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: G , even though there's some horseplay and some snorting
MAJOR CHARACTERS: Chaucer...and Ezra, also Badger and Nathan
SUMMARY: More silliness from the horse's point of view.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Kristen supplied the name of Ezra's horse and I came up with a name for Nathan's. . Eleanor Tremayne Esquire provided Chris, JD and Buck's. Sue created Josiah's and Vin's horse uses his own name.
COMMENTS: Yes, please! comments and suggestions
DATE: January 27, 2002

Horse Tale: Wait
As told to NotTasha

Chaucer was annoyed.  He trotted once more around the small corral, brushing past his companion and came to a stop again at the gate.  He snorted and looked toward the front door of the house – a human’s livery -- but saw no sign of his man emerging.   This wasn't kind -- not kind at all -- leaving one's noble steed in a corral for the better part of a day, not bothering to come and see if he was managing well.  The horse made a wide circle, to stop again at the gate.

The morning had started in a blur of activity.  Ezra and Nathan had come running into the livery.  There wasn’t time for a friendly brush-down or even a nice scratch behind the ears.  In a moment he was saddled and then galloping alongside Badger in an all-fired hurry.  The two men had said almost nothing as they rushed across the countryside.  Chaucer had felt the excitement and anxiety of his man, the need to hurry -- he would hurry. Something was happening and he would go as fast as he could to make his man happy.  He’d wanted to race Badger, but Ezra held him back. For some reason, his man didn't want to arrive ahead of the bay and his man.  Ezra wanted to stay with Nathan and Badger just didn't have his speed.

Upon arrival at this place, Nathan had disappeared immediately into the house, leaving Ezra the high honor of caring for the horses. Usually, it was an enjoyable time for Chaucer -- time for scratches behind the ears, back rubs and maybe a treat or two -- but his Ezra had barely spent any time with them.  He'd removed their saddles, made sure they were comfortable and checked to see that the trough was full.

Just before he’d disappeared into the house, Ezra had turned and pointed a finger at him.  “Wait,” he’d said. And Chaucer had been doing that ever since.

The horse had heard his man come and go a few times by the back door.  He’d heard the pump and the sound of buckets being hauled into the house.  Ezra had come out again for wood, and the smell of fire soon emanated from the house as the chimney started to smoke.  He'd heard his man moving through the house, rustling about, but returning to a room at the rear of the house.  He knew the sound of his man's footfalls well enough to discern the sound, even if he couldn't see what was going on.

Nathan, it appeared, wasn’t moving about.  Chaucer had heard him shouting orders from time-to-time, otherwise his voice was very low, hardly above a murmur.  The horse wasn't sure, but it seemed that the orders had been directed at his man most the time.

The gelding could smell a third person at this place, a female smell. There were traces of another person about, but Chaucer was fairly sure that he wasn't there at that moment.  It was all rather perplexing and he didn't bother thinking about it for too long. Instead he diverted his attention by watching a butterfly flutter past and waged war with a bite-fly (some fools referred to them as ‘horse-flies’ but Chaucer couldn’t understand why anyone would associate anything as gallant as a horse with something so foul).

Despite the fact that Ezra seemed mighty active within the house, he didn't come back to the corral and the two horses were left alone -- without even the farm's own horses to keep them company. ‘Wait,’ Ezra had said.  Well, Chaucer was waiting… and it was boring as a pile of manure. There was nothing to do, except for watching Badger clip at the grass. Badger wasn’t much more exciting than the manure.

He enjoyed Badger's company, but the long-legged bay didn't take to the teasing that Chaucer enjoyed doling out.  Clyde, Peso, Prophet and Toby were much more enjoyable in that respect.  He could bedevil Clyde and Toby all day long.  He could push them about, tug on their reins, sidestep them, trap them against the fence or maybe trick one of them into believing a fly was on their rump (Clyde always fell for that one).  Yes, the big gray was good-natured enough to put up with it, but Toby, the little bay, would end up running off, half-crazed, if Chaucer kept it up for too long. The chestnut had learned just how far he could push the bay. He'd learned the point when play turned to torture and didn't cross that line.  Prophet would take it for a while, but eventually would end up snapping at him – that wasn’t safe because the big sorrel had a nasty bite. Peso was smart enough to move away or return the aggravation -- that could be fun for a while, but it was better to be the teaser than the teasee.  Job, Chris Larabee's horse, was best left alone -- he kicked.

Badger was the worst of all – because he mostly ignored Chaucer.  That wasn’t any fun at all.

Chaucer snorted and Badger only twitched his skin in return.  The bay was used to long waits, used to quiet and stillness.  His man, the dark-skinned one, often left Badger for long periods of time while he tended to other things.  Of the six men who ran in his Ezra's herd, Chaucer saw Nathan the least. He apparently had duties that didn't always include the horses. That was a damn shame, because men needed horses to keep them sane.  He knew that Ezra wasn’t quite right until he found the perfect horse.  Yes, a good horse improves a man tremendously.

The chestnut liked Nathan well enough, it was just that he had a strange temper that occasionally lashed out at his man.  Chaucer didn't care for that.  Also, Nathan sometimes smelled of blood and odd mixtures of plant and chemical.  The most alarming thing about him was that people often were in pain when they were around him.  That was definitely something to be wary of.  Still, Badger liked him and the bay was part of Chaucer's herd.  If Badger liked him, then Chaucer accepted him. Plus, Ezra was fond of Nathan, enjoyed his company and liked riding with him.  That alone was good enough for Chaucer.

Pacing before the gate, Chaucer froze when he heard a human cry of pain.  What?  His senses sharpened. He breathed deeply, twitching his ears as he listened, making certain that it wasn't his Ezra's voice.  No, not his man, rather it was a female sound.  He stood stock still while Badger continued his slow consumption of the low grass.  The cry ended and the house became silent again.  Chaucer waited another minute before he took up his pacing once more.

He brushed past Badger again, a little harder than before, and the tall horse gave a little warning rumble but did little else to show any notice of the quick-stepping chestnut.

Everything was silent again, and that little rush of excitement soon paled as the horse grew bored once more.  ‘Wait,’ Ezra had said. Well, waiting wasn’t exactly his favorite thing to do. Certainly, there must be something to do here. When was Ezra coming back? His man would keep him occupied. They could go through some of their tricks and learn some new ones perhaps.  Treats might be involved. Chaucer smacked his lips noisily at the thought, garnering a look from Badger.

Chaucer came alongside the gate and stretched out his neck, looking for something worthy of his attention.  He noticed a little flower garden up against the house.  The sight of it reminded him of how hungry he was.  The dry grass that appeased Badger didn't really appeal to him. His stomach was more delicate, used to finer things.

The pretty little flowers were more to his liking.  Well, since nobody had bothered to see to his empty stomach, Chaucer decided he'd have to do something for it by himself.  He could just as easily wait by the garden as in the corral. He wouldn’t leave.   Glancing once more at the doorway, Chaucer dropped his head over the gate and regarded the latch.

Simple thing. Hardly any trouble. He fumbled the latch with his lips, quickly finding the secret. He pressed the gate open and glanced to the doorway again, to see if anyone had noticed.  The house remained quiet and still.  Next, he looked toward Badger who continued his unhurried grazing.  The bay paused when the chestnut slipped through the opening.

Badger raised his head and as Chaucer headed toward the flowerbed. He watched as the troublesome chestnut sniffed at the bright plants and then started lopping off their heads.  The bay snorted.

Chaucer turned his head, looking back to Badger who hadn't moved from his place. The bay snorted again and tossed his head, signaling a warning.

What?  Chaucer thought, looking toward the doorway again and then twisting about to see the road.  No one's coming.  There were no cougars on the road; not a sign of a coyote. He went back to work and bit off another mouthful of flowers. Another snort from Badger made him turn to see that the bay had reached the opening in the fence, and was craning his head over the invisible line.

Chaucer raised his head and flicked his tail.  Whatever Badger wanted, it certainly wasn't important.  He was obeying his man.  That was the only important thing -- that, and the fact that he was hungry and trying to do something about it.   He was about to sample some of the tall flowers at the back of the bed when he caught sight of the little kitchen garden, around the side of the house.

Lettuce!  Cabbage! Carrots!  Oh! Oh! Oh!  Carrots!  Joy!  He quivered in excitement.  Did he see kohlrabi?  So delicious!  And so convenient! He headed toward it, hearing Badger stomping angrily in the corral.

He'd almost made it to the garden when another cry cut through the air. He froze again, listened, and then skittered back. It was very near.  His instincts told him to flee, but somewhere nearby was his man.  Ezra might need him. He couldn't leave his man.   He’d been told to ‘wait’ and he would.

Ezra!  He had to find him. He listened intently, trying to locate him. Quickly, he picked out his voice coming from the window near the back of the house.  After giving the garden one last glance, he ambled to the open window and peered inside.

The window was large, and it was easy to see everything in the room.  He took in the scene eagerly. At first, Chaucer was disappointed.  He didn't see his man.  There was a bed directly under the window, and two people were so close that he could probably reach in and give them a good bite if he had a mind to. The people were too distracted to even notice him -- their loss.

He could see Nathan, sitting beside a human-bed and a woman was reclining there. She was half-sitting, propped up on pillows and in obvious distress. Nathan was talking to her and messing with some of the nasty things he carried around with him, setting them on a table where they either shone with evil sharpness or stank.  Either way, they weren’t nice things. It was oppressive inside, he could feel the heaviness of pain and discomfort.  This wasn't where he wanted to be.

He watched them for a moment, but didn't really care about them.  He wanted his Ezra…either him… or that garden. He glanced back toward it and considered the kohlrabi.

"Chaucer!" The horse changed his gaze and looked across the room.  Ezra stood in the room's doorway, a basin of water in his hands, his jacket off and his sleeves rolled up.

Nathan and the woman turned toward Ezra and then, the window.  Nathan frowned in annoyance and the woman smiled. She said a few words.

"I'm afraid it's my horse," Ezra sighed exasperatedly. "He tends to get bored when left alone for too long."

She laughed and spoke again, she didn't seem to be annoyed, although Nathan was definitely unhappy.  He said something to Ezra and pointed at the window.

With a nod, Ezra set the basin on the bed stand near Nathan and muttered,  "I'll see to him." He gave Chaucer a look and waggled a finger at him. "Stay put until I get there." He left the room. “Wait.”

Chaucer waited. He always tried to do as he was told.  Sometimes the orders were harder to follow than others. He was more than capable of understanding and following through with commands, it was just that…sometimes… he'd rather not.

The chestnut horse looked at the woman again.  She was sweating as if she’d been run hard, but she didn’t seem so distressed just then. She smiled at him and he couldn’t help stretching his neck through the window. She reached out a hand and touched his muzzle. Her touch was gentle, but her fingers trembled slightly as they ran along his nose.

He heard Nathan say, "Go on, Chaucer.  Get out."

Chaucer did nothing.  He didn't have to obey Nathan and the woman was nice.  He'd rather have her pet his nose.

He heard the rear door open and close as the nice lady caressed him. He wished she could reach the top of his head. He could use a nice scratch behind the ears just then -- that always made him feel better when he was tense.

"Chaucer," Ezra sighed as he strode toward the horse. Chaucer withdrew his head from the woman's soft touch and turned to face his man.  "What am I going to do with you?"

Boss! Overjoyed to have his man near him again, Chaucer nuzzled him, rubbing the side of his head against his man's face.  Hey Boss! I've been waiting! Just like you said.  Can we go now?

"Yes, yes, I'm here," Ezra responded.

Then, unable to help himself, Chaucer grabbed hold of Ezra's collar and gave him a powerful tug – not hard enough to tear the fabric.  He’d learned his lesson long ago in that regard.  Let's go, Boss.

"Chaucer, please!"  Ezra cried as the horse nearly pulled him off his feet. Inside the woman giggled.  Ezra managed to step away from the harassing horse.  "A gentleman, Chaucer. Always,"

Yes, Chaucer thought, a gentleman, and cantered about regally, circling Ezra beside that window.  His high steps brought more laughter from the woman and she seemed less distressed than she had been a moment ago.

"Quiet down now," Ezra stated and Chaucer calmed. “Are you going to behave?”

Chaucer recognized that word and snorted in irritation.  ‘Behave’ meant that he had to be still and do as he was told.

“Chaucer?  Will you behave?” Ezra said and then made that little movement. Chaucer nodded his big head in response to the signal, not knowing that it meant he agreed to the bargain.  "You won't be such a nuisance again, will you?"  Chaucer saw that other movement and shook his head exaggeratedly.  The woman laughed again, and so did Nathan.

Ezra turned to the window and made a formal bow, signaling Chaucer to do the same. The horse did as he was asked, bowing deeply and earning more laughter from the woman.  And then, Ezra said, "Come along, Chaucer," and started walking back toward the corral.  Chaucer followed, nipping at the back of his jacket.

As they came back to the corral, Ezra gestured to Badger and said, "You see, there are good horses and there are naughty horses."  Badger looked rather satisfied with himself as his compatriot was returned.  "Try to behave like a good horse… for a change."

His man continued talking,  "I'm sorry for leaving you here so long, my friend.  But, you must understand I have something important to attend to.  Mrs. Dwyer is in need of some help.  Actually, it's Mr. Jackson who is helping her and I'm trying to assist him.  There isn’t much I can do, but at least I can leave Mr. Jackson free to care for her properly."

He talked softly, moving into the corral as he did, and Chaucer went with him. The horse would go anywhere with the man, without question without balking.  "It's lucky that Mr. Culver stopped by her house this morning, otherwise she'd have been all alone in this.  The poor woman would have been in a terrible state.  The baby is early, according to Mr. Jackson, otherwise the father would've been here."  He sighed and leaned against the railing of the corral.

Chaucer liked it when his man talked to him and pressed his head into his chest. His Ezra seemed to like it too.  Although the horse didn't understand the words, he figured that his man took some ease in explaining things to him.  The act of saying these things out loud seemed to make him relax and be more comfortable, so Chaucer would listen.  Besides, he loved the sound of that man's voice.

His Ezra reached out a hand and scratched the special spot behind Chaucer’s ears.  The horse was in ecstasy.  Yes, oh yes!  That's the spot right there!  Chaucer twisted his neck to push his head closer to the scratching hand, but, Ezra didn’t seem to be paying that much attention to him.

"With any luck Mr. Dwyer will be here shortly, but too late I fear. He's in Ridge City, you see, awaiting her sister who’s supposed to be helping in this situation.  A woman needs the care of another woman at such times, but sometimes things don't work out as planned."  He shrugged.  "We're a good example of this fact.  I happened to be beside Nathan at the time the news reached him, so I'm here instead of at the poker table."  He gave the horse an affable slap.  "And you, old friend, must suffer with me.  It was luck of the draw."

The woman screamed, louder than before, bringing even Badger to attention. Ezra stiffened and went a little pale, his hand resting on his horse's back.

"Ezra!" Nathan's voice shouted and Ezra sprinted from the corral. He slapped the gate shut, dashing into the house again without a word of goodbye.  Chaucer flicked his ears as the latch on the gate engaged and again as the door to the house slammed shut.

She cried in pain for a bit after that.  Chaucer came alongside Badger, snuffling the wind for any sign of danger.  The bay stood at attention until the woman's voice became quieter, then he dropped his head to the low grass again.  Chaucer remained where he was, pressed closed to Badger, waiting to see if she'd cry out again.  Badger didn't seem to be bothered by this sudden closeness and continued with his mowing.

As Chaucer waited, listening to Badger's chomping,  he realized again that he was hungry.  There was hardly anything edible left in the little corral. Those flowers really weren't sitting very well with him and they weren't going to be enough to keep such an incredible creature going.

Chaucer leaned over the gate again and easily unlatched it, whacking it open with a toss of his head.  He stepped out boldly toward the kitchen garden.

When he reached the leafy greens, he heard his man's voice again, talking slowly and calmly, soothingly.  Chaucer danced about.  It was the voice that his man used with him, a special soft voice that was reserved to keep him calm when he was overly excited.  Chaucer needed to hear such calming words just then.  All the yelling had made him anxious.

Chaucer eagerly approached the window again. Obviously, from the tone of his voice, his man wanted to speak to him. As the horse drew nearer, he could hear the woman's whimpering. He flattened his ears at the sound. It was a 'danger' sound, his instincts told him to run away.  Yet, his man kept speaking.  If Ezra was speaking so calmly, certainly everything was going to be okay.  He peered carefully into the room.

Ezra was sitting beside the human-bed this time.  He was holding the woman's hand and looking very concerned, speaking softly to her.   There were tears in her eyes and she looked sick with pain, sweating still, even though she’d been in that room for some time.  Certainly she would have recovered from her run by now?

Ezra hadn’t noticed him yet, his attention was totally on the pained woman. He stroked her head as he'd often stroked Chaucer’s; his movements were gentle and tender.  He continued to speak to her in that special ‘reserved for Chaucer’ voice.  Her eyes were fixed on his.  Chaucer felt a pang of jealousy.

Nathan was washing his hands.  The room smelled strongly of the powerful soap that Nathan used.  The horse's nostrils flared at the scent -- he didn't care for it.  His Ezra usually used sweeter smelling soap, scented like the flowers and more appealing to Chaucer's gentle sensibilities.  That powerful scent of Nathan’s soap usually meant trouble of some sort.

"My dear," Ezra said softly to the woman, "I assure you, Mr. Jackson is most skilled and you are blessed to have him here with you.  He will get you through this, have no doubts."  His Ezra kept speaking quietly and Nathan gazed toward the man, looking puzzled about something.   "Your dear husband will return very soon with your sister and you'll have your family around you.  Until then, you have Nathan to tend to you and he’s the best there is. There's no reason to worry."

The woman was sweating and moaning, as Ezra used a cloth to wipe her face with water, as he continued to talk softly to her.  She lay with her knees drawn up - strange way for a human to be situated. She grimaced in pain and then she turned her head, and suddenly caught sight of the horse peering in the window. Their eyes met, and Chaucer could first see the hurt that filled them, but a look of amusement came across her and she smiled.   She said something quietly to his Ezra.

Ezra looked to the window and sighed as he saw his horse peering in at them. Chaucer whickered, glad to have caught his man's attention. The woman laughed.  Nathan laughed too, just a little laugh and then said something to Ezra.

"Yes, yes, I know," Ezra replied.  "Will you be all right for a moment, darlin'?  I must tend to my pernicious steed."

The woman nodded and Ezra patted her hand softly before he stood and left the room. Nathan shook his head. Chaucer pranced, then turned to greet his approaching man. Ezra emerged, following the same path as before.

"Chaucer," Ezra muttered, catching his bridle.  "You are a most difficult creature."  His voice carried no real admonishment, and his touch was gentle as he rubbed the horse's neck.  "Come now, let's not bother them any longer."

Ezra's eyes were bright with excitement as he led the horse back toward the corral. "It's nearly time, my friend. She's very close to making all of us uncles."  He smiled at the thought.

He continued talking as they walked, his voice quiet and sad. "It's a cruel jest that a woman must suffer so to bring a new life into this world.  She's having a hard time of it, I fear.  Nathan says she’s doing well, but it looks only like agony to me.  I wish that her husband or sister would return.  She needs someone who can comfort her."

Badger once again snorted as Chaucer returned, tossing his head and stomping about in disgust at the poor behavior of his herd-mate.  Ezra led his horse back into the corral and secured the gate. After looking at the latch a moment, he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and tied it over the fastener.  "Behave," he said, tapping the horse's muzzle.  "Remain."

Chaucer twisted his ears in consternation.  He’d have to stay now.

The woman cried out again in pain and Nathan shouted Ezra's name. The dark-skinned man sounded frantic and Chaucer watched as his man took off as if bee-stung.

The horse sighed and continued his wait.  He dropped his neck over the gate and tried to get a good look at the obstructed latch.  He’d have to stay now that the order 'remain' had been issued, but that didn’t mean he’d he couldn’t figure out this puzzle.  It took him a while, but after enough pulling, he was able to tear the tightly tied handkerchief away.  The horse tossed his head and paraded around the corral with the torn bit of cloth in his teeth.

Badger looked annoyed.

Chaucer went back to the latch and looked at it.  He was regarding it when the woman wailed.  He lifted his head quickly and came alongside Badger again, head cocked to one side and the cloth still clutched in his teeth.

Badger had heard and seen a lot of human suffering in his life.  He often accompanied his rider on such calls, waiting patiently as someone was administered to.  He had become used to it, in a way, but never was completely at ease with the sound of another creature in pain.  The two horses stood together as the cries continued. Sometimes the groans grew softer, only to increase sharply. And then, rather quickly, the pain-filled utterances ceased.

The horses snuffled and shuffled uneasily as the scent of blood reached them.  They pressed closer together.

Then, a new sound filled the air.  Somewhere, a baby yowled.  Chaucer twitched his ears in astonishment.  A human infant?  Where had that come from?  He was so intent, so perplexed by this revelation that he didn't even realize that new horses had been approaching.  Their arrival stunned him entirely.  Chaucer looked up to see the wagon that had appeared out of nowhere. Two tired sorrels drew it and the team shook their heads as they came to a halt.  Their driver looked into the corral with concern, gazing at Chaucer and Badger in wonder.  A woman sat beside him, nervously clutching a bag.

The driver shouted a name and jumped down from the wagon, followed by the woman and they both ran into the house.

Chaucer sniffed at the sorrels, realizing from their scent that they were the residents of this corral.  He whinnied a greeting to them and the tired team murmured a response.

The sorrels tried to catch their breath.  Their skin was matted with sweat and dust.  It annoyed Chaucer that the team was left like this, after an obviously trying trip; someone should be seeing to them!  He nickered to them in conciliation.  The nearer of the two just peed in response.

Well, Chaucer thought, that wasn't very friendly.

Just then, Ezra emerged from the house.  He stood for a moment on the porch, and breathed in deeply. He looked relieved and exhausted as he gazed out across the land. Finally, he stepped from the porch and headed toward the wagon.  "I suppose you should be seen to," he said to one of the sorrels as he stroked her head.   She nodded and sighed.

Chaucer left Badger's side finally to stand at the gate, ready to be released. His Ezra shook his head and smiled as he looked at his glorious quarter horse, then reached over the gate to snatch the remainder of the handkerchief from his mouth.  "I can't trust you with anything, can I?" Ezra quizzed as he examined the state of his property.  He grimaced and then shoved the remainder into his pocket.

"It's a boy," he told Chaucer.  "And he's in ownership of a fine pair of lungs.  I believe the Dwyers shall have their hands full." He patted his horse lovingly and then turned back to the wagon.  “Luckily, Mr. Dwyer ran into Mr. Culver.  Mr. Dwyer wasted no time when he heard the news of his impending child.”

Chaucer stamped as Ezra climbed into the wagon seat.  "Don't worry, my friend. You and your companion will be served your dinner soon and then we'll be on our way." He clucked to the team and they started forward, toward the barn.  "You'd might as well come along," he said over his shoulder. “Come along.”

Chaucer easily undid the latch again and pushed open the gate. As he walked through, he looked over his shoulder at the tall bay and nickered to him -- come. It was an old language, used when horses were wild things.  Come, he called again and started striding out in search of dinner in the open barn.  It's perfectly all right, he thought.  We've been invited.

Badger lingered a moment longer and then, heeding an ancestral urge, followed the chestnut horse out of the safety of the corral.  Badger was a patient horse, capable of waiting all day long if necessary, but he also was a hungry horse, having nothing but bitter weeds to eat all day. He'd follow his herd-mate and see what happened.

Ezra was unharnessing the team as the two horses loped into the barn. He chuckled as he watched Chaucer boldly come in, followed by the more timid Badger.  He smiled and said, "I suppose you're both hungry.  Well, wait a few moments while I tend to your brethren.  The four of you shall be sated shortly."

He stayed with them, making certain they had their fill of hay, taking care of the sorrels. He took his time, seeming to relish this simple activity.  Finally a sound at the door made the man look up.  It was Nathan.  Badger lifted his head eagerly at the sound of his man's voice.

Nathan was smiling as he strode into the barn. He clapped Ezra on the back and spoke cheerfully to him. Chaucer liked Nathan when he was like this.

"She's a lucky woman," Ezra responded.  "It was by God's good graces that you were able to arrive here in time to deliver that new life into this world.  She's luck to have had you here."

Nathan seemed more serious as he spoke again, his eyes intent on Ezra. Chaucer's man blinked and looked away before he responded, "Well, yes, but I did little more than tote about some water and firewood. Nothing of consequence."

Again, Nathan smiled, and draped one of his long arms across Ezra's shoulder. His voice was sincere and friendly and his Ezra nodded to Nathan's words. Chaucer wasn't sure of Ezra was totally convinced of Nathan's statements, but he listened.

"Yes," he finally responded.  "I suppose every little bit helps."

Nathan patted him on the back and nodded to the horses.  Badger looked at him expectantly.

"If all is well within, there's no reason to delay further. Our friends here are nearly finished with their suppers. We can leave the new family alone to get to know one another."

Chaucer was excited as he realized they'd be leaving soon.  Finally! he thought, ready to be on the road again.  It didn’t take long before he and Badger were saddled.

They were led to back porch of the house. Nathan knocked gently at the rear door and the man who'd come with the wagon answered it.  Nathan spoke briefly and the man called to the others inside.

Chaucer glanced toward the kitchen garden again, wishing that he'd had the chance to do some sampling.  There was plenty growing there and he was sure he'd find all of it tasty. He heard the voice of that pained woman again, but she didn't sound so troubled now.  The man in the house gestured, then he and Badger followed their men around the house and to that same window that he'd gazed through before.

The woman who'd come with the wagon was sitting in the chair that his Ezra had occupied before. The other woman still lay on the bed, but now she held a bundle in her arms – it twitched. Chaucer sniffed the air, finding the odors that came with new life. The newborn thing opened its mouth and yawned. Chaucer watched it carefully, waiting for it to stand up and take its first wobbly steps.

The woman in the bed spoke to them, sounding tired and quiet, but very content.

Nathan responded respectfully and nodded.

She spoke to Ezra next and Ezra replied with, "It was no trouble at all, Mrs. Dwyer. You were the one that did all the work."

She smiled and gazed at Chaucer, speaking again. He recognized his name.

Ezra laughed. "Yes, his name is Chaucer.  And you're right, he was named for the writer. He's a fine animal when he decides to minds me. He can be quite difficult otherwise." She talked again and Ezra responded, "Well then, I’m glad that he was able to offer you some relief from your pains."

"Chaucer," she said his name and gazed toward the other man who looked a little confused.

They talked a bit more and he recognized his name again, but they didn’t look at him. Chaucer’s attention returned to the garden and he leaned toward it, pulling his man nearly off his feet.  Ezra gave his reins a jerk to remind him to stay put.  He heard Ezra say, “…a literary giant who brightened a rather difficult time for me.  I always enjoyed his works.”

The humans seemed to come to some decision.  And then it was time to go.  Ezra and Nathan mounted and soon they were underway, heading back toward home.  Chaucer was glad to be away.  The food he’d just eaten was nice, but really that place had made him a bit too anxious.  He'd rather be home.  He liked his home, his stall, his herd, Ezra's herd.  It would be nice to be back.  They sky was already growing dark.  It was time to be bedded down.

Nathan seemed to be rather tired, and Badger kept a slow pace to accommodate him. Chaucer saw no reason to contradict the bay's choice and walked easily alongside him. They traveled in a weary silence for some time before Nathan broke the quiet.  He laughed loudly and said something to Ezra.

His Ezra chuckled.  "Lord," he said, "I can't believe it myself.  I suppose she found his presence a balm to her condition.  He seemed to cheer her."   He patted Chaucer's side and murmured.  "How do you like that, my friend?  She's given your name to the boy."

Nathan said something again and Ezra replied, "Well, no one need know she named her child after a horse.  She can claim she was enthralled with Canterbury Tales.   It’s a shame.  She might have tried Nathan Ezra Dwyer.”  Ezra paused before adding, “Ezra Nathan sounds better.”

Chaucer couldn’t tell if Nathan agreed or not with Ezra’s last statement, but he obviously felt strongly about it.

Ezra continued, “Geoffrey Chaucer Dwyer does have a ring to it, although I suppose they’ll call him Jeff.”  He shifted in his saddle and then continued, “The name is portentous of great things. He shall certainly be intelligent, handsome, quick-witted, agile and faithful."

Nathan added a few more words and Chaucer felt his rider nod. "Yes, that's true. I suppose he will be hopelessly spoiled as well. It could also mean that the child will be terribly impatient and be nothing but trouble."

Chaucer recognized that last word.  He felt his rider change his position and the horse followed this movement by taking a several sideways steps and then kicking out his rear legs in a mock-buck.  He took a few halting strides and then reared up when he knew his rider was ready. Badger watched his antics without comment. The other rider just shook his head with a grin.

"It was, all in all, an exhilarating excursion," Ezra said once Chaucer was in stride with Badger.  "I feel honored to have been present."

Nathan talked for a little while and then leaned across and patted Ezra on the shoulder and Chaucer recognized the words, "Thanks, Ezra."

"Not a problem, my friend," his Ezra returned.  And the four of them continued home.

THE END - By NotTasha

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