|Lost and Found
Author: hunterlab12 PM
OW - Vin disappears and the others come looking for him. What will they find?Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Adventure - Vin T. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 20,787 - Reviews: 21 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 01-12-13 - Published: 12-26-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8838174
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Lost and Found – Part 1
Catherine was clearing the supper dishes, readying them to wash when the sound of a horse approaching outside drew her attention. She stopped to listen intently before moving to the front door and the rifle there. The slow-moving horse stopped, and she waited for several moments debating what to do. A solid thud of something hitting the ground and horse's hooves moving were the only sounds that came through the closed-door. Taking a deep breath, Catherine clutched the rifle more tightly in her hands and opened the door a crack. "Who's there?" she demanded and clamped her jaw in irritation at the slight tremble she heard in her voice. There was only the sound of the horse blowing at something near the ground, and she opened the door a few inches more. "Who's there?" she demanded more firmly and again received no answer.
Waiting a few more minutes in indecision, she finally settled the rifle in her right arm, her finger near the trigger and reached for the walking stick by the door before fully opening it. She stepped onto the porch and stopped at the top of the steps. A cool slight breeze tickled a few wisps of hair into her face, and Catherine swiped it away with her shoulder. Cautiously, she made her way forward and stopped a few feet from the horse she could hear munching on what little grass there was by the path leading to the barn.
Tapping in front of her with the stick, she finally hit something that gave a little when she prodded at it. Cautiously and slowly, she squatted to see what it was. Her hand encountered a buckskin-covered shoulder, and she moved her hand to the head attached. Immediately, she felt the slick wetness on the side of the head and went to her knees to explore further, concern for the fallen injured man overtaking her cautiousness. The horse came over, smelling and blowing before nipping at her hair and bumping against her check with its muzzle. Hand searching, she found the soft muzzle and pushed it away, "Get back horse," she said irritated.
She tried again to see to the man, but the horse returned to annoy her. Huffing out a breath Catherine reached for the horse, caught its bridle, and walked it to the corral. Once inside, she un-tacked the horse and returned to the fallen man. Very slowly and carefully, she checked for injuries. The only blood came from his head wound. Considering her options of how best to move him inside before attempting anything she returned to the house quickly, taking the rifle and walking stick with her and set some water on to boil. She retrieved items she would need to see to his injury and moved back outside to the man's side. "Sir," Catherine said, tapping his cheek. There was no response. "Sir," she called louder and tapped his check a little harder. The only reply was a low groan. With a huge sigh, she resigned herself to the fact that she was not going to get any help from him getting into the house.
Chris Larabee sat at his usual table in the corner of the saloon sipping his whiskey. Ezra sat a few tables over involved in a poker game with a newcomer who had come in on the stage the day before. None of the other peacekeepers were present as the sun started fading into the west. Larabee was growing more concerned as the days passed. He had decided at first light he would ride out and see if he could find his too long overdue friend and fellow peacekeeper, Vin Tanner. It was normal for the tracker to take off periodically for a few days to a week and return to town more settled and relaxed. Chris knew that too many people, and the town around them seemed to close in on the quiet man, and he would ride out to gather himself back together. However, it was not like Vin to be gone two weeks going on three. He could not help but worry that the young man had run into trouble. He had no way to know if the man was safe or being taken to Texas to hang for a murder Tanner did not commit. Chris sat on the boardwalk in front of the saloon and jail watching intently for the familiar figure of Vin to ride back into town. So far, there was nothing. There was no Vin and Larabee was getting madder and more worried by the minute. Buck and JD entered the saloon in yet another bickering match and Chris looked up at them with a frown. He was not in the mood for their antics.
Catherine somehow managed to half drag half carry the injured man into the house. For as slight as he had seemed upon her search for injuries, he was a lot heavier than she had counted on, and she had to stop and rest several times before getting him inside the door. He now lay in her small bed cleaned and bandaged, covered in a well-worn quilt. She discovered that he was badly beaten once she managed to remove his clothing. Though she could not see the bruises, there were indications of heat and swelling, and she had rubbed him down liberally with liniment. He had yet to awaken or stir other than some groaning as she had checked him again for injuries and rubbed the liniment into his muscles.
His clothes were now soaking in the washtub to be scrubbed shortly, and she sat nibbling her lower lip wondering what else she could do for him. A pot of soup sat simmering on the cook stove, and a loaf of bread was baking in the oven. Catherine had managed to get a few sips of water into him, and she hoped to get some broth into him later. Sighing, she stood to tend to the wash.
By nightfall, the other four peacekeepers arrived at the saloon to join Chris in a drink and conversation. After a while, they were surreptitiously eyeing their leader who seemed even quieter than usual.
"What's on your mind, Chris?" Buck asked looking around at the others before looking directly at Chris.
Chris downed his shot of whiskey and set the glass on the table, rolling it between thumb and forefinger. "I'm headed out in the morning. Vin's never been gone this long." He poured another glass.
"You think there's trouble?" Nathan asked concerned that their friend could be injured somewhere.
"It does seem brother Vin has been gone longer than usual," Josiah added. "Think maybe we should ride along."
"Can't say on trouble, Nathan, but I'd feel better if we checked it out," Chris said looking at his companions.
"Hell, Chris," Buck put in. "He probably just found a nice place to hole up and ain't ready to come back yet."
"Don't think so, Buck." Chris eyed him narrowly.
"Suit yourself pard. I'm sure he's out there somewhere enjoying himself." Buck took a swig of his beer and elbowed JD good-naturedly. "Ain't that right, Kid?"
JD's brow furrowed, and he looked at the others. It was not like Vin to stay gone so long. "I don't know, Buck. Chris is right. Vin hasn't been gone this long before. What if he came across some bounty hunters or something?" JD had put into words what the others did not want to think about but had.
"Josiah, Nathan," Chris turned his attention to them sitting on his left. "Think we should ride out and see if we can find anything. Buck, you and JD stay here with Ezra, look after the town."
Buck sobered at everyone's concern. "Alright, Chris. I'm sure he'll be riding in once ya'll are gone," Buck grinned.
"I hope so." Chris finished his drink and stood up. "Meet you at the livery at dawn," he said to Nathan and Josiah, who nodded before finishing their drinks and standing to leave.
Please let me know what you think. Thank you for reading.