“I’m fine, doctor.” Heath answered. “Johnny needs you right now.”
“You’re right about that, young man, but I want you to stay here and follow my orders, is it clear?”
Heath looked down. “I’ve heard you, doctor.”
“May I do something, doctor?” Mr. Cartwright asked while watching the young man went to the waiting room.
“Yes, Mr. Cartwright, go and get Mr. Lancer, I’d have need him when this young man regains consciousness…oh and, Mr. Cartwright try to find the two brothers of that young man in the waiting room.”
“I’m in my way.”
“Thank you, Mr. Cartwright.” With that the doctor turned to his patient to do his job.
Fifteen minutes later, the doctor opened his consulting room's door and went straight towards Heath who waiting for news on his friend. When Heath saw the practitioner coming, he got to his feet. "Well, how is he?"
The doctor put his hand on Heath's forearm. "Take a seat, young man. You're not in great shape either."
At that, Heath frowned. "I've told you I'm fine."
"Of course, young man, of course." The doctor replied while tapping Heath's forearm. "Like that young man over there, isn’t that right? You're both the same, you're stubborn."
Heath took a deep breath, and shivered. "He'll be alright?"
"Yes, he'll be fine in a couple of weeks. It was crazy to come in town in his state. I don't know what you, the young men, had in mind sometimes."
A knock on the door made Heath jump. "Keep calm; it's probably your brothers." The doctor said.
"Yes, I asked earlier Mr. Cartwright to go and get your brothers."
"It's the family who helped your friend Johnny and his father Murdoch."
"Oh, I see."
Another knock on the door made the two men jump. "Come in." The doctor said while getting to his feet to welcome "his guests."
The first to enter was Mr. Cartwright followed by the two Barkley brothers and then by Murdoch Lancer. As soon as Murdoch saw Heath on his seat, he took a step towards him. "I'd told him to stay in his bed, but that boy never listens, that's the problem with him! Don't worry; it's not your fault, Heath. I thank you very much, in that case, for helping Johnny." With that, Murdoch turned to the doctor. "How is my son? I hope he didn't tear his stitches?"
"Don't worry, Mr. Lancer, he's just tired. That walk wasn't welcome, especially after two weeks in bed." The doctor replied, shaking his head.
"Murdoch, it's my fault, he's begged me and...you know... his look. I'm sorry, it was stupid on my part. He didn't stop saying me "I have to stop him, I'm sure he's gonna leave." “
“Ben, it’s not your fault, Johnny knew what he did. When he has an idea in his mind, no one can stop him, believe me, I’ve already tried.” With that, Murdoch went to the consulting room to see his son.
After hearing what Mr. Cartwright had just said, Jarrod and Nick approached Heath.
“You had the intention of leaving without saying us nothing, right or wrong?” Nick asked, furious.
“Nick!” Jarrod reprimanded.
“What? It’s the truth!” Nick yelled.
“It’s better like this, go home and…”
Heath didn’t have time to react to Nick’s fury and he found himself pushed up to the wall in no time. Unable to control himself, Nick pushed and pushed hard his forearm on Heath’s chest to the point of choking him.
“Stop it, Nick! Stop it!” Jarrod yelled while trying, with Ben’s help, to push away his furious brother. “Are you crazy? Did you forget what he’s just been through?”
As soon as Nick heard his brother’s remark, his anger collapsed and he looked at his victim, his little brother, his other half. “I’m sorry, little brother; I didn’t want to harm you. It’s just that…you have to go home with us…I couldn’t live without you.” Nick whispered the last words.
The doctor went out of his consulting room when he heard the shouting. "What on earth are you trying to do? It's a doctor's office, not a cattle auction. Gentlemen, mind your manners!"
At that remark, Jarrod took a step forward to apologize. "We're sorry, doctor, this will not happen again."
"I hope so, and by the way, this young man should also be in bed. Don't forget that he had a rough time." The doctor replied while showing Heath with his finger.
"I'm fine." Heath mumbled while passing his hand on his chest as if to take away the pain.
"No, young man, you need rest and nourishment. So, let your brothers take care of you." With that, the doctor went back towards his patient and the father of this one.
"The doctor is right, Heath, I'm sorry." Nick said, and then he turned to Ben. "Mr. Cartwright, there must be an excellent hotel in your town?"
"Of course, close to the bank, tell them I sent you." Ben replied.
"Thank you, Mr..."
"Ben, Nick. Call me Ben."
"Come on, little brother, there's a soft bed that waiting for you." Nick said while taking Heath's forearm in his, like he would have done with his beloved.
Exhausted by the confrontation with Nick, Heath followed him without struggling. Before leaving for the hotel, Jarrod thanked Ben for the assistance provided, and promised him to say goodbye before returning to their home.
A week had passed before the doctor gave Heath his agreement to travel. Jarrod and Nick had used that week to talk and talk with their little brother on the need to go home with them. Nick had opened him his heart without shame, and Jarrod had allowed him to confide. Heath, for his part, had used that week to evaluate what his brothers had to say, get his sorrow off his chest, and talk with Johnny.
“So, little brother, are you ready to go home?” Nick asked always worried even after their discussion.
“Yeah, I guess.” Heath replied without looking at his brother.
Nick approached slowly and placed his hand on his little brother’s back of neck, and then he squeezed a little as if to tell him, “Don’t worry, I’d be there for you.”
After a moment, Jarrod entered the hotel room with a smile on his face. “Ben, Murdoch and Johnny waiting for us; are you ready to leave?”
Nick turned to Heath. “Are we ready?”
Heath looked at his two brothers, and then nodded. He took his saddlebags, and he went to the door without a word. Once outside, the three brothers Barkley took their leave of their old and new friends, and then they headed for the train platform.
“Don’t worry, Heath, I’ve took care of your horse myself.” Jarrod said putting his hand on his brother’s shoulder as if to reassure him.
“Thanks Jarrod, ole Willy is important for me.” Heath replied with a timid smile.
“Everything will be fine, little brother, don’t worry.” Nick said, climbing on the platform.
All of sudden, three whistle blows resonated to inform the travelers that the train is about to leave. Heath jumped, and immediately Nick was by his side. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, Nick, I didn’t expect that, that’s all.”
“I’ve got the tickets, come on, the train won’t wait for us.” Jarrod informed his brothers on the platform.
Heath remained quiet throughout the travel; he just looked out the window, leaving the conversation to his brothers. Three days had passed since their departure, and now the town of Stockton was in view.