, "I promise."
She leans down and kisses him on the forehead. When she stands back up and looks at him, he smiles and then closes his eyes, and he looks peaceful.
More tears start running down her cheeks as she runs out of there and begins to run down the street. Chris, Vin, and Ezra are standing outside of the saloon, and they see her begin to run. Chris runs out and grabs her; she fights him for a second, then gives in and cries as he holds her.
"Itll be alright," he says gently.
+ + + + + + +
Samantha stands through the funeral, tears rolling down her cheeks. Right after the funeral, Mrs. Jameson comes up to her crying.
"Samantha, I know now why you were arrested. Im sorry I told you not to come back to see him. Ive regretted it so many times, but when he saw you yesterday, it was the first time Id seen him as happy as he was the day you taught him how to ride a horse," she says.
Samantha nods her head as tears roll down her cheeks and Mrs. Jameson walks past her.
After its over and shes ready to go home, she walks over to the cemetery and places a flower on his grave and looks up to see Ezra.
"How are you holding up my dear?" he asks.
"Okay I guess," she says, then stands up, "It was like he was waiting on me. As if he wanted to see me before he died, and thats what he did."
Ezra walks over and puts his arm around her.
"Im sorry," he states.
She smiles, "You know what he had me promise him?"
"What?" Ezra replies.
"He said he wanted me to marry a man who would take care of me, and grow old and have lots of children as handsome as him," she says smiling.
"Thats the way it should be," Ezra says.
Samantha smiles, "I guess so."
"Well, lets head back, before the rest of the boys think we left without them," he says.
She nods her head and they walk back, Ezra not removing his arm from around her shoulder, knowing she needs him right now.
Comments to: Cheyenne_2003@hotmail.com