DISCLAIMERS: This is fanfiction. No
profit involved. It is based on the television series "The Magnificent
Seven". No infringement upon the copyrights held by CBS, MGM, Trilogy
Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp. or any others involved with that
production is intended. This is mostly for my own
entertainment. Just thought I'd share it with you
RATING: PG for horseplay and some snorting
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Chaucer...and Ezra
SUMMARY: More silliness from the horse's point of view.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Kristen supplied the name of Ezra's horse. Eleanor
Tremayne Esquire provided Buck's. Vin's
has the audacity to use his given name.
COMMENTS: Yes, please! comments
Chaucer's - Horse Tale: Stomp
As told to NotTasha
Chaucer remained where he had been told to remain, despite the fact that the surroundings had
become particularly less agreeable. It had been pleasant enough here at first, but the company had changed.
An appaloosa had been tied beside him when he arrived, but he had been
claimed and replaced with another horse. Appaloosas weren't so bad.
Sure, they could be rather ridiculous at times, but that was okay.
Of course, he could think of six other horses he'd prefer to be beside.
The chestnut gelding had spent a great deal of his life in unfamiliar surroundings,
beside unfamiliar animals, so he was accustomed to being alongside strange
horses. He should be used to it. It didn’t mean that he'd have to like it.
He glanced out of the corner of one eye at the dumb Arabian horse that had been
tied to the rail next to him. He didn't know why he disliked that particular breed so
passionately. Perhaps, as a colt, an Arabian bully had knocked him
down on that distant and misty ranch where he had been born. Maybe a man on that breed had been cruel to him… or to his
Ezra. Or, possibly one had stepped
accidentally on his man's foot and made him yelp. Whatever the reason, one thing was certain.
Chaucer couldn't stand them. They were arrogant, overconfident and about as dumb as a pile of manure.
The Arabian beside him realized that he was under scrutiny and shifted about
uneasily. Chaucer twitched his ears
at the pointless move and then lifted one foot and lowered it quickly.
He'd rather be in the livery right now, in a stall with oats and water, loose of the
saddle and bridle. He'd rather be down the street with Peso and Clyde -- the two members of his herd that
were in this town with him. He had become used to being with them, and the fact that they were so
close, but not HERE, was annoying. He lifted his head to see them again, but the damn stupid Arabian took that
moment to shuffle around and destroyed his view. Chaucer clicked his teeth at the big horse and it grunted back at him.
If only his Ezra would come out and see what had happened, he'd be moved to a new
place. Ezra knew that Arabians were insipid and shouldn't be anywhere near him.
Chaucer considered moving down the row by himself, but his man had been
quite insistent about staying in place. The horse snuffed the air, trying to catch a whiff of his Ezra, but he smelled only
whiskey, beer, vomit, smoke and the scent of other men coming from that
building. He listened to the ruckus emanating from inside. He could
hear male voices, harsh, excited, morose and cheerful, coming from that man's
corral. There was the sound of glass clinking, leather creaking, furniture
skidding as the people stood or sat, the click of dice, the shrill sound of
female voices (mating calls of some sort) and the whisking of cards being moved about.
He cocked his head when he heard his man's voice, rising over the din. He couldn't catch the words,
and it wasn't as if he understood most of them anyway. The voice seemed to be
pressing a point, arguing with someone. Chaucer nickered with satisfaction at finally catching that sound.
The Arabian jerked his head at the outburst and Chaucer nipped at him again.
He heard Ezra's voice again… clearer and coming closer, understandable now.
"Truly," his man said, "I kid you not." Chaucer twitched his
ears as Ezra emerged from the batwing doors of the man's corral.
Chaucer raised his head and immediately caught his man's eye.
His Ezra smiled back and then the man's gaze flickered to the neighboring
horse and a knowing look crossed his face.
Ezra was nearly shoved out of the man's corral as the other inhabitants of the
building forced their way out. He stumbled and barely caught himself on the doorframe.
Chaucer shifted, watching his usually-graceful owner clumsily walk away from the doorway. His man smelled
of whiskey, and weaved about drunkenly as he moved, but his eyes were as clear as ever.
The men were all jabbering away, pointing at his Ezra and looking around at the nearby horses.
"This is the one," Ezra said, gesturing broadly to Chaucer.
Again, more chattering from the men as their gazes took in the magnificent horse. They kept flowing out of the saloon,
filling the boardwalk before him. Chaucer sniffed at them, catching the scents of alcohol and of a dozen
different occupations. That one worked with wood, and that tended cattle. This
one had a dog and that baked bread. One
of them smelled of soap and another of sweat. Those by the door worked with paper and books.
A few women sauntered out, too. Their perfume made him sneeze.
Chaucer didn't completely understood the concept of clothing. He knew that humans were virtually hairless
and figured that they were only wearing their own version of a fur. His
man's clothing fit him like it grew on him. Other men were far less lucky in that respect, with their shabby examples
of pelts. But these women, Chaucer
decided, must be mighty cold because they seemed to be wearing hardly anything at all.
The women leaned on the men, and then men looked at them hungrily. Chaucer wondered why, because
the women couldn't have been concealing any food when you considered that they had no place to hide it.
Perhaps the females were in season and letting the men know that they
wanted to mate. That would explain the calls he’d heard earlier. Still,
it was hard to tell with humans.
Ezra held up a hand to stop the chatter, apparently fighting to keep upright. "I assure you, it's
true," he slurred. "My horse is capable of answering any reasonable mathematical problem. If you care to make a wager on the
subject…" Chaucer watched as those bits of paper made their appearance. An exceptionally cold-looking
woman gathered up the bits and held them. Chaucer tossed his head, knowing how happy Ezra was going to be.
He looked to his man, seeing that bored look that meant that things were about to get exciting.
"Math has always been a special passion for my horse," Ezra said off-hand as he
came to stand beside the animal. "The
first time he displayed the talent to me is when I asked him how many apples he
wanted to eat and he stomped his foot five times." He hiccupped into his hand.
"Of course, I had to draw the line somewhere, but…"
Apple? Chaucer thought, looking seriously for the mentioned fruit.
He sniffed deeply as he searched his man's pockets, and was
batted away. Apple! That wonderful smell! Oh! Pure confection! It
was there! Chaucer was sure of it. Ho-ho! The horse thought,
now, how to get it…If he'd just stop pushing me away, I'd get into his pocket and…
The stupid Arabian beside him took that moment to try and lean on him, drawing a
threatening snort from the chestnut.
Ezra took hold of Chaucer's bridle, bringing his head up. "Sorry, my friend," he whispered
with a glance to the Arabian. "I didn't know." He
untied the loosely knotted reins and walked the chestnut gelding away from the
other horses at the hitching post. He stumbled twice, using the horse for support, until they were at an open patch
along the boardwalk. Chaucer
sniffed at his man as they went, assuring himself that the faulty steps were only an act.
Once they were still again, Ezra waited until the crowd had gathered. He gave the horse the sign and said,
"Chaucer, shall we count?"
Chaucer nodded vigorously, snorting loudly as his head dropped. The men around them
laughed and the women giggled. The horse changed his stance, ready.
"Very well," Ezra glanced to the men and returned his gaze to Chaucer. The man's green eyes
looked intently into the horse's big brown ones. "Tell me, my friend, what is one plus two?"
Chaucer heard the question asked, knowing it was a question by the way the sentence
ended on an up-note. He lifted his right leg and dropped it… STOMP. Again…STOMP.
Again…STOMP. And then he saw the order to stop and ceased.
Some of the men laughed, some grumbled, some made annoying whining sounds.
"Chaucer, what is five minus three?"
STOMP and STOMP.
More laughing, grumbling and whining.
"Twenty divided by five?"
STOMP, STOMP, STOMP and STOMP
Someone spoke sharply and his Ezra replied, "I assure you, it's no trick. He's an educated animal."
He nodded to the woman with the papers and said, "M'lady, I believe you have
something that is mine."
The grumbling and whining increased… there was no laughing.
Someone else spoke abruptly and Ezra responded, "You
saw him perform the task with your own eyes. I would be willin' to go double or nothin' while you try to prove the
point." Chaucer didn't take his eyes from his owner, but was aware that
more men were leaving the saloon to see what had caused the commotion. His Ezra
spoke to the newcomers. "Anyone else wish to make a wager?" And more money appeared and the woman-with-very-little-on took the new
pieces and put them with the others.
A big man, who stank of turds, stepped too close to his Ezra and shoved him.
He barked out some words. Chaucer made a move to step in-between them but was stopped by a gesture from his owner.
"Please, sir," Ezra replied, dusting off his sleeves and attempting to move away
from the smelly one. "If that
is your belief, perhaps you would like to ask the question yourself."
The turd-man blinked and then nodded.
"You had best put your money where your mouth is," Ezra said quietly.
And the woman held more papers after that.
Chaucer hoped that those particular papers didn't smell as badly as that
man, because they'd be taking the pieces along with them when they left.
The rank man said something-or-other and Chaucer looked for the order and lifted his
foot when appropriate.
STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP, STOMP and then the order to cease.
The men all started shouting and someone else shoved at his Ezra and Chaucer
snorted, wanting to give THAT man a shove.
"Please, please!" Ezra said, "If you wish, I'll stand aside. Then
it'll become apparent that I'm not sending him any signals whatsoever."
The men grumbled and growled and some of them whined but nobody laughed.
Then they said some more stuff and someone nodded and Ezra inclined his
head. "How far away do you want me to go?"
The men pointed and Ezra looked across the street and said, "That'd be
acceptable. But this lovely lady holding the pot must walk half-way as
well." He then turned his attention to Chaucer. He
stepped to the animal and gently ran his hand along the horse's muzzle. "My friend, you're on your own.
I know you'll succeed." He then strode unsteadily across the street.
Chaucer watched him go, turning his head until his Ezra was out of sight, behind him somewhere.
The nearly pelt-less woman disappeared from his sight, too.
A moment after Ezra came to a stop, one of the men gave some orders to a kid and
the kid sprinted after Ezra.
"Ah," Chaucer heard Ezra exclaim. "In
addition to being out of eye-sight, I must also be guarded? Very well. Carry on."
Turd-man made a motion and Chaucer turned toward him. Chaucer rolled up his lips in distaste, but kept
his gaze on the stinker and the men around him.
Ezra's voice sounded from behind him again. "I
ask only that your questions be easy enough for yourself and those around you to
answer without much trouble and that you keep the final sum to a relatively
small number. I need to ride tonight and I don't want him to be fatigued."
Grumbling again, the turd-man said something to get Chaucer's attention… he may have said
Chaucer snorted and then the man asked a question. Chaucer lifted his leg and waited a moment.
He saw the look of anticipation on the turd-man, the baker, the cowboy,
the paper-shufflers and the woman-who-wasn't-wearing-very-much. He dropped his foot, to make a solid STOMP.
He lifted the foot, looking at the those faces and seeing the same
anticipation, he dropped his foot again… STOMP. Again…STOMP. Again…he
lifted his foot and saw the subtle change in expressions. Their mouths opened a little more,
their eyes a little wider… waiting. STOMP. Then their
expressions completely changed from anticipation to satisfaction, and perhaps a
little speculation. He didn't raise his foot again.
A roar went up from the group. Yes, there were laughs again… more grumbling.
Not so much whining. Another
man forced his way to the front, a butcher by the smell of him. He asked a question rapidly.
Chaucer's nostrils twitched. He didn't care much for butchers, yet he put those feelings
aside and repeated the same process: watching for the anticipation, then the
widened eyes, the opening mouths…the satisfaction.
Laughter again. Applause? Chaucer felt like bowing.
A lean man with a white hat was the next to make his way to the front and ask the
question. Chaucer lifted his foot and stomped once and that was when he saw Peso and Clyde's men at the back of
the crowd. He looked at them in surprise because he hadn't expected them there.
They were carrying something that they were trying to hide in their jackets and moving quickly.
Chaucer blinked, not understanding. Buck
wove his way out of the crowd and headed toward Clyde, with Vin behind him.
Vin glanced at him and smiled as the horse cocked his head.
The horse heard a murmur from the crowd and Vin ducked his head, breaking eye
contact. Startled and remembering what he was supposed to be doing, Chaucer turned his attention back on the
crowd. Some mouths were open, some
were smiling; some eyes were wide, some were narrowed. Some people had a disappointed look on their faces…some seemed
gratified. Oh no! What now? This was so confusing. It
wasn't what he usually saw. He had hesitated… he was ruining it all! He
studied the faces again and came to the conclusion that obviously he wasn't finished.
Knowing smiles…and anticipation again. Another
STOMP and another. There it was…that look he sought. One more
STOMP and he was through. He
snorted and pranced as he heard the familiar footsteps approach him from behind.
"As you can see," Ezra said once he was beside the horse. "He's an educated animal."
He ran one hand along the horse's long neck and produced an apple from
his pocket. "I believe I've proven my point and have won the bet."
The horse waited impatiently as the fruit was cut. As soon as the knife was clear,
he plucked one half greedily from his
owner's hands. It never occurred to the gelding to take a whole fruit from
the man because his Ezra always had the decency to slice them in two for him.
People were muttering and chattering, but no one was angry. Several people patted the chestnut horse
and spoke nicely to him. Chaucer nickered congenially to their advances and then snatched the
other half of the apple from his owner. The papers were passed to his man, and
the woman with all the exposed skin pressed her lips to his Ezra's cheek and
made a weird little sucking noise. Ezra repeated the gesture, but did it to the woman's hand.
Once he had let go of the woman, Ezra ran the papers quickly through his hands.
He smiled and nodded to the people who didn't seem too terribly upset.
Everyone seemed to be more interested in the horse than
the man. They stared at Chaucer in
fascination, and the horse stood as if he were a stallion, drinking in the
attention. Ezra carefully folded the papers and placed them in his jacket.
After several minutes of jabbering away, the men let Ezra go. Ezra smiled and quickly mounted his horse.
He tipped his hat and instructed Chaucer to go. The horse complied and soon they
had left the town at an easy pace.
Once they were outside of the general vicinity, Ezra let Chaucer know that he'd like
to go a little faster and the gelding complied by springing into a gallop that
ate away at the distance.
Oh, it was good to run again! To be away from that town with it's unfamiliar people and
smells, away from that stupid Arabian. It was good to run.
He could feel that his rider was happy, too, enjoying the speed and the wind as
well. Chaucer galloped onward, glad to be able to do something that made them both so happy.
That stomping thing was interesting enough, but there was no thrill to it. This was what he lived for.
Shapes became visible before him and the horse slacked off until he was able to verify
what he was seeing. He whinnied happily when he recognized the two horses and
their riders. It only took a few
minutes to catch up to them, since they had slowed their pace to allow it.
Clyde and Peso both tossed their heads and snorted a welcome as Chaucer and Ezra came between them.
"Gentlemen," Ezra greeted. "Did you
retrieve what we were after?"
Buck grinned as Clyde danced happily beneath him. He held up a big book and so did Vin.
They both said a few words.
"Excellent," Ezra responded. "I believe the distraction worked wonders at emptying the saloon to allow for your perusal of
the back room. I hope that the ledgers were easy enough to locate. They
shouldn't have been hidden away yet."
Both men went on for a while after that and Ezra laughed at their comments before
saying. "Now we should be able
to prove that Mr. Estes is keeping two sets of books for his business and
perhaps we'll be able to help those people whom he has cheated. We should hasten toward home.
They may give chase."
The other two men kept talking and his Ezra nodded along with them as the three
horses strode side-by-side, keeping a good clip. Apparently there was reason to continue onward without delay.
Buck asked Ezra a question.
The horse felt Ezra shift in his saddle and then say, "Well, yes, of course,
there was a certain amount of money gained in this endeavor."
Vin spoke slyly and Buck added his comments.
"Of course, of course," Ezra said with a wave of his hands. "Drinks all around when we
reach Four Corners."
The other two men cheered and both leaned across and gave Ezra a hearty pat on
the back. Chaucer could feel his owner's contentment.
Chaucer was glad to be back with his herd again. He
feigned a nip at Clyde's neck and the gray snorted back at him. Peso rammed into him and whickered.
They kept a quick pace as they headed toward their home. All three of them knew where they were going
and were glad of their rider's urgings to hurry.
Buck said something with a puzzled look on his face and looked seriously at Chaucer.
Ezra patted the horse and replied, "Mr. Wilmington, do you doubt that my horse
was actually counting?"
Vin drawled slowly and looked suspicious.
Ezra shook his head. "Gentleman, he
is a most exemplary animal and I would believe he is capable of just about anything."
Chaucer knew that Ezra was talking about him and heard the pride in his voice. He threw his head back and
changed to a high stepping stride.
Peso and Clyde came to a stop and Chaucer outpaced them by several lengths before
Ezra told him that they'd better stop, too. They turned to face the others.
"Gentleman, it's important that we continue..."
Vin asked a question and Chaucer could feel Ezra sitting back in the saddle as he
considered a response.
"In all honesty, my friends, I have no idea how he does it," Ezra said in a low
voice. "I taught him the trick initially. It was all hand signs
and such. I have no idea how counts for others. That, he learned it on
his own. Perhaps he actually is counting. Perhaps he has the
ability to read minds. I'm suspicious that he may be reading their tells.
All I know is that he is correct as long as the one who asks the question
can answer the mathematical problem. "
The two men shrugged. Buck spoke, grinning broadly under that mustache.
Ezra gave his horse another pat and replied, "Yes, a stomping wonder-horse,
They were on they're way again in a minute, heading home. Chaucer snorted in anticipation.
THE END - By NotTasha
The next story in the series is Wait
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