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 Chris,  JD and Buck's. Sue created Josiah's and I came up with one for Nathan on my own.  Vin's horse uses his own name.
COMMENTS: Yes, please!  comments and suggestions
DATE: November 12, 2000, some general housekeeping done on April 18, 2004

Horse Tale: Hat
As told to NotTasha - who'd like to wear hats but has a massive head

The chestnut horse ambled along at the same slow pace as the rest of his herd, keeping his head down and blinking from time to time against the dust churned up by his companions. He whisked his tail lethargically at the meddlesome flies that were the bane of his existence and he felt his rider swat at a cloud of gnats in the same languid manner.

The evening sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows. From time to time the horse would twist his neck to his rider, whose face was still and calm. Any mere human would think that the man was feeling no particular emotion, but Chaucer could feel his owner's disappointment and sadness; the horse could feel it through his very bones. One would have to be a green colt to not feel it.

Chaucer sighed. He felt miserable. He felt miserable because his rider was miserable. The two of them had drifted to the back of the herd from the start and had stayed there all day. It was their customary position, but usually there was some shifting during the day. One of the other horses would fall back for a while and travel beside him, or he would be allowed to jostle his way forward. Today, they stayed at the back.

The horse looked forward, to the rest of his herd. All of them plodded onward with the same unhappy gait. Undoubtedly, their riders felt the same way as his own. The journey home was in sharp contrast to how they had started the day -- riding hell-bent-for-leather back to a town that they had visited only the day before. Chaucer's pulse had pounded, his lungs ached as they thundered across the hard baked soil. There had been a need for speed that morning.

When they had arrived again in that town, Chaucer had sensed a change. There had been a sense of triumph during their first visit. When they had returned there’d been an odor was in the air... the sweat of men...fear and hatred and that horrible smell of death. The horse had wanted to flee...to be away from that place. His Ezra had kept him still, but Chaucer had been able to read the uneasiness of his man as well. When they had arrived that second time, the townspeople were wide-eyed, and spoke sharply and accusingly. The men of Ezra's herd had spoken to them... his Ezra had spoken as well... then the townspeople seemed to shrink away, skulking about like beaten dogs. Something had happened...something that Chaucer didn't understand.

A dead man had been taken out of a tree and put under the ground. Then, they had left for home. It had been a long slow journey.

Ezra did not pull on his reins, but Chaucer stopped nonetheless, knowing what was wanted. He looked backward as his owner did the same. Horse and rider scanned the countryside behind them. No cougars, boss, Chaucer thought. No coyotes either. Good idea to keep a watch out for 'em though.

The two of them continued to look backward longer than usual. Still no cougars. Chaucer turned when he heard Peso's approach. Chaucer snorted a greeting to his friend and black horse nickered.

Peso's rider, Vin, said something to Ezra, and Ezra faced forward again, saying, "Indeed, Mr. Tanner. It's a pity that we weren't able to arrive in time. It's unfortunate that the innocent must suffer due to our own poor judgment and lack of punctuality."

Chaucer couldn't truly understand the words. He listened, always, for the certain phrases he was meant to hear. Ezra's tone was smooth and unaffected, but the horse knew better. He could feel more from the man's carriage than his words betrayed.

Vin spoke again. Chaucer liked the way Peso's man spoke. Vin didn't use the same long words that his own rider lovingly uttered, but the long-haired man had a certain poetry to his speech. Today though, Vin's voice lacked its usual affable cadence -- sounding as sad as his Ezra felt.

Ezra nodded and said, "True, but if I had come to my conclusion earlier, Mr. Hopper would've been cleared of charges long before the lynch mob arrived to remove him from the relative safety of his jail cell."

Chaucer exchanged a glance with Peso as Vin spoke again. Peso had a melancholy cast to his eye, illuminating the fact that he felt as poorly as Chaucer. Your Vin's not feelin' too good either? Chaucer thought.

"Yes, if we hadn't brought the man 'to justice' then none of this would've happened," Ezra commented, agreeing with Peso's man. "We were wrong in our original assumptions and unfortunately Mr. Hopper paid for our ineptitude. But if I had only read the letter last night as opposed to this morning, he would be alive and exonerated of the crime instead of hung by his neck as a criminal."

Again, Peso's man spoke and Ezra responded with, "You're correct, Mr. Tanner. The evidence did indeed make him look guilty. It's a pity that none of us found any reason to believe his cries of innocence, that we left him in that town to his fate, that we didn't look beyond the obvious." Ezra sighed and continued, "I've always thought of myself as a perceptive man. I should've known better. We all should've known better."

Vin spoke again, his voice even sadder than before and Ezra replied, "You may have been the one who tracked him, but Mr. Wilmington and Mr. Dunne discovered the original evidence. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Sanchez heard the testimony -- however erroneous. Mr. Larabee was instrumental in Mr. Hopper's capture. We all were involved in his capture. We all are to blame in some fashion." Ezra sighed again and Chaucer felt it down to his hooves. "Sometimes life is simply unfair."

The two men said nothing more for several moments. Chaucer stood beside Peso, throwing glances to his companion. Both horses waited for their next command. Suddenly, another one of Ezra's herd shouted. Chaucer tensed, his ears pointing sharply upward at the sound of that voice. It was Chris Larabee. He felt his Ezra stiffen in the saddle at the sound.

Vin said something in his easygoing manner and Chris Larabee responded. More of Ezra's herd spoke up, but his Ezra remained silent.

Then the men started to dismount. Chaucer felt a shift in the saddle and prepared himself to be unbalanced. Ezra was on the ground in a moment and Chaucer shook himself -- feeling both the relief of having that weight off his back and the disappointment of losing his rider. They were once again two distinct creatures. When Ezra was astride him, there was never any need to wonder what his rider thought or wanted -- they responded as one being. The horse missed that closeness when the man wasn't in the saddle.

Ezra patted the horse on the neck, leaned into him and said, "Good news, old friend. Our estimable Mr. Larabee believes it's time to stop for the night. And for once, I find myself in agreement with him. We all are hardly able to move any longer and you, indeed, deserve a rest after this wretched day."

Ezra led Chaucer over to a stand of trees where the other men were gathering with their horses. Ezra removed his saddle and the saddle blanket. Chaucer sighed and his Ezra started to scratch his back. Oh, that felt good! The horse thought. Yes...there... right there. He shuddered his skin to show Ezra how pleasant it was.

The herd of men took care of the herd of horses, but the men were unusually silent. When he was finished, all too soon, Ezra casually slung the ends of the reins over the low branch of a tree, knotting them loosely. He snagged the saddlebags and then wandered away without a word. Chaucer was used to hearing from his owner at the end of the day, and the quiet sat poorly with him.

Chaucer looked at the reins and snorted. He'd be free of that in a second. Ezra used to tie him up much tighter... but it didn't do any good. The horse would be able to get out of almost any knot that his owner thought up for him.

In a few minutes, Ezra's herd had dispersed, leaving the horses to themselves beneath the trees. Peso had ended up on one side of him, and the big grey, Clyde, on the other. None of his herd was in a very good mood. They all looked about sluggishly, even the little bay, Toby, who was usually full of enough energy to shame them all. Toby's man -- that young one -- came back with some water for them and some feed, but nobody seemed to be very excited about it.

Neither herd had any spirit about them. Usually, when they came to a camp at night, there was time for a little 'horseplay'. Chaucer would jostle with his companions, try to trick Clyde into thinking he had a fly on his rump (he always fell for that), nip at Peso, tease Toby by yanking on his reins. Sometimes he would try to shove Badger into Prophet (the giant sorrel would glare at the long-legged bay in disbelief) or he would harass Job until the big black nearly kicked him. But today, nobody seemed to be in any mood for hi-jinx.

And Ezra's herd was in no better shape. Toby's man and Clyde's man were usually good for some sport, but even that young fella seemed to be too sad to speak. His Ezra usually kept up some sort of a conversation, pulling out those cards of his. The men would move the cards around for a while and then they'd give Ezra some of those pieces of paper that he liked so much. But the cards hadn't made their appearance yet. Prophet's man, Josiah, would go on talking about something in that round-about voice of his or Badger's man, Nathan, would start arguing with his Ezra. Chaucer didn't like Nathan most of the time. Of course, Nathan was often nice, which just confused the hell out of the horse.

But no one seemed to be doing anything tonight. It was a deplorable situation all the way around.

Chaucer looked to his man, who was sitting some distance from the others. His Ezra sat quietly for several moments, idly watching the others of his herd move about their simple camp and then his gaze drifted further away. He's thinking about something, Chaucer thought, knowing how his rider could be. The horse dipped his head and wished he could do something to get his man out of his bad mood. What's wrong, huh?

His Ezra opened up the saddlebag, rooted about for a moment, and then pulled something out... a reddish globe.

The horse's head shot up, until the reins jerked him back. APPLE! APPLE! Chaucer turned his head and started mincing backward. Luscious treat! He watched as Ezra pulled his knife and the blade bit into the fruit.

At the crisp sound, the other horses turned toward the man as well. The sweet smell of the fruit reached them and the horses tossed their heads, twitching their nostrils, moving their mouths at the thought of apple and then looking jealously at Chaucer.

Apple... apple... confection of the tree! Chaucer applied his lips to the casually secured reins and was free of the tree in a moment. He backed out from between Clyde and Peso and headed toward his man.

Apple...apple...delicious fruit. He watched as Ezra split the apple in two and set one half on his knee and then started to quarter the other section. Apple... oh please...oh...oh...oh...apple! Chaucer trotted up and came to a halt a short distance from his man. The sweet smell was enough to drive him mad. He shifted his weight from left to right. Apple! He craned his neck and nickered. Boss! Come on, boss! He snorted and pawed at the dust as he watched his man divide the piece. The man didn't even look up; his concentration seemed totally on the task of creating two perfect quarters. Chaucer's eyes fastened on the relatively unguarded half on the man's knee.

The chestnut horse snagged the apple half, then darted backward as his man's hands came snatching forward. "Chaucer!" The knife and apple slices encumbered his hands and Chaucer easily outmaneuvered him. The two quarters fell to the ground as the man jumped to his feet, trying to grab hold of Chaucer's bridle.

Ha! Chaucer thought as he pranced sideways, chewing up the sweet fruit in the process. Precious! Delicious! Oh so wonderful fruit! He tossed his head and kicked up his back feet as he continued to move sideways, to avoid Ezra's reaching hand... the problem was... the hand didn't continue to reach.

Chaucer stopped when he saw the look on his man's face -- so forlorn...so defeated. His Ezra didn't give chase as Chaucer had expected, instead he just sat down again with a sigh and then he flung the knife to the ground, where it quivered...its blade imbedded in the dirt.

"Aw hell," Ezra sighed. "Will nothing in this godforsaken day go in my favor? Will nothing work?"

Boss? Chaucer came to a sudden stop, feeling perplexed and ashamed. Boss? You're not mad at me, are ya? The horse lowered his head and tried to see his man's face, but Ezra wasn't looking up now. Boss? Boss? What can I do? He walked slowly toward his man, not understanding. Oh no, he thought, I didn't make things worse, did I? It was an apple. I couldn't help myself. You can understand that, can't ya? He whinnied, trying to draw his man's attention.

Still his man didn't look up. His Ezra rested his head in his hands and kept his face hidden beneath the brim of his hat. I can fix this, Chaucer thought. Just tell me what I can do.

Chaucer looked up when he sensed movement beside him and saw that young fella, JD, approaching him. JD was reaching for his reins. The horse looked back at his man and saw the command.

Okay, it wasn't quite right. Usually the command was better executed. The order usually involved eye contact and his man still wasn't even looking at him. Where were the other hand gestures? But, it was enough for a horse that desperately needed a command to make things right. Ezra had reached for the brim of his hat and then pulled it down. It was it. It had to be it. This is what would fix it. HAT.

Chaucer turned to the approaching man. This must have been the one he wanted. It certainly was a silly hat. Before the young fella could get a hold of the reins, Chaucer bolted forward and snagged the bowler off of the man's head.

Got it, boss! Chaucer thought as he pranced away from the startled youth. Now what? The young one leapt toward him and Chaucer trotted out of reach. See, I got it! He lifted the hat and whinnied through his teeth to get his man's attention. He saw his Ezra turn his head enough to look up quizzically from beneath the brim of his hat. Chaucer waved the prize at him. He waited to see if there was a further command, but Ezra let him continue. In fact, he looked perplexed at first, and then he gave Chaucer that 'encouraging' look.

Sure, I can keep it up, Chaucer thought.

Again the young man made a reach for him and Chaucer sidestepped him. He continued to wave the hat at his owner. Now what? What d'ya want? JD tried to leap at him and Chaucer saw he had no other choice. He took off at a gallop.

It felt good to feel the wind through his mane. After such a depressing and slow journey, it was refreshing to stretch his legs and run. He took off as quickly as he could, holding the funny looking hat tightly in his teeth. The wind tugged and pulled at the bowler as he ran. Chaucer could hear the young fella yelling his name and then shouting to Ezra.

Chaucer turned, creating a wide arc as he doubled back. The small camp was transformed. Men and animals were all at attention, watching him as he sped back toward them. The horses stood with their ears pointed and heads high. Their eyes were bright as they moved excitedly in their places. Clyde whinnied and Toby snorted, tossing his head.

Peso and Clyde's men were both standing and laughing. Job's man was shaking his head and smiling. Badger and Prophet's men both looked startled. His Ezra was watching, still sitting where he had been, but his head was up now, and Chaucer was certain he saw the beginning of a grin on his face. The young fella was standing in the midst of them pointing. Chaucer charged right at him.

The young fella jumped with a cry as the horse came barreling toward him and passed him with the hat held high and out of reach. Chaucer spun back around, making his way to the young man again. JD was saying "Chaucer" and some other crap, trying to stop him... but there would be no stopping. Chaucer pushed past him, shoving him aside as he took off again to the far side of camp. Toby's man began yelling and cursing as the horse came at him again and stepped curtly around him and teased him with the hat, rearing back and snorting.

Ezra's herd was all laughing now as JD made another attempt to get the bowler, trying to reach for the loose reins of the bobbing horse. He was easily sidestepped. The chestnut horse kept his eyes peeled for any sign that the other members of Ezra's herd were going to offer assistance to the young one. So far, no one had.

That was when Chaucer saw another movement. Peso, loose as well, was walking slowly and smoothly toward him. The black horse with the white blaze was making his way toward the apple slices that had been abandoned on the ground. Chaucer made another turn, and came to a sudden stop when he figured he was in the perfect position.

Toby's man was sweating by now. He stopped, resting his hands on his knees, and glared at the chestnut horse. He started saying Chaucer's name quietly, as if he thought he could calm down the errant steed. He kept his voice low and soft, using a 'horse enticing' sort of a tone. Chaucer nickered at such foolishness. He waited, watching as Peso made his way across the camp...waited.

At the exact right moment, Chaucer lunged away from the boy. The young fella tried to close the distance, jumping at him and -- instead -- collided with Peso, who had suddenly picked up his pace as he closed on the remains of the apple. The boy fell back on his rump with a rather loud thud. He cursed a bit after that.

The camp erupted. Buck was laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Vin was leaning against Chris Larabee, who looked like he even needed support as both men laughed. The one called Josiah couldn't stand and fell to his rump as well. Nathan was literally crying, holding his head in his hands. Even the young fella was smiling and laughing at his own predicament as Peso stood over him and calmly chewed on the apple bits.

Chaucer finally turned to his man and was happy to see Ezra laughing along with the rest. The sound was music to his ears. The horse pranced over to his man and offered him the hat. See, Boss, I got it. You had a good idea.

Ezra nodded at him and then gave a more proper command, with all of the correct gestures. Chaucer snorted his understanding and then trotted over to the boy who still sat in the dirt. Vin had already retrieved his horse and was walking the animal back to where it should have been, talking to Peso quietly as he did and combing his hand through Peso's mane.

JD looked skeptical as the horse offered him the hat. He reached up to grab it, and Chaucer snatched it away, nickered and then looked to his owner in amusement. Ezra smiled and then repeated the command. Chaucer allowed the young man to take the prize on his second try.

JD examined the brim and then glared back at Chaucer.

Chaucer could hear the other members of Ezra's herd talking. He heard his own name repeated several times, but he couldn't care less what they were saying.

"Yes," Ezra said, "He's a most remarkable animal." More words were spoken and Ezra replied as he stood, "He is most exceptionally well behaved and not at all a menace," he sounded incredulous when he spoke these words. "Chaucer simply felt the need to lighten the mood somewhat."

His man took his reins and smiled. Chaucer sighed. It was so good to see his Ezra smile again. He was easily led back to the tree where Peso was already secured. Ezra lazily tied the reins and patted him on the neck.

"Thank you, my friend. I dearly needed that." Chaucer eyes lit up as Ezra produced another apple from his pocket and carefully cut it in two. Even before one half was offered, Chaucer snatched it from his owner's hands. The horse smacked his lips and started crunching into the sweet flesh of the fruit.

"And for you as well," Ezra said, offering the other half to Peso. "For your involvement. You may appear unassuming, but I feel you were well aware of your actions." The black horse happily took the offered fruit.

Chaucer felt mildly jealous as Ezra gave Peso a pat on the neck. The jealousy left as he received a pat for himself... a longer one at that. The two horses crunched at their treats as the other horses watched with an envious gleam in their eyes. Clyde gave Chaucer a nip on the neck. Chaucer glanced to the grey who whickered, letting him know there were no hard feelings.

Ezra remained for a few more moments, talking quietly to the horse and running his hands along the horse's neck. "Sometimes," Ezra said softly. "Life is unfair."

Sure, boss, Chaucer thought, running his tongue over his teeth. Whatever you say.

"But life must go on, just the same."

Chaucer snaked down his head and bit at the lapel of his man's coat until he was gently slapped away.

"Thank you, my friend, for reminding me of that."

The horse lowered his head and tried to get into his Ezra's pockets. There must be more apples somewhere.

Ezra grabbed onto the horse's bridle and pulled up his head until they were eye to eye. He just smiled as Chaucer blinked back at him.

It's okay now. Right, boss?

"Magnificent creature," Ezra proclaimed as he scratched the horse in that special spot behind the ears. "And horrible nuisance."

Thanks, boss. Chaucer thought, snapping up his head to whack his owner in the chest.

Ezra shook his head and released his hold on the horse, then turned to rejoin his own herd, which was still laughing. Buck slapped Ezra on the back. Nathan and Josiah were talking to JD, both of them smiling still. JD wasn't on the ground anymore. Instead, he was examining his hat with a frown on his face, but a smile in his eyes. Vin and Chris Larabee both said something to his Ezra for which they got a shrug in response and a wicked grin. Everyone was changed.

Chaucer looked back to his herd and was glad to see the change come over them as well -- no more drooping heads and listless tails. They were once again awake and alert. Funny how things can change so quickly.

Chaucer nodded to himself. It certainly was a funny hat.

THE END - By NotTasha 
The next story in this series is Stomp

I would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Come on! Even if it is just to complain!

Back to Index

On to next story