Dawn comes with a warm breeze, Charles is slow to awaken but happy to see the next day. “Mister Le Beau?” David turns to face him. “Thank you, you’re nicer then Ma says.”

“I’m only nice to you, Charles. You’re too naive and kindhearted for this wilderness town.” Without words Charles gets up and enjoys a small meal of beans and a slice of thick cut bacon. “You ready to go?”

“Yes sir.” With ease David navigates them back to the O’Neil ranch, knocking on the door with Charles beside him. Slowly the door opens revealing Ma O’Neil.

“Misses O’Neil, I found your boy.” With a deep set frown she grabs Charles’ arm and drags him to her side.

“Thank you Mister Le Beau. I was worried sick last night.” David snorts and turns to leave.

“Charles please stay inside at night, the snow makes everything treacherous.”

“I will Mister Le Beau.” Her frowns deepens seeing the happiness and hearing the joy in her son’s voice. With a grumble she pulls him inside and closes the door, Charles pulls away and goes to his small room, intent on changing out of his clothes and into something warmer. In the dining room Ma paces back and forth, worrying the collar hem of her dress as she thinks. Charles appears, happy, alive, and warm; “Should I go to town Ma? Maybe get Lucas?”

“No,” Her voice is hard and cold “Leave it be for today. Rest, I’ll think of something to rid us of that damned Le Beau.”

“But Ma-”

“Not now Lucas!” Charles recoils some and pouts, feelings hurt.

“I’m not Lucas Ma.” The hurt in his voice does little to soften her heart.

“I know.” Charles slinks off, returning to his room and locking the door behind him, leaving Ma to pace and think.

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