Echoes From the Campfire

James Lamb blocked the doorway forcing Lucas to step back into the room.  “What’re doing here kid?” snarled Lamb.  “Coming to finish off my brother?”  He reached for Lucas forgetting his bandaged hand.  Lucas jumped grabbing the edge of the door swinging it as Lamb lunged for him.  The door struck the arm that was amputated.  Lamb let out a scream like a wounded cougar.
    That brought Doc Jones running in a hurry.  Lucas was back against the wall.  The pain had driven Lamb to his knees, also waking his brother.  He was in that position when Doc arrived.
    “What’s happened here?” asked Doc, then he saw Lucas.  “Lucas, what are you doing here?”
    From the bed, John Lamb groaned.  “Leave the kid alone,” groaned Lamb.  “He came to pray for me.  James tried to seize him forgetting his arms.”
    Doc stooped down by James Lamb.  “If I help, do you think you can get to your feet?  You need to get back to your own bed.  I don’t want any infection to get in that arm,” then he turned his attention toward Lucas scolding him.  “Lucas, you get on out of here.”
    Lucas ducked his head and hurried out of the room.
    I had told Lucas to be at the diner early the next morning.  I saddled Two-Bits and Hawk and were leading them along with a pack mule, walking beside Molly down to the diner.  She liked to be the first one there but often Elena beat her.  I had convinced her to start carrying her pistol in the pocket of the dress she wore to work.  At least it made me feel a little easier leaving her.
    Lucas and I had worked hard the day before filling up the wood box.  I wanted to leave enough for ten days.  The plan was to ride up, meet with the mine owners and then we’d come back on the train.  There was already some snow on the pass, but it was clear this morning.  After what Lucas had been through, I wanted to give him time to ride in the high country, it always seems to help sooth the soul.
    Elena was there already, getting things prepared for the coming morning rush.  Lucas was there waiting with a coffee cup in front of him.  I noticed that he was scowling.  
    “Are you drinkin’ that or just staring it down?” I questioned as I came up to the table.
    “Senor Miles, this is bitter.”  
    That brought a laugh from Molly.  “Here, Lucas, put a little sugar in it, then try it.”
    I watched him add the sugar and stir the brew shaking my head all the while.  He sipped it, then gave a little smile.
    “Sientate!” came the voice of Elena as she appeared from the kitchen with two plates of eggs, bacon, frijoles, and tortillas.  “Comer!” he ordered then struck off for the kitchen.
    “You’ve got your orders men, now get to it,” laughed Molly as she poured coffee for the two of us.  “I’ll have a cup with yo, then need to get busy helping.”
    We began to stuff the food in our mouths when Marta and Charlie came in.  She had a small frown on her face.  “Senor Miles, you will take good care of him, no?” she asked.  Charlie put his hand on her shoulder to give some comfort.
    “More’n’ likely he’ll be takin’ care of me,” I pulled at my moustache and gave a little wink.  “He’s good at that if you remember.”
    “Come on, partner we need to be hittin’ the trail,” I nudged him on the shoulder then drank down the rest of my coffee.  “See you in a few days.”
    Lucas followed me to the door then on out to the horses.  I checked my cinch before mounting then stepped up and into the saddle.  Lucas started to mount.  “Son!  Always check your cinch!”
    He had a startled look with me barking at him.  “I know, Senor Miles, I just forgot.”
    I nodded and continued to watch him.  As he settled in the saddle all of a sudden his eyes widened.  “Senor Miles, there’s a rifle in the scabbard.”
    “Well, why shouldn’t there be?  You’ve showed you could handle one, an’ you never know when I might need the help.  If you’re goin’ to ride a man’s trail, you need to be carryin’ a man’s gun.”
    He reached out to touch the butt of the rifle.  “You through gawkin’, we really need to be ridin’.  If so, remove your hat.  Lord, be keepin’ your hand on Lucas and I as we travel.  We’re trustin’ in You.  Amen.”
    Before putting my hat back on I waved it at Molly and the rest then gave Hawk a kick and headed off down the road giving out a loud, “Yeehaw!”
    I didn’t look behind me, but heard a higher pitched voice with a “Yeehaw” and the hooves of Two-Bits coming behind me.