Clarence handed Doc his mail, "You seem to have more mail than usual, Doc," the clerk said.

"Hum," Doc grunted, "Mostly likely just junk and bills. I never getting anything particularly interesting," muttered.

"Well, I suppose it's better than no mail at all!" Clarence smiled.

Doc looked at the clerk, "And I suppose you're right," he smiled back as he walked to the door. It was a lovely summer day. The wind was gentle and warm and the temperature was very comfortable.

The physician stepped down the two stairs while thumbing through his mail and didn't see Festus as the two bumped into each other causing Doc to toss his mail in the air, "Oh, for Heaven's sake! Can't you watch where you are going?!" Doc bellowed at the deputy.

"As a matter of fact, smarty pants, I saw where I was going until you stepped out in front of me," Festus snorted back as he knelt down to pick up the doctor's mail. Doc swiped his right hand across his moustache knowing full well that Festus was right, but the Doc wasn't going to admit to it.

"Here's yer mail," Festus thrust the wade of envelopes toward Doc. Doc just looked at him, "I'll tell you what. For that, why don't I buy you a beer?"

Festus scrunched up his right eye, "The only time you buy me a drink is when you want something..."

"Well, I don't want anything. Honest," Doc looked hurt.

"Hum," the deputy thought, "well it is in the afternoon and it is getting warm," Festus stuck his thumbs into his vest, "Alright, I will take yer offer," he smiled. Doc shook his head in amusement, "Come on then," Doc walked along the boardwalk toward the Long Branch.

Festus held the swing door open and allowed Doc to got through first. Both men spotted Kitty Russell at the far end of the long dark wooden bar and wove their way through the crowd to join her, "Miss Kitty!" Festus smiled. "Hello Festus. Doc," she smiled back.

"Kitty," Doc nodded and then looked around the room, "This is a pretty good crowd for this time of day, isn't it?"

Kitty nodded, "Seems like the warm weather brings them out."

"Well, it brought us out too," Doc chirped. "I am buying Festus a beer," the physician said.

"Oh?" Kitty questioned.

"Oh, nothing," Doc grumbled as he turned and walked back to Kitty's table in the corner to read his mail. Kitty looked at Festus and they both shrugged. "Sam, three beers, when you have a minute," Kitty asked her tall bartender.

"Sure thing, Miss Kitty," Sam spoke which wiping dry some glasses.

Kitty and Festus joined Doc at the table, "Well, you certainly look deep in thought," Kitty said to Doc as she sat next to him.

"I'm just reading this letter," Doc looked over the piece of paper.

"What kinda letter is it, Doc?" Festus asked.

Doc sat the letter down on the table and looked that the deputy, "And why do you need to know?"

"Wall, cause there's good letters and thars bad letters, and I sure hope it ain't one of them," Festus stated as only the hill man could.

Doc pursed his lips, "Well, thank you for your concern. It so happens this letter is from the Medical Society of America. There's a big convention in two weeks in Topeka for doctor's in the Midwest," Doc looked at the letter again.

"That sounds exciting," Kitty added, "Are you going to go?"

Doc placed the letter on the table and removed his glasses, "You know I just might. Transportation and accommodation is included for doctor's who are coming from more than one hundred miles!"

"Well, you can't beat that!" Kitty chuckled knowing how Doc liked to keep the purse strings closed.

"What do you do at these conventions?" Festus looked at Doc.

"You meet with other doctors and learn how they do things and you can shares stories..." Doc noted the look on Festus' face.

"Sounds boring to me," the deputy said as he drank from the mug of beer.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

More than three hundred miles from Topeka was the small town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Doc Baker stood watching Reverend Alden, "Why don't you ask someone else to do that?" the doctor said.

"As a mater of fact, doctor, "I like doing things like this," Alden said while finishing the last little spot of paint on the inside of the doors at the church.

"Well, I can't say I approve of your ladder," Baker looked at the wobbly wooden structure.

"I'm just about done, anyhow," Alden said as he handed the bucket and brush down to the doctor. "There," the reverend smiled, "That looks a hundred percent better, don't you agree?"

"I'll be happy once you are off that ladder," Baker said as he put the paint down.

Alden shook his head, "I've climbed this ladder a hundred times," he said as he started down.

"Looks like it came over on the Ark," Baker stated which caused Reverend Alden to look over his shoulder and miss the last step and crashed to the floor at the doctor's feet.

"Reverend!" Baker knelt down and helped the preacher to sit, "Are you all right?"

"Mostly," the Reverend was red in the face with embarrassment as he sat up.

Baker knelt down next to him, "Mostly?"

"I appear to have hurt my wrist," Alden looked down to his right arm.

"Come on," Baker said, "Lets get you to your feet and over to my office," he helped Reverend Alden to his feet. Alden groaned. Doc Baker shook his head and assisted the Reverend down the front stairs and across the street. Several people watched on and Baker motioned for them to stop watching.

Once at the doctor's office, Baker assisted the Reverend to the examination table in the back room, "I'll need to take your coat off," he said. Alden shook his head and Baker knew he was angry with himself.

Doc Baker unbuttoned the Reverend's sleeve and rolled it up out of the way of his examination. Alden bit his lower lip trying not to yelp each time the doctor moved his wrist, "Well, it isn't broken, just badly sprained. You might have been better off had you broke it," Baker said to the beleaguered preacher.

"How will I write my sermon for Sunday?" Alden asked.

"Reverend," Baker looked his friend in the eyes, "Do you know what I think you need?"

"A new ladder..." Alden was quick with his answer which made Baker laugh. "No, my friend; a vacation."

"I can't take a vacation!" Alden said in protest.

"Sure you can. Have another minister take your circuit for a week" Baker smiled.

"And just what will I do?" Alden asked.

"You could join me at the Doctor's Convention in Topeka," Baker handed the Reverend his letter. Alden read it and looked up to Baker, "That's over three hundred and fifty miles away!"

"I know and all expenses paid!" Baker smiled. "What do you think?"

Alden thought for a moment and looked up to Baker, "I've never been to Kansas," he smiled. Baker smiled too, "I'd enjoy your company. And I can keep an eye on you..."

Alden's shoulders sagged as he knew his was in the doctor's bad book for his ladder performance.