I am a table. I am a rectangular four-foot wide by eight-foot long, golden oak table with lots of grain, a leg on each corner, and a good deep rubbing of tung oil. This is important, because it adds to my versatility, my waterproofing and my longevity. I was created by a New England Craftsman, purchased in the early 1850's by a German family to be taken to their new home in the west. However, when they got to the little town of Tok'ra Flats, they decided that I was too heavy for their team to cart over the high mountains. The Sheriff who was in charge back then bought me and put me here in his office. Not long after I was delivered, he went away and I sat in the dusty dark empty office for a long lonely time. Now, though there is a new Sheriff and deputies in town and I am always in use for one thing or another. I can seat eight formally, ten comfortably, and twelve friendly. Because I lost my chairs on that day long ago, there are often benches at my sides and regularly many different kinds of objects on my surface. My life is now one of utilitarianism not formal dining. In other words, I'll see a lot of service of all kinds.
I haven't seen Tall Sheriff Jack in several days. He and Young Rider Simmons had left Tok'ra Flats to investigate something in the high mountains. A big burly Mobile had come into the office and said many evil things about the Anasazi people that live at the mission with Tall Padre Joe. The big Mobile spoke of missing animals and something called a Mine. He was very unhappy and said many angry words to Tall Sheriff Jack.
When he had left Tall Sheriff Jack called in his three Deputies. He told Buckskin Deputy Daniel and Large Deputy Teal'c to go to the Mission and to see what was going on and who was there. Buckskin Daniel said they should go with him to the Mine in the High Mountains but Sheriff Jack said he would take one of the Riders because Buckskin Daniel could talk to the Mission People in their native language and find out the truth. Lady Deputy Sam would stay and keep the peace with Rider Captain Ferretti until they returned. She was not happy and wanted to go to the Mine with him also, but the Sheriff said Young Rider Simmons would do better cause of his knowledge of something he called ore.
So they had all done their duty. Buckskin Deputy Daniel and Large Deputy Teal'c came back in two days and talked to Judge In Charge Hammond who had come to sit at my side while Tall Sheriff Jack was gone. They told him that all the Mission People were there and Tall Padre Joe said that they had been planting their crops and never left the Mission fields. Lady Deputy Sam and Rider Captain Ferretti said they had spoken to the Mayor and the City Council at their meeting. That they had said that the Mission People were very peaceable and not to blame, that the big burly Mobile was a drunkard and a bad man and only wanted to cause Tall Padre Joe and his Mission people trouble because he didn't like the Anasazi.
Judge In Charge Hammond said he suspected that was true, but it was their job to find out for sure and do what was the right thing for the Town, the Mission and the Local people. That night came and went. Buckskin Deputy Daniel stayed in the office and read some of the town library books on my surface until he fell asleep face down on the book's paper pages and me. The next morning, Lady Deputy Sam and Large Deputy Teal'c found him there and fussed at him. Well, she did. Large Deputy Teal'c only nodded at him. They took him to the Saloon for breakfast and then they all came back to sit around me and worry together.
Judge In Charge Hammond had come and said that maybe Sheriff O'Neill and young Simmons were just taking a mite longer or perhaps a horse had gone lame. Buckskin Deputy Daniel said that they were riding the sheriff's Appaloosa Hawk and the Mustang Brown Pony and they were good ponies and he was worried. Lady Deputy Sam said that too. Large Deputy Teal'c didn't say anything, but he looked concerned also.
All that day the Deputies and some of the Riders came and went from the office. The Mobiles all appeared worried about the two missing men. The Deputies and Captain Rider Ferretti packed their saddlebags to be ready to go the next morning.
The next day the four mobile partners left early in the morning. Judge In Charge Hammond and Blacksmith Rider Siler came and sat at my side. While the older Judge mobile sat and read some very thick heavy paper books, Blacksmith Rider Siler got bored and turned me on my side. At first I was a little worried, (one can never predict mobiles after all) but he tightened my four legs. Then he set me back up and used good oil to clean my surface and polished me till I glowed golden again.
Late that afternoon, we all heard a ruckus out in the street. A horse galloped up and I heard Lady Deputy Sam yelling in a loud voice. Judge In Charge Hammond and Blacksmith Rider Siler both ran outside. Siler ran back in and grabbed his hat and his gun belt, then ran back outside again. Judge Hammond came back in and sat down heavily by my side. He sat still for a long time.
Soon some of the local town lady mobiles came into the office. Tall Mayor Debi and the City council mobiles, Medium Miz Angel and Small Veterinarian Devra came into the office. Judge In Charge Hammond looked up at them.
"May I help you, Ladies?" Judge In Charge Hammond asked politely.
Tall Mayor Debi came up and stood across me from the Judge In Charge. "Judge, there's been a lot going on in town today," She started speaking rather firmly. "We would like to know what it is."
"Now Ladies, " Judge In Charge Hammond started speaking in his official Judge voice.
"Now, George, when you start with that 'Now Ladies' speech, it jest sets my hackles up." Tall Mayor Debi leaned her hands on me and spoke directly to him.
"Yes, Judge," Small Miz Devra spoke up. "We just saw Sam and Dave Siler set out like a house on fire to the barn..."
"And we know Daniel's been worried about the Sheriff being gone so long." Medium Miz Angel finished.
Judge In Charge Hammond looked up at them in surprise and shook his head. "How do you Ladies know about these things all the time?'
"Now, Judge Hammond, these two ladies have children in school with your two Granddaughters and you know how younguns know about everything that goes on in a town." Tall Mayor Debi replied, "That and the Sheriff and Daniel are still living at my saloon." She looked at him. "I know that the Sheriff hasn't been back in two nights and Daniel spent the first night at the jail and last night prowling my place like a mountain lion. It wasn't hard to figger something was up."
Judge In Charge Hammond shook his head. "Very well, but this is not for the public ears yet. I don't want anyone to do anything foolish till I find out what really happened. Sheriff O'Neill and Young Simmons went up to Devil's Backbone to investigate some allegations made against some of the Indians from the Mission," He raised his hand to forestall their indignation. "Now, now, I know as well as you, it's unfounded, but you know the Sheriff...he's not going to take any fol-der-rol off of anyone." Hammond shook his head, "This morning the deputies and Ferretti went looking for them."
"We saw Sam come riding in like the pony express..." Medium Miz Angel said.
The sound of a buckboard being pulled by two horses driven at a fast trot rattled by the front of the Sheriff's office. Small Miz Devra ran to the window. "It's Sam Carter and Dave Siler." She announced, "and they're leaving in that buckboard in an awful hurry."
Tall Mayor Debi looked at Judge In Charge Hammond. "I'd say that means that someone's hurt, doesn't it?"
"Yes, Ladies," Judge In Charge Hammond said quietly, "They're both hurt, But I'm not sure how bad other than the Sheriff can't sit a horse. So, they've gone to get them with the wagon to bring them home."
"Well," Small Miz Devra looked at the others, "I'd say that Sam's young mare needs to have the right kind of cooling out, a good rubdown and a nice bran mash. She looked pretty done up. I think I'll go and make sure she gets it." The lady vet nodded to her two friends and the Judge, turned and left the office.
Miz Angel nodded, "I'll go tell Doctor Fraiser and Sally so they can get ready. I just got a shipment of medicines in for her and she might need something out of it."
The Mayor looked at the Judge then glanced around the office. "Lets get this place ready," she said, then tall Mayor Debi started picking up the books and things from my surface to get me prepared for when the deputy mobiles returned with the injured men.
After several long hours of anxious waiting, the group returned with the sounds of horses and the rattle of the buckboard that stopped in front of the Sheriff's office.
Lady Deputy Sam came in first to hold the door open. Large Deputy Teal'c came in carrying the sheriff in his strong arms and lay him on my surface. Buckskin Deputy Daniel helped to settle him gently on my clean table top. I bore his weight easily, though a tall man the sheriff is slender and not heavy at all for my strong top and oaken legs.
Small Doctor Janet and Tall Sally Hammond came in behind them carrying a black valise. The doctor immediately came to my side and began to look at our poor injured sheriff. Daniel stood next to him gripping his hand tightly. Tall Sally shooed the Judge, the deputies and other people out of the door, closing it firmly behind them. Then she pulled the curtains shut so they couldn't see in through the windows.
"Help me get his shirt off." The Doctor said succinctly. Deputy Daniel pulled his hunting knife from his scabbard and cut the sheriff's bloody shirt off of his injured body.
I felt more than heard his quiet low moan as he gently pulled the torn material away from his friend's wounded side. "Daniel," the Sheriff's voice was weak.
"Yes, Jack" Buckskin Deputy Daniel leaned down close to listen to his friend's faint voice.
"Not anymore, Jack."
"Jack lay still so that Doctor Fraiser can get the bullet out of your side." Buckskin Deputy Daniel's voice was soft and gentle to his wounded friend, but I felt the sheriff shake his head.
"Danny, about what happened between us a coupla weeks ago, I'm sorry I rode you so hard, I didn't have no cause to be like that."
"Hush, Ta-wa-di (Hawk), it is of no matter." Daniel brushed the unruly brown and silver hair back from his brow. "You must rest now, da-ni-ta-wa (blood brother)."
"No, I was wrong."
The worried young man spoke to him again. "Yes, you were wrong, but so was I. You were worried; I was gone too long and acted foolishly by walking in on my leg like I did, but it is past. Now we have other things to do." He looked up at the small Doctor Fraiser. "Are you ready?"
Tall Sally Hammond had followed the Doctor into the Sheriff's office and on my surface she had carefully laid out several long pointed objects in a precise order. The objects gleamed shiny and clean.
Small Doctor Janet nodded wordlessly. Buckskin Deputy Daniel stood up straight but held onto the Sheriff's hand. Tall Sally handed the doctor a device, a small wire frame with a handle. Muslin cloth was stretched tight across it. This she held to the sheriff's face and nose and she put drops of a pungent liquid on the cloth. Slowly, the Sheriff began to relax with the smelly fumes, but even I could feel the Sheriff's and the Deputy's eyes holding with each other until the injured man fell into a deep painless sleep.
Daniel pulled up a chair and sat by Sheriff Jack's head, gently laying a hand upon his forehead. I could just barely hear the sound of a soft sing-song chanting that came from the young man. It was a soothing sound.
Tall Sally Hammond stood beside Small Doctor Janet as she began to do her work. The Doctor carefully used a very thin and sharp knife to open the wound a little so that she could see better where the bullet had gone. Then she started speaking to Sally, asking her for the different things from where they lay on the clean cloth.
It seemed to take forever, the Sheriff lying on my sturdy top, Daniel singing softly under his breath, Sally handing the instruments to the Doctor and she concentrating on working quickly and deftly to remove the bullet. Time has no meaning to a table, but it does to my mobile friends and I could see the worry in them for the sheriff. The bullet had bitten deeply into his tender flesh and caused a lot of damage. Doctor Janet was biting her upper lip in worry and every so often Tall Sally Hammond would pat the dampness from her face with a clean cloth.
There were shadows on the curtains of the front doors as some of the town mobiles walked back and forth in front of the office, waiting to hear news but knowing they could not enter.
Finally, I heard a soft sound from the Doctor and then a harsh thumping noise as a piece of lead was dropped onto my surface. The bullet had been found and removed at last. Small Doctor Janet carefully cleaned the damaged area of the sheriff's surface, then covered and bound it with a clean cloth for protection. Doctor Janet looked up and met the Deputy's eyes with a smile. "There, that's done it. He was very lucky. It doesn't appear to have damaged any internal organs or bones. It will be a while before he does any more dancing or horseback riding, but he should be fine."
Buckskin Deputy Daniel looked at her and said in a calm voice. "Thank you, Doctor, for your healing skills." Only I could feel the hand he had on my tabletop was trembling.
She smiled at him. "The Sheriff is quite welcome to my skills, as are you, though I'd sooner not practice them so often here in this office." She and Sally began to pick up all the instruments and wrap them up in the now bloodstained cloth.
Tall Sally spoke to the Doctor. "I like the idea of washing these with the very hot water, Janet. It just seems to get them so much cleaner."
The sacred fire will purify the water and cleanse them of evil." Daniel murmured as much to himself as to his friends.
Doctor Janet nodded, as she watched him gently stroke the sleeping man's forehead. "What was that you were singing, Daniel?"
He smiled a small soft smile at her. "Jack would think me superstitious, but I was chanting a healing song of my people."
"No more so than an Irishman saying his rosary," she smiled at his shyness, "and I happen to know where there's at least one doing that even as we speak."
"With two small girls helping him with his Hail Marys." Sally spoke up, "And probably an old Judge too."
"Well, Sally. Let's go cleanse these instruments in the water heated by the sacred fire. We still have young Simmons to tend."
Daniel looked at her for a moment to see if she were teasing him, but her steadfast gaze assured him of her seriousness. "You remember, Daniel, you were the one who opened my eyes to the value of your people's ways. I am not a fool to deny what I've seen for myself; this man dancing on his own two feet at the festival showed me all the proof I need." She leaned over to him and lightly brushed the long unruly hair off his forehead. "I've got to go now, I know you'll take good care of him."
The two women left out the front door and Daniel hear it close behind them. Then Tall Padre Joe O'Neill came over to my side and pulled up a chair beside Daniel and his sleeping brother. He looked at the Deputy. "How is he?"
"Janet says he will be fine."
"Then, surely it must be so."
Daniel only nodded, continuing to absentmindedly stroke his friend's forehead.
Padre Joe watched his brother's face for a long time then glanced up at the younger man. "I'm told you saved his life today."
"Perhaps, perhaps not..." Buckskin Daniel only shrugged.
"And that you have done so before."
"And so he has done for me." Daniel looked up at the Priest. "He is my da-ni-ta-ga, my blood brother.". He shrugged.
"And he is my brother, my true brother." Joe smiled at the younger man. "And you are my true friend." He looked down at the man asleep before them. "I will go to the mission now and all of us there will all pray for his safety and his healing. Thank you again."
Later that evening, Large Deputy Teal'c came with a litter and they moved the Sheriff from my surface to his room at the Emerald City Saloon. I would not have minded if they had left him on my surface, but I am made of good Oak and though I can support a greater weight than the slender sheriff's, my top is very hard."
It was several weeks before I saw the Sheriff again. The Deputies came and went as always. Sometimes Judge In Charge came and sat at my side. He told the story of how the big burly mobile had set a trap to dry gulch Tall Sheriff O'Neill and Young Rider Simmons. How the evil mobile had tried to kill them both in a blind canyon and how Tall Sheriff had saved Young Simmons life but had taken the bullet instead and then lay helpless out in the open with the hot sun on him.. How the deputies had come but been pinned down while they fought it out with the dastardly coward. Then, under the cover of darkness, Buckskin Daniel had used his Indian skills and crept out into the open and dragged the Sheriff away to safety as Captain Rider Ferretti exchanged shots with him and finally killed the evil villain.
Everyone found the story very brave and exciting except Captain Rider Ferretti and Buckskin Deputy Daniel. They were both embarrassed by the story, Ferretti saying that he failed because he had to kill the man and Daniel saying he'd done nothing special after all. Sheriff Jack just said he wished he'd been awake to enjoy all the bravery and excitement but that he'd been unconscious the whole time and he'd guess they'd just have to do it again sometime when he awake so he could enjoy the show.
The Mayor, the City Council , and other lady mobiles of the town came over quite a bit also, bringing cool sweet tea, chocolate cookies and many other things that the sheriff, the deputies and the rest of the riders really seemed to enjoy. They would put these things on my surface and everyone would sit around me and talk and laugh happily, glad the Sheriff and young Rider Simmons was getting well again..
For you see, that is my purpose. I am a table. I am a rectangular four-foot wide by eight-foot long, golden oak table with lots of grain, a leg on each corner, and a good deep rubbing of tung oil. I was created by a New England Craftsman, purchased in the early 1850's by a German family, and brought out here to the my home in Tok'ra Flats. I sat in a dusty, dark, empty office for a long lonely time. Now, though there is a new Sheriff and deputies in town and I am always in use for one thing or another. I can seat eight formally, ten comfortably, and twelve friendly. I can support a wounded hero, sustain a weary spirit and bear a heavy load during difficult times. Because I lost my chairs on that day long ago, there are often benches at my sides and many different kinds of objects on my surface. My life is now one of utilitarianism not formal dining. In other words, I'll see a lot of service of all kinds.