Meredith's W. O. W. Challenge Answer to "outrider"

Riding Herd

Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven belong to MGM, Trilogy, etc.
Challenge: W.O.W. - Outrider
Universe: Little Britches

Riding Herd

Chris, Buck, Josiah, Nathan and Ezra looked at each other in horror. They hadn't expected this. They hadn't ever thought it possible, but somehow every child within a fifty mile radius appeared to be in their yard at the moment and there were no other adults in sight. How their two boys, one of whom was so shy he would barely say two words to a person had convinced so many children to appear at their party none of the men would ever understand. Still, they had told the boys they could invite whoever they wanted.

At first they had been expecting about eight kids, that had seemed a reasonable number for five adults to watch, but word had spread, family had come visiting and now the five men looked out at the fifty or so children and felt overwhelmed. How were they supposed to keep track of that many?

Having studied on the problem a while, they began discussing their various ideas.

"I say we divide and conquer," Ezra suggested.

"But that still makes ten to one odds," Buck pointed out.

Ezra sent a firm look at Buck. "Those are odds I'm willing to live with."

Maybe if we did four groups and had one rotating to provide help as needed?" Nathan suggested.

That idea too was dismissed. All eyes turned to Josiah to see what he had to say. Josiah looked into the eyes of his four friends and simply said, "Pray."

Chris released a sigh. They needed a plan. There was no way they ocould handle watching so many children on their own. Nettie, Mary and Mrs. Potter would be by with lunch in about an hour or so, but what were they to do with the children until then.

Quiet descended around the group before Buck tentatively put forth his idea. "We could always ride herd on them," he said.

The others stilled, their faces reflecting their thought process. Chris began to smile slowly. "That just might work," he offered.


An hour later Nettie's wagon pulled up the lane toward the small homestead. Mary, Mrs. Potter and she had been chatting amiably when they came upon a scene they just couldn't explain. The five fearless lawmen were all on horseback apparently herding the children much as cowboys did cattle.

"Why is Buck riding so far out?" Mrs. Potter asked, trying to understand everything that was going on.

"Because he's the outrider, dear," Nettie explained.

"And why exactly does Josiah have that boy on his saddle with him?" Mary asked, curious.

Nettie smiled. "Could be any number of reasons," Nettie replied. "But given that he's with Josiah and not Nathan, my bet is he was causing some problems and they wanted to isolate him from the others."

The other two women nodded, still not completely understanding the way cattle herding worked.

"Seems to be keeping them in line," Mary observed.

Nettie smiled a full-smile as she saw Vin wave to her. "Yes, indeed, though I'm not sure most parents would agree with their method."

Chris broke from the herd of children and rode turn to ride beside the wagon. "Are we ever glad to see you," he said, his gratitude evident in his voice.

"They giving you problems, Mr. Larabee?" Nettie asked.

"Were," Chris admitted. "Couldn't keep track of all of them until we started riding herd on 'em. But I think we've got it under control. Just glad to be able to take a break. Who would have thought Vin and JD would know so many kids?"

Mary blushed slightly at that. She had been busy one day and had accidentally slipped the invitation into the paper instead of an ad she was supposed to be running. She wondered if she should tell Chris, but decided against it.

The End

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