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Night was soon coming to an end, and so was the rain.

Mattie had fallen asleep beside the burnt fire, nothing but the wet, muddy earth and hat for comfort.

She moved around a few times, and cringed her nose after feeling the tense muscles in her body. Mainly the middle of her back.

"Huh."Mattie continued to move, with a slight groan and finally raised up, with her bottom still sunk deep into the mud. She couldn't quite tell if it was start of the new dawn or illusions she had rolling around in her head, with much sleep left to rub from her eyes.

Mattie did rub her eyes, and gave the strongest stretch she could give with an aching back, before standing tall on her feet, and packing her sack.

.

.

Staring off into the distance where the growing new light of day began, Laboeuf continued to cough, trying to brush off the terrible cold the passing rain that drenched him.

Rooster sighed, and let out his own cough.

They both knew they have been traveling these strange unknown wood for a near 24 hours, and haven't seen young Mattie Ross yet.

After only five minutes tops, Rooster decided he'd stop and give the mares sometime to rest. He dismounted his mare, and grabbed it by the reins, pulling it toward a nearby tree, by side of the last two.

Ranger Laboeuf slowly dismounted his, in a tired, twisted way, coughing again.

Rooster stared at him as so, meeting the slow healing cut across his left cheekbone. Laboeuf hated it. "Marshal Cogborn, It would greatly 'preciated if you stand off a bit."he raised the scratched tone in his voice, and placed a hand gently over the cut, for his eyes unable to see.

Rooster turned away as no big deal and returned back to the three mares, petting each one individually.

Laboeuf coughed, and pulled out his pipe from his saddlebag. Rooster watched him fill it with tabacco, and flicked his match, lighting it.

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Mattie let out another yawn, feeling the new day's heat glow upon her cheeks, while she continued traveling back south.

She thought it was all in her head when she heard the sloshing sounds of footsteps in the mud. But poking her head between the trees, she caught sight of whom it was.

Mr. Laboeuf, still in his costly fringed Ranger outfit, and spurs that sparkled in the sunshine, through the mud that covered pipe glowing the same way, and Marshal Cogborn. All gruffy, one-eyed, hefty body covered in that damp fleece coat, and dark boots that completely blended in with the mud below.

She was just so glad to see them again.

"Mr. Laboeuf...Marshal C-Cogborn!"she smiled half-heartedly, merely choking up on the spit that rose up with the words that exploded out, after finding her own pony snorting and swishing it's tail right behind Mr. Laboeuf's pony.

The two men, mounted on their ponie's took a quick look behind them. Laboeuf said to the young girl, sitting up tall as so:

"I believe this is yer's, Ms. Ross."he gave the short girl a friendly smile, while forcing the mare from behind up in plain sight by the reins, watching Mattie's face brighten up. She didn't give a word back, and he handed her the leather reins.

Mattie pointed her eyes upward. First at Rooster, then Laboeuf who was kind enough to return her. "Thank you very much, Mr. Laboeuf, Marshal Cogborn."she thanked both the men kindly, before making a tasteless attempt upon the mare.

Rooster and Laboeuf both witnessed.

They both saw how much she had failed.

XX

She swallowed, her cheeks flushed from the nervious feeling that was already coming over her.

Laboeuf coughed, and jumped from his mare.

She heard those slight jingles of his dirty spurs smushing in the mud creep behind her, and spung around. "I believe you need some assistance, Ms. Ross?"the way those words came from his lips sounded more like a question than a remark.

Mattie's cheeks flushed a deeper rogue and her smile fled.

"I do not, Mr. Laboeuf."she puffed her chest after letting him have those few words, and made another clumsy attempt. It was as weak as the others. Maybe a bit more off, but still. Mr. Laboeuf watched her, snickering behind his hand, that he coughed into.

She heard him, and it angered her, causing her to mess up more than ever, nearly getting one of her boots stuck into a stirrup.

"Mr. Laboeuf, your constant pressuring isn't appreciated. Would you mind being more of a gentleman?"she stomped her foot, and gave him a hard stare. It was more of a sweet stare. Ms. Ross could never make the right faces with the correct feelings, but otherwise It was cute. It was just the 'being more of a gentleman' wording that bugged him. Mr. Laboeuf was always the gentleman. More than Marshal Cogborn anyway.

He breathed in the warming air around them through his flaired nostrils, before bending over to cough, and stepped backward. Standing beside his mare.

Rooster gave Laboeuf a strange look.

"Hurry it up girly. We ain't got time."Rooster dismounted his mare, dropped the reins, and hurried a bit frustrated toward the struggling girl.

Mattie knew what he was up to, and motioned for him to back off. "Marshal Cogborn, I can do it. I gotta' learn sometime on my own!"she fussed after those dirty hands of his grabbed both her shoulders, then rolled down until they met her small waist raising her up off the ground.

She watched in suprise, wrapping her legs round the mare.

She stuck her feet in the stirrups, and held the reins Rooster forced her to. He stared up at her with his one eye, and she stared back.

"I didn't need any of your assistance, Marshal Cogborn. I refuse to thank you."

she turned her nose up at him, and looked away. Cogborn shrugged, and said: "Ain't no skin off my nose, sister."he replied back in a nonchalant tone, mounting his mare with with a few wobbles, after squeezing his boots into the stirrups.

XX
XX

Texas Ranger Laboeuf hopped back upon his own, and trotted right behind Cogborn, and Mattie whom somehow got the rear end always.

The three travelers were too quiet. No more words passed since Mattie's little performance back there, only Laboeuf's constant cough, and horse snorts.

Mattie sighed, and thought about what she had done back there. Turning her nose up to Marshal Cogborn; she was never the rude one. But if it didn't bother him, why should it bother her? She just wondered off, still on the same track right behind, but let her eyes watch the passing trees and all the rest that always belonged in nature.

She squinted for so long as the bright sunlight poured it's hot, blinding rays upon her, unable to see what was really going on around her.

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Finally out of the unknown territory, they had met up with the Arkansas River. That's when they knew they could stop and refresh. That's what they did.

I don't know how many chapters I am going to do, but it will be a little longer still:D