Mumford’s Gift by Mary M

An episode tag for The Gifts
Standard disclaimer applies
No warnings

Word count: 650

Hot, tired and hungry enough to eat half a cow, Johnny strode into the house, hanging his hat and gunbelt on the pegs by the front door. Meeting his brother coming from the kitchen, a wide smile broke out. “Hey there Boston, that’s one smarted up surrey parked outside.”

“It seems we have a guest, little brother. And she’s in there, waiting for you.” Scott grinned, steering his brother into the great room.

The smile slid off of Johnny’s face. “What are you doing here?”

“Johnny, that’s no way to greet a guest.” Rising from his desk, Murdoch strove to defuse what had the potential to be a volatile situation. He understood Johnny’s anger, and while his son had a right to such feelings, hoped he would hear the young woman out, first.

She rose and turned, a hand held out in greeting falling to her side. “I don’t blame you, Mr. Lancer. My behavior was appalling, to say the least.”

“Appalling? You have your goons beat me up and throw me off your property. After you steal the gun I bought fair and square for my father, and you say it’s appalling? Lady, you do live in a small, ugly world.”

She was stung by Johnny’s words, and blinked away the tears that threatened. Johnny blushed and turned away. He and Murdoch had never spoken at length of the Winchester Johnny had purchased for his birthday, then subsequently left with Miss Mumford, to help her grieving father in light of his son’s death. Johnny did it for the old man. He had no use for the daughter.

Murdoch approached his son, wincing at the anger flashing from eyes of sapphire blue. “Johnny, Miss Mumford came for a reason. She also told me what happened, although as I never revealed, I already knew.”

“How?” Johnny asked, a lump rising in his throat.

“When I was out collecting signatures for that ballot. I visited the Mumford home. I saw the Winchester. The ‘L’ you had chalked on the side. I knew then and there what had happened. It was a wonderful gift, son. Never doubt that. It may not have ended up in the hands you intended, but it did serve to heal a sick old man’s heart.”

“Like I said, I did it for him.”

“And I am forever grateful,” Miss Mumford said. Taking a step forward, she held out a hand, which was again ignored.

“What do you want?”

Undaunted by the cold reception, Miss Mumford squared her shoulders and faced Johnny. “I came to thank you. You see, my father died last week.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you.” She blinked back a tear, and staring at Johnny, saw nothing but sincere emotion.

“Look, I’m sorry you lost your father. I didn’t know the man, but I know he was hurting.”

“And you helped ease that hurt. I never thanked you properly, and am deeply ashamed of the way I treated you,” Miss Mumford replied.

“It’s over.” Johnny walked over toward the fireplace, then froze in his tracks. “That why you came?” he asked, pointing to the Winchester now hanging over the mantle.

“Yes, it is. I brought the rifle back to its rightful owner.”

Johnny picked up the Winchester, running his hand across the silver ‘L’ etched on the stock. “You had this done?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Thank you.”

“No, thank you. My father spent the last month of his life happy. He held this gun every day, a reminder of his son’s love. I can never thank you enough. Now that he is gone, it isn’t right for me to keep it.”

“Like I said, thanks.”

“It was the least I could do, considering all the trouble I caused.”

“Guess a small, ugly world got a little brighter,” Johnny said, his tone softening.

“Thanks to you. Goodbye, Mr. Lancer.”

She clasped Johnny’s hand briefly, before heading for the door.


~ end ~


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