Summary: In this Old West Alternate Universe: JD Dunne is seven, Vin Tanner is eight, and Ezra Standish is nine. All three wind up in Four Corners and all three end up in the care of Chris Larabee, who is the town's sheriff. Buck Wilmington is his deputy, Josiah Sanchez is the town's preacher, and Nathan Jackson is the town's doctor.
Author's Note: I have recently found the M7 "little" universe and absolutely loved it, for the most part. I especially loved the "little" Ezra stories. I must admit I have not actually seen the show, but seeing as how this is an AU story that wouldn't (or shouldn't, anyway) matter. I know enough about the characters to make it work–I hope… This will be a sort of blending of the "Little Britches" universe and the "Little Ezra" universe—with my own twist, of course ;) If you like "kid fics" I'd suggest reading these. They are great.
Warning: Spanking of minors. (Naturally, since this is the Old West.)
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for fun. Enjoy.
Chapter 1: The Orphan Train
The small town of Four Corners was an unassuming sort of place, as Western towns went anyway, but then again not many towns could boast it had its own set of protectors.
For Four Corners, these protectors consisted of four men: Sheriff Chris Larabee, Deputy Buck Wilmington, Pastor Josiah Sanchez, and Dr. Nathan Jackson. While the first two were obvious protectors, given their lawmen status, the other two were honorary deputies and had helped take down more than one outlaw.
Sanchez may be a man of the cloth now, but he hadn't always been. He believed that in order to put his dark past behind him he would use the skills he had acquired in his life to help the people of that town—even if that meant taking up arms and getting involved in a shoot out if necessary. He always made sure he was behind the pulpit come Sunday morning with a clean conscious and ready to serve his flock's needs as the Man of God he was.
Jackson was a former slave who had actually begun acquiring his medical knowledge during the Civil War when he served the union as a medic in exchange for his freedom. Upon the war's completion one of the wealthier soldiers whose life head saved had paid for his formal education and admission into the medical community. He now served Four Corners as her medico, but he—like Pastor Sanchez—believed that if it was necessary to take up arms to defend his patients he would gladly do so. He was a good enough shot and doctor to know how not to kill but merely wound and disarm.
Together, the four men served the people of Four Corners valiantly and all were respected and well liked…at least by those they protected. They had many enemies among the out laws they either chased off or help apprehend.
On this particular spring morning, when our story begins, Sheriff Larabee was making his way to the church to visit with Pastor Sanchez. He found the older man in the act of rearranging the church pews. "Mornin', Brother Jo," he greeted his friend, "what's all this about?"
"Brother Jo" was Josiah's nickname, at least to his three friends and fellow protectors, and one that always brought a smile to his face. "Good morning, Brother Chris," he returned the greeting. "I'm getting the church set up for the orphans."
Chris raised an eyebrow. "Orphans?" he asked, puzzled.
"Brother Buck didn't tell you?" Josiah asked, confused. "I told him to remind you about it last night when you got in…" He was referring to the fact that Chris had been away for a couple of days tracking down a wanted fugitive and had only returned the night before.
"Oh," Chris said, blushing. "Well, see, when I got in Buck was more or less…indisposed…"
"You mean he was with one of his numerous ladies," Josiah clarified, chuckling.
Buck Wilmington was a big hearted man who loved two things: good whisky and good women. He was a self proclaimed ladies man and women did seem to find him charming.
"Uh, yeah," Chris said, smiling, "so I kinda didn't see him. What's this about orphans?"
"There's an orphan train coming in," Josiah explained. "There going to stay here at the church for a few days while Miss Travis and I find them homes."
"How many are there?" Chris asked, curious. He certainly didn't want a horde of children to suddenly descend upon their town…that would almost be as bad a horde of outlaws. Not that he didn't like kids, he'd been a father once upon a time before his wife and son had been killed, but one Sheriff versus a heap of kids didn't exactly sound like good odds to him.
"Well, there were more than hundred that boarded the train back east," Josiah explained, "but they've been dropping a few at specific towns where they know families can be found. Ours was is the last on the list, and the Sister traveling as their chaperone wired from the last town to say they would be arriving this afternoon. She also said there were about five—two ten year olds, one seven year old, and two five year olds. The ten year olds are twin boys and the five year olds are twin girls."
Chris nodded, a bit relieved. That didn't sound so bad. Nothing Josiah couldn't handle. "You sure you'll be able to find homes for them?" he asked, concerned.
Josiah nodded. "I've already spoken to a few," he explained, "and the Davis' want to take the five year old girls—they already have a boy, as you know—and the Millers' want the boys."
"Two ten year old boys can be quite the handful," Chris commented, quietly.
Adam, his son, had been and he'd only been five years old at the time of his death. A moment of grief pressed upon his heart at the thought of his son, but he quickly pushed it aside.
Josiah nodded. "Bob believes they'll be a help to him," he explained Mr. Miller's reasons for taking the two twins, "but they'll still be young enough to 'raise up right' as Martha put it." He chuckled and Chris joined him. Martha Miller was a good natured lady, if a bit brash and blunt at times.
"What about the seven year old?" he asked the preacher, curiously.
Josiah sighed. "He's proving a bit of a problem," he explained. "So far, neither Mary nor I have had any luck finding a family willing to take him permanently."
Mary Travis was the daughter of Judge Orin Travis, who had initially recruited Chris and the others to protect the town from a band of cut throats. It was after this successful mission that the people elected him Sheriff and he deputized his best friend, Buck Wimington.
"Can't Mary and the judge take him?" Chris asked. "I mean, this kid and Billy are about the same age, ain't they?" Billy was Mary's son, who was away at school.
"Yes," the preacher answered, "but you know Orin." He shrugged, having said all that needed to be said.
Chris nodded, understanding. "What are you going to do?" he asked next, helping him move the last of the pews out of the way.
"Well," Josiah said, "for tonight they're going to be sleeping here until the Millers and the Davis family can come get the ones they want. As far as young Mr. Dunne, we'll just have to see."
"Dunne?" Chris asked, grinning. "That the kid's name?"
Josiah nodded. "Yes," he said, looking at a piece of paper he had in his vest pocket. "John Daniel Dunne. Age seven. Mother died of scarlet fever about six months ago. Been in the care of East Side Orphanage ever since."
"John Daniel," Chris said, whistling. "Lord, what a name!"
Josiah chuckled. "I believe he prefers to go by JD," he explained, "at least according to Sister Agnes he does."
Chris nodded. "Well, Brother Jo," he said, "looks like you got everything ready here…need any further help?"
"No, but thanks," Josiah said. "If you happen to see Nathan, could you ask him to stop by. I believe both the Millers and the Davises want the children to get check ups before they take custody of them."
Chris nodded. "Will do," he said, and turned to head out of the church. "Good luck with young JD. Me and Buck'll be at the jail if you all need us." He headed out back in the direction of the town's jailhouse where his deputy was waiting for him.
Josiah smiled as he watched his friends retreating back. "Oh, Brother Chris," he said, an idea suddenly forming in his brain, "I do believe the Lord has just given me the answer to my prayers."
He chuckled as he finished putting out the cots for the children to sleep on. Mary was going to be bringing milk and cookies over closer to the time of the children's arrival so there. Now all that was needed was for the train to come.
Oh yes, Chris, Josiah thought, I do believe you and young JD are going to be just perfect for each other!
Now, all he had to do, was convince a certain hard headed Sheriff of that fact…
The train pulled into the station right on time, but it still has seemed like too long of a trip for the five children on board, especially a certain dark haired seven year old who appeared to have ants in his pants.
"John Daniel," Sister Agnes, the nun who had escorted the children on their journey from the east, spoke exasperated at the youngsters fidgeting, "if you would kindly stop squirming the train will be stopping any moment and we will be able to exit. 'Patience' is a virtue, child, and one you need to learn."
JD hated being called "John Daniel" but had heard it enough in the past to know that when someone said it, it meant that he was getting close or was already in trouble. "Yes, Ma'am," he told the nun respectfully. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes, that wouldn't have been polite at all and his Mama had taught him to be polite to adults.
Sure wish this dang train would stop already, he grumbled to himself as he gazed out the window of the compartment he shared with the other orphans and their escort, I hate being cooped up!
His mama used to call him her young colt, because she said he was a restless as a young horse at times. JD loved horsed, and the one good thing about his coming out West was that he might—just might—get one of his very own. That was of course if he was given to a nice family and that nice family has horses.
If they ain't nice, he thought, I ain't stayin'. I'll go live with the Injuns!
He had thought about that very seriously on the long trip, about what he would do if either a family couldn't be found for him or the one he was placed with wasn't 'as nice as Mama'. He contemplated heading south to Mexico, North to the Dakotas, or even further West to Californy to hunt for gold. He ultimately decided that all three of these would entail even longer trips than this one had, so he had finally decided to go and live with the Indians that were reported to live near by.
Injuns got plenty a horses, JD thought to himself, they'll let me have one a my own!
The train whistling, the signal that they were stopping, sounded and the ants returned. He couldn't wait to get off this stinkin' train. Besides, he had to GO and GO real bad!
Once the train had stopped, Sister Agnes stood up and instructed, "All right children, if anyone needs to use the "convience" go now." JD, not surprising, was the first one out the compartment door. One of the twin girls and one of the twin boys followed him.
Once they had concluded their business, the gathered up their meager belongings and headed off the train.
"Sister Agnes," a deep male voice sounded behind them.
The Sister turned and so did the children. They found themselves staring at a tall man of about forty with brown hair going gray and a bushy salt-n-pepper mustache. "Pastor Sanchez?" Sister Agnes asked, confirming his identity.
He nodded. "Yes, Sister," he said, "that would be me, and these must be the lil' ones." He gazed down at the five children.
The two sets of twins didn't meet his eyes, but JD stared up at him boldly. "Howdy, Mister," he said, since no one else was polite (or brave enough) to speak up, "I'm JD Dunne. Nice to meet'cha!" He held out his hand for the man to shake.
Josiah Sanchez chuckled, reaching out to shake the bold little boy's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you too, JD," he said, this only confirming the idea he had in his head.
Oh, Brother Chris, are you going to have your hands full!
"Welcome to Four Corners."
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