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 Story 2 Beaver City Blues Part 2

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CD Roberts
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Join date : 2013-09-23

20131006
PostStory 2 Beaver City Blues Part 2



 

 
Upon leaving the diner, the Kid walked on to Carrie Buffum's house. He and Heyes had decided that the Kid would do the 'talking' to Becky to limit her contact with Heyes.

Heyes was to 'stay off the street' so he returned to their room in the boarding house. Fortunately he had brought a book with him from the hotel in Granite, something called "Walden or Life in the Woods" by an eastern fellow named Thoreau.

Heyes meandered slowly on the boardwalk stopping to look at such sights as Beaver City had. After a while he became aware of the stares of the miners and other townsfolk. He turned to smile a greeting to the closest miners. They muttered to each other and returned his smile with shakes of their heads and frowns. He thought he heard the word 'troublemaker' and decided the most expedient course would be to walk faster.

"Smith…SMITH…" Heyes stopped. Joe Bradshaw was hurrying towards him.

"Smith what the heck is going on?"

"Going on?" Heyes was all innocence.

"Don't play stupid with me. It's all over town. What did you do? What went wrong?"

"Joe, nothing went wrong. Almost nothing at any rate. Becky is just a little confused."

"A little confused! It's all over town that she don't want Frank or Jim; that she's gonna marry you."

Heyes was stunned. The whole thing had spread faster then he had anticipated. He'd hoped they would have time to correct things before any rumors started. That was just great he figured. And people being what they were, and Beaver Cityites being what they were, the rumors had already grown all out of proportion.

"Joe, I am not gonna marry Becky. I've-Jones' got a plan. It'll all work out, but you gotta give it a little time."

"Well it had better. Frank and Jim are good men. Nobody don't like seeing them unhappy."

"That's right." Another miner, Tom Orrill chipped in. "Ya know I saw them both earlier all sad like. Took it hard, but real noble-like if you ask me."

"Whaddya mean by that?" asked Heyes.

"Only that they said if Becky wants you more than them they're gonna make sure you stick around and do the right thing by her, that's all."

"Huh?" Heyes felt a little dizzy. Frank and Jim hadn't mentioned that at the diner.

More of the miners walked over while they were talking. They now stood in a semi-circle behind Joe and Tom as if to back them up. There was more muttering and nodding of heads. This was not good. Sort of like a lynch mob with a different result Heyes thought.

"Look Joe, Tom, you leave everything to Jones. Before you know it Frank's gonna be a happy man. Jim too."

"I don't see how that is gonna happen," said Joe.

Heyes gave them all a reassuring look. "It will though. After all, Jones is a genius, right?"

He continued on to the boarding house. Five of the miners followed at a short distance. After he went in he pulled the blinds back and peered through the window. A miner was beside the window. They smiled at each other.

He opened the window and put his head out. He saw two miners standing at the front door. He hurried to the rear door located in his and the Kid's room. Sure enough when he opened it there were two more miners 'standing guard.' He swallowed, and then returned to the bed to read his book. Feeling miserable he had difficulty focusing on the words. He hoped the Kid was doing better than he was.
 

The Kid knocked on Mrs. Buffum's door. As before Becky answered the knock only this time her face registered deep disappointment on seeing he had come alone.

"Miss Doble, Becky, I need to talk to you." He took his hat off.
"Alright, Mr. Jones. Talk to me." She made a point of not asking him in.

"Becky, Frank Warner is sick." He fumbled with the hat in his hands.

"And?"

"Well he's sick because of you. You see, after you said you didn't want to see him no more he couldn't eat."

"Mr. Jones I saw him this morning. I am certain that he'll eat by lunch or suppertime."

"I don't think so. He started to complain of feeling poorly. Says he's got a fever too. He said he'd feel better if you came to visit."

"Oh really, Mr. Jones. He's a grown man. I'm certain he's exaggerating."

"I'm certain he's not. You don't understand the effect you had on him. He was all set to marry you, and now his hopes are all gone. He's pining away from love of you."

"In one morning? That doesn't seem likely. Where is Mr. Smith?"
At the mention of Heyes' alias the Kid was struck by a true inspiration.

"My friend Smith didn't want to see you. He feels terrible about all the trouble he thinks he's caused and…"

"Oh I am so sorry to hear that. But he hasn't caused any trouble at all. He's simply helped me understand things better. Perhaps I should talk to him."

"No! No I don't think that would be a good idea. Like I was saying he's worried about Frank. He thinks Frank's got a bilious fever and you know how serious that can be. He'd be grateful to you if you went to see him-Frank I mean. Frank's gonna need some nursing and the other women in town have too much to do already."

"Oh," she responded in an unhappy tone. "If Mr. Smith wants me to see Frank, I suppose I must. But it's only to nurse him, and I'm doing this for Mr. Smith. I wouldn't want you to think otherwise. I'll go get my shawl."

The Kid smiled to himself in relief. At least he'd accomplished that much. Hopefully leaving Frank and Becky alone would do the rest.
 

 
The Kid returned to find Heyes on the bed, head propped on a pillow, eyes closed, a book lying open with the pages facing down across his chest. He bent forward to take a closer look. Heyes must have read only twenty pages before falling asleep.

"Must be real interesting."

Heyes woke up. "As a matter of fact it is; I was resting my eyes after so much reading."

"Uh-huh. I can see that. Becky's over at Frank's if you're interested and I figure you should be, considering those miners ain't outside here 'cause they enjoy sitting by the boarding house."

"About time they got some chairs. They were standing out there last I looked."

"You know why they're there, don't you?"

"Oh I know alright Kid. So how'd it go at Frank's?"

"You know I'm impressed. He's acting pretty sick. Moans real nice. He and Jim even got him nice and warm so's he looks fevered. I think they must have piled every blanket they could find on him. I saw a bunch of blankets in a side room, also some hot towels they must have boiled up. Smelled a bit burnt. I think they must have even wrapped a flatiron in a wet towel."
"Oh that's just great. If you found all that what makes you think Becky won't find 'em?"

"Jim was headed that way when I left. Becky was with Frank so I figure it's OK."

The Kid had been removing his gun belt while talking. He sat on the other bed and started to pull off his boots.

"I ran into Carrie Buffum on the way out. She had some calomel with her. She said if that don't work she's got some home remedies that can kill any disease."

He and Heyes exchanged looks of mock disgust and laughed quietly.

"You know Kid, Frank's a lucky man what with all those women taking care of him."

"Heyes, he's a lucky man if the cure don't kill him."
 

 
For the next few days Frank's condition was the talk of the town. Bets were taken on his chance of survival. Those who bet he would survive placed bets on whether Becky would marry him or not, seeing as she was spending so much time with him.

On the third morning of Frank's illness Becky went to the mercantile to pick up medical supplies from a list provided by Carrie. As she left the store she saw Heyes walking on the other side of the street. She had felt a reawakening of affection towards Frank while nursing him, but seeing Heyes brought back other feelings.

She had been told by Carrie that he was a drifter, a gambler without means or maybe something worse. Maybe even an outlaw. She had fantasies in which he fell madly in love with her, falling at her feet professing that love. In return her affection would save him; she would reform him…

"Mr. Smith, oh Mr. Smith. Do come over."

She tried to wave but her arms were filled with small packages. The little boxes and bags began to fall, and she tried to hold onto them awkwardly.

Heyes ran over to assist her. He restacked the packages, and thinking quickly pushed them back into her arms instead of taking them.

"There you go Miss Doble. Now you can carry them better." He stood back and smiled at her.

"Oh I -" She was startled at his not offering to carry the boxes. She began again.

"I'm taking these over to Frank's house. Would you care to walk with me?" she asked holding her arms out as much as she could without dropping the boxes as a hint for him to take them.

"I don't mind walking part of the way with you. I'm headed for the saloon." He started to walk briskly. Becky found she had to trot to keep up with his long strides.

"The saloon? But it's barely nine in the morning."

"I like to start early, gambling I mean. That way the other fellas are still sleepy. I win more money that way."

"But that's…that's…"

"Smart I know. I learnt that from a riverboat gambler. Taught me all sorts of important tricks, but a lady like you wouldn't want to hear about them. Well, here we are."

"Here we are?"

"At the saloon. Say ‘hi’ to Frank for me. Tell him I hope he feels better soon. It'd be a real shame if he died. I'd come by myself to see him but I've got business inside." He touched his hat to her, spun around and walked inside.

Becky stood for a few moments flabbergasted. He wasn't at all the man she had thought he was. His behavior wasn't in the least bit romantic, not like the pirates in novels or how she imagined a genuine western outlaw to be. He was simply callous about Frank and rude to her. He'd left her with the packages. He'd, he’d, he'd, snubbed her. In disbelief she walked slowly to Frank's house.
 

 
Becky spent long hours nursing the patient. She and Carrie plied him with a number of sure-fire remedies. After the calomel he was given jalap, then bark mixed in wine. This was followed by a strong dose of castor oil.

A plaster was placed on his chest to produce a course of blisters. On the fourth day Heyes and the Kid stopped by Frank's house as the plaster was being removed and the raw skin was dressed with cabbage leaves. A loud yelp came from the sick room.

"Ouch! Becky that hurts!"

“Now Frank it's for your own good. This is what Mrs. Buffum recommended. She says it always works."

"She said that about the rest of her cures too. I feel sicker than when you gals started in on me."

The Kid and Heyes stood outside the door and peered into the room. Heyes backed away and the Kid entered.

"How ya doin' Frank?"

"Not so good. These cures hurt real bad."

"Well, I'm sure Becky, and Mrs. Buffum," he added quickly as Carrie Buffum entered the room, "are taking real good care of you."

"That's true Jones," answered Carrie Buffum. She looked at him appraisingly.

"Jones I need to talk to you. Becky, why don't you read some more to Frank? He likes your reading so much and I think you enjoy it too."

Becky blushed slightly which the Kid took to be a good sign. He and Carrie went into the front room.

"Well Jones I think those two are getting a good chance to get properly acquainted. Heard from Jim this was your idea."

"He told you?”

"Had to. I recognized right away Frank wasn't really ill.

Figured those two were up to something." She smiled at the Kid. "It's a good idea and it's working. Makes up for that no good friend of yours."

"Carrie, Smith didn't mean no harm. Becky had some crazy ideas about him that's all."

"Humph. Well it don't matter no more. Between her nursing Frank and me telling her the truth about Smith, I mean really-a no good, bad luck drifting gambler like that… Why are you two friends anyhow? Well, I suppose it's no business of mine."

"Carrie, what if I told you I'm just a drifter too? Me and Smith do travel together you know."

"Oh Jones, anyone can see there's more to you." She twisted her apron string in her hand.

"How about you come over to my place for a late supper? My house I mean, not the diner. Becky will be here with Frank and Jim, and I'll be all alone. Sure could use some company. How about eight?"

They smiled at each other.

"Alright Carrie I'll see you at eight."

He left the house whistling. Heyes was leaning on the wall his arms crossed.

"So partner, how're we doing?"

"We're doing great, partner. Becky's in there reading to Frank and she seems pretty happy about it too."

"That's good. That's the best news we've had in days."

Heyes stretched and scratched his lower back.

"How about supper and some poker? I think the way things are going it'll be safe to go to the saloon again."

"Sorry partner I've got plans for tonight. I'm going to Carrie Buffum's for supper."

Heyes grinned at his partner. "Sheesh, Kid. You really are unbelievable."
 

 
The poker was slow and uninteresting that night. Heyes left the game early.

The best thing about the game was that the townsfolk had warmed up to him again as rumors were already spreading that Frank and Becky were back together. Or had warmed up to him as much as they could, considering what they thought of Joshua Smith, he thought wryly.

He returned to the room to read some more of that odd book. He'd been reading it twenty pages at a time, couldn't seem to get more of it digested in a sitting. He had finished another twenty pages when the door handle turned. Startled, he grabbed his gun from the holster. To his surprise it was the Kid returning early.

"What happened? Or should I ask what didn't happen? Why're you back so early?"

"Heyes you won't believe this. We'd finished supper, and we were sitting on the sofa together talking ..."

Heyes raised his eyebrows.  "You're right Kid, I don't believe that."

The Kid ignored him "... when someone started pounding on the door. Carrie opened it and it was Mabel Fanshaw. Turns out she'd taken the first train she could to Leadville. When she got there she got a horse and rode out here on her own.

I don't think we have to worry about her having enough spunk for Jim. Anyway she moved right in with Carrie so that finished the evening for me."

"It may not have worked out for you Kid, but that is good news. She'll probably head over to Frank's to see Mabel in the morning and Jim'll be there."

"I suppose you're right, Heyes." The Kid plopped onto his bed resigned.

"Hey Kid, how about some Blackjack? I'll be dealer."

"Sure Heyes, why not? Losing money to you will be a perfect way to end the evening," he said sarcastically.

Heyes pretended he hadn't heard the sarcasm. He grabbed his deck of cards and began shuffling.
 

 
The two former outlaws waited a couple of days before going over to Frank's house again. When they did go over they found Jim and Mabel standing in front of the house together, talking.

"Hiya Smith, Jones. Mabel this here is Smith and Jones. They're friends of me and Jim."

"I've met Mr. Jones. And how do you do Mr. Smith?"

"I'm fine, Miss Fanshaw. How's Frank?"

"I do believe he is better. Becky is with him now. She placed another plaster last night and is going to remove it soon."

"That's right. You know I offered to take it off myself but he won't let no one 'cept Becky touch him," added Jim.

"Of course he won't, you are an idiot, Jim Casey. Men are no good at nursing. Would you want Frank to nurse you?"

"No siree. If I was sick I'd want you there all the time. You know what Mabel? I think I'm beginning to feel a mite poorly. How about you nurse me some?"

"Alright Jim, I'll go get the castor oil." She moved as if to go into the house for it. 

He stopped her and they all laughed.

"Better watch what you ask for Jim. You may end up getting one of them plasters next," observed the Kid.

"Aw, no. I bet a smart gal like you Mabel, could think of a better way to nurse me."

"I certainly don't know what you mean by that Jim Casey. Well I'm going back in to the kitchen. Come on in with me Jim, I have work for you to do." She went in. Jim turned and smiled at Smith and Jones.

"She sure has spunk, don't she? Did ya hear how she rode all the way here on her own from Leadville?"

"Yeah we heard," said the Kid. "Smith let's go on in and see how Frank and Becky are doing."

They went to the sick room and stood outside the door to eavesdrop. Becky had apparently removed the second plaster and was gently placing cabbage leaves on the inflamed skin. She was glancing at Frank tenderly in between the placement of each leaf.

"After I'm done with this Frank, you can sit up a little. I'll bring you some broth and tea. Then I'll read more of Lord Byron's poetry to you."

"You will? Aw Becky when you read to me I just about feel like I've died and gone to heaven. You gonna read more about that there pirate? That's the bestest story I've ever heard, outside of the dime novels that is."

Becky finished with the leaves. She stroked his forehead.
"Of course I will. We can't leave the story half told, can we?"

She got up to get the soup.

Frank grabbed her wrist eagerly."Becky, you gotta know how I feel 'bout you. Please say you'll marry me. I don't think I could ever love no other gal the way I love you."

"Oh Frank, I was waiting for you to ask. I'll marry you and be proud to be your wife."

"Becky - you will? That's wonderful. I feel better already. In fact I feel so good I wanna tie the knot as soon as possible. I don't think I could bear it if you changed your mind again."

He pulled her down to sit beside him. "You know Becky; I don't look like no romantic pirate type of fella."

Becky laughed and turned red.

"I don't know what came over me. It must have been the excitement of my trip and all the confusion about you and Jim. I don't know why I even felt anything at all about Mr. Smith."

"It is kinda funny, ain't it? He's just a no good drifter, and bad luck on top of that."

Heyes opened his eyes and pursed his lips.

"Yes, Carrie told me. Imagine me even thinking I could love someone like that. Someone with no livelihood, a gambler who spends most of his time in a saloon, and here I was thinking he was romantic like a pirate or an outlaw."

"Honey, he ain't smart enough to be no pirate or outlaw. He may talk smart but it's really his friend Jones who's the smart one. Without him, Smith'd probably be out on the streets."

The Kid smirked at his partner who glared in return.
 

 
A week later the Kid was putting on his grey suit and dress shirt. Heyes was reading his book.

"Heyes, you sure you don't mind staying here on your own while I go to Frank and Becky's wedding?"

"Kid, for the third time, I'm sure I don't mind. I am an adult after all. It don't bother me I wasn't invited."

"Heyes, it's not that you weren't invited. It's that everyone else is going. You were asked not to attend."

"Heyes?"

"Heyes?"

"Hmm. Kid, I am trying to read. I can't believe you are worried about this. I'll go to the saloon and play some cards. Then I'll be happy, OK?"

"Who ya gonna play with? Everyone'll be at the wedding."

"Someone's bound to show up. Maybe a stranger will ride in."

"Well, OK, if you're sure."

"I'm sure. Now go and have a good time."
 

 
Heyes did go to the saloon after the Kid had left. He ordered a couple of beers from the bartender after being advised that the bar would be temporarily closed during the wedding and he had better "stock up now."

Sitting at a corner table he was soon joined by a stranger. The stranger was dressed completely in black, except for a starched white shirt, with a long overcoat. He brought over a bottle of whisky and a glass. Definitely a gambler thought Heyes. He'd have to be careful with this one.

Because of a shortage of players the two men decided to play blackjack. They cut the cards for dealer, and the stranger won.

It wasn't long before Heyes caught him dealing seconds.

"Mister, last time I heard, dealing seconds was cheating. If you don't mind I'd like the cards dealt in order."

"I do mind. I mind you calling me a cheater. I am an honest man sir, and you are mistaken. I demand an apology."

Heyes shook his head grinning, his eyes hard.

"No. I'm not mistaken. So you just shuffle that deck and we'll start all over. If you want to play, that is."

"I will not reshuffle."

The stranger stood up pushing the cards away. He started to reach into his coat. Heyes jumped up quickly and hit the man in the face. A scuffle ensued. The bartender watched with deep interest and satisfaction.

Heyes was clearly the better fighter. He had just smartly hit his opponent directly in the eye when Jim Casey came running in. He stopped in his tracks to watch the fight, and then remembering his errand, turned to the bartender.

"The preacher from Leadville ain't shown up yet. Anyone by the name of Rev. John Barton show up?"

The stranger lowered his raised fist and backed away from Heyes holding up his hand for him to stop. ”That would be me son. I am the Reverend John Barton."

He pulled his coat straight and stood in a dignified manner. The effect was somewhat diminished by the developing black eye.

"Rev. Barton you are supposed to be at the diner. We're all ready to start."

"I apologize, son. However I was somewhat involved with this ruffian here."

He walked over to the door. As he and Jim left, Jim looked back at Heyes.

"I guess only a fella like you, Smith, would fight a preacher."
 

 
The wedding was agreed to be a success by all who attended. Becky and Frank happily tied the knot to become Mr. and Mrs. Frank Warner, although the preacher did have some difficulty in concentrating. He decided to shorten the ceremony somewhat.

"Folks we are gathered to witness the union of these two-uh what's your name?"

"Frank Warner."

"What?"

"Frank Warner."

"Hank?"

"Frank Warner."

"Frank Warner and Betsy Dublin."

"Doble, Becky Doble."

"Yes, yes. I know that. Frank Warner and Becky Doble. By the power invested in me by the great state of Colorado and in God do we trust I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride."

"What about the ring?"

"What about the ring?" echoed the preacher.

"Ain't I supposed to put it on her finger?"

"Of course you are man, go ahead and do so."

"Ain't I supposed to say something?"

The Reverend Barton sighed.

"Oh very well. Say, 'with this ring, I take you Becky Doble, to be my wife. To have and to hold, to love, honor and protect until death do us part. So help me God.'"

Frank looked at the preacher blankly.

"Can you repeat that?"

"No I cannot."

"Oh. OK. Becky Doble, with this ring, I take you to-uh-to be my wife. To-uh-to love and hold until we die. Uh-uh- so help me God."

"Good. You may now kiss the bride."

Frank wrapped his arms around Becky, and gave a resounding kiss to her as the attendees cheered. She turned and handed her bouquet to Mabel as there was really no sense in throwing it. Everyone knew Jim and Mabel were next.

Carrie Buffum turned to the Kid who was standing beside her. The room was so crowded they were leaning against the back wall.

"Jones, seeing as I feed crowds of people every day, I'm not much for receptions. How about you and I head over to my house? I took a little of the food over there earlier today. I've got some champagne too."

"Carrie, I surely wouldn't turn down an invitation like that. Guess we can have our own private celebration."

"That we can Jones- that we can."

They locked arms and left the diner.



Hannibal Heyes, having returned to his room after the fight, read another twenty pages of "Walden."
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