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 Robbery on the Three-ten to Boulder by JoAnn Baker

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PostRobbery on the Three-ten to Boulder by JoAnn Baker

Robbery on the Three-ten to Boulder
by JoAnn Baker



The train whistle blew long and loud, signaling the imminent departure of the 3:10 to Boulder. Passengers hurried aboard, waving goodbye to well-wishers standing alongside the tracks and hastily finding seats in the already crowded passenger car. The pandemonium of the train station was easily ignored by the two passengers who leaned lazily against the seatbacks in their private compartment.

“Heyes, why don’t we travel like this all the time?” Kid Curry asked his partner as he stretched out and put his leg up on the long seat that ran the width of the compartment.

Hannibal Heyes humored his friend with a smile. “Kid, we’ll ride in style like this every time we have a thousand dollars in our pockets.”

“Ah, this is the life, isn’t it?” Curry asked, closing his eyes and pulling his hat low over his face.

“Sure Kid,” the former outlaw leader answered vaguely.

Curry groaned and pulled his hat off of his face. “What’s wrong Heyes? You’re supposed to be enjoying this.”

“Well, I am. I mean I will, just as soon as I get used to the fact that we actually have money in our pockets and no posse on our tails.” His tone was less than convincing.

“Heyes, don’t ruin this. I just want to lay here and enjoy a nice train ride. Then, I’m going to enjoy a nice dinner in the dining car. And then, I’m going to get a good night’s sleep in this here fancy compartment. And then…”

“Ok, I get it. I’ll shut up and let you enjoy yourself. I’ll just go to go ask the porter about that card game he mentioned.”

“You do that, Heyes. I’ll be right here,” Curry said, returning his hat to his face and closing his eyes.

000000000

Three hours later the two reformed outlaws were seated in the dining car reserved for first class passengers. Curry was scanning the room and watching the other passengers. Heyes’ face was buried in the menu.

“Heyes,” Curry whispered, leaning across the table and tapping his partner on the arm to get his attention.

“What?”

Curry motioned toward the front of the car where a young woman stood alone, her eyes drifting around the room. She was wearing a plain blue dress and her auburn hair was swept back into a loose bun at the back of her neck. She looked as though she were traveling alone and didn’t quite know where to sit.

Heyes rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly but his partner was already standing and beckoning to the young woman.

“Ma’am, we seem to have a spare place at the table, would you like to join us?”

The young woman smiled sweetly and walked over to the men’s table. She seemed young to be traveling alone, but maybe it was the light dusting of freckles across her cheeks that gave her a youthful appearance.

“Thank you so much. My name is Emma Wilson.” She looked at the two men expectantly, waiting for them to introduce themselves.

“I’m Thaddeus Jones, Ma’am, and this is my partner, Joshua Smith.” Both men stood and Heyes offered her the unused chair.

“I’m so glad you invited me,” she said sitting down quickly. “I hate to eat alone. I’m traveling to visit my sister for my niece’s christening. I’m going to be the godmother you see, and I’m bringing the christening gown. It’s a gown that both my sister and I were christened in and it just wouldn’t be proper to have my new niece wear anything else.” She chattered happily through dinner, telling them that she was from Denver and had never traveled overnight on a train before. She told them about her sister and new niece and the plans she had for the rest of her trip. Kid Curry smiled pleasantly and listened to her stories, nodding and commenting several times.

Hannibal Heyes gave the young woman an occasional smile or nod, but turned his focus to studying the other passengers in anticipation of the night’s poker game. After a few minutes, he found the group he was looking for. The well-dressed couple seated at the far end of the dining car was most certainly the Thurstons. William Thurston was one of the richest men in the area, with a fortune made in steel. He had thinning hair but a still powerful looking build and a no nonsense air about him. Not a man you’d want to mess with in business or at the card table. Mrs. Thurston looked much younger than her husband and was a strikingly beautiful woman. She had dark hair woven stylishly on top of her head, and wore a large diamond necklace that seemed to catch the light from every angle. The two other gentlemen having dinner with the couple would most likely be in the game too. They seemed to be on friendly terms with the Thurstons and looked like they had plenty of money to lie down at the poker table. The silver haired gentleman seemed to be an animated talker. He’d keep the game lively, Heyes thought.

Heyes’ eyes moved on to the couple sitting at the next table. They both looked middle aged and seemed rather ordinary. They appeared to be arguing most of the way through dinner and Heyes wondered whether or not the man would be joining the game. The couple didn’t look particularly wealthy—the man didn’t seem to be wearing expensive clothing and Heyes couldn’t see any jewelry on the woman, but then that didn’t necessarily mean a man didn’t have something set aside for a poker stake. He smiled as he thought of the number of times he’d sat down at a poker table with his last few dollars. He’d usually managed to walk away with his pockets considerably heavier than when he arrived—unless of course he ran into the sort of trouble that caused him to run rather than walk.

A single man ate alone at the table to the left of the bickering couple. Heyes thought the man looked like a city slicker who probably didn’t know the first thing about real gambling. Next to him, another man was seated across from an elderly woman. She looked like she could have been a retired schoolteacher or librarian. The man looked like a cowboy and Heyes wondered how he managed to afford a first class compartment, but then, someone could say the same about him. At least he and the Kid had worn suits and not their trail clothes. He wondered if the two were traveling together, but decided they were probably just sharing a table like they were with the young chatterbox from Denver.

After filling themselves with the best prime rib and trimmings that the first class dining car had to offer, Heyes and Curry excused themselves and went to their compartment to get ready for the poker game.

“I don’t think I want to play poker tonight. Maybe you should just go alone,” Curry was saying as he slowly stretched out on the long bench that made into a bed for sleeping.

Heyes looked up from where he had been counting out two stacks of table stakes and gave his partner an irritated look.

“I had to bribe the conductor to get us in. The guys on this train don’t look like professional gamblers—just a bunch of rich guys looking for a little fun. This is a chance to double our money—or better. Even you should be able to win a little,” he added the subtle jab to get his partner’s attention, but seeing no change in the other man’s face he gave him an irritated glare.

“I know, but I just don’t feel much like playing poker,” Curry continued without getting up.

Heyes groaned and rolled his eyes. “You weren’t thinking of looking for our recent dining companion, were you?”

“Naw, Heyes, I was just thinking of turning in early, that’s all,” Curry smiled innocently.

“Well, ‘turn in’ after you win a few hands at the table tonight, ok?”

Curry sighed and got to his feet. “Fine, Heyes, but if I’m not having a lucky night I’m comin’ back to the compartment.”

“Fine,” Heyes said, satisfied that he had gotten the last word.

The two left their compartment and headed for the smoking car where the game would be held.

000000000

Heyes had been right about most of the players at the table. William Thurston and his silver haired dinner companion, whom he introduced as James Randolph, were seated across from each other at the table. Heyes sat down next to Randolph and introduced himself to the others.

The ‘cowboy’ from dinner was there, but he had indeed changed into an evening suit. Perhaps he had simply arrived too late to change before dinner. The man seemed pleasant enough and told the others that his name was Joe Morris and he was the foreman for a large cattle ranch in New Mexico. He was traveling north to purchase a prize bull for his employer, which he was to personally escort back to the ranch. The cowboy went on about the breeding lines that would give their ranch the best stock found anywhere in the west. Heyes smiled as the man added that his boss had given him an entertainment allowance for the trip, thinking about how much of that ‘allowance’ he would be taking back to his compartment later that night.

Curry found a seat between Thurston and the city slicker. “Robert White, pleased to meet you,” the man said in a thick New England accent and stuck his hand out toward Curry.

“Thaddeus Jones,” Curry replied with a curt nod.

The seventh man at the table was Thurston’s other dinner companion. He was a well-dressed man of around fifty, with graying hair and a distinguished countenance. John Stanford, it seemed, was a regular business associate of Thurston and Randolph and the three seemed to know each other well.

The group continued to chat pleasantly with each other while they waited for the last player, a man named George Stewart.”

“Are you two on a business trip, Mr. Jones?” White asked, pleasantly.

“Nope, no business this trip, Mr. Smith and I are on a little vacation,” Curry said taking a sip of the brandy that had been poured for him.

Heyes smiled pleasantly and nodded, but his eyes warned his partner not to volunteer too much information that he would have to fill in the details for.

Suddenly the door at the end of the car flew open and with a flurry of apologies, the man whom Heyes had noticed bickering with his wife over dinner, came rushing in.

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” he stammered again as he sat down. “I hope I didn’t hold up the game.”

Heyes exchanged a look with his partner and both men wondered if Mrs. Stewart had objected to her husband’s plans for the evening.

“Oh no, not at all, we were just all getting acquainted,” Thurston said, stiffly. “Shall we begin?” He asked looking around the table at the other men, who all nodded and murmured their assent.

Thurston’s friend Randolph dealt the first hand and the game was off to a lively start. Heyes won the first hand with a pair of Aces over Thurston’s pair of Kings. The game continued well and several of the men turned out to be better players than Heyes had anticipated. Still, none of them posed any real challenge to Heyes’ ability and he began to gradually accumulate a large pile of chips in front of himself.

Two hours into the game, Kid Curry sat staring at approximately the same amount of chips he had started with.

“I’m going to call it a night gentlemen, I don’t seem to be makin’ much progress here,” Curry said, with a slight smile and apologetic look toward his partner.

Heyes sighed and gave Curry an exasperated look. “Fine, Thaddeus, just leave the lamp low so I don’t fall over you when I come in.” Even though they were traveling in a first class sleeping compartment, the space was rather tight for sleeping.

“I think I’ll call it a night too,” White announced, suddenly standing and gathering his chips. He appeared slightly behind in the game so there were no objections from the others.

“I hope you don’t plan on leaving,” Morris said, looking pointedly at Heyes. At least, not until you’ve given us a chance to win some of our money back”

“Oh, no, of course not,” the former outlaw replied with a polite smile. “I intend to stay.”

The others resumed the game and Curry and White made their way out of the car.

“Just didn’t seem to be my night,” White said nonchalantly to Curry as they walked out onto the platform. “Nice night for a smoke though,” he pulled several cigars from his pocket, selected one, and returned the others. He lit the cigar and leaned against the railing as the train chugged steadily on through the night.

“Yeah, nice night,” Curry said somewhat perturbed that the man hadn’t offered him a cigar or asked if he cared to join him. He continued on into the next car.

“Oh, excuse me,” Curry exclaimed suddenly, as he nearly collided with the young woman he had dined with that evening.

“Why, Mr. Jones, what are you doing up at this hour?” she asked surprised.

“Well now, I could ask you the same thing ma’am,” Curry replied slyly. “I was just heading back to my compartment from the poker game up there.” He nodded toward the door he’d just come through.

“Oh, yes of course, the poker game,” Emma Wilson replied and then looked down as if embarrassed. “I was feeling a bit restless so I thought I’d take a walk, maybe get some fresh air.”

“Well, ma’am, I’d be honored to accompany you,” Curry said in his most gentlemanly tone.

“No, thank you, I enjoy the solitude of a walk by myself,” she said brightly.

“Oh,” Curry replied feeling a bit slighted. “Alright then,” he nodded and tipped his hat before continuing on toward his compartment. Just as he was about to enter, he heard a noise at the other end and looked up to see the elderly woman they had seen earlier coming down the aisle.

“Good evening young man,” the woman said sweetly.

“Good evening ma’am,” Curry responded with another nod and tip of his hat. “Isn’t it a little late for you to be up?”

“Oh, I can never sleep on trains,” the woman replied with a smile.

“Really,” Curry said shaking his head. Didn’t anybody sleep anymore?

“Well, you have a nice night ma’am.”

“Oh, yes, you too Mr.—I’m sorry, we weren’t introduced?”

“Jones ma’am, Thaddeus Jones.”

“I’m Mrs. Marsh. Have you spent much time on trains Mr. Jones?”

“Uh, yes ma’am, some,” Curry replied honestly.

“Well, I enjoy traveling very much. I’ve been to Europe you know.” She smiled as though remembering.

“Is that right, ma’am?” Curry asked in surprise.

“Oh yes, Paris, London, Rome, some of the most wonderful places. Now I’m seeing the great American west—before it’s gone you know.”

“Where’s it going ma’am?”

“Oh it’s being civilized. I want to see it while it’s still wild and untamed.”

“Well, there are still some untamed places,” Curry replied

“It would be so exciting to see a real train robber, don’t you think?”

Curry blanched. “What?” He choked out.

“Oh, I don’t suppose I’d really want the train to be held up, but it would make for a great adventure, don’t you think?”

“Uh, no ma’am, I don’t think so.”

“Mr. Jones, you look tired. You should really get some sleep.”

“Yes ma’am.” If I ever get to my bed…

“Good night, Mr. Jones,” she said sweetly and continued on down the hallway.

Kid Curry let out a long sigh and closed the compartment door behind him. After the long day he’d had and the motion of the train lulling him to sleep, he didn’t hear another sound until early the next morning when a loud banging on the door woke him with a start.

000000000

Both men’s eyes flew open and their guns were in their hands almost before they were fully awake. They bolted straight up in bed as they stared at the door, and then slowly turned their eyes to meet each other’s with questioning looks. Heyes shrugged slightly and raised his eyebrows—he had no idea who might be at the door—or why. Curry turned his gaze to the door and steadied his revolver.

BANG—BANG—BANG

“Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones!” A voice called from the other side of the door.

Heyes and Curry both let out the breath they had been holding and relaxed their arms slightly. At least whoever it was out there was calling them by their aliases.

“Just a minute,” Heyes called out and made his way to the door. He turned and gave his partner a look of reproach and indicated the gun still in the man’s hand. Curry reluctantly returned the Colt to his holster and shot Heyes a look that said he’d better be right about this.

Heyes opened the door to find the conductor and one of the railroad guards standing at the door.

“Gentlemen, it’s a bit early for a social call isn’t it?” Heyes began innocently.

“Excuse the interruption Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones.” The conductor smiled politely at Heyes but his face hardened as he turned his gaze on Curry.

“There was a robbery last night,” he continued looking at Curry for a moment and then glanced at the gun belt hung conveniently at the edge of the bed.

“Mr. Jones, can you tell us why you left the poker game early last night?” the conductor asked, accusingly.

“I was tired,” Curry snapped back defiantly.

Heyes scowled and gave his partner a warning glance. “Now wait a minute here, my friend wasn’t the only one who left the game early.”

“That’s true, and we’re checking out their compartment’s too,” the conductor said, smoothly. “Now, if you two gentlemen would be so kind as to step aside while we look through those bags.”

The guard pushed his jacket back slightly to reveal a gun holstered at his side.

With sighs of submission, both men stepped back to allow the conductor and guard to enter and search their belongings.

After not finding anything that looked suspicious, the searchers gave each other disappointed looks and slowly stepped out of the compartment.

“We didn’t find anything here, but I’m afraid I will have to ask you to remain on the train and relinquish your firearms until the thief has been identified,” the conductor ordered.

“What?” Curry demanded, taking a threatening step toward the conductor.

“Now, Thaddeus,” Heyes admonished, putting his hand firmly on his partner’s shoulder. “We want to cooperate fully with these gentlemen and assist them in any way we can so that they can bring this matter to a close quickly. After all, we have nothing to hide.”

“By the way, who was robbed?” Heyes asked calmly, looking directly into the conductor’s eyes.

“Mrs. Thurston’s diamond necklace and earrings were stolen last night from the safe in their private baggage car,” the conductor answered curtly.

Heyes whistled softly remembering the necklace he had seen Mrs. Thurston wear at dinner. “There are lots of passengers on this train, and most of ‘em weren’t in the poker game last night. Why is my friend here a suspect?”

“Well you see, the first class cars are behind the dining car, where the game was held. All of the other passengers are in cars on the other side, so if the thief was coming from one of those cars, he would have had to go through the poker game to get to the Thurston’s safe,” the conductor explained.

“Ahh, but how do you know the robbery occurred during the game?” Heyes pressed.

“Because Mr. Thurston put his wife’s necklace away after dinner when he got his money out for the game. Then, when he went back to the safe after the game, he discovered the necklace was missing.”

Curry watched the subtle shift of control and marveled at his partner’s ability to gain the upper hand.

“So anyone who was with Mr. Thurston all evening has an alibi, anyone who wasn’t, well they are the suspects,” Heyes said with a nod. “I understand and you can be assured that you have our complete cooperation.” He shook hands with the conductor and then handed his gun to the guard who had remained silent and watchful during the entire exchange.

“Oh, one other thing, how was it done?” Heyes asked with a tone of mild curiosity.

“Well, I don’t know exactly. The door to the compartment was locked and so was the safe. When Mr. Thurston returned early this morning, the necklace was just gone.” The conductor was becoming somewhat flustered.

Curry stood against the wall, arms crossed and glared at the guard while the man took his gun out of its holster and looked at it appreciatively for a moment before carrying it out.

“You let us know if we can be of any further assistance,” Heyes said with a smile.

“Oh yes sir, I will,” the conductor said brightly as he left with the guard.

After the door had closed, Curry looked accusingly at his partner.

“What was all that about? He thinks I robbed Thurston and you’re all ‘buddy-buddy’ with the guy? And why’d you let ‘em take our guns so easy? If we have to jump off this train how are we gonna get our guns back?”

“Take it easy Kid, we can’t go jumpin’ off the train. They’ll think we did it for sure. Then they’ll give our descriptions to the sheriff in the next town and there goes our amnesty. We’ll just have to help them solve the crime before they bring in any sheriff or marshal that might recognize us.”

“Help ‘em? Heyes are you crazy?” Curry stared at his partner. “This is all your fault you know,” Curry grumbled as he began to pull on his boots.

“My fault? How do you figure that?” Heyes asked in surprise.

“Well if you hadn’t bought us first class tickets, we wouldn’t be suspects.”

“Yeah? Well if you’d stayed in the game, we wouldn’t be suspects either,” Heyes countered.

“Come on Heyes. It’s not like I knew someone was going to steal Mrs. Thurston’s jewelry,” Curry exclaimed defensively.

“Okay, relax,” Heyes said as his face softened and he began to chuckle softly.

“What?” Curry asked.

“Nothing,” Heyes replied, but continued to laugh.

Curry narrowed his eyes and glared at his friend until he finally gave in.

“Okay, it’s just funny that’s all. They think you broke into the private compartment and cracked the safe.”

Curry stared at his friend for a minute and then smiled.

“Yeah, I guess that is kinda funny. Maybe we should tell ‘em who we really are, then they’d know if we’d been behind this that it would have been you that left the game early.”

Heyes grinned. “Yeah, and if it wasn’t for the twenty thousand dollar reward, they might let us go.”

Both men chuckled while they finished getting ready and then headed out for breakfast.

000000000

The tension in the dining car was thick as the two men cut into their breakfast steaks. Heyes noticed that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Thurston were at breakfast. Glancing around the room, he could see that all of the passengers were eyeing each other suspiciously.

Morris, the ranch foreman sat alone and looked very uncomfortable. He didn’t seem to be eating anything at all.

“He don’t look too happy,” Curry commented, nodding toward Morris.

“He lost a lot of money last night,” Heyes noted grimly.

Emma Wilson, their dinner partner from the night before had joined Robert White, the New Englander for breakfast. The two seemed to be discussing the robbery and kept glancing at the others around them and then leaning their heads together for a shared comment.

“Guess they haven’t discovered the thief yet,” Heyes mumbled to his partner as he stuffed another large bite of steak and eggs into his mouth and reached for his cup of coffee.

Curry only nodded and stared down at his plate.

“Hey, what’s wrong now?” Heyes asked, noticing his partner’s sullen look.

“Well Heyes, it’s like we’re sidin’ with the law now. Somebody cracked a safe and stole a necklace from one of the richest men in the state and instead of rootin’ for him to get away, you want to help the law catch him.”

“Kid.” Heyes lowered his voice and leaned closer. “May I remind you that you’re a suspect here? Do you want a Federal Marshal getting on at the next stop and questioning us?”

Curry gave his partner a resigned look. “No,” he answered honestly.

“Well then, we’d better figure out who did,” Heyes said stabbing another piece of steak with his fork. “Or this’ll be our last steak and egg breakfast for a while.

Both men looked up as the conductor and two other railroad officials entered the dining car. The conductor stepped to the front of the car and began to address the group.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your corporation. We have completed our search of the train and I’m sorry to inform you that we did not find the stolen jewelry.”

Audible groans could be heard from around the car.

“Unfortunately, I am going to have to insist that all of you remain on board while we make our next scheduled water stop at White Falls. We are going to wire ahead to Boulder and have detectives waiting for us when we arrive. After they have interviewed each of you and taken your statements you will be free to go. Rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to see that the thief, or thieves, are apprehended.”

Heyes gave his partner a look that said ‘I told you so’ and then snorted softly as he finished his last bite of breakfast.

“I think it was White,” Curry said, giving Heyes a meaningful look and then glancing over at Robert White. “He left the game the same time I did and he didn’t go back into the sleeping car. He waited outside until after I’d gone.”

“Really?” Heyes said, interested. “Perhaps I should get to know Mr. White a little better.

“Besides, what kind of name is ‘White’ anyway? It’s obviously an alias. I’ll bet he’s wanted,” Curry concluded, stuffing his last bite in his mouth.

Heyes just rolled his eyes as he got up from the table to make his way over to talk to White.

Curry looked over and smiled when he saw Emma Wilson moving toward his table.

“Good morning,” she said leaning over his table and giving him a bright smile. “I can’t believe there was a robbery on this very train last night. It’s rather frightening don’t you think?”

“You have no idea,” Curry replied honestly.

“Did you see anyone last night? The thief I mean?” She looked inquiringly into his face.

“No, I didn’t. I only saw you—and Mrs. Marsh.”

“Mrs. Marsh? I wonder if she did it.” Emma raised her eyebrows and contemplated the possibility.

“Ah, I don’t think so, she seemed like a nice old lady to me,” Curry said, surprised that she would even think such a thing.

“Well, you never know. Maybe you did it.” Emma gave him another smile and turned to leave. Curry stared after her with a stunned look on his face.

“What was all that about?” Heyes asked. Curry looked back to see his partner standing behind him.

Curry shrugged. “She saw me walking through the car last night, when I was on my way back to our room, Mrs. Marsh too.”

“Miss Wilson saw Mrs. Marsh?” Heyes asked with a look of confusion on his face.

“No, I saw Mrs. Marsh, and Miss Wilson, last night after I left the poker game.”

Heyes gave his partner a sly smile. “You did go to Miss Wilson’s room last night. That’s why you wanted to leave early wasn’t it?”

“No, I didn’t go to her room. I saw her walking through the car,” Curry said with a look of indignation.

“Did you go to Mrs. Marsh’s room?” Heyes gave him a teasing smile.

“Very funny Heyes,” Curry said dryly. “No, she was out of her room too. She said she wanted to meet a real train robber.”

“What?” Heyes’ eyes flew open.

“Don’t worry, she just said she thought it would be exciting. She likes adventures,” Curry said, smiling at his partner’s alarmed expression.

“Well, it seems there were quite a few passengers out and about last night,” Heyes observed, regaining his composure.

“Never mind Mrs. Marsh. Did you talk to Mr. White? What did he say? Was it him?” Curry asked in a low voice.

“Maybe, but I doubt it,” Heyes replied absently looking around the room, studying each passenger and deep in thought.

“Why not?” Curry prodded.

“Well, he’s got something to hide, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the diamond necklace. The conductor seems convinced he’s not the thief.”

“Really? Why?” Curry asked.

“It seems Mr. White is really Mr. Whitaker, and he comes from a wealthy family in Boston. Apparently he didn’t want his father to know he was gambling. He used an alias so Thurston wouldn’t know who he was and say something to his father about playing cards with him.”

Curry eyed him suspiciously. “Well, who do you think did it then?”

“Mr. Stewart seemed nervous all through the game last night. He left early too, and Mrs. Stewart had a lot of time alone in the passenger car while most of the other passengers were in the poker game.

“I bet it was them,” Curry said confidently. “I bet Mrs. Stewart wanted that diamond necklace.”

Heyes looked with bemusement at his partner. “Whoever stole that necklace had to have the combination to the Thurston’s safe—or be darn near as good as me.”

Curry shot his partner a pained look and sighed. “I’m going to go back to our compartment. When you figure out who did it, let me know?”

Heyes smiled and gave a short laugh. “Sure, Kid, I’ll let you know right away.” He watched his partner walk to the end of the car, then turned back to look thoughtfully at the remaining passengers.

000000000

A half an hour later, the train pulled into the station at White Falls to take on water and supplies. As promised, the ‘suspects’ were required to stay on board. Sitting in the dining car with the others, Heyes couldn’t help but notice that the Stewarts were arguing again. Mrs. Stewart abruptly stood and marched toward the railroad guard who stood by the door. “I demand that you let me off this train immediately,” she declared and stood with her hands on her hips waiting for the man to respond.

Heyes watched the stand-off with growing interest. Would the guard let her get off? Was this a ploy on the part of the Stewarts? After a few heated moments, Mrs. Stewart backed down and announced that she would be in ‘her’ compartment.

Heyes wandered over toward Mr. Stewart and cleared his throat. “Mind if I sit down?” he asked when Steward looked up startled.

“Oh, uh, certainly. I mean no… no I don’t mind… have a seat.”

“I guess this robbery thing has us all a little jumpy.” Heyes said with a friendly smile, and then gave a nod toward the door through which Mrs. Stewart had just exited.

“Yes, I suppose so.” Mr. Stewart put his elbows on the table and his head in his hands. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do,” he muttered with a slight shake of his head.

“Is there anything I can do Mr. Stewart?” Heyes asked in a low voice and leaned close.

“Are you married Mr. Smith?” Stewart asked glancing up at the other man.

“Uh…no, I’m not.” Heyes said cautiously.

“Well then, you just don’t know what I’m going through,” the man said miserably.

“I’m a pretty good listener,” Heyes suggested.

“I don’t know…I just can’t seem to make her happy. I wanted everything to be perfect for this trip. It’s our anniversary next week and we are on our way to Denver. I wanted to get her something really special, but my business didn’t make the kind of profits I was hoping for this year. I thought I could win a little in the poker game last night, but…” he shook his head miserably. “I just lost more.”

“Mr. Stewart, does your wife know about this?”

“Oh, my no!” Stewart said quickly.

“So she didn’t know you joined the game last night to try and win some money to buy her a gift?”

“Of course not.” The man seemed shocked at the very suggestion.

“That necklace that’s missing sure would make a nice gift…” Heyes probed, watching for the other man’s reaction.

“Mr. Smith!” Stewart’s eyes flew open. “You can’t possibly be suggesting that I had anything to do with the robbery?”

“No, of course not, it’s just that…well…somebody must have it.”

“Well it certainly isn’t me! And my wife certainly isn’t the sort of woman who would accept such a gift anyway.”

“What sort of woman is she, Mr. Stewart?”

“The finest, most decent woman I’ve ever known. Why…she donates her time to charity work and bakes pies for the church social and…she deserves better than I can give her…but I’d certainly never steal for her!”

Heyes nodded thoughtfully. “Well, if she’s that kind of woman, maybe you should just let her know how you feel instead of trying to go out and buy her big presents.”

Stewart gave Heyes an astonished look. “Would that work?”

“Well, like I said, I’m not married so I’m not an expert there, but in my experience …”

Their conversation was interrupted by the shrill sound of the train whistle and the arrival of the conductor and security guards.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the conductor announced. “We will be leaving the station in a few minutes. We have notified the authorities and a Federal Marshal will be meeting the train upon our arrival there tomorrow. If anyone has anything to say before then, please see me at once.” With a glaring look around the car, he turned and left.

000000000

Later that afternoon, the two former outlaws sat alone in their compartment, no longer as enthralled with the first class compartment as they had once been.

“So do you think the Stewarts did it?” Curry was asking impatiently.

“Don’t know, but I doubt it. What about that foreman, Morris? I saw you talking to him in the hallway when I came in.”

“Well he had reason to be nervous alright, but I don’t think it was because he took the necklace. He wanted to know if you and I wanted to play a little more poker this afternoon. Seems he borrowed a little of his employers money to get into the game, thinking he’d win some for himself.”

“But instead he lost,” Heyes said as a knowing look came over his face.

“Yeah, he hoped to win it back in tonight’s game, but now it doesn’t look like there’ll be one,” Curry finished grimly. “I don’t suppose he’d be so upset if he had a diamond necklace hidden somewhere.”

“No, I don’t suppose he would,” Heyes said, after pondering that thought for a few moments.

“What about your friend, Mrs. Marsh?” Heyes asked with a twinkle in his eye.

“Well, now that you mention it, she did say she’d done a lot of traveling. Real faraway places like London and Paris. Where do you suppose a nice old lady like her gets the kinda money to do that? Maybe she’s really a jewel thief.” He looked proud of himself for coming to that conclusion.

“I thought you said she wanted to be a train robber,” Heyes asked with a straight face.

“No, I said she wanted to ‘meet’ a train robber.”

“So why would she want to meet a train robber if she was already a jewel thief?”

“Let’s just go to dinner.” Curry said with exasperation.

“Fine by me.” Heyes said reaching to grab his jacket.

000000000

Entering the dining car once again, the two men found themselves greeted once again by Emma Wilson.

“Mr. Smith, I’d be just fascinated to hear if you’ve come up with any theories on whom the thief might be.” she said as she took his arm and led him to her table.

Curry followed, somewhat put out by her sudden attention to his partner.

“Well now Miss Wilson, just who do you think the culprit might be?” Heyes asked with a charming smile as he pulled out a chair for the girl at their table.

“Well,” she said in a conspiratorial tone and leaned toward the center of the table. “I always thought that Mr. White seemed a bit suspicious.” She gave Heyes a knowing look and then sat back. “Then again, that cowboy fella seems a little out of place, don’t you think?” She glanced toward Morris who seemed to be dining alone at the end of the car. “But you know who I really think did it?” She smiled mischievously and Heyes raised his eyebrows.

“Who?” he asked in very serious tone.

Curry raised his napkin to his face to cover a smile that he could no longer contain.

“Mrs. Thurston,” the girl pronounced matter-of-factly.

Curry coughed suddenly to cover his laugh. “What?” he croaked out in surprise. “It was her necklace!”

“No, it belonged to Mr. Thurston’s family; she’s only been wearing it for about a year. She probably plans on stealing and selling all of his family treasures before she leaves him. At least that’s what they say in Philadelphia.”

“Oh really?” Curry exclaimed as he threw his partner a questioning look.

Heyes’ face remained impassive as he showed only the slightest hint of interest.

“Well, I really don’t care who did it, as long as my partner and I can get on with our…vacation.” He gave Curry an annoyed look as he emphasized the last word.

“Oh?” Emma replied in surprise. “I thought you were being quite the detective around here.” She gave him another appraising look. “I always wanted to be a detective and catch criminals,” she said lowering her voice again. My brother and cousins always liked to pretend that they were highwaymen, robbing rich kings and queens, but I always caught them and threw him in the dungeon. My father said I played too many ‘boy’ games because I was the only girl in the family. Girl games weren’t as much fun though.”

Curry was staring at her now, not quite sure how to respond. Heyes merely smiled and began to eat his dinner. “Well, I’m sure the detective in Boulder will be able to handle this robbery, but if he needs any help, I’ll let him know he can count on you. I’m very interested in Mrs. Thurston though; tell me more about what you’ve heard.”

“Well, she married him about a year ago, only three months after his wife died. Everyone knew she married him for his money. He’s very rich you know. Just look at her, she’s almost young enough to be his daughter. Everyone thinks she’s going to rob him blind—or maybe even kill him.” She shuddered as though aghast at the thought.

Just as the three finished dinner, the conductor stepped to the front of the car. “Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow morning you are all requested to meet here in the dining car with your luggage. The authorities in Boulder will interview each of you and perform a thorough search of your belongings. If they clear you, you will be free to go. See you in the morning.” He turned and exited through the back door of the car.

The two former outlaws looked briefly at each other before returning their attention to their dining companion.

“Thaddeus, why don’t you see Miss Wilson to her compartment?” Heyes suggested lightly after the three had finished dinner. “I’m just going to stay here a while and have a cigar. I’ll see you back at our compartment later.”

Curry started to protest, but the look in his partner’s eye stopped him. “Oh, sure Joshua, I’ll just see you later then.” He got up slowly and gave Heyes a questioning look as he ushered their chatty companion out of the dining car.

“There you are, ma’am,” Curry said from the doorway, as Emma stepped inside.

“Thank you, Thaddeus,” the girl said with a quick smile. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Right,” Curry replied, his mood sinking. If Heyes doesn’t figure this thing out, tomorrow might be our last morning before we lose our hope for amnesty.

“Hey, is that for the baby?” he asked suddenly, noticing a christening gown and baby rattle lying in her open suitcase.

“Oh, yes, it’s the dress I told you about,” she said brightly, reaching to hold up the dress.

“Was that yours too?” he asked, indicating the rattle.

“Oh, no, this is just something I bought for the baby.” She held it up and gave it a quick shake.

Curry smiled. “Well, I’m sure your niece will enjoy it.”

“Yes, good-night,” she said again, this time moving to close the door.

Curry stepped back so she could close the door and then headed to his own compartment, where he sat down to wait for his partner to join him.

000000000

“Well, I hope you have a good reason for leaving me waiting here for half an hour,” Kid Curry said gruffly when his partner finally returned to their compartment.

“Uh huh,” Heyes replied lightly.

“Well? You got this figured out yet? ‘Cause we pull in to that station tomorrow and a Federal Marshal gets on board.”

“I know,” Heyes said thoughtfully. “I wanted to talk to Thurston’s friends. Check out a couple of things.”

“Like what?” Curry asked becoming impatient. “You think you know who did it?”

“Maybe.”

Curry stared at him incredulously. “Well are you going to tell me?”

“If I’m right, we’ll find out tomorrow.”

“Before or after the Marshal arrests us and locks us up?”

A crooked smile spread across Heyes’ face. “Well, before I hope,” he said slyly.

“Good, ‘cause I sure can’t figure it out. All of ‘em are a little bit suspicious. Heyes, did you ever notice that we meet the strangest people on trains? Remember that train to Brimstone?”

“Sure, Kid, that was the first time we met Harry Briscoe.”

“I wonder what he’d do if he were on this case?”

“Don’t even suggest such a thing.”

“Sorry Heyes, next time let’s take a stage.”

“I thought you wanted to take the train because of the things that happen to us when we take stage coaches?”

“Ahh, come on Heyes,” Curry said beginning to become frustrated.

His friend only chuckled softly. “Good night, Kid.”

“G’night Heyes.”

000000000

Early the next morning, their sleep was again interrupted; this time by the sound of passengers in the hallway.

Both men glanced up and Heyes opened the door slightly.

Mr. and Mrs. Thurston, accompanied by their two friends, Stanford and Randolph, were making their way toward the dining car.

A few minutes later the conductor came down the hallway, knocking on each door and announcing loudly that all of the passengers were required to come to the dining car immediately.

“Now what?” Curry asked Heyes in exasperation. His question was answered with a shrug and blank look as Heyes pulled on his boots and led the way down the hall toward the dining car.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the conductor announced, once the passengers from the first class compartments were all assembled.

“I have just been informed that the diamond necklace and earrings have been returned to Mr. and Mrs. Thurston’s compartment. They were found by Mrs. Thurston just a short time ago.”

Gasps and surprised looks filled the railroad car as the passengers looked from one to another. A chorus of questions flooded the room while the conductor called for silence.

“Please, I wanted to notify you of this development right away. We won’t be solving this crime tonight, but each of you will still be interviewed by the Federal Marshal tomorrow morning when the train arrives in the station.”

“Why? If the necklace has been returned, then no crime has been committed,” Morris, the ranch foreman spoke up in irritation. Agreement was voiced throughout the car.

“There most certainly was.” William Thurston stood and addressed the group for the first time since the robbery. “Someone broke into my private compartment—twice, invading our privacy and breaking the law!” His anger was evident in his voice.

“Mr. Thurston, was the lock on your door tampered with? I mean is there any evidence of a forced entry?” Heyes stood and asked his question with an air of authority.

“Well, no,” Thurston admitted slowly.

“Mr. Thurston, I don’t think anyone broke into your compartment, I think they used a key, and I don’t think they cracked your safe, I think they knew the combination, and I think I can prove it.”

Again gasps and astonished looks flooded the car.

“How can you possibly prove it now?” Thurston demanded.

Heyes slowly walked to where the conductor was standing and quietly said something to him that the others could not quite hear. The man gave Heyes a skeptical look, but moved toward the door to pass on the instruction to the security guard.

Heyes looked around the room into the faces of the confused but curious passengers—his own partner among them.

“You see,” he began to address the group. “I suspected from the beginning that this was an inside job. A lock that wasn’t broken, a private safe that wasn’t blown. Mr. Thurston, the conductor told me that you keep your own private lock on that door, how many people have the key?”

“Well, myself and my wife of course, and…my son, Henry, who’s in Boston.”

“Boston? Mr. White, isn’t that where you’re from?”

“Uh, yes, I am,” White said hesitantly.

“Only your name’s not White, is it, Mr. Whitaker? Heyes glanced over at the Conductor, who cleared his throat loudly and looked pointedly at Whitaker.

“Uh, no, you’re right, it’s Whitaker,” the young man admitted sheepishly.

“Whitaker? Ben Whitaker’s son?” Thurston asked in surprise. “Why didn’t you say so? Ben and I are old friends.”

“Well, if you know my father, then you know he doesn’t approve of gambling. You see, I didn’t want him to know that I’d been playing poker…”

“What? But I don’t understand…ah,” he sighed as understanding finally set in. “You thought I’d say something to him. Well, you needn’t have worried, after all, you’re a grown man. A man’s vices are his own business—your father will never hear a word about it from me.”

“Thank you Mr. Thurston,” the man said gratefully, as he relaxed and let out the breath he’d been holding.

“I still don’t understand what this has to do with the robbery? You’re not suggesting that young Whitaker here had anything to do with it are you?” Thurston looked directly at Heyes as he asked the question.

“Well, maybe not,” Heyes admitted slowly. “I must admit, I did at first, but he’s not the only one here that’s been lying. Mr. Whitaker, did you also know Miss Wilson in Boston?”

All heads in the room turned to look at Emma Wilson, who was glaring at Whitaker.

“Well, I thought I did. She looked a lot like a young woman that I saw with Henry a few times. But when I asked her about it, she said that I was mistaken.”

“I think you were right the first time, Mr. Whitaker,” Heyes said smoothly.

“What?” Emma exclaimed. “Are you saying I lied?” she asked with an indignant pout.

“Oh, you lied quite a few times. I just wasn’t sure why until now.”

“What on earth do you mean?” the young woman asked, trying to sound calm.

“Well, some of your stories, just didn’t match up,” Heyes answered with a smile. “For example, you told us that you were visiting your ‘sister’ and bringing the Christening dress that both of you wore, but then later you said you were the only girl in your family. Then, you said you’d never been out of Denver, but seemed to know what everyone was talking about in Boston. It didn’t make any sense to lie about things like that, unless of course the whole reason for your trip was a lie.”

“Well, I never!” the girl exclaimed in a huff, “I may have a weakness for coloring my stories a little…but I certainly didn’t steal the necklace.”

“Well, Mr. Smith?” the conductor asked impatiently. “Any more theories while we wait for my guard to return with the, uhm, item you requested?”

000000000

The railroad security guard stepped into the car carrying a piece of luggage.

Emma Wilson turned pale when she saw that it belonged to her.

“Miss Wilson, would you please open your suitcase for us?” the conductor asked her in a serious tone.

“Well…I…uh…certainly,” the young woman answered shakily as she reached down and opened the suitcase.

Heyes felt around the edges and then finally removed the baby rattle. He held it up and gave it a shake, but only a soft clinking noise could be heard.

“Hey, that rattled yesterday?” Curry exclaimed in surprise.

“Maybe yesterday, there was something else inside,” Heyes commented dryly.

He examined the rattle closely and then twisted it in his hands. The top came apart in two pieces. Inside the rattle was a small key. Heyes held it up to show Mr. and Mrs. Thurston.

“That’s a key to my private compartment!” Thurston exclaimed angrily. “I demand to know where you got that!”

“It… was all Henry’s idea,” the girl stammered. “He said that once we got rid of Mrs. Thurston—”

“Got rid of her?” Heyes’ eyebrows shot up.

“I mean, made you think she was trying to steal from you... so you’d divorce her. Then we’d be married, Henry and I, and I’d have all of the family jewelry.”

“Hmph,” Thurston grunted in disgust. “Wait ‘til I get my hands on him…”

“William, dear, let’s talk to him first. He still hasn’t gotten to know me. Maybe he is just being protective of you.” Mrs. Thurston suggested.

“Protective of me! By stealing from me?” Thurston growled angrily.

A shrill whistle indicated the train’s arrival at the station.

“Ma’am, I’ll have to ask you to speak to the Marshal,” the conductor said sternly, taking hold of Miss Wilson’s arm.

“Joshua,” Curry said quietly, “much as I’d like to stick around and find out how this all turns out.” He tilted his head toward the station and gave his partner a meaningful look.

“Ah, yes we’re going to be late for our business meeting if we don’t get going,” Heyes said casually.

“But Mr. Jones, I thought you said you were on vacation?” Whitaker asked in slight confusion.

Heyes glared briefly at his blonde friend. “That’s right, we were. Vacation’s over. Come on Thaddeus, let’s go get our bags.” Both men turned and walked out of the compartment.

The Marshal who had entered the compartment, glanced up just in time to see the backs of two cowboys leaving from the far door. “Too bad you didn’t get a chance to meet that Mr. Smith,” the conductor was saying, “I bet you could have learned a lot from him. Yep, he sure did know how to figure out a robbery.”

_________________
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. And in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone.
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