Hi everyone sorry for the delay in writing this and uploading this. People have sent me a few inboxes asking if it's continued and thank you yes it is. Just this chapter has taken an age for me to swing into.
I apologise in advance as in my opinion this is a very weak chapter. Evelyn here is more a bystander – I found her difficult to fit into this ones story line. But chapter 12 is on it's way shortly.
Thank you again for the reviews and wishing everyone a happy new year (albeit half way through the year)
(C) The Magnificent 7 belong to themselves
"Okay Evie, give me a good strong cough,"
Evelyn Larabee gave Nathan the dirtiest look possible for what had to be the fifth time that day. The tall man however kept himself focused on her as she offered a small cough. He merely folded his arms across his chest and raised his eyebrows before she gave a more substantial one.
"Have I got to cough?" Evelyn asked, when he began poking her stomach again.
"Yes, to make sure your lungs are clear," said the healer with firmness. "Otherwise you can stay another few days in bed."
That immediately got her coughing like a madman, much to Nathan's amusement despite his shushes a few moments later as he pushed her onto her back once more. She scowled up at him, which Nathan just smiled at. It was nice to see Evelyn so feisty, especially after the fright she'd given the Seven the previous week.
The little girl had been caught in a ride back with JD from Nettie Well's ranch, in only what could be described as a re-attempt to flood the world. Evelyn, despite JD's best attempts had been drenched in the rain fall and even three successive hot baths hadn't heated her up anymore than his one in the barbers had heated up JD.
It had been midnight that night that found Ezra Standish hammering on the healers door with Evelyn burning up in his arms, and softly sobbing. The kid had thrown up more than a lifetimes of food, barely taking in any of Nathans medicines or making any sense. They'd had to change the bed three times a day due to sweat pouring out of her. Chris had barely slept, holding his daughter tight and walking her up and down. He'd walked in the cool night air with her in the vague notion that the cold would break the fire burning within. It had only been the last two days when the fever had broken, that Evelyn had started to make ANY sense. It was not beyond anyone's notice that there had been a collective sigh of relief around town. Chris had actually taken leave of his daughter gone straight to the jail, and cried for a solid ten minutes in relief. When he had left the jail, he'd found Gloria Potter and Mary outside, standing as guards to the evident relief and amusement of Ezra and Vin who were also serving as guards. The rest of the sevens money was on the women beating out the man.
"When can I get up?" she asked, tiredly.
"When you're well," said the healer, as Chris poked his head in. "Chris?"
"Got a visitor for you, and it aien't one of us," said Chris, smiling when she sat up or rather attempted to and fell back.
Claire Mosely was the daughter of the missionary Mr. Mosely and had come to town with him and Rafe. While Rafe was a loudmouth and Mr, Mosely the kind of preacher you couldn't talk to for fire and brimstone, Claire was sweet and had visited Evelyn a few times while she was at her worst, bringing her books for when she recovered.
"Claire," smiled Eve, sitting up with the help of Nathan who ruffled her hair fondly. "What're you doing here?"
"Just came to see you sweetheart," said the young woman with a small smile as Evelyn scooted away. "Still worried about passing it on?"
"Yep. So far only Buck, Paw, Nathan and Vin have been allowed in to see me," the little girl yawned as Chris sat down at the side of the bed. She still wasn't up to much visiting still and Chris smoothed her forehead as he had always done. "Paw you need to get some rest. Please?! You look sick."
"Fine," he said, smiling. "You just get on to sleep now, and I'll get some rest like you."
"Nate, you best make sure he's not fibbing," yawned the little girl. "Make him drink your skunk juice."
"Skunk juice?" Nathan laughed, smiling as the little girl fought, and lost, her battle with sleep. "Is that what the kids call it?"
"No that's what we call it," Chris said, stretching. "Nate-"
"Use my spare bunk Chris Lord knows I won't persuade you to get to a decent bed, hell you should've taken Ezra's offer for the feather one...never heard him offer that one afore?"
"Ezra can be kind without having to show it."
Chris had to admit that Ezra had been the reason that Evelyn had been brought to the surgery so swiftly had been Ezra's intervention. The man had been heading to the saloon from a late night gambling session and decided to call in to check on Evelyn while Chris was out on patrol. While Ezra had proclaimed it merely to be a rudimentary check over, Chris had the feeling that Ezra's own mother had left him on a few occasions to suffer through sickness on his own as a child. Ezra had had not wished the same on Evelyn. It had been him once Evelyn had been left in Nathan's capable hands who had rode out to Chris to get him back. Once more Ezra had proclaimed that he felt that it was better for his health – Chris would have to thank the man.
"I'll believe it," Nathan said, smiling as he saw Chris flop back on the bed and shaking his head at Claire. Claire smiled. "Thank you again, Miss Mosely."
"Not a problem Nathan. Let me know how she does later, and if she's a bit better for visitors."
Nathan smiled as he watched her go then heard a loud snore from the bed and shook his head. It would seem where melodious sleeping was concerned, Chris wasn't.
Evelyn woke to the gentle hand of Nathan on her forehead. She blinked blearily at the healer, as he fed her some more of the tea that she'd supped between wakefulness and sleep. She smiled as she saw Vin come in, checking his rifle.
"Morning Vin," she said, smiling as he gave her a tip of his hat. "Morning Nate."
"Morning Eve," he said, softly. "Seems to me you're feeling a mite better?"
"Much," she said, sitting up. "The tea is nicer."
"I added some honey?" he said, with a small smile. The little girl yawned. "Just for you. Still tired though."
"Yes Nathan, when can I go play again?"
"When you're better?" Nathan said, chuckling. "Can't much sit up much less run around like a fool." He sighed as he looked in his cabinet. "Seems I'm out of medicinal whiskey."
"Old man Button was in here before Eve," said Vin, glancing over at Nathan. "Iffun you want I can run over and get some?"
"No, no, you stay here, my old damn fault," Nathan said, waving his hand dismissively. "Eve, you make sure Vin takes that herb bag he's been trying to avoid looking at."
"Sure thing Nate."
Evelyn watched Vin. Vin watched Evelyn before she broke into a happy grin as he withdrew a packet from behind his back. She clapped her hands together excitedly as he brought over the illicit treat. Vin had a notorious sweet tooth, and if ever Evelyn and him were in each others company the little girl had had the tradition of taking sweet to him.
"Sherbet Lemons?" she said, happily as Vin gave her one. "Oh Vin."
"Only one, don't need your Pa shooting me," Vin said as he walked back to the healers cabinet. "You're just on half strength now."
"I can't wait till I'm better. I'm going fishin' with JD and Billy, maybe Paw will take me," she said, smiling at him. "You got a bad back Vin? That why you up here?"
"You going tracking Vin?" Evelyn asked, returning to lie on her side and watching Vin contentedly.
"Paw going with you?"
"What you tracking?"
"A man," Vin said, shortly.
"Really? Why? What'd I miss when I went to sleep with the skunk juice?" Vin winked at her for that though the good humour that was normally in Vin's eyes was no longer there. "Vin?"
"Claire Mosely was kidnapped. By an Indian named Chanu... me and your Uncle Buck are going to find him."
"No that can't be right!" evelyn sat bolt upright before falling back groaning. Vin looked over before helping her sit up. "Chanu is nice. He helped me fix the fence when I was playing on it... him and Claire came out of her house together. She was helping him with his lessons."
Vin nodded and touched her forehead. "Like our lessons?"
"Yeah Vin, like us with reading and stuff," she giggled tiredly. "Bet they're better than old fire and brimstone Mosely's. Momma always said you don't get nowhere scaring somebody into learning something."
"Your Momma sounds like a right clever woman."
"She was..." she looked up at Vin shyly. "Would you like to see a photo of her?"
Vin smiled obligingly and nodded. He helped her sit up and took the necklace off her, smiling when he opened the locket. There was a photo of Chris the one side, firm and stoic while the other side had a photograph of a dark haired woman wearing a small smile. He looked at Evelyn. "Your Ma?"
"Well Pa sure don't look like her," she said, yawning as she lay back down. Vin carefully slid the necklace beneath the pillow. "He's too ugly. Why isn't he going with you?"
"Because somebody's got to look after the town and the second best rifleman is none other than your Uncle Buck," explained Vin patiently.
"Maybe he's running with her because she wants to?" Evelyn suggested, innocently.
"Why would a white woman want to run away with an Indian?" Vin asked, raising his eyebrows as Evelyn began to blink rapidly – fighting off the first signs of sleep.
"Perhaps because her brother is an idiot and- and – her Paww is mean?" yawned the ten year old. "Paw maybe a gunslinger but he's kind to me... never heard him have a nice thing to say about anyone." She snuggled with the pillow again. "Will you tell me a story when you come back?"
"Iffun you like," Vin replied, kissing her forehead. "Now go to sleep. I'll be back soon."
Evelyn smiled. "Remember your pack."
She was asleep by the time Vin checked his pockets.
"He's got half a days ride on you," Chris said.
"I know," replied Vin as he checked the horse for the fourth time.
Chris looked at Vin suspiciously and Vin waved him off for the umpteenth time. Despite the fact that he knew he had to hunt Chanu down, something in his bones felt off. The elders in Kiowa had always told him to follow it. Evelyn had just added a further taste to his bones.
Vin looked at his friend and shook his head, sighing to himself. "Your daughters given me food for thought is all Chris?"
"She's in the habit of that," Chris said, chuckling to himself and shaking his head.
Vin smiled. Despite the sombre last few days, and though he would never admit it aloud. It did people good to see Chris beyond the gunslinger. He was a good man. A good father who had managed to organise the other six into a force while he was off-roster, and it was part of the reason Vin was going with Buck.
Both of the mans best friends had agreed that despite his all-too-short rest in the clinic with the aid of the skunk juice and lemon tea, Chris had run himself into the ground and made himself near ill with concern for his only child.
In honesty, Vin would've preferred to talk about the feeling in his bones to Chris... perhaps he would once he'd caught up with them.
Four days later, and the world had altered.
There was now a hushed reverence on the streets of Four Corners. A sense of disbelief, and though Chris Larabee would've never said it about the sticks little town - a sense of shame. How they'd nearly killed an innocent boy because a preacher had whipped them into a frenzy to do so. A murderer. Chris was silently looking forward to his trial. His only living child had forsaken him. His daughter lay rotting in the ground. Chris hoped the man found the damnation that he had bellowed so loudly about to the reservation.
Both in life and in death.
Chris sighed as he watched Evelyn walk down the street. She was wearing a pretty blue dress and walking hand in hand with Vin. The image of innocence and light, with the frontiersman walking alongside her talking in hushed tones. She waved across at him and he returned it, before going back to his quiet watching of the street.
But his mind for once had drifted fully.
Her innocence over the murder of Claire added in to her inability to understand why anyone would kill their children. Chris couldn't answer that. Evelyn had seen firsthand a mother's love and what it could cost. A fathers should be equal... and why were the people so riled up when there was a reasonable explanation. Chris had struggled with that one too. Up until Vin had taken over and sat the little girl on his lap, explaining as best he could. He'd ended up telling an Indian story to her, which Evelyn had told him was much better than the stories Chris had had and the two had laughed together.
"Miss Larabee seems to be much better," said Ezra, standing next to Chris. "May I join you?"
"Yes Ezra," Chris said, smiling as he saw Evelyn walk alongside JD, JD showing the new reward posters to both her and Vin. "She'll be playing Seven all over again before long."
"Oh that game has advanced, Mr Larabee," Ezra said, with a chuckle. "They now have their own judge in session, Evelyn while she recovers. Don't worry – their hanging is throwing mud at each other."
"You say that as if it's better for me, I can see my future directly. Busybody mothers telling me how my daughter has led them astray," he said with rolled eyes. "Now Ezra, normally you don't want to spend too much time with me especially given that you've spent all your night owl prowess winning those damned cards," Chris said, smiling at Ezra's look of shock. "I've had only Evelyn's conversations for most of the week so I'm more talkative than normal."
"So I can see!" Ezra gave a theatrical shudder. "Mister Larabee please desist."
"What do you want Ezra?"
"Can't a man want to speak to his colleague?"
"No. Now in approximately five minutes my daughter is going to be trying to run across to me and I'm going to be threatening a tanning?" he said, with a roll of the eyes at Ezra's change of expression. "I bet you a dollar Ezra that's exactly what'll happen."
Ezra quickly checked his pocket watch, and shrugged. "Fine. I was wondering Mister Larabee if it'd be possible for you to take a message up to Landen for me."
"Now why would I want to do that?"asked Chris, with a shake of his head.
"Trip might to do Evelyn good?"
"Good point, but not selling it to me," said Chris, calmly.
"But I offered you the feather bed."
"Didn't take you up on it and here I was telling Nathan you did it out of the goodness of your heart."
"Heaven forbid." Ezra sighed. "It was merely to drop off some papers. Otherwise mother-"
"Don't tell me no more," Chris said, raising his hand.. "One of you Standish's is enough I defintitely don't need the second here. I'll ride out in a few days... and Ezra thank you."
"Pretending that you offered me that room to get a deal, was starting to get worried you were being too honest," he said, with a chuckle as he looked across the street. "A dollar in one moment."
"How can you be so sure that Miss Larabee will do exactly what you're predicting Mister Larabee?"
Chris chuckled. "Easy. She's seen me not you-"
"Evelyn Christina Larabee," Chris said, smiling despite the following threat. "You run across there and I'll tan you."
No wonder Ezra enjoyed conning people.