Fork in the Road

by Beth

Chapter 1

The town of Four Corners seemed more inviting to bouts of dust storms and criminals than that of culture and those of finer upbringings. Though the reputation of the seven gunslingers was growing it seemed to be more of a challenge to those who needed, in some way, to gain a reputation as being fast with a gun or needing to be accepted into the realm of the criminal element. They had proven their worth to the townsfolk time and time again; however the town was not growing as fast as many would have hoped.

Chris Larabee stepped out of the saloon, his tall lean frame clad in only black, leaned against the railing he smiled to himself upon hearing the bantering of JD Dunne and Buck Wilmington. "Hay Chris," Buck said leaning back in his chair after shoving JD in the shoulder knocking his hat off.


"Vin's back," JD announced roughly placing his hat back on his head, while watching the tracker ride up to the saloon. The kid brushed his unruly black hair away from his eyes.

"Any trouble?" Chris asked taking a drink of his beer.

"Mrs. Wells' barn lost a few shingles but nothing more than that." Vin dismounted and draped his horse's reins over the hitching post. "Any trouble here?" he looked at his compatriots and figured no even before he heard JD confirm it.

"Mr. Waters horses got out and Mrs. Jenkins thinks she's got a fox getten her chickens." JD smiled big only to receiving a smack from Buck.

"He wanted to know if there was any trouble in town JD, trouble worth mentioning."

"I need a drink," Vin smiled shaking his head then headed into the saloon.

"Stage is coming," Josiah announced stepping up to the board walk.

"Well then," Buck started, "I best get on over there and see if'n there's a young filly needen tended to." He smiled jumping up out of his seat and heading over to the stage followed closely by JD.

"I hope whoever she is she isn't married," Josiah said watching the two cross the street.

"That's never been known to stop him before," Chris commented. "I just hope he's a bad shot," he and Josiah laughed and headed back into the saloon.

Ezra Standish came out onto the boardwalk just as the stage pulled to a stop. He laughed to himself seeing Buck and JD come rushing over. No doubt they were there to see if any new young ladies were making their way west. He leaded against the outside wall of the hotel.

"Well Ezra, you here to meet the newest arrivals?" Buck questioned looking more at the stage than anything else.

"I assure you Mr. Wilmington, my reason for being here is purely coincidental." The gambler pulled out his ever-present deck of cards from his scarlet jacket and began to shuffle them.

John Morgan jumped down off the stage driver's seat and tipped his hat to the three peacekeepers in greetings. The large man opened the stage door and immediately helped two small children down. An older gentleman of approximately Josiah's age stepped down next and turned to help his young wife. "I'll have your luggage moved to your room," John said before turning to unhook the trunk from the back of the stage.

"Thank you David," the woman smiled looking to her husband her thick southern accent catching Ezra's attention. "Hanna, Samuel," she called to her two children not wanting them to get into any trouble. They immediately obeyed and came rushing to her side. She was beautiful her dark brown hair pulled neatly back away from her ivory face. Her blue eyes danced in the light of the sun. Ezra noticed her husband was missing his left arm, his jacket sleeve tucked neatly away as to not be a hindrance.

"You need a bib Buck?" JD jokingly asked watching him admire the woman.

"That kid, is a picture worth painting."

Ezra tipped his hat down further over his face as to not be recognized. He knew her from a long time before and wasn't sure if he was willing to face her now. He chastised himself for it but he didn't know if it was the fear of facing her and her family or bringing up a past he'd long since buried. He looked up and watched her gently lift her young son in her arms while her husband took the hand of their daughter. He pushed the hat up away from his eyes and stood up straight. "Miss Emma Carter," he smiled big.

The woman turned to look at the man who called her by her maiden name, she paused a moment her husband by her side. Finally it dawned on her and she smiled big bringing an even more beautiful appearance to her young face. "As I live and breathe, Ezra Standish." She wanted to give him a hug but didn't think it appropriate. "It's Mrs. David Williams now," she looked to her husband.

"Pleasure Mr. Standish," David stuck his hand out for Ezra to shake.

"Pleasure is mine Mr. Williams, I didn't think anyone would tame Mrs. Emma."

"It has not been an easy task I assure you." David smiled which made him appear younger, his rich southern accent filling the air.

"Please forgive my rudeness," Ezra started hearing Buck clear his throat. "Two of my fellow compatriots, Mr. Wilmington, and Mr. Dunne." Ezra looked at JD and Buck, "Mr. and Mrs. Williams."

"Buck, all that mister stuff gets my feathers ruffled." He stuck his hand out and eagerly shook David's hand. "You ol' friends of Ezra's?" Buck questioned looking at Emma. He was smitten with her and Ezra threw him a look of warning.

"Yes, I'm his."

"Old friends," Ezra cut her off.

Emma smiled knowing how protective he was of his past. He had always been quiet about his past and she knew not to push him on any such subjects. "These are our children, Samuel and Hanna." She looked at Ezra when she mentioned the name of her daughter and saw a bit of sadness pass threw his eyes, but he looked at the children longingly.

"Family resemblance is remarkable," he commented watching the children. "How long are you staying?"

"We leave tomorrow on the afternoon stage we're heading for California," Emma paused wishing she had more time. "Won't you join us for dinner?" her eyes brightened up, "please Mr. Wilmington and Mr. Dunne join us as well." She adjusted Samuel in her arms, "I won't take no for an answer."

"We'll be there mam," JD piped in wanting to get to know these people from Ezra's past.

"Please bring any other of your compatriots, I would love to meet them." She smiled and set Samuel down on the boardwalk. "He's getting to big to carry around all the time." The children giggled and stared into the window of the hotel wanting to explore the new town.

"Why don't I watch them while you both get settled," Ezra offered.

"That would be most gracious Mr. Standish, Samuel and Hanna slept most of the way here and I am sure they could use a bit of fresh air." David smiled down at his children. He looked at them with the love only a father could give and this impressed Ezra, Emma had married well.

"Yes, thank you Ezra," Emma kissed him on the cheek before turning to her children to explain to them that Ezra, Mr. Standish, would be watching them. The two children looked at Ezra inquisitively and he returned their looks with a smile.

"Would six be suffice for dinner?" David asked looking to JD and Buck for an answer.

"Sounds right good," Buck responded enthusiastically. "Come on JD lets go see what Chris and Vin are up to." Buck tipped his hat to the new couple and turned to head back toward the saloon.

"It was real nice meet'n ya'll," JD smiled big and turned quickly to follow Buck.

"Mr. Samuel, Miss Hanna," Ezra smiled kneeling down to be eye level with the children, "how about we venture out and give your parents time to rest up for this evening?" he questioned them expecting an answer from them. Hanna nodded her head and smiled big, looking more like her mother. Ezra stuck his hand out and she took it graciously. Samuel was more hesitant but a quick reassuring nod from his father he took Ezra's other hand and together they headed down the boardwalk.

"Ezra!" Emma called after them. He turned back to face her. "No card tricks," she smiled and turned back into the hotel followed by her husband.

Chapter 2

Buck entered the saloon followed closely by JD who seemed preoccupied with a burr caught in his pants pocket. He found Chris, Josiah, and Nathan sitting in their usual table. "Boys," he gestured pulling out a chair and sitting in it backwards.

"No ladies on that stage to your liking Brother?" Josiah asked him good-naturedly.

"Just a married couple with their kids, I guess they're old friends of Ez's."

"They invited us for dinner, all of us." JD piped in pulling the burr out of his pocket, "finally."

"Ez is watching their children for them while they get settled for this evening." Buck added.

"I hope they watch their money." Nathan joked surprised by the bitterness in his voice.

"Brother Ezra has a way with children," Josiah noted, "remember the Seminole Village."

"He conned those children into doing the work for him Josiah," Nathan argued bitterly remembering the first encounter with the conman.

"Maybe," Josiah nodded in agreement, "but they flocked to him all the same." Nathan had to agree and when it came to being observant of people's behaviors there was non-better than the former preacher.

"Where's Vin?" JD asked breaking the tension.

"He went to get some shells and coffee," Chris finally spoke up still sipping on his beer.

Vin sat two boxes of shells and the bag of coffee on the counter of Mrs. Potters store. "Will that be all for you Mr. Tanner?" Gloria asked.

"Yes mam," Vin reached into his pocket to retrieve enough money to pay for his purchases.

"Mr. Tanner," Mary said walking up behind him, young Billy Travis at her heals pulling at her skirts, "yes Billy what is it?" She asked him setting her basket on the counter next to Vin's supplies. Billy pointed to the door as Ezra came in with a young girl attached to his hand. Mary and Mrs. Potter chuckled when they both spotted a young man attached with his arms around Ezra's neck. The small boy smiled big and put his finger to his lips as to hush anyone from speaking up.

"Mrs. Potter, Mrs. Travis." Ezra smiled big his gold tooth showing, "perhaps I could get your assistance," Ezra looked down to Hanna and smiled even bigger.

"What can we do for you Mr. Standish?" Gloria said handing Vin back his change.

"I seem to have misplaced a young lad by the name of Samuel, he has dark brown hair blue eyes and stands so tall." Ezra held his hand out to show the approximate height of the boy now hanging around his neck. Hanna laughed out loud and hid herself in the jacket tails of Ezra's coat. Mary smiled as Billy too joined in the children's antics.

"I've heard tell Mr. Standish that lemon sticks work wonders for finding little lost children." Gloria said reaching into the candy jar and pulling out three lemon sticks.

Ezra reached into his pocket and handed Mrs. Potter the money for the lemon sticks and she in turn handed the sticks to him. "This is young Mr. Samuel's older sister Miss Hanna," Ezra looked to Mary and Vin. "Miss Hanna, this is Mr. Tanner, Mrs. Travis, Mrs. Potter, and young Mr. Travis."

Hanna curtsied, "pleasure to meet all of you." She spoke quietly and bowed her head, it was evident the child had been raised very well.

"What manners," Gloria noticed, watching the young girl.

Ezra handed Hanna a lemon stick and she took it never leaving the side of Ezra, as if he could protect her from anything. "Mr. Travis," Ezra looked to Mary to get approval of giving the boy a lemon stick and she gave it to him with a nod of her head.

"Thank you," Billy said taking the candy from Ezra.

"I thank you ladies for your assistance." Ezra tipped his hat to them, "Mr. Tanner."


"Good luck in finding the little lost boy," Gloria said waving to them as they left the store. She watched as Samuel hid his face in laughter behind Ezra's shoulder. "I wonder how he does it." Gloria said more to herself than anyone standing in her store.

"Mam," Vin looked to her tipping his hat before grabbing his supplies.

"Has Mr. Standish ever said anything to you Mr. Tanner?"

"About what mam?"

"His family, how he lost his family." Mary interjected.

"I don't think he had a family, least ways he's never said nothing about it." Vin smiled then headed out.

"I'm not surprised," Mary said watching Vin exit the building.

"Your not surprised about what Mary?" Gloria asked emptying out Mary's basket.

"That he never talks about it."

"Maybe he's put it behind him."

"Maybe," Mary tentatively agreed.

Chapter 3

Josiah softly hummed to himself while he worked on one of the window frames of the church. He was lost in thought and didn't notice the young woman who quietly sauntered in and seated herself in the front pew. Josiah turned his head feeling eyes upon him and smiled large when he saw the young woman looking at him. She was too pretty to go unnoticed and Josiah figured she was one half of the new couple in town.

"I didn't mean to bother you," she said not looking away from the window he had been working on.

"Not at all, can I help you with something?" Josiah put the scraper down and stretched his back.

"I'm Emma Williams," she stood up and stuck her hand out for Josiah to shake.

"Josiah Sanchez."

"Are you the parson here?"

"No, not really, I'm just here to help those in need."

"You have a very settling domineer Mr. Sanchez," she smiled and walked to the window. "I have a problem and I don't know who to speak to it about." She turned and looked directly at him. Josiah could tell she was serious and was in need of guidance.

"I'm a good listener, and if there is anything I can do to help I would be happy to," he seated himself to be more attentive to her.

"My husband and I, along with our two children, are moving west. California to be exact." She twisted her hand in her skirt and moved toward the pew across from Josiah, "I ran into an old friend today, someone I haven't seen for a very long time."

"An old love?" Josiah looked at her believing the subject to be about Ezra but he didn't want to let on that he knew it.

"No," Emma almost choked. She looked at Josiah and felt as though she could continue on, "Thirteen years ago my sister Hanna married this man," She looked at Josiah not wanting to say Ezra's name for fear she would be telling to many of his secrets. She was nervous now and questioning her sensibility for coming to this man to talk about things that for all rights were better left unsaid. "Hanna was killed after the war and he left soon afterward."

"Your sister and this man were married and now you are having trouble facing him?" he didn't understand her reluctance.

"Six months before she died she sent with my father and I some of her personal belongings, things she didn't want the yanks to get." She looked to Josiah for support; he nodded his head in understanding and watched as she pulled a small velvet pouch from her handbag. "This is her wedding ring and a gold locket." She handed them to him. Josiah took them and he looked inside the locket and was surprised to see a woman who looked very much like the woman sitting across from him, it was the two young children in her arms that surprised him the most. "I want to give these back to him, but I don't know how."

"I'm sure he would appreciate having them back." Josiah gave the jewelry back to her.

"You don't seem to realize Mr. Sanchez that this is all he has left of them. And it has been seven years since he lost them. I don't want to be the one to bring up all those memories." She pleaded with him her eyes hiding tears that wanted to flow.

"He needs to have these back Mrs. Williams."

She nodded her head in agreement and fiercely wiped a stray tear away from her cheek. "I know you are right Mr. Sanchez, it's just bringing up a past that should remain buried is difficult."

"But it needs to be done."

"For whose benefit?" she questioned looking to him for answers.

"It would benefit you both. It's obvious that this is something you need to relinquish, maybe in some way it would bring closer to you both." Josiah's soothing voice filled the small church and in some ways gave Emma the encouragement she was looking for.

"He was the world to my sister and I was jealous of that," she silently admitted, "I wasn't there when Hanna died but I know it must have torn him apart. He stayed long enough to bury her and the children and then left, I didn't know what became of him until today," she looked up at Josiah and smiled trying to hide the pain she was feeling. "I know it hurt him to see me today."

"Would you like me to give him the locket and ring?"

Emma thought about it for a moment, "it should come from me, I think it would be better that way."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Josiah said wanting her to fully understand he supported her decision.

"To truly know my loss Mr. Sanchez you would have to have known Hanna."

Josiah and Emma came out onto the front steps of the church to see Ezra carefully cross the street with his two young assistants. "Was he a good father?" Josiah asked not taking his eyes off the gambler.

Emma looked at him surprised, "yes Mr. Sanchez, he was a very good father." Josiah smiled sadly and watched as the two young children ran to their mother.

"Mr. Sanchez," Ezra tipped his hat in greeting.

"Afternoon Brother."

"I will see you two tonight for supper?" Emma looked up at the two men.

"Six," Ezra smiled to her and waved her off. He watched her with the children until they were out of site.

"Quite an amazing woman," Josiah noted looking for a reaction from Ezra. Ezra simply nodded his head in agreement tipped his hat and headed for the saloon. Josiah watched him go; all the while knowing the gambler would never speak of his past, at least not willingly.

JD and Buck both appeared to have bathed and shaved and Ezra shook his head in disbelief. Vin, Chris, and Nathan had joined them at their usual table. "Gentlemen," he said before going to the bar and getting a beer. He returned to the table and seated himself.

"Hey, Ezra," JD scratched his freshly shaven face. "How long have you known Mrs. Williams?" he asked out of curiosity.

Ezra thought back for a moment before answering, "Thirteen years Mr. Dunne," he answered flatly.

"She sure is a pretty thing," Buck spoke up with a smile.

"I assure you Mr. Wilmington as beautiful as she may be her husband will not take kindly to your ogling." JD and Buck looked at him not understanding "don't stare at her all through dinner."

"What are they doing in town?" Chris spoke up wanting to know what had his men so preoccupied.

"Moving to California," Josiah spoke up the saloon doors swinging closed behind him. "From what I understand after talking to Mrs. Williams, she and her husband along with their two children are moving out there to make a new start for each other."

"You seem to know quite a bit about em' Josiah," Vin said fixing his thumb in his pant pocket.

"She came to see me today, had some things she needed to talk about," Josiah locked eyes with Ezra who seemed unnerved by the announcement. He moved uncomfortably in his chair before looking elsewhere in the saloon.

"Ain't she a pretty thing," Buck interjected.

"Prettiest woman in these parts since the wonderful Maude," Josiah smiled big.

"You going to dinner with us Josiah?" JD asked.

"Yes, the lovely young Mrs. Williams invited me as well."

"How about you Vin, Chris?" Buck asked noticing how unusually quiet Ezra had become.

"I recon I could use a good meal," Vin smiled big.

"Might be kinda nice to meet someone from Ez's past," Chris smiled with Vin, "someone who isn't after'em for cheating at cards."

"I will refrain from that comment Mr. Larabee, seeing as how Mrs. Williams is quite an accomplished card player."

"Accomplished, Mr. Standish?" David Williams said coming in through the door his eyebrows raised in question. "In other words gentlemen, she cheats," he laughed.

"Yes well," Ezra smiled flashing his gold tooth, "she cheats very well."

"Taught by the best I'm sure." David pleasantly joked and everyone at the table joined in the laughter.

"Mr. Williams," Ezra motioned for him to take a seat at the table, "my fellow compatriots. You have already met Mr. Wilmington and Mr. Dunne." He motioned for the others, "Mr. Larabee, Mr. Tanner, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Sanchez." David stuck his hand out and shook the men's hands. Nathan was surprised when the southerner shook his hand without malice. "Gentlemen, Mr. Williams."

"My lovely wife sent me over to make sure you all attended dinner this evening." He smiled and he found himself liking the men before him. He had only heard of Ezra a few times when Emma mentioned briefly her sister but that was all. He noted the extraordinary bond they all shared, something he hadn't seen since the war. "Emma is not one to be kept waiting," and with that said everyone got up and headed to the hotel for supper.

The remaining introductions were made to Emma and the children who followed the old adage that children should be seen and not heard. Ezra sat between Emma and Buck wanting the ladies man to take him seriously about David Williams, Emma was his wife and he would not appreciate the man making advances to her. Supper was ordered and Emma tended to her children by tying the napkins around their necks to keep them from getting food on their clothing.

"I understand you are moving to California," Chris spoke up wanting to get to know these people better for his own benefit.

Emma looked to her husband to answer the question and he did so, "the south as it is now is no place to raise a growing family, and California seemed like a good place to start out new."

"What part of the south are you from?" Nathan asked hoping not to overstep his bounds. He knew they were from the old south and it was going to take more than a war to prove he was equal in their eyes.

"Originally from Alabama, but my father moved when I was just a lad and we moved to Georgia, Emma was born and raised in Atlanta."

"My father owned a plantation there," Emma smiled remembering back. "During the war my father insisted my sister and I move to New York and stay with family so we would not have to learn first hand the horrors of war. Hanna stayed behind but father and I went on ahead, I met David there he'd been wounded and was recovering; six months later we were married."

"Is that how you lost your arm?" JD asked receiving a smack in the arm from Buck.

"It ain't polite to ask questions like that kid."

"Yes Mr. Dunne," David wasn't bothered by the young mans curiosity. "I lost it to a bullet during the Appomattox Campaign." He looked to the young man who would have been just entering adolescents, "I understand Mr. Standish you served under Longstreet."

Ezra nodded his head in agreement, "yes," was the simple response.

"You were in the war Ezra?" JD looked to him exuberance seeping off him, he knew Buck and Chris had served together and it was rather shocking that Ezra, the most self-preserving one of the group had served as well.

"Most southern boys were Mr. Dunne," Ezra looked across the table seeing both Chris and Buck nod their heads in agreement.

"Longstreet," Buck said barely above a whisper, "Chris and I served under Hooker, looks like we've been shootin at each other for a long time eh Ezra," Buck said trying to lighten the moment.

"It would not be impervious to say Mr. Wilmington that the instance of war would bring men to fire upon each other without knowing who you were firing at. It was more than strangers firing at each other," Ezra looked up to meet David's eyes. All the men lowered their eyes understanding except JD who didn't understand the effect the war had had on all the soldiers who had survived.

"Let us not speak of such things at the table," Emma interjected. "The war is over and no matter what side any of you were on, we all lost a little."

"How is your father handling your moving to California?" Ezra asked knowing Samuel Carter was not a man who would be willing to see his daughter move to a state so far west.

"Father passed two months ago," Emma wiped her sons mouth with her napkin after he spilled gravy down his chin.

"I'm sorry," Ezra immediately apologized.

Emma turned to face him with a forgiving smile, "no need to apologize Ezra, father was ready and he faced death with dignity." She folded the napkin back onto her lap and continued to poke at her food, "we sold the plantation, or what was left of it, and with that money we plan on making a new start for ourselves. I will of course take the children back in a few years so they can see where I grew up and to visit the family we leave behind." Her eyes seemed sad at the thought of leaving everyone she had loved in her family, most of them were dead now but the idea of visiting their graves was a comfort in itself.

"It's important to stay connected to your roots," Josiah added.

David nodded in agreement, "it is indeed."

Samuel quietly crawled out of his seat and made his way to his mothers lap. She gingerly picked him up and cradled him in her arms; it was obvious the boy was tired. "I think I should take the children up and put them to bed. It has been a long day for them and I fear tomorrow will not be easier." She kissed him on the forehead a wiped the stray dark brown hair away from his eyes.

"No mama, please," Hanna pleaded wanting to stay up and listen to the conversations between the men.

"Tomorrow will arrive soon enough, kiss your father goodnight." Emma got up Samuel now nearly asleep in her arms. Hanna slowly got up and went to her father and with his good arm gave her a hug and she kissed him on the cheek.

"Goodnight," she waved to everyone at the table before following her mother to their room.

"You have a very nice family Mr. Williams," Josiah noted watching the young mother with her two adoring children.

"I am a very fortunate man," David had to agree. "From what I understand her sister is the one I should be thanking." He looked to Ezra for conformation.

"Hanna was a remarkable woman," Ezra said flatly not wanting to explain further.

"She ran part of the underground railroad." David chuckled to himself, "I doubt very much if her father would have approved if he'd known about it."

"Was your wife involved?" Nathan wanted to know, part of his family had escaped with the help of people affiliated with the Underground Railroad. He, as well as everyone else at the table knew the Underground Railroad saved many slaves.

"She was too young to understand and you have to realize Hanna was five years older than Emma. Their father was a slave owner, as was I, at the start of the war." It was hard for David to voice that truth about himself.

"What changed your mind?" Vin asked finding this man to have many different layers.

"Very few of my men who fight with me during the war owned slaves. Many of the ones that did fought side by side with their slaves. I saw a man cut down in the prime of his life, cut down only to have his slave pick up his weapon and fight in the place where that young white boy fell. I realized at that point that the south would loose the war."

"The war was not fought on the basis of slavery." Ezra interjected having fought for his home, wife and family.

"I concur Mr. Standish, but we were fighting for homes and lands that had been built by the means of slavery. During the war I had seen black men and white men fight side by side not as slave and master but as friends and brothers. I realized at that point in my life that I could not go back to the way things had been before the war. The men I had helped enslave deserved the same rights as I." David looked to Nathan with respect in his eyes and years of regret tattooed on his heart.

"You seem to have realized more than most men ever will," Josiah said now respecting the man sitting across from him.

"To little to late I'm afraid."

"Soon enough for most Mr. Williams." Nathan added feeling a little more than vindicated for some of his anger.

"It has been a wonderful evening gentlemen but I must take my leave," David stood up and grabbed the bill for the dinner and picked up his hat. "Until tomorrow," he smiled and headed for his room.

Ezra had been unusually quiet for the evening and everyone at the table knew it, though his poker face was firmly in place. He cleared his throat and picked his hat up off the table, "gentlemen." Ezra got to his feet and headed for the saloon.

"He was awful quiet tonight." Vin voiced his opinion while watching the southerner leave.

"I believe Brother Ezra is battling some past demons."

"You think he and Mrs. Williams was a couple before she married?" Buck asked wanting to understand the relationship between the two.

"No Brother," Josiah spoke a little too quickly.

"It was her sister Hanna?" Vin spoke up remembering the conversation he'd heard between Mary and Mrs. Potter.

"How do you figure that Vin?" Chris looked at him wondering how Vin and Josiah seemed to know more about Ezra and the Williams than the rest of them.

"Mrs. Travis and Mrs. Potter asked me today if'n Ezra had ever said anything about his family, I didn't think anything of it at first."

"That true Josiah?" Chris looked to the big man.

"I believe Brother Ezra's past is his own, and perhaps we should leave it as such."

"That may be true Josiah but I won't ride with a man who abandon his family," Chris said bitterly not hiding any anger he was feeling.

"We don't know that's what happened Chris," Buck said coming to the gamblers defense.

"So what did happen?" Chris looked to Josiah for an answer.

"I just know what I heard here tonight," Josiah looked at the leader not wavering; he was not about to betray a confidence.

Chris looked at Josiah knowing he would not get anything more out of the preacher. He knew what it was like to loose a family and it bothered him to know that Ezra may have abandoned his. "I'll see ya'll tomorrow." Chris got up and headed for the stable not wanting to be around anyone at that moment. He liked the Williams but it bothered him to know that something was bothering the conman and he didn't want the rest of the men to know it. Ezra was way to skilled at keeping his feelings hid and he would never allow himself to speak of his past when it dealt with emotions. Of course it was easier to believe Ezra would have abandoned his family rather than have lost them to an untimely death, how could Ezra feel the same sort of pain that had haunted Chris Larabee for the past three years.

Josiah slowly entered into the saloon; most of the patrons were now gone and only a few lamps still lit up the conman's only place of sanctuary. Ezra sat at the corner table alone playing a game of solitaire half a bottle of whisky adorned the table with an empty shot glass. Josiah sauntered over to the table and sat down without being invited to.

Ezra didn't look up he knew who it was, "something I can do for you Mr. Sanchez?" he played the jack on the queen.

"I just came to tell you that Chris has got it in his head that you abandoned your family." He knew being up front with Ezra might be the only way to get a reaction out of him so Josiah did it the only way he knew how.

Ezra stared at Josiah a moment trying to decipher his angle, Ezra's past was his own and he intended for it to stay that way. "I have no intention of defending my past to anyone particularly one Mr. Larabee."

"So your not denying you had a family?"

Ezra remained quiet unsure of how to answer the question, "our of respect for Mrs. Williams sister Hanna, don't ask me anymore questions." He looked at Josiah and was relieved when he nodded his head in agreement.

"I'll see you in the morning Ezra," Josiah got up and headed for the door.

"Good night Mr. Sanchez."


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