Mercer threw the stone he had in frustration. They had lost the tracks of the seven peacekeepers and his anger was taking over. Sebastian kept his distance he knew better than to annoy his boss at this point in time, he would voice his opinion later. Tony spit some of the tobacco juice out of his mouth and wiped his chin. He to was waiting for the right time to approach Mercer.
"They have to be around somewhere!" Mercer snapped at his men. "Tony you and Bill ride up stream and see if you can pick up there trail again. Seb you and Mitch head down stream. If you pick up there trail fire off a shot."
"It's getting late," Sebastian stated calmly.
"I want these men found," Mercer snapped.
"I know sir, but we won't find their tracks in the dark."
Mercer visibly bit his lower lip out of frustration, he knew Sebastian was right, "we'll camp here tonight and head out again at first light." He turned toward his men, "no drinking, I want everyone on full alert by morning."
Ezra woke to the sound of metal banging on metal. He could hear voices around him whispering and he soon realized he was on the floor of a cabin. "Hey Ezra," Buck almost yelled causing the conman to wince, the pounding in his head had yet to seize.
"Head still botherin ya," Nathan asked squatting down next to the gambler, he reached out to check for another fever. Ezra nodded his head not trusting his voice. "I want you to drink some water, that fever you had did a number on ya." Nathan helped Ezra sit up and he propped some pillows behind him for support before handing him a cup of water, "take it slow, I don't know how your stomach will react."
Ezra nodded, he had no desire to throw up. The pain in his left shoulder was gone and he clenched his fist to test his arm and was relived there wasn't any pain. He took the cup from Nathan and tentatively took a sip. He was thirsty but he wasn't about to chance loosing his control in front of these men. "Thank you Mr. Jackson," he croaked before taking another drink. He noticed it was dark outside and wondered if Mercer would still be out looking for them. He took another drink and sighed to himself, of course he would still be out looking for them. Ezra had conned the man into going after a gold shipment that didn't exist, Mercer would be out looking for them, and he just hoped they would be ready.
"How are you feeling?" Nettie asked looking over Nathan's shoulder.
"Better, thank you Mrs. Wells," Ezra looked questionably at Nathan.
"You remember what happened?" Nathan asked. Ezra rubbed his left temple feeling a slight pull in his shoulder and shook his head no.
"Damn Ezra," Buck gasped, "you damn near scared us all to death."
"You collapsed out in the barn after we first arrived, had one hell of a fever. I ain't real sure what caused it you ain't got signs of infection so I'm thinking it was a reaction to the chloroform. You should have said something about your back." Nathan looked at Ezra for a response but didn't get one.
"Who did it?" Vin asked not sure if he should ask or not.
"It would appear that Mr. Becker has a unambiguous disdain for my southern heritage."
"Mercer's southern," Nathan stood up and grabbed a chair to sit in.
"He is also paying Mr. Becker for his services," Ezra shifted uncomfortably.
"I should change those bandages," Nathan stood up and retrieved the bundle of fresh sheets Nettie and Casey had ripped into strips for more bandage, "A few of the cuts on your back are gonna scar but for the most part it looks like they'll heal real good." Ezra leaned forward as Nathan checked his back he winced as Nathan applied salve to his back and rewrapped his bandages.
"How's Chris?" Ezra leaned back onto the pillows and looked at Nathan.
"Better, he's sleeping now. Something that the rest of you should be doing."
"Your as bad as a mother hen Nathan," Buck complained.
"I wouldn't have to be if'n you boys could stay out of the way of stray bullets."
"It's not like they was stray Nate, aimed right at us as far as I can tell," Vin replied.
Josiah entered finding everyone staring at him, "it's getting cold out there," he went to the stove to warm his hands. "Nice to see you up Brother," he looked at Ezra relieved to see him awake.
"I think you should eat something," Nathan said moving toward the stove and taking the bowl of stew Nettie had dished out for him.
"I'm pushing it with the water Mr. Jackson," Ezra shook his head food did not sound appetizing and he knew he would bring it back up if he tried to eat.
"You should eat something son, you got to keep your strength up," Nettie stood beside the stove looking down on her floor at the three injured men. "Mr. Tanner and Mr. Wilmington almost finished it off earlier, you don't want to miss out on my fine cooking."
"As much as I would like to enjoy you splendid stew Mrs. Wells I fear I must decline," Ezra closed his eyes and rubbed unconsciously his left temple.
"Ya feeling sick to your stomach Ezra?" Nathan asked concern filled his voice.
"Not as yet," was the quick quiet reply.
"If were gonna get these boys back to town in one piece Brother Nathan I'll finish standing watch tonight and you best get some rest. It may be a long day tomorrow." Josiah smiled big before taking the steaming cup of coffee from Nettie and heading back outside.
Nathan nodded his head in agreement, "you boys better get some rest, your gonna need it come tomorrow. It's a long ride back to town and I won't need none of you fallen off your horse's because your to tired to stay on."
"A mother hen," Buck griped again which earned a laugh from Vin.
"You best do as the man says or you'll have me to deal with," Nettie snapped before moving toward Casey's room to check on her and JD.
"Better do as the lady says Buck, she might just shoot ya," Vin chuckled before crawling down back onto his bedroll. He covered his eyes with his arm and found himself actually becoming tired. Within minutes he was asleep along with the rest of them.
Josiah yawned and twisted in the saddle getting a better look around the land. His horse sighed and shook his head. The early morning air seemed colder than it had in quite a few days. Josiah pulled his poncho closer around his chin and watched as the sun started to slowly creep up over the horizon. A heavenly picture is there ever was one, Josiah thought to himself. A large dust cloud seemed to be forming to the west and Josiah felt a tightening in his chest. Mercer was on his way. Josiah turned his mount back toward Nettie's and took off as fast as he could.
Ezra woke with a jump, his headache had lessoned and he sighed in relief. The sound of Buck lightly snoring was in some way a source of comfort for the conman. He sat himself upright and winced at the tightness of his back and slowly got to his feet, a strong call of nature had him beckoning for the door. Carefully he opened the door as to not disturb the forms sleeping on the floor. The bitter cold stung Ezra's shoulders and arms as he turned and faced the early morning sun. No wonder, Ezra thought, Vin liked the early morning hours. When he'd finished he slowly seated himself in the old rocking chair on Nettie's porch. He was cold but he didn't want to go back inside he needed the fresh air. He needed to think about what had happened, how this all started. The argument with Chris, he'd pulled his weapons on these men, and for what. Protecting a past he didn't want to relive, hell, he thought to himself if it had been he who had approached Chris instead of Chris approaching him he might very well be dead at this moment and their wouldn't be anything left to think about. Ezra ran his hand threw his hair and looked out to the rising sun and took a deep breath; after everything is threw maybe he should move on.
Ezra got to his feet and headed inside and stood by the stove Nettie and Nathan had kept burning threw the night and was thankful for the warmth. He jumped when Josiah burst threw the doors followed by a gust of cold wind, "we got trouble coming," Josiah announced instantly waking Vin, Buck and the others.
"How many?" Chris asked almost instantaneously appearing from the back room carefully clutching his side while loading his rifle.
"To many," Josiah replied. "I didn't see how many were coming just the dust cloud following them."
"You boys better put these on," Nettie handed Ezra, Buck and Chris some heavy work shirts, "they ain't the prettiest things ya ever wore but they'll keep you warm."
"You're a godsend Mrs. Wells," Ezra smiled at her while carefully putting the dark brown shirt on, the cuts on his back protesting.
"You boys just be careful." Nettie carefully squeezed his arm and opened up the back door heading for the root cellar. Casey followed close behind.
"Where are the horses?" Chris demanded.
"All in the barn, we didn't think it would be wise to have them out where they could be easily seen," Josiah said helping Vin get to his feet.
"More'n likely they found our trail, we didn't do to much to hide where we were headed," Vin leaned against the hearth and made sure his guns were loaded.
"Hell Chris," Buck jumped in while loading his colt, "we got fair cover here but I sure don't want to bring the ladies into the middle of this."
"I'm afraid Brother, we did that when we showed up here needing sanctuary," Josiah watched as both Vin and Ezra carefully pulled their boots on.
"How far away were they when you spotted 'em?" Chris looked out the window buttoning the shirt Nettie had given him.
"Not more than a mile west of here," He handed Ezra his gun belt and shoulder holster, "you need help getting that rig on?" He knew the gamblers back would be painful particularly when it came to putting the shoulder holster on.
"Thank you Mr. Sanchez, but I think I can manage."
"Josiah you and Nathan get out to the barn and saddle the horses, if they get here before you finish don't try and make it to the house." Chris looked to Vin and then to Buck, "if things start to look bad ride out the back and get to town send a telegraph to Eagle Bend and let them know what is going on." Chris then looked to JD who was already sweating from both exertion and fear, "we'll keep Nettie and Casey in the root cellar and hold them off for as long as possible."
"No offence Mr. Larabee but I think we should send the ladies out of here while there is still time," Ezra took a chance and disagreed.
"I won't take a chance on them getting caught on their way to town, Mercer might take them and use them for hostages," Chris argued.
"It won't happen if they ride out the back way."
"What do you think is going to happen to them if they get caught?" Chris's voice rose in anger. The others in the room waited for the inevitable.
"And what do you think is going to happen to them here?" Ezra stood firm not willing to back down.
Nettie and Casey entered threw the back door and looked stunned feeling the tension in the air, "riders are coming."
Chris looked to Ezra before turning to Nathan and Josiah, "get out to the barn, Buck you and JD get into the back room shoot out the window and be careful. Nettie you and Casey better get yourselves down into the cellar."
Ezra dropped his eyes to the floor and gently grabbed Nettie's arm before she quickly followed Casey outside. He took out the Colt Richards from his shoulder holster and handed it to her, "if they get past us," he looked at her hoping she would understand where he was going.
"You'll need this more than we will, besides I got my Spencer," she patted the gun like it was an old friend while trying to sound confident. She pushed Ezra's gun back toward him.
"If they get past us Mrs. Wells shoot Casey and then shoot yourself." Nettie looked shocked at the idea but took the gun and nodded her head in understanding before heading back out to the root cellar. Ezra looked up surprised to see Vin looking at him then nodded his head in understanding.
"Here they come," Chris stood away from the window while Vin and Ezra crouched down low so not to be seen.
"Looks like twelve maybe fourteen men," Vin sighed waiting for the bullets to fly.
Mercer and his men rode up fast to the old farmhouse. A dog barked from the front porch and chickens ran for cover as the horses squealed and snorted. "There in their," he yelped, "find some cover I want them all dead." He dismounted and slapped his horse on the rump and hid behind some trees while the rest of his men found cover behind rocks, fences, and water troughs. "Come out with your hands up!" Mercer yelled knowing full well he would be rewarded with gunfire.
"Ride out while you still can Mercer!" Chris yelled back restraining only slightly on firing his weapon.
"Go to hell Larabee!" Mercer replied before firing onto the house.
Chris winced when bullets started hitting the window and a shard of glass creased his right cheek, he returned fire at the three men trying to foolishly hide behind the coral fence. He heard a yelp and knew he hit one of them. Vin and Ezra fired out the back door while JD and Buck fired out the window in the back room.
Tony and Sebastian quickly headed to the back of the barn when the bullets started to fly, "having trouble stomaching me now Seb?" Tony smiled using Sebastian's anger he had about the missing gold to his advantage.
"We have a job to do, now do it." Sebastian ordered and watched as Tony carefully opened the back door to the barn.
Josiah and Nathan fired at the men who were shooting at the house. Nathan shook his head knowing he was going to have a full day ahead of him as he watched one by one Mercer's men fall to the ground wounded. "It would appear Brother Chris is shooting his finest today," Josiah smiled raising his rifle to take out another man who tried to find a different place for cover.
"Lets hope it stays that way," Nathan said firing toward the tree line.
"Fraid not," Tony cocked his gun next to Nathan's ear and smiled big when the healer turned a surprised face to find the end of a rifle staring him back in the face. Josiah sighed heavily as his guns were once again removed as well as Nathan's. "Now," Tony smiled big, "why don't you boys get to your feet real slow now and head on outside, I think we got ourselves a couple bargaining chips."
"Stop firing," Chris yelled loud enough for everyone in the house to hear upon seeing Josiah and Nathan exit the barn with guns pointed at their backs, "shit!"
"Damn, what happened?" Vin and Ezra both looked out the window Chris had been firing out of. Ezra shook his head; they were holding a loosing hand.
Mercer smiled when he saw his men bring two of the men they were after out of the barn at gunpoint. "Give it up Larabee, otherwise your men die."
Chris looked at Josiah and Nathan; they had come so far only to be stopped now. Chris counted the number of bodies on the ground, nine. His men had brought down nine of Mercers men if they stopped now he didn't see how they would make it out alive. He looked over and saw Ezra was putting on his derringer under the shirt Nettie had given him to wear and smiled.
"I ain't willing to wait forever Larabee!" Mercer yelled before taking aim at the healer.
Chris visibly jumped when the shot rang out and he heard Nathan yell out in pain. "Were coming out!" Chris yelled back before looking to the four men who now stood around him waiting to hear the plan. "Vin," Chris looked at the tracker, "stay down, as far as they know your dead. Ezra's got his derringer," he looked at the gambler, "that's our ace in the hole. They have five men standing," he paused, "we can take them. We wait until they come in the house to check Vin's body, once he fires the shot Ezra you're on and the rest of us fight like hell." The rest of the men nodded their heads in understanding and slowly followed Chris outside with their arms raised.
Josiah sighed disappointed Chris would give up so soon, but in a way he knew the gunslinger wouldn't give up unless he had a plan, he hoped anyway. He helped Nathan get his feet back under him, the bullet wound only grazed his lower right thigh and for that he was thankful as well as Nathan.
Mercer got to his feet and walked out and stood before the group of men now standing shoulder to shoulder before him, "your missing someone," he snapped walking closer to Standish.
"He's inside," Chris looked down, "he's dead. Died of infection early this morning."
Mercer laughed outright, "is that right." He swung his rifle hard into the conman's chest dropping him to the ground on all fours. Ezra felt his already cracked ribs give under the harsh blow; he rested his head on the ground while grasping his ribcage with his arm. "Seb you and Ben go check it out, and be ready for anything." Mercer watched his men go and squatted down next to the ailing gambler while Tony and another one of his men trained their eyes on the once again prisoners. "You made a fool of me Mr. Standish," Mercer grabbed a handful of the southerner's hair pulling his head up. "I don't like being made a fool of."
Ezra smiled, "touché." He triggered his derringer when he heard the blast from Vin's mare's leg and shot Mercer under his chin and the man fell to the ground dead.
Tony saw his chance and took it. He fired a shot at the southerner just before the last bullet from the derringer found its mark in his chest.. Josiah and Buck acted almost as one, going after the last gunman, he easily surrendered throwing down his gun and raising his hands in surrender. Vin hobbled out of the house with his Mare's Leg raised ready for any action. Josiah gathered up the weapons away from the wounded men. Buck tied them to the fence not bothering with their wounds.
"Ezra you all right?" Nathan asked noticing the gambler hadn't moved from his previous position. Ezra lifted his forehead off the ground and nodded his head that he was fine but continued to rest with his elbows in the dirt. Nathan hobbled toward the conman still grasping the bleeding bullet wound to his lower right thigh.
"JD," Chris yelled. "Go find Nettie and Casey, tell them everything is all right." JD nodded his head in understanding and headed toward the root cellar still supporting his rib cage. Chris carefully reached down and picked up the pistol Mercer had been holding and gripped the handle not wanting to be caught off guard by anyone still willing to make a stand.
"Hay Nate," Buck yelled finishing tying some of the men to the fence. "Some of these here boys are gonna need some fixing up," he smiled feeling somewhat vindicated for the crimes committed against him.
Josiah threw the remaining weapons in a pile not far from the house and headed toward the others. "How are you doing Brother?" Josiah came up beside Nathan as he was making his way toward the gambler.
"Ezra may need some help getting up," Nathan paused bending over the pain in his leg starting to burn, "Mercer may have broke a couple of his ribs with that swing he hit him with."
"You gonna be all right?"
"Yeah," Nathan nodded before Buck came up beside him and grabbed him under his shoulder and helped him inside.
"I'll help Nate if you get Ez."
Josiah nodded his head and headed for the gambler. Ezra didn't want to move his back was on fire again, his shoulder throbbed, his head was killing him, and a new burning sensation was in his upper right side. The only thing he seemed to be able to concentrate on was not throwing up. His stomach was rolling and his head seemed to be making it worse. "Hey Brother," Josiah squatted next to him and carefully rubbed his shoulder not wanting to aggravate his back any further.
"He all right?" Chris asked stepping closer.
"Nate said he may have broke some ribs," Josiah rubbed the gamblers shoulders again. "Lets get you inside." Josiah reached around to pull Ezra up and was rewarded with a quick intake of breath and labored breathing.
"Wait," Ezra grasped before Josiah released his hold.
"He all right?" Vin asked limping toward Josiah, Chris and Ezra.
"Help me get him to his feet," Josiah said grabbing Ezra under his arm and Vin followed suit. "You ready Brother?" Josiah asked Ezra who only shook his head no. Vin and Josiah both lifted the conman to unsteady feet and Josiah grabbed him around the waist before he fell back to the ground. "Lets get you inside."
Vin let go of the gambler and looked at his now bloodied hand, "he's been shot." Vin's face went pale along with Josiah's. Josiah threw the gambler over his shoulder and quickly headed for the house followed by Vin and Chris.
Nettie put her rifle down when she heard JD call out for her and Casey. She sighed in relief not only that JD was alive but also the fact she didn't have to complete Ezra's earlier suggestion to her. "Is everyone all right?" Nettie asked watching as Casey gave JD a quick hug.
"Nathan got shot in the leg and Ez took a hard blow to the ribs, but I think were all okay other than that," JD smiled as Nettie squeezed his arm.
"Lets go doctor up our wounded," Nettie headed back to the house while JD and Casey headed for the barn to tend the horses.
Buck leaned over the healers leg, "damn Nate," he had to chuckle, "you're a worse patient than the rest of us combined." Buck wrapped a clean strip of cloth around Nathan's leg after he'd cleaned it.
"Yeah well," Nathan took a breath not realizing he'd been holding it. "At least my bedside manners don't rank up there with bed mites," he argued, which earned a laugh from Buck.
"It's a wonder you boys aren't bedridden just from the amount of injuries you conjure up." Nettie started up the wood stove again knowing full well she and the others were going to need coffee as well as clean bandages for old and new wounds.
"We wanna thank you mam for letten us use your place," Nathan said.
"All you done for me and my Casey I think we owe you Mr. Jackson," Nettie moved away from the stove to collect more wood, "sit down JD before you fall down."
Chris opened the front door in haste, "Ezra's been shot." He moved out of the way as Josiah carried the unconscious gambler threw the door followed quickly by Vin.
"Heavens," Nettie shook her head in disbelief, "get him on the bed in the back room. Are you up to this Mr. Jackson?"
"Got no choice mam," Nathan got to his feet and followed Josiah and Chris into the back room.
Josiah laid Ezra on the bed and moved away as Nathan ripped the southerner's shirt open exposing the nasty bullet wound high on his right side. "Damn," Nathan swore under his breath he grabbed a handful of bandages and applied them to the bleeding wound. "I need my medical bag from town," Nathan snapped making both Chris and Josiah jump.
"I'll go get it," Josiah said heading out the door.
"I'll go," Vin stopped the former preacher, "I'm lighter and my horse is faster."
"You feel good enough to ride?" Chris asked sensing the urgency of the situation.
"I recon I am," Vin shrugged.
"Go, but get back here as soon as you can, and be careful," Chris said watching Vin leave out the front door.
"Be careful Vin," Nettie called after him with a worried look in her eyes.
Vin reached the barn in a hurry and was relieved to find his horse saddled and ready to go. His leg throbbed painfully but he pushed it aside when he mounted up and headed for town in a hurry.
Nathan cut away the bandages he'd wrapped around the gamblers midsection the night before while still applying pressure to the gunshot wound. "He's got a couple broken ribs," Nathan said checking him for fever, he sighed feeling one already starting to form. He had to smile when Nettie appeared with a washbasin and cloth.
"Do me a favor boys," Nettie looked around the room at the men watching with bated breath.
"Mam?" Buck asked leaning against the back wall.
"Next time Judge Travis is in town, ask him for an extended reprieve. You boys need it after all this," she squeezed out the excess water from the cloth and bathed Ezra's face with it. She took Ezra's hand and squeezed it wanting him to know he was going to be all right. "Perhaps Mr. Larabee you and Mr. Wilmington should sit down. I wouldn't want Mr. Jackson to have to worry about the rest of you as well."
Josiah nodded his head in agreement noticing Chris had started bleeding threw his shirt, "come on Brother, let me change those bandages for you." He grabbed Chris's arm and walked him into the other room, he knew right away Chris wasn't feeling very well because he didn't protest to the suggestion. Buck tentatively followed suit. "Don't worry about Vin," Josiah reassured the gunslinger, "he's strong and he'll make it back here in no time." Josiah guided Chris to a chair not far from the wood stove and got him seated in it. He opened Chris's shirt to find the bandage that covered the wound soaked in fresh blood. It bothered the former preacher and he noticed Chris's face get considerably paler. "You all right Brother?"
Chris nodded his head to tired to say much of anything, "someone should watch the prisoners." His voice didn't waver but it was barley above a whisper.
"How's he doing?" Buck asked seeing the concern written on Josiah's face.
"I think it would be best if we got him laying down," Josiah stood and started rolling out a couple of the bedrolls that had been on the floor earlier being used by Vin and Buck. "Make sure he don't fall out of that chair."
It took both Josiah and Buck to get Chris laid out on the bedrolls. He kept insisting he was fine but the two men trying to get him comfortable didn't overlook his weakening argument. "Damn it Chris if you just lay down everything will be fine," Buck snapped trying to keep the gunslinger on the bedroll.
Josiah stepped back with a bundle of new bandages and smiled big, "I think we are going to have by Mrs. Wells some new sheets once we all get out of here," he chuckled before taking a seat not far from Chris's side. He gently cut away the now bloodied bandages Nathan had wrapped him in the day before and started to clean the aggravated wound.
"Damn Preacher," Chris snapped trying to move away from the prying hands.
"If I don't clean it out Brother it'll get infected and then I'll have Nathan after me for not doing a better job."
"You need me to get anything?" Buck asked sensing Chris's uncomfortable state.
"You can hand me that bottle of whisky," Chris smiled needing something to ease the pain.
Josiah laughed as Buck handed his long time friend the bottle and Chris took a long swig, "feel better know?"
"Give me a moment."
Nathan continued to apply pressure to the wound on Ezra's side, he sighed to himself not happy that the wound hadn't stopped bleeding, "stay still Ezra," Nathan said as the conman tried to move away from the pressure.
"Had to go and get yerself shot on top of everything else," Nettie smiled down at the prone gambler and gently took his struggling hand. "Hold still now while Mr. Jackson tries to keep you together," she rubbed his forehead with her free hand and looked back to Nathan's worried face.
Ezra leaned back against the pillows that had been placed behind his back, he was relatively surprised that the gunshot wound didn't bother him as much as he would have expected. He tried to keep his eyes open but found it increasingly difficult, he was weak and didn't notice Nettie gently wiping the beads of sweat off his brow. "Is everyone all right?" he muttered trying to move his hand away from the grasp that seemed to be clutching it.
"Everyone is fine," Nathan replied pressing more of the bandages into the wound while ignoring the verbal protest from his patient. Nettie clutched Ezra's hand tighter and continued to wipe down his face, "I'm worried Mrs. Nettie," Nathan looked to her his eyes pleading.
"Do what you can son," Nettie tried to reassure him.
"Another fever could kill him," he shook his head. Nettie grabbed his arm and squeezed it gently unsure of what to say, they had all been threw so much and to loose one of them now would be devastating.
"What do we need to do?"
"He needs fluids, he hasn't had enough over the past few days and he hasn't had enough to eat. He won't be strong enough to fight," Nathan argued with himself he knew Ezra was in no shape to battle another fever and the blood he was loosing would only make him weaker.
"Well then," Nettie sighed getting to her feet, "it's best we fight for him," she patted Nathan on the shoulder and headed into the other room. She found Josiah leaning over the prone form of Chris who was now sound asleep. "How is he doing Mr. Sanchez?"
"With all the whisky he's had," Josiah smiled big, "I recon he'll be sleeping for a long while. How's Ezra?"
"Not good," Nettie shook her head and headed for the stove, "he's got Mr. Jackson all tied up in knots."
"Is there anything I can do?" Josiah stood up and stretched his back the concern on his face etched onto his weary face.
"Mr. Jackson is concerned that Mr. Standish hasn't had enough food or liquids, he's afraid he won't be strong enough to fight another fever." She grabbed a cup from the shelf and filled it with worm water and then a couple spoonfuls of sugar. Josiah watched as she cracked an egg and put it in the concoction she made. Nettie paused and turned to face the former preacher, "I think he may be right," Nettie shook her head before heading back into the back bedroom.
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