Part of The Friendship Collection
Notes: Many thanks to Phyllis for her help with this.
1) many thanks to Marnie for her help with this
2) I don't know the exact date Robert Louis Stevenson said this quote, so it's possible it was after the time the Seven would have been together, but I figured it was close enough for fanfic purposes.
"Would you call the porter up here, son?" Maude asked as she tucked a stray hair under her traveling hat.
"You just arrived yesterday, Mother," Ezra replied. "We weren't even able to have dinner together and now you're leaving again? Forgive my confusion, but why would you take the time and trouble to travel all the way to this, quaint village just to turn around less than twenty-four hours later?"
Turning to face Ezra, Maude straightened her dress and queried, "Does a mother need a reason to see her son?"
"Well... no," the young man replied, trying to figure out what Maude was doing.
"Then don't you worry about it," she commanded.
Unfortunately, having seen the havoc those words could create, they had the exact opposite effect of the one Maude intended. He had to know why Maude had come out to visit again. "No, Mother," he replied, standing straight. "I will not let this go. This trip is very out of character for you."
Seeing the determination in her son's eyes and not wanting to fight, Maude decided she would give him this much. "I was checking into your associates and became worried by much of what I found. I came to see for myself if they were worthy of your trust."
A flash of defensive anger seared through Ezra on behalf of his friends. It was the honest concern he read in Maude's eyes, however, that quenched it. She really had been worried for him. "Mother," he said softly, "you have taught me well. I assure you, they have not deceived me."
"I know that, sugar," she smiled, patting her son's cheek. "But a mother worries."
"So, what changed your mind?"
"I watched the seven of you working together last night and talking," she admitted.
"You were in the saloon for that brawl?" Ezra asked, shocked. He hadn't even noticed.
Maude's mouth curved upward in a wry smile. "I can't say I completely approve of your participation in such barbaric activities, but, yes, I was there." Allowing her disapproval of such things as brawls to show, she continued, "I can assure you that stepping into the saloon expecting to see my baby boy cleaning out pockets and finding him, instead, exchanging blows, was not the greeting I expected. However, while I hardly raised you to participate in such plebian adventures, you acquitted yourself quite well."
"Thank you," Ezra replied automatically, a small smile tugging at his lips. It was true that his mother had raised him to avoid such plebian things as brawls, but a portion of him had to admit, he enjoyed it. Sobering as his puzzlement returned, he observed, "That still explains neither your sudden change of heart toward my friends, nor your need to leave so soon."
Her eyes drifting toward the window where she seemed to watch something in the distance, Maude let out a sigh. "'We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend,'" she replied, turning her attention back to Ezra. "You, Ezra, dear, have found six such friends. Hold them close and cherish them."
Shocked by this advice and how much his mother had revealed in that quote, he cleared his throat and asked, "Emerson, mother?"
Maude smiled, equally uncomfortable with the emotional scene. "Stevenson, son. Robert Louis Stevenson."
Ezra nodded. Suddenly, he felt the need to ask, "What about you, Mother? Have you ever found such a friendship?"
Maude's lilting laughter filled the room. "Why, of course, my dear boy," she replied, an amused smile settling on her mouth. "Didn't you ever wonder why your Aunt Sadie and I looked nothing alike?"
"Aunt Sadie's not your sister?" Ezra asked, shocked. He had spent a good portion of his childhood with Aunt Sadie. Though he would have rather been with his mother, she was, at least family, or so he had thought.
"She's closer to me than a sister," Maude admitted quietly. "She's my friend."
Understanding slowly filled Ezra. That same, close relationship Maude shared with Aunt Sadie was what she had seen between him and the others.
"Go get the porter," Maude repeated, turning away from the understanding she saw in Ezra's eyes. It was time to go. "I must catch that stage. I have business to attend to elsewhere."
"Yes, Mother," Ezra replied, turning to leave. As he shut the door behind him, he couldn't help but utter, "An amazing woman."