Fall was swiftly approaching. The leaves had begun to change color and there was a nip in the air as the sun set in the Western sky. Vin stopped as he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Cautiously he looked into the window only to realize that what had caught his attention was merely his reflection.
Stepping into the store, he caught the eye of the store owner. Smiling, she bustled over. Theirs was a small town, so a handsome stranger was a rarity.
"Ma'am, I was wondering if I could see that mirror over in the window?"
"Of course, it was part of a set, but I'm afraid that the brush is missing," she told him, handing him the hand mirror.
Vin closed his eyes and smiled, running his hand over the intricate carved flowers framing the reflective surface.
"I, I don't suppose that you know anything about where it came from?" Vin asked.
"Not really; I know that it belonged to young couple that moved here from Texas, They died of a fever some months ago. No family was ever found, so their things are being sold off. I think she mentioned that it had belonged to a distant relative or some such," the woman said, wishing she could tell him more.
Turning it over, Vin carefully examined the back.
"I've seen many wooden hand mirrors, but the carving on that one is extraordinary. The vines on the back are particularly intricate," the proprietress told him.
"How much are you wanting for it?" Vin asked. Not that it mattered, he was buying it. If that meant asking her to hold it while he rode back to Four Corners for the rest of his money, then he would do that.
"Well, since it's only part of the set, a dollar should cover it," she smiled.
Vin nodded and separated it from the three on him.
"Would you like it wrapped? I assume it's for a young lady."
"No ma'am, reckon it'll be just fine like that," Vin blushed slightly that she thought it was for a woman.
"If she does like that, we do have something else she might be interested in." The woman led him over to a knick knacks area and got a wooden statue to show him.
Vin swallowed and bit his lip.
"We think it was made by the same person. I'm afraid that due to the particularly excellent workmanship, it's more expensive."
"How much more?" Vin asked.
"Eight dollars," the woman informed him.
Damn. He didn't have that much to his name. Well, he would if he didn't take the mirror.
"Ma'am, Could you maybe hold it and I'll be back in a couple of weeks for it?" Vin asked, almost pleading.
"I'm sorry, but we have a no holding policy," she told him sadly.
Vin sighed. "Reckon I'll just take this then," he held up his package and tipped his hat to the woman.
Half an hour later, he and Chris were done with their errands, Ezra had been pried away from the poker tables and the three men were on their way home.
Chris grinned over at Vin who was almost fondling a wooden mirror.
"Something about that, Cowboy?" Chris asked him.
Vin smiled, and showed him the back. Ezra was looking from Chris's other side.
"Here the vines form an E, and A, and a T; Ma's initials. There's a A, a J and a T; Pa's initials. Remember this on Ma's dressing table; had a matching hairbrush. She'd have me hold it while she brushed her hair and then mine. Nightly ritual we had. She'd brush and tell me about Pa and how they were a wedding present from him and how the vines stood for Elizabeth Ann Tanner and Arvin James Tanner," Vin smiled, recollecting how he would look forward to that quiet hour with his hard working mother.
Chris nodded; Sarah and Adam had had a thing like that as well. Adam had loved having his mother brush his hair while he snuggled in her lap. When the boy was in bed, part of his and Sarah's routine was him brushing her hair out for her. He had loved her soft, silky, hair.
"Perhaps the proprietress could help you find the previous owner and thus the missing brush? I would be more than happy to assist you in any way," Ezra offered.
"She don't know, I asked her about it," Vin said.
"I'm truly sorry to hear that," Ezra sympathized.
"Reckon that's alright; got the brush in my wagon," Vin grinned. He had been removed from his childhood home so fast that he had not been able to take much of anything, but as the beloved brush was under his pillow, no one had seen him toss it into his small bag of belongings.
Chris smiled; glad that Vin had that small treasure from his happy early years. If he had died instead of Adam he would have wanted Adam to have something like that of Sarah's.
"Arvin," Ezra called.
Vin's head shot around and he was not smiling. He really and truly hated his name, even if it had been his father's.
Chris smiled as Ezra tossed something to Vin.
The Texan easily caught it as the Southerner had known he would.
Reining Peso to a stop, he opened the cloth bag. The intricate and well carved statue fell out. It was a woman holding and nursing a newborn child.
Vin looked over at the two men.
"Might I guess that you and your mother were the models for modern Madonna and Child?" Ezra asked, having read the name on the bottom of the statue.
Vin just nodded. His mother had told him his father was a carpenter, and even had done some artistic carving, but he had never seen any of his work before. To the best of his knowledge his mother had had to sell it all off to support them after he had died.
"I'll pay you back, got my word," Vin told them.
"The debt has been paid many time over, my friend," Ezra told him.
"Son should have something to remember his father by," Chris added.
Vin tipped his hat in thanks, not trusting his voice, as he carefully rewrapped the piece and placed it in the saddle bag with the mirror. Pieces of parents who had loved him and thanks to his heart brothers had been restored to him.