Little Britches
The "Debate" Debacle

by Marilyn Crawford

Summary: Little JD's misunderstand of a word causes consternation and amusement


“Such adorable, well-behaved little boys,” Mrs. Potter said approvingly as she handed a piece of hard candy to both Vin and JD. Vin lowered his blue eyes shyly, but murmured his thanks while the irrepressible JD hugged Mrs. Potter’s skirt. “You are so pretty,” he cooed.

Mrs. Potter beamed at the dimpled little boy disregarding the dirty hands leaving prints on her favorite dress.

Mary Travis entered and also smiled at the boys.

“Hi, Mrs. Travis! Do you have more papers? Did a bad guy rob the bank? Did someone break a leg? Vin and I am are visitin’ Unca ‘Siah, and Unca Nathan. I got a cut on my little finger when Vin bitted me!” showing a dirty little finger with a small cut. “Can you put that in the paper. I’s can read! It would be fun to see my name in the paper!”

“My stars and garters!!” Nettie Wells exclaimed tartly as she entered. “Does that child ever hold his tongue?”

JD’s small face looked puzzled, but he obediently obeyed and stuck out his tongue and held it.

The women laughed and Vin snorted.

“I’s tan, Vin, but tant talk,” JD said, finding it hard to hold his tongue and chatter.

“JD!” Vin hissed. “That’s yucky!”

JD took his hand away from his tongue which was red from the candy. He calmly wiped his sticky hand on his pant leg.

Mary Travis couldn’t help laughing.

“Maybe you should put that in the paper, Mrs. Travis,” Mrs. Potter suggested softly.

She smiled at Mrs. Potter, then said quickly as she noticed the boys heading for the door. “Vin, JD, can you tell me where your fathers are? I need to get some answers about the man in the jail.”

Before Vin could open his mouth, JD piped up loudly. “They’s having a DATE!”


Vin and JD peered through the saloon doors. They both knew little boys were not allowed, but both were fascinated, especially with Ezra’s shuffling of the cards.

“Well, what have I got here?” Josiah’s voice boomed as he held up a boy in each arm for a moment before putting them down.

“Hi, Unca ‘Siah!” JD sang out, hugging the big man. Vin smiled self-consciously as Josiah patted his head.

“What do you think, Nathan?” Josiah asked the healer as he walked up. “Do you think these boys are sick?”

“I don’t know,” Nathan said seriously, playing along. “I think they have candyitis. It’s a disease that turns little boy’s tongues and mouths red.”

Alarmed, JD began to chatter, “You won’t cut it out, Unca Nathan? Is it ‘cause I tan’t hold my tongue? I did a littl’. Is red bad? If I promise not to eat candy, will you not cut it out?” And JD held his small hands over his mouth to protect his tongue.

Josiah and Nathan both snorted while Vin looked superior as he shook his head.

“They’s teasin’ you, JD.”

“We could never do without your chatter,” Josiah said solemnly. Nathan nodded.

Vin thought he might be able to, at least once in a while, but he remained silent.

A roar from Ezra’s table, and JD and Vin scooted under the batwings. “Hi, Unca Ezra!” JD shrieked throwing himself at Ezra and knocking cards and money flying along with a glass of whiskey that ended up in Ezra’s lap as he held the urchin aloft.

Nathan snatched JD so Ezra could get up, dripping, murmuring to Josiah, “Watch the money, it’s the most I’ve won since I relocated to this hellhole. The only thing worse that losing that money would be Mr. Larabee inquiring as to how young JD came to smell of whiskey.”

“JD!” Vin scolded as he observed JD lapping the whiskey with his tongue from where dripped off the table.

Ezra turned pale.

“Phew!!!!” JD spat whiskey over the money already drenched in it.

Ezra turned paler and fled upstairs.

“My Buck and Chwis can’t get Unca Ezra; they’s on a DATE!” JD announced loudly.

The whole saloon stared and then exploded in laughter. Josiah and Nathan’s mouths opened and closed. Just then Chris and Buck were spotted walking to the saloon and Buck rested his right hand on Chris’ shoulder.

“What’re Vin and JD doing in here?” Buck demanded. He picked up his small son. “Phew! Little Bit, what happened?”

“It was an accident, Buck,” Nathan said calmly.

“Ezra!” Chris bellowed.

“Yes, Mr. Larabee?” Ezra answered as he reappeared with a new suit. “I . . . I can explain . . .”

“Have fun on your “DATE”?” Several of the men in the saloon snickered.

“WHAT????” Both Chris and Buck exclaimed.

“That’s what Unca Ezra said! Chwiss and My Buck were on a DATE!”

Chris’ and Buck’s faces both turned purple.

“Debate!” Ezra sputtered, realizing in horror that his response to JD’s query earlier in the day had been misunderstood. “JD, debate!”

“That’s what I told Mrs. Travis to put in the paper and Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Wells, and everyone else,” JD chattered, unperturbed.

“All over the town,” Buck moaned.

Chris’ hand went to his gun as his green eyes flashed and he uttered one word to Ezra. “Run!”

The End

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