The Gift

Series Prologue

As tired as they were, the boys still had a few ounces of energy to gather around Emma’s wagon. The station mistress sat atop the buckboard like a queen holding court, “Mr. Spoon, boys?”

As tired as they were, the boys still had a few ounces of energy to gather around Emma’s wagon. The station mistress sat atop the buckboard like a queen holding court, “Mr. Spoon, boys?”

“Emma?” Teaspoon imitated the inflection of her voice like a magpie. “Where did you go?”

“Well, had you been awake when I left this morning, you’d know that I went into town to pick up supplies. On the way back I found this at the freight office.”

Ike peeked in the back and saw the large wooden crate with the letters R M & W painted on the side. He motioned to Buck who read the letters aloud and announced “It’s from the Express Home Office.”

The boys elbowed each other tryin’ to get a better look. Pushin’ the hat off his head, Cody wiped the sweat off his forehead, “What’s in it?”

Buck curiosity was piqued, “What did they send us?”

Emma leaned back in her seat and set a gloved hand on her hip. “I’m glad you asked,” Buck and Cody both turned to each other with worried looks, that sweeter’n’sugar tone made them both nervous. “Just as soon as some of you boys unload that box and take it into the bunkhouse, I’m sure Mr. Spoon will show you what’s in the box.”

Cody hit his hat against his pants leg, “I should’ve known better’n to open my -”

“Big mouth.” Jimmy chuckled as he passed by Cody on the way to the bunkhouse, “That’s right Cody, call it like we all see it.”

If you could bore holes into a person with just their eyes, Jimmy would’ve had two picture windows into his back. Instead, Cody was forced to shoulder his weight under the box.


Inside the bunkhouse, the riders waited while Teaspoon pried open the top of the crate. As the final nail gave way the boys moved in closer. Cody shoved Lou off to the side and craned his neck to see into the box. Not one to be left out of this, Lou jabbed Cody in the ribs and regained her place next to Teaspoon.

Reaching inside the box, Teaspoon started to unload it one item at a time. Ike stared at the curious items, hard wood boxes and leather bound books. He shared a quick look at Buck; the two had seen a lot of those books at the Mission school.

Setting the empty crate aside, Teaspoon cleared his throat and motioned for the boys to come closer. “Y’all are bein’ issued some special ‘supplies’ from Russell, Majors & Waddell.”

“Supplies huh?” Jimmy tried to lift the cover off of one of the wooden boxes but Teaspoon pushed the cover closed, forcing Jimmy to pull his fingers back.

“Yes, supplies.” Teaspoon waggled his head back and forth as he leaned closer to Jimmy, “I didn’t recall sayin’ to touch nothin’ on the table.”

Jimmy looked at the other riders, daring them to laugh. When no one did, Jimmy leaned back against the bunk a satisfied smile on his face.

“Boys? This here is special issue from Russell, Majors & Waddell. I trust you’ll treat them with the utmost care.” One look at the eager light in their eyes and Teaspoon knew they weren’t really listening to what he was saying. “I want you all to take one of these here boxes and put them away in your trunks.”

Lou, Kid, Ike and Buck each took a box and returned to their bunks, finding space in the chests nearby. Jimmy and Cody popped open the covers and stared. “Lookee here Hickok, they done and sent us Colts. Top of the line by the looks of it.”

Jimmy closed the lid on his and set the box against his hip, “Sounds good to me, but I‘ve already got my own gun.”

Teaspoon resisted to urge to roll his eyes at the young man, “Well now, just hand that box back and I’ll -”

Sliding the box behind him, Jimmy shook his head. “I ain’t refusin’ it. I’m just sayin’ I already got one. This can be my spare.”

Kid laughed to himself and turned around, “Will you just put the box away. There’s more.”

A harsh look passed between the two and Jimmy stashed the wooden box in his chest. “Anything to quiet you down is fine with me.”

“You finished boys?” The two nodded their consent and turned their attention to the center of the room. Teaspoon picked up one of the books and carefully fanned out the pages, a peaceful look on his face. “This is the other present bein’ issued to all the riders for the Expres-”

“All the riders?” Cody cringed as the look Teaspoon threw him would’ve singed the hairs of a bunny’s bottom at fifty feet.

Teaspoon picked up book after book, handing them out to each rider. “Like I was sayin’, this is the second piece you’re bein’ issued. Keep these in your saddle bags-.”

“Is this some kind of a joke?” Jimmy stared at the book in his hand.

“Nope...No joke Jimmy. Russell Major & Waddell think it’s important for you boys to carry these Bibles with you.”

Taking a moment, Teaspoon looked at Buck, “What do you think, Buck?”

Buck took a deep breath and looked the Station Master in the eye. “I’ll carry it for the job.”

Teaspoon nodded, “That’s fine with me boy. Can’t make you feel somethin’ you don’t.”

Cody shook his head and protested, “Don’t want to take anything with me that would slow me down.”

Kid laughed, “Don’t see as how a book would slow you down that much.”

A glare was his reward, “Sure, laugh now, but when you’ve got a war party on your tail, you’ll be happy you didn’t have some book weighing you down.”

Jimmy climbed up to his bunk. “Hey Cody, I know what we can use these for-”

“What’s that Hickok?”

Jimmy knocked his pillow to the floor and shoved the book underneath his head, “See? It’s a pillow for our bed roll.”

Ike thumped his chest and signed to the room. Buck nodded his head and translated for the others in the room, “Ike says *You got no call to make fun of it. Just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t mean you can poke fun at it.*

Jimmy pulled out the book and set it next to him on the bunk beside him. “Come on Ike, I didn’t mean nothing by it. Just foolin’, that’s all.” Ike turned away, lifting the lid of his chest and slipping his book next to the gun case. Turning to cast one more look at Jimmy, Ike shook his head and walked outside.

Contrite, Jimmy looked back to Teaspoon, “What’s all the fuss anyway? It’s just a book.”

Teaspoon hung his head a book and stroked the edges of the cover, feeling the smooth leather under his hand, “It ain’t just a book Jimmy. These words... these words are like candles in the darkness. They light our way when nothing else can. I think maybe that’s why the company sent these to us.” Teaspoon set the book on the table and looked around the room, “Boys? I’m not saying you have to read the whole thing or even pick it up with any regularity, but you’ll find that there are messages in it. You never know when you may need those messages,” he looked over his shoulder at the door to the bunkhouse, “‘cause the world outside those doors can get pretty dark sometimes. Pretty dark indeed.”


“Emma?” Teaspoon imitated the inflection of her voice like a magpie. “Where did you go?”

“Well, had you been awake when I left this morning, you’d know that I went into town to pick up supplies. On the way back I found this at the freight office.”

Ike peeked in the back and saw the large wooden crate with the letters R M & W painted on the side. He motioned to Buck who read the letters aloud and announced “It’s from the Express Home Office.”

The boys elbowed each other tryin’ to get a better look. Pushin’ the hat off his head, Cody wiped the sweat off his forehead, “What’s in it?”

Buck curiosity was piqued, “What did they send us?”

Emma leaned back in her seat and set a gloved hand on her hip. “I’m glad you asked,” Buck and Cody both turned to each other with worried looks, that sweeter’n’sugar tone made them both nervous. “Just as soon as some of you boys unload that box and take it into the bunkhouse, I’m sure Mr. Spoon will show you what’s in the box.”

Cody hit his hat against his pants leg, “I should’ve known better’n to open my -”

“Big mouth.” Jimmy chuckled as he passed by Cody on the way to the bunkhouse, “That’s right Cody, call it like we all see it.”

If you could bore holes into a person with just their eyes, Jimmy would’ve had two picture windows into his back. Instead, Cody was forced to shoulder his weight under the box.


Inside the bunkhouse, the riders waited while Teaspoon pried open the top of the crate. As the final nail gave way the boys moved in closer. Cody shoved Lou off to the side and craned his neck to see into the box. Not one to be left out of this, Lou jabbed Cody in the ribs and regained her place next to Teaspoon.

Reaching inside the box, Teaspoon started to unload it one item at a time. Ike stared at the curious items, hard wood boxes and leather bound books. He shared a quick look at Buck; the two had seen a lot of those books at the Mission school.

Setting the empty crate aside, Teaspoon cleared his throat and motioned for the boys to come closer. “Y’all are bein’ issued some special ‘supplies’ from Russell, Majors & Waddell.”

“Supplies huh?” Jimmy tried to lift the cover off of one of the wooden boxes but Teaspoon pushed the cover closed, forcing Jimmy to pull his fingers back.

“Yes, supplies.” Teaspoon waggled his head back and forth as he leaned closer to Jimmy, “I didn’t recall sayin’ to touch nothin’ on the table.”

Jimmy looked at the other riders, daring them to laugh. When no one did, Jimmy leaned back against the bunk a satisfied smile on his face.

“Boys? This here is special issue from Russell, Majors & Waddell. I trust you’ll treat them with the utmost care.” One look at the eager light in their eyes and Teaspoon knew they weren’t really listening to what he was saying. “I want you all to take one of these here boxes and put them away in your trunks.”

Lou, Kid, Ike and Buck each took a box and returned to their bunks, finding space in the chests nearby. Jimmy and Cody popped open the covers and stared. “Lookee here Hickok, they done and sent us Colts. Top of the line by the looks of it.”

Jimmy closed the lid on his and set the box against his hip, “Sounds good to me, but I‘ve already got my own gun.”

Teaspoon resisted to urge to roll his eyes at the young man, “Well now, just hand that box back and I’ll -”

Sliding the box behind him, Jimmy shook his head. “I ain’t refusin’ it. I’m just sayin’ I already got one. This can be my spare.”

Kid laughed to himself and turned around, “Will you just put the box away. There’s more.”

A harsh look passed between the two and Jimmy stashed the wooden box in his chest. “Anything to quiet you down is fine with me.”

“You finished boys?” The two nodded their consent and turned their attention to the center of the room. Teaspoon picked up one of the books and carefully fanned out the pages, a peaceful look on his face. “This is the other present bein’ issued to all the riders for the Expres-”

“All the riders?” Cody cringed as the look Teaspoon threw him would’ve singed the hairs of a bunny’s bottom at fifty feet.

Teaspoon picked up book after book, handing them out to each rider. “Like I was sayin’, this is the second piece you’re bein’ issued. Keep these in your saddle bags-.”

“Is this some kind of a joke?” Jimmy stared at the book in his hand.

“Nope...No joke Jimmy. Russell Major & Waddell think it’s important for you boys to carry these Bibles with you.”

Taking a moment, Teaspoon looked at Buck, “What do you think, Buck?”

Buck took a deep breath and looked the Station Master in the eye. “I’ll carry it for the job.”

Teaspoon nodded, “That’s fine with me boy. Can’t make you feel somethin’ you don’t.”

Cody shook his head and protested, “Don’t want to take anything with me that would slow me down.”

Kid laughed, “Don’t see as how a book would slow you down that much.”

A glare was his reward, “Sure, laugh now, but when you’ve got a war party on your tail, you’ll be happy you didn’t have some book weighing you down.”

Jimmy climbed up to his bunk. “Hey Cody, I know what we can use these for-”

“What’s that Hickok?”

Jimmy knocked his pillow to the floor and shoved the book underneath his head, “See? It’s a pillow for our bed roll.”

Ike thumped his chest and signed to the room. Buck nodded his head and translated for the others in the room, “Ike says *You got no call to make fun of it. Just because you don’t believe in it doesn’t mean you can poke fun at it.*“

Jimmy pulled out the book and set it next to him on the bunk beside him. “Come on Ike, I didn’t mean nothing by it. Just foolin’, that’s all.” Ike turned away, lifting the lid of his chest and slipping his book next to the gun case. Turning to cast one more look at Jimmy, Ike shook his head and walked outside.

Contrite, Jimmy looked back to Teaspoon, “What’s all the fuss anyway? It’s just a book.”

Teaspoon hung his head a book and stroked the edges of the cover, feeling the smooth leather under his hand, “It ain’t just a book Jimmy. These words... these words are like candles in the darkness. They light our way when nothing else can. I think maybe that’s why the company sent these to us.” Teaspoon set the book on the table and looked around the room, “Boys? I’m not saying you have to read the whole thing or even pick it up with any regularity, but you’ll find that there are messages in it. You never know when you may need those messages,” he looked over his shoulder at the door to the bunkhouse, “‘cause the world outside those doors can get pretty dark sometimes. Pretty dark indeed.”

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