The crisp, winter wind whipped around them as they raced for home and the warmth it would give them.

Ike smiled to himself. He always loved the feel of the horse beneath him as he rode the last stretch to the way station. Both horse and rider eager for the sustenance that awaited them once they arrived; not just the food, but the warmth of companionship and the glad tidings that they made it through yet another ride safely.

*~*~*

Back at the bunkhouse, the riders were not so-anxiously awaiting Ike's return only because Teaspoon promised them all a 'surprise' when he arrived back. And knowing Teaspoon, the surprise would be about as welcome as ants at a picnic.

As it turned out, Teaspoon's surprise was actually a refreshing diversion for Lou, Buck and Ike. But for Jimmy, the Kid and Cody it was a vastly different story.

Ice-skating was what Teaspoon had in mind and none of the riders had ever done so before.

When Teaspoon announced he had ordered a pair for each of his "boys and Lou", he was met with groans by all.

They all dutifully followed Teaspoon to their summertime swimming hole which was now frozen over.

"See you put them on like this." Then he set about showing them how the metal clamps fastened to their boots. "Boys…and Lou, you have a certain E. V. Bushnell of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to thank for these devices. He invented the strapless skate just 13 years ago." Teaspoon explained.

"Well thank you very much, E. V. Bushnell of Pennsylvania." The boys heard Jimmy mumble under his breath, mocking Teaspoon.

Lou snorted at Jimmy's remark and Cody soon joined in.

"Watch it, Hickok! Yer beginnin' ta' sound like me." Teaspoon sagely advised Jimmy, causing more laughter to spread throughout the group.

After each rider had their skates attached and stood unsteadily on the ice, they awaited the instructions from Teaspoon which was sure to follow.

"Mr. Cody, listen up. Yer gonna go first." Teaspoon told him. But Cody didn't listen, thinking he could instantly teach himself to ice-skate. He fell forward and caught himself, landing on his knees and hands. Jimmy started laughing so hard he fell flat on his backside. As Kid reached down to help Jimmy up, Jimmy pulled him down with him.

'Three down, three to go.' Teaspoon chuckled to himself.

Jimmy and the Kid got up, dusting the ice off them and Jimmy tried again.

"No, no, Jimmy, you're doin' it all wrong. You've got to start off by taking small steps and walkin' across the ice."

"Walk? Teaspoon, I can barely stand on these danged contraptions. 'Sides that, they're squeezin' my feet."

"I'll show you how it's done, Jimmy." And Cody went about showing Jimmy the way ice-skating shouldn't be done and ended up on the embankment.

"Like this, Teaspoon?" Lou asked as she began gliding across the frozen surface.

"Now, boys, that's the way it's s'posed to be done."

Ike and Buck followed her lead and were soon moving smoothly on the ice.

The Kid tried his hand at it, but ended up leaning too far forward with his legs too far apart - falling and splitting his pants at the same time. More rounds of laughter could be heard.

For posterity's sake, Cody set his sights on becoming a master skater. Unfortunately, his body and sense of balance had other ideas. He tried walking on the ice, but instead of marching on the ice like the others, he walked as if he were on land and landed hard on his hind-end.

"Cody, you've got to march across the ice, little baby steps." And Teaspoon imitated the action with his fingers marching across his hand.

"Aw, Teaspoon that's not what ya' told Jimmy. You said to walk. How's a body ta' know how ta' do this right if'n ya' don't tell us right?" Cody whined.

"C'mon, Cody, it's easy." Lou boasted to him with a bright smile playing across her face.

Soon Cody gave up and sat on the embankment with Jimmy and the Kid watching Lou, Buck, Ike and Teaspoon skate, laughing everytime someone fell.

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