Casey helped Bart finish putting away the horses.  "Bart, I--"

"Now is not a good time, Casey," he snapped.

He said it anyway.  "I want to court your sister."

Bart slammed his hand on the wood stall.  "Dammit, Casey!"  He turned and glared at him.  "How the hell do you think you're going to do that?  Do you think my sister would actually want someone like you to be her husband?  What can you bring her?  You don't have any money, you don't have anything."

"I have my life."

Bart still glared at him.  "My father will never agree to it."

Casey turned and finished settling in the horses.  "Then I will eliminate the competition."

Bart watched him for a long moment.  "You're serious."

He said, without looking at Bart, "In one week, I will own half this town.  I have a lot of favors to call in."  Then he finally looked up at him.  "If you can find someone to take my place before then, I'll understand and leave."

"Wait, Casey.  How?"

Casey grinned.  "By God's grace."

Bart turned from him, very confused, and went back to the cottage.  He knew that Casey had been a member of the town before he had shown up three years ago.  Casey had just arrived from after the war, it was December, and Bart felt bad for the man from the first moment he saw him.  So when Bart needed a hand, he first thought of Casey and lured him from the saloon next door, where he was a general bouncer and bartender.  

Bart walked into the cottage to see Claire sitting with the children in the parlor.  "Dot went upstairs," she said, and then turned her attention back to the children.  

"So is Anna gone to heaven?" asked Marie.

"Oh, yes, she is.  God always makes babies his angels."

The door opened again.  "Bart," said Casey, "If I'm not needed, can I take Ragweed down to Rome?  There's somethin' I need there."

Bart turned around and looked at Casey.  Of course.  He probably had some money in the bank in Rome, just a few miles south, where Hays had originated.  Then he looked at Claire.  "Yes, please be back before sunset."

"Thanks, Bart."  Casey also looked at Claire and smiled at her.  She smiled back, not even seeing her brother, and Casey tipped a hat to her, and then said, "I'm sorry about Anna, Bart.  Tell Dot for me?"

"Sure."  Casey ducked out even before the word was said, and Bart saw through the grimy window that Casey had already saddled the horse and merely jumped on it, taking off down the alleyway.

Bart turned to Claire, who was answering the questions from the children, and wondered what Claire and Casey's children would look like.

The End

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