Music Hath Charms
Dedicated: to Brenda, who gives me all my best ideas.
They robbed the bank at a very inconvenient time, early on a Sunday. Josiah Sanchez was just starting his Sunday service with a sense of anticipation. Today, Four Corner's tiny church not only was having a service, but also was actually going to have a choir with musical accompaniment. Ezra Standish (and Josiah knew damn well that this was right up there in the miracle category) had volunteered to join the choir. J.D. Dunn, Yosemite (who had a lovely tenor bass), Mary Travis, Casey Wells and quite a few others had turned out to have really lovely voices and Josiah was really looking forward to hearing their voices lifted in praise. A piano from the saloon had been cheerfully pulled from Saturday night's weekly orgy at the saloon (Josiah had put in on rollers and been helped by an enthusiastic crowd of drunken wranglers). Today Mrs. Potter was going to be playing hymns on it..
Folks who never went to church were there, just for the sake of the company and the song and Josiah had a sermon planned that he's prayed over for literally weeks.
He was just opening his mouth to call them all to prayer, when the big door swung open and Chris Larabee and Buck Wilmington came in with anxious looks on their faces.
Both men took off their hats, but their expressions were not worshipful.
"Bank was robbed. No one's hurt, but we gotta ride." Said Buck. Behind Buck, Ezra could see Vin out on the street bringing their horses. Josiah muttered something definitely unecclesiastical under his breath, handed his Bible to someone and told them all, "Brethren, don't let this spoil your Sunday worship. You don't need me to read the good book or to lift your voices in song."
He could see Ezra and J.D. nodding to everyone and they all left quickly. Vin had already determined which way the robbers had headed. As they exited town, Josiah could hear voices raised in song, coming faintly from the church. It was a terrible disappointment.
"Why did they rob the bank on a weekend, Buck?" he heard J.D. asking.
"Probably expected everyone to be drunk or in church," he heard Chris Larabee answer.
"Damn disappointing." He heard Vin Tanner say, as he brought his horse to a stop to examine sign.
The handsome tracker looked up at Josiah, "I was hoping to hear our new choir. Hear Ezra and J.D. sound pretty good." He said, and then crouched down and examined something on the trail.
Ezra drew up alongside his older friend. "Mr. Sanchez, I too find myself disappointed. I was enjoying the music and the company."
Josiah smiled down at the shorter man. "I reckon those bank robbers owe us." He said mildly,
When they surprised the robbers later on, the resulting shootout did nothing for his mood. That no one was hurt in the dust-up was pleasing and that they recovered all the stolen money was admirable.
An inside man, the newest teller at the bank, had made the silent robbery possible. He had obtained the combination to the vault and planned the robbery to take place early on Sunday morning, when everyone would either be in bed recuperating from Saturday night or asleep waiting for church to start. He had planned that no one would discover the crime until Monday morning when the vault had opened.
Vin Tanner, however, had noticed men leaving town before dawn just as he was arriving in town from a late patrol. Noticing the teller in the group, he had gotten the bank manager out of bed and then discovered the crime.
Josiah could see that his fellow peacekeepers were justly proud of Vin and pleased to have recovered the money so quickly and with so little violence. In spite of that, Josiah found himself glaring at the teller and his partners in crime.
All three of them were handcuffed and tied to their horse's saddles. The entire party was starting back to Four Corners. Buck was laughing at J.D.'s exuberance and Ezra was dusting off his hat. "This has been one of our more fortunate enterprises, gentlemen" said the wily cardsharp genially, "Why, we should be home in time for the noon repast."
Something in Josiah snapped. "Well, I'm not happy." He said forcefully and noted that his fellow peacekeepers all looked startled.
"You ruined my Sunday worship." He informed the prisoners. "I was looking forward to some musical praise to the good Lord. So I think you owe me some music."
The prisoners were unimpressed. One leaned over some and spat.
Josiah shot the spitter's hat off. This seemed to spur them on some. The teller began to sing Amazing Grace, and the last bank robber joined in shakily. The spitter stared at Josiah in utter terror but didn't join in. The teller completed five verses of the song, one of which Josiah had never heard before. He took careful note of the words for future reference. When they had completed the song, he rode up next to the spitter, who turned whiter than Ezra.
"I'm catholic," the repentant one blurted, "I don't know them hymns."
This didn't improve Josiah's mood one bit. "Sounds like you need a refresher in the music of the mass." He said, "Let's start with the Doxology."
The spitter had a damn fine tenor and burst into strains of enthusiastic Latin.
Josiah heard someone laugh and swung around in the saddle. Buck was falling off his horse, but the others managed to throw up passable reserved looks. J.D. grinned at him and joined in, and the ex-preacher nearly fell off his horse when Ezra joined in, singing a beautiful harmony.
They sang nearly the whole mass, then started in on the Protestant hymns. The spitter looked immensely shocked when Josiah launched into A Mighty Fortress, but Josiah had fewer issues with Martin Luther than he did with the bank robbers. Shall We Gather at the River proved popular. Then the teller lit into a song called, "Lord of the Dance". Josiah really liked that one; it had almost an eastern sound to it.
"Where did you learn that one?" Josiah asked.
The teller blushed, "My granny's a shaker." He explained.
Josiah then started up with Rock of Ages and everyone joined in.
Then, as the last note died away, Nathan Jackson launched into an old spiritual, and again, Ezra took up the harmony. The two voices melded together well
By the time they reached Four Corners, even Chris Larabee and Vin Tanner were singing, full voiced. They were greeted by an astonished Mary Travis and a grateful bank manager, as well as an appreciative Yosemite.
Buck and J.D. locked the robbers up and Yosemite walked up to Josiah. "The wind was in our favor. We could hear all of you for the last hour or so. Mighty fine singing, I must say. Too bad they didn't find religion before they decided to rob the bank, would have made good additions to the choir."
Josiah's bad mood was banished by the sweet muse of song and he didn't think of it again until the following Sunday. He entered church that morning and found that his congregation had grown to overflowing. Nathan Jackson, Buck Wilmington and Chris Larabee were in the choir with J.D. and Ezra. Through the open back door, he could see Vin standing with an expectant look on his face and realized the tracker was too shy of crowds to come into church, but that the entire Seven were here today, as well as everyone in town and all the outlying ranches.
He stood behind the pulpit, and gave the blessing, then prayed, "Lord, I know you have a sense of humor, because only you would have made a bank robbery on a Sunday morning into an reason for everyone in town to come to church."