After having watched the display of horsemanship with approval, Abigail insisted on having Linn, Jacob, Captain Burcher, Curly, Hal and Capper join them and Calder for dinner. When Doc raised an eyebrow, she returned the look and said they could make room. As they rode toward the ranch, Abigail told of a Hungarian gentleman she had met while in college who had regaled her of stories of the Hussars during the Napoleonic Wars, and how she loved horses and riding.
Once at the ranch, Doc went inside with Abigail to see what she needed while John Calder tended to their horses, and the others tended to theirs. Abigail smiled at her husband, "It has been a very long time since we've entertained, and I miss it so, even if there aren't other women. I know there's so little room, but we can make it work." When Doc nodded and smiled, her smile in return warmed his heart.
Abigail turned to begin preparing food, looking over her shoulder at him, "Besides, I think poor Jacob was quite disappointed when he found out I was married, despite the fact I am old enough to be his mother." Doc chuckled, "Not quite, my dear, but I will only add the young man is quite refined, in both his manners and his tastes." Smiling, Abigail turned and gave a slight curtsy, then instructed Doc, "Bring in some more wood if you please, then go out and enjoy the company of your friends." Doc walked to the cupboard, and pulled out the bottle of Irish whiskey along with some enamelware mugs, and replied, "I'll be back with the wood in a moment."
Doc handed the bottle and cups to Linn to pass around, only saying, "Save me some, will you?" Looking at the bottle then back at Doc, Keller nodded, giving a severe look. "I shall endeavor to, Sir." Both men laughed at the comment, out of the ordinary for Keller, and Doc went to the wood pile to split a bit of wood. Before he could swing the double bit axe, Jacob, approached, taking off his coat and rolling his sleeves. "I can take care of that, Sir, have a drink and relax. I insist." Doc handed the axe over and walked back, taking a cup from Burcher.
Later, as everyone went inside at Abby's call, Doc was surprised she could put such a meal together on short notice. But in front of them were a ham, beans and potatoes, bread, butter and honey. Doc noticed the table set with their fine china and silverware, despite the fact that several men would have to sit on stools. Upon seeing the food laid before them, several of the men turned and went back outside, to dust themselves off, run fingers through hair and wash faces and hands at the outside pump. Running boot toes over the backs of pant legs, they filed back in. Everyone remained standing until Abby came to the table herself and sat at the far end from her husband. As she sat, the others followed suit. Abby watched in pleasure, but also with a little amusement as rough men, all used to a life outdoors, worked to remember their manners as they dug into the food.
After everyone had finished their meals, and were sitting, elbows on table and talking, Abigail excused herself and decided to step outside for a moment before clearing plates. Opening the door to the house, she suddenly screamed and twisted away, falling back inside as the sound of a solid "thunk" of bullet hitting wood and the door sill splintered. A heavy "boom" followed, and men scrambled away from the table, Doc diving for his wife to put his body between hers and the doorway even as he worked to drag her back inside. Slapping at his hands, she struggled to her feet, cursing in terms that let everyone know she was alive, if not unhurt.
Keller, Burcher and his men piled out the door, as the heavy gun boomed once more, then again. Doc, John Calder and Jacob began tending to Abigail. Fighting to keep Abby from putting her hands to her face, Doc called out for more light as he lifted her and sat her on the table. "Keep your hands down," Doc snapped, "and let me see what is wrong!" Her right eye closed, Abby snapped back, "My face hurts, that's what's wrong!" Taking a deep breath and trying to remain calm and patient despite his pounding heart, Doc looked, moving her head gently with his hand. "You have a bunch of splinters in your face, nothing that appears serious, but I need to get them out. Is your eye OK?" Abby slowly relaxed, letting her eye flutter open. "It stings, like something is in it, but I can see."
Relieved, Doc nodded as he let out a sigh of relief. Going to a small chest, Doc grabbed an old kit and pulled out tweezers, gauze and witch hazel. As gently as possible, with Jacob and John looking on, waiting in case Doc or Abby needed anything, Doc began pulling splinters from Abby's cheek, jaw and ear, looking for more in her hairline. Every time Doc would pull an especially deep one out, Abigail would curse and pound her small fist against the table, much to the chagrin of Jacob, and the amusement of Calder.
When he was finished, Doc patted his wife on the shoulder, and grinned. As he looked at her, he gave a hidden glance toward Jacob and said, "Don't worry, I don't think there will be any scarring, and the young men will still want to dance with you." Abby laughed despite herself and shook her head. Glancing at Jacob, she replied, "Good, maybe they won't step on my toes like you do." Doc frowned, giving his best hurt look, but kissed his wife gently on her forehead. "I need to go see what's going on."
Walking outside, followed by Calder and Jacob, who was looking confused and concerned, Doc saw Keller and the others waiting. "She's fine. Took a lot of splinters, but they came out OK. What did you find?" Curly pointed and replied, "He was up on that knoll, 'bout eight hunnerd yards off. Big gun. Probably saw the door open, took a chance on trying to hit one of us." Doc stood, his eyes emotionless as he listened, then he asked "Leave prints that can be followed?" Curly nodded, "He left in a hurry, but I can't say how far."
Doc looked at Calder and Jacob, "I want the two of you to go with Abby into town. I want her to stay with Calamity Kris. I'll let her know, I don't think she'll argue. After you drop her off, John, see if that other Ranger is still in town, and will join us. Let Utah Bob know what happened. It's time we start to put an end to this nonsense. I aim to find whoever took that shot and kill him. I'm not particular how. If he's working for Hammond, the old man better throw whoever it was to the dogs, or I'll kill him too" Doc turned on his heel and walked to the house to Abby know his plans and gather his gear. The other men glanced from one to another for a moment before heading to their horses. Hal muttered loud enough for the others to hear, "That just ain't right. I was just workin' up to asking Miss Abigail for seconds."