Jo sighed a worried sigh. Two hours into the trial and it was not going well. Edward had little or no evidence to prove Nat not guilty. She turned her head and Nick gave her a reassuring smile. "It's going to be ok Jo." his blue eyes read, then he took her hand and patted it.

"So what did you ask me out here for?" Nan asked annoyed. It was a warm spring day which contrasted the feelings inside the courthouse. She couldn't believe how everything could change in only a short time. A year and a half ago had been happy, carefree. Now everything was wrong and nothing was right.
"I'm going to tell them I did it." Dan said stubbornly .
"What? Dan I know Nat's your friend, but if you didn't have anything to do with it…"
"But I did."
"What did you do?" Nan spoke unconvinced. "Beside they don't allow children in court. It 's not like they're just going to let you walk in."
"I did for Ben, and I'll do it for Nat. I don't have time to tell you how I'm involved. Just promise me that you won't tell anyone where I've gone."
"I' won't, but you have to promise me something." Nan said a familiar spark in her eye. Dan noticed and tilted his head a little as if he was trying to figure out what to make of her. "Say…what do you have planned Nan?"
"I have my secrets too. Promise me you won't say anything in court until after I've gotten there."
"I don't know about that…"
"Please Dan. Just promise."
"I' can't Nan." he spat.
"Fine." she said and as only as Anthea Harding would do she got a board that Nick had left lying on the floor of the barn and hit him on the head with it. She reached down and took his pulse. "Sorry, but you'll be fine," she spoke to the unconscious boy, "I just needed some time to save both your lives."

The day dragged on and Jo wondered why when you want something not to happen that event seems to come up so fast. Such was the case now, and closing remarks loomed ahead. Nat, it seemed ,was going to jail or worse. She breathed a sigh of relief as the judge allowed a hour break.
"Nick I-" she started.
"Mrs. Bhaer, a word please." Eli McBride cut in.
"Yes, Mr. Mc Bride?" Mrs. Jo said annoyed.
"Well I was just wondering, since it seems that one of your prized pupils is , to put it frankly, going to hang, that you would now be more that than willing to discuss the selling of your school, to me of course."
Jo felt bottled up rage come up within her and she felt she was going to explode. How could he be so callous ? So cold?
"How dare you ask me something like that now? I will not be selling my school. And I will never sell it to the likes of you!" she spat letting her anger get the best of her.
"Mrs. Bhaer, now listen to me-" he started walking closer to Jo.
"No, you listen, McBride. Leave the lady alone." Nick stepped in between the two and griped the collar of his shirt.
"You threaten me once Mr. Riley are you trying to do it again?"
"No, I'm just tellin' ya to go home if you know what's best for you." Nick replied letting go of Eli's collar.
Mr. McBride straightened shirt and looked to the crowd that had formed out side the courthouse. "Fine, I'll go. But see what kind of person Mrs. Bhaer has around her students." he cast a disgusted look towards Nick. "It'd be no surprise if they all didn't end up murderers."
"That man." Jo replied .
"Don't let him get to you Jo," Meg said reassuringly . "Come on ,let's go inside before the trial starts up again."
"Alright." she relied as she picked up her skirts and walked inside.

* * *

"Court has resumed. Any more witnesses?" the judge referred to Edward.
"No, I--" He started as Nan rushed in with Dr. Pierce by her side. Dr. Pierce walked up to Edward and the two spoke for a few moments in hushed whispers. The crowd within the courthouse began to talk as well, excited about the new development and wondering where this trial would go next.
"Judge, "Edward spoke. "I would like to call, Mr. James Kendall to the stand."
"Mr. Kendall?" Amy said amazed. "The bartender? What could he possible have to say?"
"Hush." Jo said harshly.
"Now, Mr. Kendall, you saw a lot of Michael Blake in your bar didn't you?"
James Kendall was a portly man, not overly intelligent ,but had a good heart. He was also a nervous, shy man and he rang his hands around his hat , over and over as he quietly answered the question. "Yes, he was in the bar a lot."
"And when Mr. Blake was in your bar, did he drink a lot? Enough to be intoxicated?"
"Yes, an awful lot. Sometimes he'd leave the bar barley able to get home."

"Objection." the prosecutor sated. "What does this have to do with Mr. Blake's murder?"
"Your honor, I'm trying to prove something here. If I could just ask a few more questions, you'll see my point." Edward retorted.
"Sustained. Go on." The judge spoke.
"Now one last question, Mr. Kendall. How many times a week would you say Mr. Kendall come to your bar?"
"Um, about twice a day. Maybe even more than that."
"Thank you Mr. Kendall. I have no further questions."
Jo, sat puzzled. What was Edward trying to do? She wondered what Nan had to do in all of this, as well as Dr. Pierce. One thing was for sure; her students did have a way of surprising her . Jo's thoughts came back agian to last year and what Dan did for Nick and Ben.
The prosecutor, Mr. Olsen, cross examined James and Edward went on to call his next witness, Dr. Pierce:
"Now, is there any evidence you wish to share with the court?"
"Yes. Earlier today, a Miss. Anthea Harding, called to my attention something I had over looked in Mr. Blake's case."
"Which was?"
"Mr. Blake was a heavy drinker and I came to believe that even though he received a hard blow to the head, it did not kill him. What did kill him was alcohol poisoning."
"Do you have any proof of your findings?"
"Yes, I had the sheriff dig up the body and I preformed an autopsy. It confirmed what I had previously believed."
The judge turned to the sheriff. "Is this true?"
"Yes." the sheriff nodded.
"I rest my case." Edward said with a pleased look on his face.
* * *
"Nat?" Mrs. Jo said to herself quietly as she looked out her bedroom window. He was sitting by the horses ; perched on the fence, looking lost, dejected and scared. She light a candle a headed towards him in through the night air.
"You owe Nan and Dr. Pierce a great deal." she said putting a hand on his shoulder.
He looked up, "Yeah."
"Nat," she started. What really d id happen? Why didn't you tell me?"
" I was working in the fields, my uncle had just come home from the bar, he was drunk and angry. I'd forgotten to start dinner. He started hitting me and throwing me across the room, like he always did when I had done something wrong. Dan must have figured out what my uncle was doing, because he followed me home. Being Dan he was-"
"Trying to protect you?" Mrs. Jo finished for him with a slight smile on her face.
"He tried to tell Uncle Michael to stop, but he wouldn't, I though he was going to kill me. But, Dan stepped in and hit him over the head with a rock. We didn't tell you because we though we'd killed him. I made Dan promise not to tell anyone what happened. I couldn't let him got to jail ."
"Nat I-"
Nat looked at her with so much sadness, there was nothing she could say to make it better. He was changed . Nat picked up his violin, a present from Mrs. Jo, and played the most melancholy song Jo had ever heard.