Disclaimer: Not mine, never were, never will be.
Note: Betaed by Kerry. Feedback would be lovely.
"Someone tell me what we are doing all the way out here, in this weather? And today of all days!" Ezra griped.
"You know damn well why, so just shut the hell up!" Chris snapped.
It was, he had to admit, damn cold. The wind whistled up under his serape, cut right though his duster and seemed to find its way past every button of his shirt to chill him to the bone. He glanced back at Vin, who despite wearing his buffalo hide coat and the Lord knew how many other layers under it, looked just as cold.
All seven of them had set out after receiving an urgent telegram from the judge, summoning them to Eagle Bend. The judge paid their wages, so despite that fact that it was December the 24th and snow threatened, they were duty bound to answer.
Riding in single file, they took it in turns to take point and thus the brunt of the wind. Right now, Buck, wrapped up in his sheepskin coat, was in the lead. His call of 'hold up!' and raised arm, brought them to a halt.
"Reckon we should make camp," he called back, "Down there where the creek bends, might give us some shelter from the wind."
Chris glanced up, struggling to find the sun behind the heavy cloud cover. When he did find it, it was low in the west, time to make camp. They all collected firewood, lots of it. Tonight was a night for a big fire that would last all night long. Buck and Josiah pulled out skillets from their saddlebags while the others retrieved the food supplies - they might be cold, but they'd eat well. Three hours later they sat around the huge fire, bellies full of bacon, beans, biscuits and coffee - liberally laced with whiskey. Darkness had fallen.
"This isn't exactly how I expected to spend my first Christmas out west," JD confessed.
"Ain't Christmas," Buck pointed out.
"Will be in the morning," his young partner in crime reminded.
"True enough. Lord the places I've spent Christmas." He looked over at Chris. "You remember '64?"
A smile spread across Larabee's face. "Oh yeah," he responded. "That was one hell of a Christmas."
Ezra took a pull on his flask of sipping whiskey. "Well do tell, you can't leave it there."
"Oh, I don't know." Chris glanced at the grinning Wilmington, "Boy's a mite young for that story."
"I'm not a boy!" JD protested. "I'm 21."
"Err hum!" Buck glared at him.
JD shrugged with resignation. "Okay 19."
"17, alright, okay, I'm 17, but I'm not a kid. I'm gettin' paid same as you aren't I? I was the sheriff wasn't I?"
All this, they had to concede, was true.
"So, come on you two, what happened in '64?" Josiah prompted.
"The war," Buck began.
"Yeah we know that much," Vin commented, while picking a string of jerky out of his teeth.
"Well me and the Cap'n over there, we found ourselves cut off from our unit and in need of shelter and rest and recuperation."
"Yeah, that too."
"So where did you find these things? I, for one, was finding it a rather tiresome time."
"Yeah," Vin agreed.
"Comes of being on the wrong side boys."
"It weren't like we had a choice," Vin reminded.
"We know." Buck grinned at them, his white teeth reflecting the dancing firelight and giving him a maniacal look.
"So come on, where did you spend Christmas?" JD prompted.
"The Oak Grove Plantation. Of course, there was no one there except the slaves, and only the women folk, old men and kids at that. We asked them why they hadn't run off. They said there weren't nowhere to run to, and besides they were doing okay."
"They took real good care of us," Chris explained. "Fed us, gave us the last of the brandy, best beds in the big house, tended our wounds."
"I'd have died if it weren't for them good folk," Buck confessed. "Took a fever, that old cook tended me night and day for three days." He looked over at Nathan and smiled. "That was the first time I tasted one of them teas."
"Don't know why you boys make such a fuss about drinkin' something that makes you feel better."
"'Cause they taste like shit," Josiah reminded.
"Old Jenny used t' put honey in it," Buck told Nathan, with a pointed look. "How come you don't?"
"'Cause you ain't a kid and it costs money."
"Well, I don't see why you thought I was too young for that story," JD commented indignantly.
"Yes, well, come New Year's we had to move on, found ourselves just down the road at Miz Louise's Gentleman's Club," Chris explained.
"Oh really?" Ezra suddenly sat up a little taller.
"You know it?" Buck asked
"By reputation only, I believe it kept its doors open throughout the war."
"Oh, it did indeed. Might have been a club, not sure it was for gentlemen, but them girls sure were ladies!" Buck exclaimed with a grin and a wink at JD.
"It was quite a night. Miz Louise told me we were the only men to visit that never had to pay a penny, 'cept for drinks."
"How did you manage that?" Ezra asked with interest.
"I never pay," Buck stated with a dark certainty.
"What about you Cowboy?" Vin asked.
"Oh I'll pay, but that night Buck kinda got me a free pass."
Vin pulled himself up and stretched, instantly pulling his coat back around him again. He approached the fire and pulled out a flaming branch .
"Gonna, you know..." he explained.
"Don't get lost," Nathan warned with a grin.
"Trust me, Sherman and is whole damn army couldn't get lost out here with that thing." He pointed to their huge fire.
By the time Vin was announcing his return to camp, Josiah was telling them about his family's first Christmas in India.
"You were a long time, didn't get lost did ya?" Chris asked.
Tanner just stood there, hands on hips. "No, I didn't get lost, just met this crazy old coot. I swear I have met some old prospectors in my time who were short a few cents on the dollar before, but this guy has to be..." He shook his head, unable to explain just how crazy the man he'd encountered was.
"Come on, he can't be that bad," Chris reasoned.
"Oh no, then you tell me what he's doing out there with a sleigh."
"A sleigh?" JD asked.
"Yup, not a wagon with runners, a sleigh. A real fancy one, red with gold paint on it. Now I know it's cold, and it's likely to snow before dawn, but there ain't no snow now, so how did it get there and why?"
"How many horses?" Nathan asked.
"None, not one, it's just sitting there, all filled up with sacks, but no team. And you know what else? He's wearing the damnedest thing." The others were beginning to suspect Vin had taken more than his share of the whiskey. "A red coat."
"I see nothing unusual about that," Ezra commented pointedly.
"Not like your fancy duds," Vin told him. "This thing is long and it's got fur, white fur on the cuffs and the hood - did I say it had a hood?"
"You sure you didn't fall asleep out there?" Buck asked.
"I ain't crazy, I didn't dream it and I ain't drunk. Come on an' see, there ain't no way he can have gone no place."
As they, for want of nothing better to do, and to shut Vin up, trooped out of camp, the first snow flurries blew in on the wind. The old man was just where Vin said he'd be and just as described. The six of them just stood and stared at the image in the flickering torchlight.
"Well there you are again, I thought you'd abandoned me," he greeted joyfully.
They still stood there in stunned silence, except Buck.
"Santa!" he boomed.
"Buck Wilmington, I do declare, the happiest child I ever delivered too, despite everything."
"It can't be," JD whispered.
"John Daniel, my how you have grown. You were such a small one, but brave as a lion."
"Nathan, are you seeing this?" Chris asked, because, his sense told him if anyone was likely to be immune to all this madness, it was Nathan.
"Oh, I see him alright," Nathan admitted.
Vin was now looking more than a little confused. "What the hell is going on?"
Santa turned to him "Vincent, I'm sorry you don't remember me, I visited you when you were very small but then you forgot about me."
"Vin, this is Santa Claus, or Saint Nick if you like. He visits the children of the world on Christmas Eve and leaves them gifts," Josiah explained. "And he rides in a sleigh, pulled by eight flying reindeer."
Vin stood there and looked back and forth between his friends and the old man. "Ya' all have gone loco," he declared angrily.
"It's all true," Chris stated quietly with that certainty in his voice that no one would contradict. No one except a very confused Vin.
"Oh come on you guys, this ain't funny no more," he protested.
"It's no joke," Nathan told him, then turned to Santa. "So how come if you're real, some years you didn't leave me anything? 'Cause I sure did believe in you for a long time."
"I know you did Nathan, along with many other children in chains. The thing is, I can only bring one gift to each child. Sometimes it's a thing, a rag doll, a carved animal. Sometimes it's food or medicine and sometimes it's something much more precious, such as courage or hope or imagination. I have to give those gifts to the children that need them the most." Nathan stood there and stared at him for a while. "And to you, young Nathan, you I gave curiosity."
Nathan broke out in a smile and laughed. "Reckon you did that and no mistake!"
"And compassion, it's good to see you have used them well."
"And what gift did I receive?" Ezra asked, a hint of bitterness in his voice.
"Oh you got your gifts when you were a little wee bitty thing, such a beautiful child, with those dimples and the curls. Then you needed something else, so I gave you your honesty, right before you gave up on me. It is a shame it took you so long to find it, I usually leave things in plain sight."
"Oh Ez here is real good and not seein' things in plain sight he don't wanna see," Buck pointed out.
"So it would seem."
"Flying reindeer... what the hell are reindeer?" Vin asked, still trying to get his head around the whole crazy situation.
"Kinda like deer, but with bigger antlers," Chris explained.
"And you believe all this?"
"Well I did, when I was a boy."
"He was such a serious boy," Santa commented. "I could tell he wouldn't believe for long, so my last gift to Christopher was just a little rebellion."
"Only a little?" Buck asked incredulously, "Think your hand may have slipped there."
"What about Josiah?" JD asked.
"Josiah and I will talk later," Santa told him, giving Sanchez a knowing look.
Seeing that this was a private matter, JD let it drop and turned to his best friend.
Santa thought for a moment. "As I recall, last time, it was socks, extra thick, wool socks."
"Wearing them right now, and real warm they are too. Thanks Santa." Buck slapped him on the shoulder.
"Wait a minute, how old are those socks?" JD asked, some what horrified.
"A year old tomorrow." Santa winked at Buck. "See Buck never did stop believing."
The others looked a Wilmington with incredulity.
"Hey, my Ma told me he was real and she never lied to me, so Santa's real, and I've had a gift almost every year." He turned to the saint beside him. "I guess when there was nothing on the end of the bed, those were years you gave me something extra special."
"They were; fortitude when you lost your mother, patience when..." he glanced at Chris, who ducked his head, acknowledging why Buck had needed patience. "And a good woman when you took a fever over Christmas."
"Miz Jenny, that was you?"
"A good woman."
"Yes she was."
"So what did you bring me when I was little?" Vin asked, almost accusatorially.
"Well let me see, the last time I believe it was your independence, that was just before your mother died and the year before that, a little carved horse, black with a white blaze as I recall."
Had it been light they might have seen Vin pale. "I remember that horse, about the only thing, other than Ma, that I do remember from back then."
"Sure explains something," Chris commented.
"What is that?" Santa asked.
"Vin has this horse," Buck explained," and he just loves it to bits, which is a mystery, 'cause it's the orneriest hunk of glue bait you ever did see."
"Peso," Vin added with a lopsided grin.
"Let me guess, he's black with a white blaze?"
"Yup." Vin turned his eyes skyward, into the snow, which while heavier, still wasn't settling in the strong wind. "So these reindeer, how do they fly?"
"It's magic," JD stated confidently. "Right, Santa?"
"In a way."
"Think of them as Spirit Guides," Josiah suggested.
Vin nodded, that was something he understood. "So where are they?" He was still staring at the sky.
"Err, we had, what you might call a disagreement. You see things have changed, there are more and more children who believe. Take here in America, two hundred years ago there were hardly any children here for me to visit."
"The People were here," Vin reminded.
"Yes they were, but they don't believe. They've never heard of me."
"Don't seem fair."
"Don't worry, they have their own ang... spirits guides, to watch over them." Vin nodded his acceptance of this as Santa continued. "Now there are more and more, and not only the children being born here, but more coming from across the sea, and it's not like that leaves fewer behind, more are born to fill the space. It all gets very tiring and some boys and girls are thoughtful and leave out a little something for me, cookies and milk, sometimes biscuits and honey, or even fruitcake. Buck here is always kind enough to leave me a glass of whiskey, to warm the inner man."
"I still can't believe that all this time you've still believed in Santa Claus," JD commented, gazing up at his surrogate big brother.
"I told you, my Ma said he was real and she..."
"Never lied to you, I know."
"Didn't your Ma tell you the same?"
JD shifted on his feet, head down, hands deep in his pockets. "Well, yes, I guess."
"And was your Ma a liar?"
"Well there you go then." Buck beamed as his logic triumphed.
"But I mean," JD began again.
"JD, son, when you find yourself in a hole, best to stop digging," Josiah counselled.
Vin was not going to let all this deflect him from his quest for knowledge. "Don't see what Bucklin's whiskey has to do with the reindeer."
"Well that's the point," Santa continued. "It doesn't. They don't see why they have to put in more and more effort and get nothing for it." Now it was Santa's turn to look down and shuffle nervously. "Things were said. I may have upset them, just a tad."
"Are you saying they took off in a huff?" Ezra asked.
"Or in fact..."
"Yes, the thing is they are a bit high strung, you know?"
Vin nodded sagely. "Spirit guides are like that. You have to handle them just so, make them think everything was their idea."
"So they just left?" Chris asked.
"They landed here, kicked the harness free and just took off. I uh..., I was hoping you could help me?"
"Us?" Buck asked. "How?"
"Well, you do have horses, don't you?"
"We do, but they don't fly, not even Chaucer, no matter what Ezra tells you."
Santa looked at them, his eyes twinkling with merriment. "They could fly, if they were hitched to my sleigh, then they would fly," he told them with just hint of glee.
"No, I don't think old Ben could ever fly," Nathan observed. His horse was getting old. He was a solid, reliable mount and the slowest of the seven.
"Even Ben," Santa assured.
"We have a job to do, we need to be in Eagle Bend tomorrow," Chris pointed out.
"I promise to have you back where you need to be by dawn." Santa fixed Chris with his blue eyes. "This mission of yours, is it more important than the children?"
"Chris we gotta do it," Buck stated firmly.
"Yeah," JD agreed.
"I feel it is an obligation we cannot shirk," Ezra added.
Chris looked at the others. Josiah and Nathan both nodded.
"Vin?" he asked.
"Hell, this all new to me Cowboy, but if you think we should do this, then I'm in."
Chris just knew, from that smirky grin, that Vin still didn't believe all this. He was just playing along. Chris wasn't sure if he really did believe it. He believed that the man in front of him was Santa Claus, he just wasn't sure the whole thing was real or he was going to wake up, covered in snow, by the camp fire with the hangover from hell. If it was real, they had to do it, and if it wasn't real, then it didn't matter what they did.
"Well I guess we better put out that fire and bring up the horses," he announced.
Since the reindeer had taken off with all the harnesses, they simply roped the horses together in a long line.
As the others worked, Santa walked down the line, giving each horse a pat. When he came to Cardinal he paused, watching Josiah secure his gear.
"I know you lost your faith in a lot of things when you were very young - too young - and so, eventually, did Hannah," he began in hushed voice. Josiah, who had his back to the saint, visibly stiffened. "But, then she found me again and that has let me back in to her heart. Every year I visit her and try to gift her with an inner peace."
Josiah turned to him, but before he could speak, Santa continued. "Her demons are very strong, stronger than me, but there are times, days here and there when they weaken and then my gift can be felt. It's all I can do."
For a long time Josiah said nothing, then he gave the smallest of nods. "Thanks, I appreciate you trying to help. Maybe one day, with your help, she can find the strength to defeat those demons herself."
"With both our help."
"Reckon we're all set," Buck bellowed from half way down the line.
"Hey Santa!" Chris called from the front. "How do I know where to go?"
"Oh don't you worry, Pony knows were to go, I told him."
As Chris swung up into the saddle he looked back at Ezra. "He told him?"
Standish just shook his head and smiled, nothing could surprise him now.
Before they set out, Santa walked down the line of horses with a small sack of peppermint candy canes, there were fourteen, one for each man and one for each horse. He started at the front and worked back to the sleigh, and to Peso, last in line - where he couldn't kick any of the others. They had also put a longer line between him and Milagro, so he couldn't try and take a chunk out of his hide when ever the he got bored. Vin was seriously thinking about snagging both candy canes for himself. Unfortunately before he could try, Peso had snatched them from Santa's hand.
JD, watching from over his shoulder, just laughed at Santa's indignant expression, Vin's frustrated annoyance and Peso, standing there with the butt end of two red and white striped candy canes sticking out of his mouth.
"Well, that was a most impolite horse."
"We did warn you," JD reminded.
"Ya damn mule!" Vin gripped. "I wanted my candy!"
"Here," Santa handed Vin a cookie in the rudimentary form of a Christmas tree, with white icing. "Last place I was at, before..."
"Before you pissed off yer team?"
"Yes, before that, left me two of these, they're very good." Vin took the cookie as Peso sucked in the last of the candy canes.
"Sweet kids, they left me a note."
Vin took a huge bite. "Mmm, hope ya said 'anks, this is 'reat."
Vin swallowed, the cookie quite gone.
"How on earth did you eat that so fast?"
"Don't ask, you don't want to know!" Buck told him.
"You know," JD began,"when you say thank you, you could say something like 'thanks for the cookie, I shared it with my reindeer, they liked it fine, but carrots are their favourite' or what ever they like most, and then maybe the children would leave stuff for them, too, and they won't get upset."
Santa stared at him. "Now why didn't I think of that?"
"Well, let's face it, you are kinda busy at the moment, lots to remember."
"True, and speaking of which we should be off."
Vin couldn't help but smile. This, he reasoned, should be good. After all, they weren't going anywhere. There might be a covering of snow now, but it wasn't deep enough to let the sleigh run over the rough ground, and besides, their makeshift harness wasn't anywhere near strong enough to pull the stupid thing. He leaned forward and rested his elbow on the saddle horn, his chin on his hand, and gazed up at the falling snow.
After a while, but with out talking his eyes of the falling snow, he called out. "Hey Cowboy, how long you reckoning to sit here?"
"Uh... Vin?" JD called over his shoulder.
"Take a look around you."
Vin, sighed and sat up. It was dark it was snowing, what more was there to see? He looked around, nothing new, other than the snow was moving past him rather faster than he would have expected, considering the wind had almost disappeared. Then he looked down.
"Shit!" he exclaimed, almost falling off his horse.
He could just make out the snowy land speeding past below them as they rose higher and higher into the sky. Once he'd recovered his balance, though not his composure, he took in the whole experience. Despite their height and evident speed, there was little wind and he wasn't cold anymore, in fact as he watched, no snowflake landed on him, on Peso or even on JD ahead of them. They seemed to be cocooned or protected in some way from the worst of the weather. As he looked down further, he could see that Peso's legs were moving, but since he wasn't hitting anything, there was no feel of movement in the saddle. Vin turned in the saddle to look at Santa, who just winked then threw back his head and laughed.
"On Pony, on Chaucer, on Ben and Cardinal and Beau, on Milagro and Peso! Ho, ho, ho!"
They rode thought the night, visiting every believer west of Four Corners. They ate cookies and cake, biscuits and flapjacks, pie and candy. They drank milk, buttermilk, water and cider, not to mention whiskey, brandy, beer, wine and tequila, and, on Nob Hill in San Francisco, they even drank Champagne! The night lasted forever but they didn't notice or feel the passing of time, even as they made their last stop on a remote Pacific Island.
"That's it, all done, time to take you home!"
As they neared the Rockies, heading east, they could see the dawn creeping across the snow covered land. In no time they were descending, until they heard the crunch and felt the familiar movement below them as the horses landed in the snow and ran on before coming to a stop. Only when they were on the ground did they once more feel the cold and the wind, thought it wasn't snowing anymore, and only now did they feel that they had been riding all night.
"Thank you boys, I couldn't have done it with out you."
The seven men dismounted and unhitched their horses, leading them around until they stood in a semi-circle around the now empty sleigh.
"What are you gonna do now?" Chris asked. "You're still stranded. We can't just leave you here."
"Don't you worry about me. Now before you leave, I have your gifts." With that he began rummaging about in the bottom of his last sack. "Here we are!" he announced triumphantly, pulling out a red box. "This is for Ezra."
Ezra took the box, and lifted the lid. Inside was a beautifully tailored linen shirt, with mother of pearl buttons.
"It is exquisite, thank you Sir."
Next to receive a gift was Nathan, it was a small mahogany box. Inside was a brand new scalpel handle and no less than five interchangeable blades, all laying in a custom made interior, lined in blue silk.
"These are the best you can get, Sheffield steel, I don't know what to say," their healer gasped.
"You don't need to say anything Nathan, just put them to good use. Now Josiah, what to give to you?"
After some exaggerated rummaging he pulled out a book, bound in the finest Moroccan leather.
Josiah took the book and examined it. "Paradise Lost! I lost my copy many years ago. I've been thinking about getting another copy."
"I like a saint who knows his flock." Josiah favoured him with one of his toothiest grins.
"What to give the fearless leader?" Santa mused out loud. "How about this?" He pulled out a bottle, not of rot-gut, not red eye, not bourbon, not even Tennessee whiskey, but real Scotch, malt whisky, aged in the barrel for 48years. "Now mind you savour it," Santa warned.
Chris took the bottle reverently. "Oh you can count on that, might even have to share some of it." He glanced around at the others.
"I like that idea Big Dog!" Buck declared.
"What will it be this year Buck? You did like those socks."
Bucks smile faded just a fraction.
"But this year I went for something different." He handed over a small package simply wrapped in red paper.
Buck took it and unwrapped it. "A book?"
"Now I know you're not much of a reader, which is a shame, because you used to be quite the reader. I remember you devouring Ivanhoe."
"Well that was before I discovered girls." Buck looked at the book again. "The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins."
"You'll enjoy it."
"If you say so. Thanks Santa."
Saint Nicholas turned to JD. "Now you were easy."
"Of course." He pulled out a sheepskin coat, similar, if a lot smaller, to Buck's. "I saw you shivering."
"Wow! Thanks Santa, I've really been needing a winter coat, just couldn't afford it."
"Well that's what I'm here for."
Vin shifted uncomfortably. This was all still so new to him.
"Vincent," he began softly, "my gift for you is in two parts, this..." he pulled out a large, well-stuffed paper bag. "Savour them... they are new, I brought them all the way from England."
Vin took the bag and looked inside, but before he could take in the contents, Santa was speaking again.
"The second part of your gift, well that is one of my special ones and I'm not allowed to tell you want it is, so you'll have to trust me."
Vin looked into the old man's eyes and saw the pureness of his soul. "I do."
Vin would never know it was Santa who made his reading lessons go so smoothly and allowed him to make such rapid progress.
"Right, time to be off."
"Uh... Santa, you still don't have any reindeer," JD pointed out.
"I told you not to worry." He pointed to the east. "See, it's almost dawn. They can't get home with out me and they can't fly in daylight, so don't worry they'll be here any time now."
Right on cue there came the distant sound of sleigh bells. As all heads, human and equine turned to the sky, eight reindeer, harnessed together in pairs came swooping down. The horses greeted them as if they were long lost stable mates. They settled exactly were they needed to be, the pin connecting their harness to the sleigh slotting neatly into place. Santa climbed aboard.
"Well I better be off. The sun waits for no one, not even me."
The Seven remounted.
"Hey!" JD exclaimed. "This isn't where we camped."
Ezra looked around. "Nor is it Eagle Bend, but I do believe that town down there is our own dear Four Corners."
Chris turned back to Santa. "You promised to return us to Eagle Bend."
"No, I said I'd return you to where you needed to be. Home is where everyone needs to be on Christmas Day."
"We have orders," Chris reminded.
"Show me these orders."
Chris pulled the telegram from his shirt pocket and unfolded it. He glanced at it, then started at it.
"Why don't you read it out?" Santa suggested.
Chris however remained silent, so Josiah leant over and snatched it from him.
"TO: CHRIS, JOSIAH, BUCK, NATHAN, EZRA, VIN, JD - STOP - MERRY CHRISTMAS - STOP - FROM: SANTA."
Chris gave the old man a rueful smile. "And the Judge?"
"Tucked up in bed with Evie, about to be woken by a very excited grandson."
The reindeer pawed the ground and shook their heads, making the bells jingle again.
"I know, I know. Right boys, I have to go. Hopefully I won't need you again next year, but I will be visiting you."
The sleigh began to move.
"Any time you need us, you just call!" Chris shouted as it began to rise.
"Oh and Vin!..." Santa called.
"You eat them!" With that the sleigh suddenly shot straight up, they could just make out a faint. "Ho, ho, ho!"
They watched until there was nothing to see, then six sets of eyes turned to Vin, as he opened his bag and pulled out one of the contents. It was small, green, elongated, and sort of squishy. He smelt it and then, showing total trust in his new found saintly friend, popped it in his mouth. For a second nothing happened then a huge smile spread across his face as he chewed.
"Well?" Buck asked. "What is it?"
"Don't rightly know, but damn are they good!"
"Can I have one?" JD asked, reaching out his hand.
"No!" Vin held the bag close to his chest. "Santa gave them to me!"
With that he wheeled Peso toward town, setting out at the gallop across the pristine snow. In seconds the others were after him, gifts held tight.
"Come here you!" Josiah roared, "That's not the spirit of Christmas!"
"Nah, it's the spirit of Texas!" Vin yelled back gleefully.
Vin received a large bag of jelly babies (or 'jelly beans'), invented in