Stories: Alias Smith and Jones

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 Story 2 Beaver City Blues Part 1

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CD Roberts

Posts : 114
Join date : 2013-09-23

PostStory 2 Beaver City Blues Part 1

It was late afternoon in the mining community of Granite, Colorado. The local saloon was relatively empty, as many of its patrons had left for their dinners. A player piano was tinkling through a medley of Stephen Foster songs, in a somewhat dyspeptic manner as some of the keys didn't play. The bartender hummed to the music using this slow period of the day to clean up before the evening crowd arrived.

Hannibal Heyes was standing beside the bar enjoying a beer. He was done playing poker for the day, successfully of course, and happily sipped his drink waiting for his friend and partner, Kid Curry to return. The Kid was at the bathhouse cleaning up before supper.

"Hey, Will, look who's here. It's Smith." Heyes turned to see who had recognized him. He found he was looking into the spectacles of Joe Bradshaw from Beaver City. Next to him, but a bit to the rear, stood Will Johnston rubbing one boot nervously on the other, eyes slightly dilated at the sight of Joshua Smith, a man he still associated with bad luck.

"Howdy Joe, Will. How you boys doing?"

Will swallowed and ordered two beers. "We're OK but we're real sorry about Jones. We read about it."

"Yeah, guess that must've been real hard on you, you two being such good friends and all."

"Wh-what?" Heyes mouth curved into a puzzled half-smile. "What did you read?"

"Jones, we read all about him. It was in the Leadville paper about Jones dying, and seeing how you two had left town we figured you'd headed to Leadville and well, we figured it was our Jones." Joe wrapped his right arm around the back of his head to scratch the left side.

"Joe, Will, I hate to break this to you, but there are a lot of people named Jones. Thaddeus isn't dead."

"He ain't?" Will grinned broadly. "That's real good news. But if he ain't dead where is he?"

"Where's who?" The Kid had come over to the bar unseen by the others. "Who's dead?"

"You're dead partner, or at least you were. Apparently a fella sharing your name passed on recently in Leadville. Our friends here figured it was you."

"Joe, Will, you thought I was dead?"

"Well heck, Jones. The whole town thought you was dead. We even held a memorial service for you seeing as how you'd been our oracle. Joe did the you-lo-gy-did a real nice job of it too."
"Really? I'm flattered that you boys would do that for me. A service and a you-lo-gy." He smirked at Heyes, knowing that Smith would never have merited such treatment.

"Uh boys, I guess that means you aren't mad at us. You know, about the outhouse being all torn down?" Heyes questioned.
"Naw, we didn't mind all that. We figured it was a good thing seeing as that outhouse never was built right to begin with. Shoot, it leaked rain all the time. So we rebuilt it. We even put a plaque on it."

Heyes and Curry exchanged incredulous looks.

"Joe, you put a plaque on the outhouse?" The Kid couldn't quite believe he was hearing this properly.

"That's right," said Will. "It's a genuine brass plaque we ordered special all the way from Denver. It says 'The Oracle Jones II Memorial Outhouse' on it."

Heyes leaned towards the bar, putting his gloved hand over his mouth. He laughed into it creating a peculiar snorting sound, and his eyes filled with tears.

"The Oracle Jones II Memorial Outhouse?" the Kid repeated. Heyes snorted again.

"Yep." Joe frowned thoughtfully. "Suppose we'll have to take the plaque off now, seeing as you're not dead. Seems a waste though."

"Oh I don't know, Joe," Heyes said, "if I were you I'd hang onto that plaque. You never know what may happen."

"Cute, Joshua."

"Joe, you know what?" Will nudged his friend. "Since Jones here is alive, maybe he can help with our problem."

"Problem? Fellas I'm not so sure about that. I mean I'm not your oracle anymore."

"C'mon Jones. It'd be real easy for a smart man like you." Heyes rolled his eyes while the Kid stood straighter.

"We'll even pay you for it," offered Joe.

"How much?" asked Heyes quickly.

"What's the problem?" asked the Kid.

"Two hundred dollars," said Joe. Will nodded his head in agreement.

"He'll take it," Heyes replied.

"Not so fast. What's the problem?" Curry asked again.
"Three hundred," Joe said eagerly.

"We'll take it." Heyes stared into his partner's eyes.

"Maybe we won't take it. What's the problem?"

"It's nothing really."

"Well if it's nothing whaddya need me for?"

"It's like this," said Will. "A fella named Frank Warner wrote to Mrs. Pellet's firm back east. Well, actually Joe did the writing 'cause Frank ain't all that edicated. You know the lady who finds all them brides and sends 'em out this way-mail order. Mrs. Pellet got him set up with a real nice sounding gal, and not for much of a fee neither. They sent letters back and forth, and, well, she come on out to marry him. When she got out he couldn't meet the train in Leadville, so Jim Casey met her and brung her back. So then she wanted to marry him. That got Frank real mad after all the trouble he'd gone to, and he went over to have it out with Jim. So then she met Frank. So the three tried to talk it out, and now she don't know who she oughta marry. So the whole town's sort of in an uproar, but I bet you could help her figure out who to marry. Then everything'll be normal again."

"Whaddya mean 'no', partner?"

"No, I mean 'no'! I don't want to get involved in this.'"

"Excuse us fellas. Thaddeus and I are gonna go talk this over."
Heyes pulled the Kid to the side.

"What do you mean 'no'? They are going to pay three hundred dollars for you to go to Beaver City and tell a girl to marry someone. It doesn't even matter which one you pick."

"Heyes are you out of your mind? I am not going to go and get mixed up in this. What if something goes wrong?"

"Kid, what could go wrong? All you have to do is go talk to the girl. You know what? I bet she even prefers one of them already; she just doesn't know how to tell the other one. You just let her tell you which one she likes best, and then tell them. They'll do what you say 'cause they still think you're an oracle. And Kid, we'll be three hundred dollars richer. Heck, I'll even go with you when you talk to her." He gave the Kid a pat on the arm.

The Kid glanced over at Joe and Will. "OK Heyes you talked me into it. But if anything does go wrong…."

"Kid, what could go wrong?"

"Everything. Just remember I warned you, and you gotta take care of any problems."

"Alright it's a deal. As if anything could go wrong."

They rejoined Joe and Will. "Alright, he'll do it. Tell you what, let's go and have supper to fix the deal. We'll even let you two buy."

Joe and Will held their hands out to shake on the bargain.

The four men rode to Beaver City together three days later. It wasn't a long journey, but the roads were still muddy from the recent heavy rains. They left Granite in the cold of the early morning in order to reach Beaver City before nightfall.
Arriving in the dark, they used the lights of the town to guide them in. Not much had changed since Curry and Heyes' last visit. The roofing equipment was still on the boardwalk, and the strong box was still in the middle of the main road. The only difference was the brand new public outhouse, which Joe and Will proudly pointed out.

"It's a beauty, ain't it?"

"I guess you could say that Will," responded Heyes giving a slight shrug of his shoulders.

"No sense trying to show you tonight, but you make sure and take a look at that plaque tomorrow morning before we gotta take it down," Joe advised.

"Joe, we'll make a point of doing just that. First thing tomorrow. But maybe you oughta show us where we're gonna stay." The Kid was tired of riding, and he wanted to stable his horse, stow his belongings and eat. He didn't really want to follow that particular order, he'd rather eat now, but the horse came first.

"Well, Will and me wired ahead. So they should have the same room ready for you as before. And don't you worry about that room; folks here will take care of it, just like before."
"Bet they're all real excited about you bein' alive," added Will.

Heyes beamed, "that's real kind of you, Joe, Will, and of the townsfolk too. Jones'll do much better at his work if he doesn't have to worry about small matters like room and board."
"Well, you can count on us. We'll make sure you're all taken care of while you're here. Me and Will'll say bye then. We'll meet you tomorrow at the diner; say about eight o'clock, for breakfast. Then we'll go on over and see Frank Warner and Jim Casey."

After a good night's sleep, and a brief look at the genuine brass plaque on the outhouse, Curry and Heyes breakfasted with Joe at the town's unnamed diner. Will had relapsed into his former state of awe, so he and his friends sat at a separate table where they could watch Jones together.

Joe leaned back on his chair, sticking his left pinkie into his left ear to give it a satisfactory scratch. He waved to Mrs. Buffum, the proprietress of the diner, to come over. She was a buxom woman in her mid-thirties, with a warm welcoming personality, and a ready smile.

"Boys, you know Mrs. Carrie Buffum, don't you? Becky Doble is staying in a room at her place 'til all this is settled, and she's properly married."

"Mrs. Buffum," Heyes and the Kid rose slightly, acknowledging her in turn.

"I'm pleased to see you here Mr. Jones. Becky is such a sweet girl, but she's been awful troubled by this situation. I know you'll be able to help her make the correct decision." She turned to Joe. "Frank Warner is on his way over now to state his case so to speak. I'll make sure Jim Casey stays away until he's finished. If he gets here too early I'll take him into the back for coffee."

"Carrie Buffum, you are the smartest woman in town. I knew we could count on you."

"Oh go on Joe, you know there ain't but seven women in the whole town, eight now Becky's arrived, so don't you go to flattering me. The others will hear of it, and won't you be in deep water." She laughed, and added quietly, "Joe, what about Smith here? He's not gonna go over to see Becky as well, is he? After all, the whole thing is mixed up as it is. Don't want any extra bad luck now, do we?" She gave Joe a troubled look. Joe acknowledged it with a slight nod. Heyes seeing her concern smiled at her pleasantly.

"Don't you worry Carrie Buffum, I was gonna bring that up," Joe whispered in response.

Carrie, satisfied that her friend Joe had things under control, left the table to see to her other customers. Joe turned to the Kid and Heyes, clearing his throat.

"Now like you just heard, Frank's on his way over, then Jim. Then you and Will, Jones, you'll head on over to Missus Buffum's house to talk to Miss Doble and set her straight. Me, I gotta go see to my claim so I can't go with you, and someone's gotta be there with you-wouldn't be proper the two of you alone."
"Uh Joe, I'm not gonna make the decision for her, I'll talk to her and all…"

"Well don't be so dang foolish. Of course you gotta make the decision. She hasn't been able to, and the boys is getting anxious. You're here to help us out, right? And that means settling this." His spectacles slid down the bridge of his nose as he spoke. He pushed them back into position.

"Joe, what Jones means is that we'll talk to her, sort of guide her into choosing the man she prefers, but the final decision has to be hers."

"Smith, whaddya mean 'we'll talk to her'? You heard what Carrie Buffum said. We don't want you taking any part in this, could ruin everything. Not to insult you and all, but you're bad luck. You just stay out of this. Jones'll go and settle this."
"Joe, one-I will not go and 'settle this.' Smith is right. It's the girl's decision. And two-he's coming along. I, well, I'm not saying I can't do this, but I may need his advice." Heyes smiled smugly.

The Kid stared at Joe with a look that meant he was not to be crossed. Joe swallowed, and then nodded in agreement. He hadn't seen a look like that before on any man's face; Jones was a powerful man alright. Best leave it all to him. He stood feeling a bit unsteady, mumbling about the need to get to his claim; he took his leave as quickly as he possibly could without being rude.

Frank Warner arrived. He was a miner, in his middle twenties with brown hair. He was of average height and weight. He could read, but wasn't much at writing. He had brown eyes. His claim was profitable. He could provide for a wife and family comfortably. He declared his undying love for Becky Doble, "the purtiest, bestest gal" he had ever met, who he "adored down to the ground her little feet walked on." His gratitude would be undying if matters were decided in his favor, which he was certain would be the case as "Jones was as wise as old King Solomon and twice as fair."

After Frank Warner it was Jim Casey's turn. He was a miner, in his middle twenties with brown hair. He was of average height and weight. He could read, but wasn't much at writing. He had hazel eyes. His claim was profitable. He could provide for a wife and family comfortably. He also declared his undying love for Becky Doble, "the most sweetest gal he had ever met," his future wife, companion, and honored mother of "a pack of Caseys not to be beat." He knew he could "count on Beaver City's oracle here" to make the right decision, and he wouldn't be "slack neither," in demonstrating his thanks.

An hour later the Kid and Heyes strolled to the house. Heyes whistled one of the Stephen Foster songs he had heard in Granite, a bit off key but recognizable.

Stopping, he said "You know Kid, this is gonna be real easy. Think about it, those two are so alike. There's hardly any difference between them."

"I know that. That's what worries me. How's she gonna pick one over the other? I can barely see any difference between 'em 'cept their eyes are a different color. You think that'll make a difference?"

"Naw Kid, but that's the beauty of it. It doesn't really matter, does it? All you have to do is listen to her. Let her talk. Be sympathetic. Women like that. She'll start talking more about one of them. All you have to do is guide her to pick that one."

"Heyes, what if she don't talk about one more than the other? Then what?"

Heyes frowned slightly pursing his lips together. "Kid, you really worry me sometimes. Don't you know anything about women?" The Kid glared.

Heyes started across the street, his rolling gait exuding confidence. The Kid hesitated before following. There was definitely something wrong with all this. Somehow he didn't figure it was gonna be all that easy. He did know something about women, enough to know they could be pretty unpredictable.
Heyes rapped on the door. After a moment it was opened by a young woman in her early twenties, her chestnut hair pulled back in a tight bun. She looked at Curry and Heyes directly, with frank interest reflected in her eyes as they traveled to the gun belts the men wore, and back to their faces.

"You must be Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith," she said. "Please come in." She ushered them through the doorway.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Miss Doble," said the Kid as they followed her into the parlor.

"Please sit down and let me pour you some coffee. There are cookies too." How exciting she thought. They are wearing guns like the Westerners she had read about. Frank Warner and Jim Casey didn't wear guns.

"That's very kind of you Miss Doble." Heyes sat in a comfortable plush chair, leaving the couch to the Kid and Miss Doble. "My friend and I are appreciative of your hospitality considering the circumstances." She blushed at the mention of the 'circumstances.'

The Kid and Becky sat down. Heyes and the girl looked at the Kid waiting for him to open the conversation, Heyes with a suppressed grin. Now that the Kid was here he didn't know how to begin. He wasn't uncomfortable around women as a rule; it was the situation that bothered him. He didn't know how to be a matchmaker. He frowned and picked up a cookie to stall. Taking a bite he chewed slowly working things through in his mind.
He looked at Becky. She wasn't a beauty, but she was definitely pretty. She had a nice build, a good complexion without blemishes, small but nicely shaped green eyes, and a petite, well-shaped mouth. When she smiled he saw a set of even white teeth. Inwardly he sighed. He guessed he better get started and 'help' her.

"Miss Doble…"

"Please call me Becky."

"Uh, alright. Becky, you know why we're here. We've met Frank and Jim." He glanced over at Heyes who was busy spooning sugar into a cup of coffee. "Maybe you…" Heyes added cream and slowly stirred that in. Heyes never took cream and sugar. The Kid figured he was doing that so he'd have an excuse to keep busy and not help him out. "Maybe you could tell us a little bit about them.”

"What would you like to know?"

Heyes sat back in his chair with a teacup and saucer in one hand and a cookie in the other. He gave the Kid an encouraging nod and smile, took a bite of the cookie, put it on the saucer, lifted the cup to his lips and drank closing his eyes.

"I, well, I, well what do you know about them?"

"I'm sorry Mr. Jones. I am not quite certain what you are asking. Do you want me to tell you everything I know about them?"

She studied the two men. They were both certainly good looking she decided. Mr. Smith was a bit thin however, not as well-built as Mr. Jones. He was also dark in coloring, his skin having a slightly olive tone to it. She tried to dismiss him from her thoughts and instead consider Mr. Jones.  He was very well-proportioned she thought. Lovely curly blonde hair, just like those Roman and Greek heads she had seen in the museums back east. His jaw was narrow but not unpleasant in shape, his mouth not too large, his nose straight and not too small, and he had the most startling blue eyes she had ever seen. Everyone who was anyone back home would approve of a man with looks like this.

"Mr. Jones," she repeated, "is there something in particular I can tell you?"

The Kid cleared his throat. Heyes finally gave him an inconspicuous nod as if to say he would help him out.
"What Mr. Jones means, Miss Doble…"

She gave a slight shake of her head, and started to open her mouth.

He held up his hand to stop her, "I don't believe I could call you by your given name Miss Doble, as you are obviously a lady, and we are not yet well acquainted."

The Kid raised his eyebrows as Becky Doble registered pleasure on her features.

"What Mr. Jones means is that perhaps if you told him a little about yourself including the arrangements you made through Miss Pellet's firm to come out here and marry Frank Warner it would assist him in assisting you."

"Ah I see. My situation is that I am one of seven children, six of whom are girls. My father works for the police force," both men involuntarily jerked slightly, "so our financial situation presents limits, to say the least. I want to be a wife and mother, but what would my chances be back home? I'd probably marry another policeman, and live a life similar to what I grew up with-genteel poverty.

I want my children to have better opportunities than I have. I also wanted a little adventure. I saw Miss Pellet's advertisement and responded to it."

Here she stopped, to drink some coffee and catch her breath.

She again considered the two men's looks. After all, back east everyone knew that a person's physiognomy was a window to their personality. Her friends assured her this was so, and everyone knew the scientific community had overwhelming evidence to support the belief. Mr. Jones, she was certain, was a perfect example of nobility expressed in one's features. The nose she thought, it definitely was an indication of a man of good character.

"Take your time, Miss Doble. Mr. Jones and I are in no hurry."

She gave a slight nod. Mr. Smith is very polite she thought. She had expected that a man who wore a gun who was not an officer of the law would be a brute. She mused on his appearance. It seemed a contradiction to his demeanor.

"Miss Pellet was quite helpful. She began the correspondence with Mr. Warner, after checking and verifying several references. I felt comfortable with her efforts. Mr. Warner and I exchanged many letters. With my parent's approval of course."

"We understand. This is all perfectly proper." He paused, frowning a little in thought.

Becky bit a small piece of cookie, and the Kid reached for two more cookies.

Heyes continued. "Miss Doble, may I mention that you seem well educated. I don't believe either Frank Warner or Jim Casey are as equally educated."

She smiled. "I am aware of that. I knew Mr. Warner could not write. He told me that in our correspondence. I was determined that a man's lack of education would not influence my decision."

Mr. Smith had an upturned nose. Wasn't that a sign of someone with low origins, or was that an indication of vulgarity? She couldn't remember.

She wished her best friend, Mabel, was here. She would know. Mr. Smith's appearance confused her.

She turned her eyes towards Mr. Jones. She tried to concentrate on him. She stared directly at what she considered to be his ideal Grecian nose as she continued.

"I thought I knew Mr. Warner through his letters. I thought I was in love with him. So I made my arrangements for the train to Leadville.

I was surprised when the man who met me introduced himself as Jim Casey. He fit Mr. Warner's description entirely, except for the color of his eyes."

She paused to drink some tea, and peeked at Heyes again. What a broad mouth he had - everyone knew that was a sign of, oh dear, she could hardly think it. Everyone knew that was a sign of a sensual nature.

"You returned with Mr. Casey…" Heyes encouraged her to continue.

She blinked. "Yes, and with Mrs. Buffum as well, as being a single lady I certainly would not have traveled alone with a man."

She looked directly at the Kid, and he nodded.

"On the trip here I found that Mr. Casey was a good man. He seemed very much like I had imagined Mr. Warner. He proposed to me as we neared town, and I didn't know what to do. I didn't accept his proposal, but I didn't refuse it either. After all I hadn't met Mr. Warner yet." Why couldn't she keep her thoughts off Mr. Smith?

"That seems understandable enough. What happened when you met Mr. Warner?"

She glanced at Heyes again. His looks were simply not proper. Ah she had it! A pirate she thought. That's what she imagined him to be by his looks. He was like a pirate in a novel.

How exciting her Western adventure was becoming. Although he didn't actually talk like how she thought a pirate would talk. He was extremely considerate and very pleasant. He seemed educated too.

"Mr. Warner was angry at first when we talked. I can't blame him. The longer we talked the more I realized he was the man of his letters. But so was Mr. Casey, and I had seen him first. They are waiting for me to choose between them, and I haven't been able to do that." She looked down at her feet while saying this.

She'd read about the black Irish. They were the descendents of, what was it, oh yes Spaniards from the Spanish Armada who had washed up on the Irish coast. She was pleased she'd remembered that from her schooldays. He could be a descendent of one of them! That would explain the slightly olive skin mixed with the upturned nose and dimples. How dashing and romantic this thought made him seem.

"I do wish Mabel were here. She would know what to do."

"Who is Mabel?" asked the Kid.

"Mabel Fanshaw is my dearest friend. We are like sisters in looks and temperament. She was very thrilled for me about my 'adventure'.

I was to go west first. If everything works out, I am to find a suitable husband for her. Then she can join me! Oh! I shouldn't have told you that."

Heyes raised his head in an alert manner.

"Don't you worry, Miss Doble. We won't tell anyone you told us that," the Kid assured her.

"Miss Doble, I think you and my friend should talk some more now that he's heard everything he needs to know. Now don't feel rushed to make a decision, just talk it over with him again."

Heyes rose to leave. "By the way, have you contacted Miss Fanshaw to let her know you've arrived safely?"

"Dear me, no. With all that has happened I forgot to wire her."

"If you'd like to write a message, I'd be happy to take it to the telegraph office for you."

"That is most considerate of you, Mr. Smith. I will write a brief note with directions on where to send the wire."

A few minutes later Heyes had the message, and Miss Fanshaw's address. "I'll go send this telegram while you two finish up. I think you will be perfectly safe alone with Mr. Jones for just a few minutes. Considering who he is no one will think the less of your reputation, ma'am."

After Heyes left, Becky Doble sat quietly with her head down crumbling a cookie in one hand. The Kid figured this was a good sign. He left her to her thoughts for several minutes while he ate the remainder of the cookies. Finally, he turned to her.

"I don't suppose there's any chance you've figured out which one you prefer, is there? I guess it would be nice if I could tell Jim or Frank that you are at least leaning towards one of them."

"Mr. Jones, I have been doing a considerable amount of thinking these last few minutes. I think you can tell them both my decision."

"Really?" the Kid was surprised. A moment ago she was totally confused.

"Yes, you may tell them that I intend to marry neither of them."

The Kid gulped. "You don't want to marry either one of them?"

This was bad. Not only were they out the three hundred dollars; they had apparently made the whole stupid situation worse.

"That's correct. I realize I cannot marry Frank Warner or Jim Casey because I think I am in love with someone else." She looked directly at him.

Oh no, he thought. She's looking right at me. She doesn't mean…I didn't do anything…she couldn't…

"It's true. I think I may be in love with Mr. Smith."

"What! You're in love with He-Joshua?! But you've just met him.

You don't know anything about him."

"He is a most considerate man. He's kind, thoughtful, and he is educated. He is obviously gentle and honest."

The Kid twitched at the word honest.

She looked into the Kid's eyes. "I find him quite attractive, quite romantic, like Lord Byron's Corsair."

The Kid was puzzled.

"From his poetry," she added helpfully.

"Miss Doble, Smith can't marry you if that's what you want. I mean, it's true we're both honest law abiding citizens, but there's no way he could support you. He and I, well, we roam around a lot. We drift. And he doesn't even know you."

He took a breath. "He doesn't love you."

"Mr. Jones I am aware that this seems impetuous on my part. I am not expecting that he love me or marry me. I am saying that since meeting him I cannot marry Frank Warner or Jim Casey.

I suppose my love may well indeed be unrequited…" She sighed.

The Kid stared at her. He wasn't certain what an unrequited love was, but whatever it was she sounded as if she liked the idea.

"Miss Doble, I think you should think it over. I don't think I should tell Frank or Jim anything yet. I'll go now. I'll return tomorrow after you've had a chance to consider things."

"Yes, please. But you will tell Mr. Smith how I feel, won't you?"

"Oh I'll tell him alright."

Outside he strode so rapidly he almost bumped into Heyes who was returning from the telegraph office.

"Kid it's done. Everything is taken care of."

"Whaddya mean everything's taken care of?"

"I sent the telegraph. Of course I added a bit to it, to improve it."

"Heyes, what did you add to it?"

"I added that Mabel should come on out here, that Becky had a man for her."

"Heyes are you crazy? You wired a girl living back east to come all the way out here on the chance that she might marry someone?"

"Now Kid, don't get all excited. I didn't make it sound like a sure thing, just a possibility. Didn't want to get her hopes set too high.

But you heard Becky. She and Mabel are as alike as sisters, and we know Jim and Frank are as alike as brothers, so they're bound to match up somehow, and if they don't Becky at least has someone to travel home with. You wouldn't wanna leave a nice girl like that stuck out here on her own would you? And my instincts tell me this is all gonna work out just fine. After all they're all good, reasonable folks; they'll come to some sort of…"

"Heyes did your instincts tell you to send for two girls? ‘Cause that's what you needed to do to make both Frank and Jim happy."

"What do you mean?"

"After you left, Becky told me she didn't wanna marry either one because she thinks she's in love with someone else."

"What? Who?"


"What?" Heyes asked sharply.

"You. She thinks she may be in love with you, or at least with Joshua Smith."

"How can she think that? She doesn't even know me." Heyes' voice went up an octave.

"Well, she barely knew Frank or Jim either. Anyway she's got her head filled with all sorts of ideas about Joshua Smith. She thinks you're romantic like Lord Brian's Cusser."

"Like what?" Heyes made a sound between a grunt and a laugh.

"Like a poem or something. I don't see why you're laughing. This isn't funny. People are gonna be pretty upset around here."

"Well no one knows yet, right?"


"OK, so let's keep it quiet until Mabel arrives. That way Becky can think some more. She's bound to realize a husband in hand is better than a drifter in the bush. You'll have to talk to her some more too. Tell her I'm no good."

"That shouldn't be too difficult." Curry smirked. "You want me to tell her you're a notorious outlaw while I'm at it?"

The next morning Heyes and Curry were sitting at a corner table by a window in the diner, drinking from tin mugs of coffee as they waited for their breakfasts to be served. Instead of the waiter returning with the plates, Carrie Buffum carried them to the table.

Her mouth set, she put each plate down with a bang.

"How could you? How could you lead a poor girl on like that? And you…" addressing Curry, "…I warned you not to let him near her. Now look what you two fools have gone and done."

"Now wait a minute, what do you mean what have we gone and done? We went over to talk to Becky. That's all. It's not our fault she got some crazy ideas about my friend."

"Well she didn't have those ideas before so he must have done something."

"Carrie, I didn't do anything. She just got a little carried away, that's all. When she has time to think about it she'll realize she made a mistake yesterday."

"The more she thinks on it, and the more she talks the worse it's getting. She stayed up half the night thinkin' she was maybe in love with you. She woke up this morning and the maybe was gone. What are you gonna do about that?"

Heyes drank some coffee. "Well, I'm gonna think about it, that's what I'm gonna do. Mmm mmm, look at that. Flapjacks, bacon and eggs. Smells great."

He took a bite. "Tastes great too. You sure can cook, Carrie."

Carrie put both hands on her hips ignoring Heyes' compliments, "Well don't you do more than think on it Smith. You let Jones straighten this mess out."

"Carrie I'll do just that for you. Don't you worry." The Kid smiled looking far more confident then he felt. "But don't you go and tell Frank or Jim," added the Kid.

They had nearly finished the meal when Frank and Jim entered the diner.

"Frank, Jim come on over and have some coffee with us." The Kid waved them over.

Frank and Jim brought two more chairs over. They sat down glumly.

"What's wrong boys?" Heyes asked in a chipper tone.

"You know what's wrong, Smith. Becky won't see either of us no more. Says she don't care for neither of us since she's met you." Frank's head drooped.

"She told you that? Well, I wouldn't worry about a little thing like that. She don't mean it. You give her a couple of days and she'll come 'round. You want some coffee?" Heyes waved the waiter over and asked for two more mugs of coffee.

"I wouldn't be so sure of that," replied Jim. "She seemed real sure of herself to me."

Frank nodded.

Jim continued," She's got a lot of romantic feelings towards you."

Frank nodded again.

"What kind of romantic feelings? What did she say?" asked the Kid.

"It was real strange, but she said Smith here was like some sort of a pirate or something out of a book. I don't get it, why would a woman wanna go and marry some sort of a pirate?" complained Frank.

"That's the point," Heyes responded. "She doesn't."

"She don't?"

"No, of course not. She's just sort of thinking that way right now. After all, she's just come out west and it's a big adventure. She thinks she wants someone she imagines to be exciting, but what she really wants is someone like you. You know someone who's sort of dul-stable, the way you fellas are."

Heyes stopped to drink some more coffee.

"I guess you're right." Jim perked up for a moment, and then dropped his head. "I don't know though…"

"Yeah. You didn't hear her talk. Went on and on about how you was like Lord Brain's Corser, whoever he was. The longer she talked the more she seemed to take to you. I don't think we can sit and do nothing," added Frank.

"You know Joshua, I think they have a point. If we don't do something she may not change her mind on her own. She said something about even if you didn't care for her she'd still care for you, something about an unrequieted love."

"That's unrequited love and it's Lord Byron's Corsair," Heyes said more loudly than was necessary. The three other men looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders as if to say "so what."

Heyes lowered his voice. "What we're gonna have to do is make you, Frank, look romantic to her."

Before Jim could protest Heyes went on, "Don't you go and get mad Jim. Becky and Frank exchanged letters and decided they knew enough about each other for her to come out and for them to get married. If you were really his friend you'd try to help him. And anyway her friend Mabel is coming out for the wedding. They're like sisters, so if you're lucky maybe she'll like you, seein' as how you and Frank are like brothers."

"Well, that's not so bad then," Jim smiled. "Becky was a bit quiet for me. I'd like someone with a bit more spunk. This Mabel, she got more spunk?"

"Spunk? Oh, she's got lots of spunk, isn't that right partner?"

Heyes gave the Kid a pat on the back.

"Uh, that's right, Becky says she's the spunkiest girl you could ever meet… Joshua, how we gonna make Frank look romantic?"

"I'm thinking about that, and as soon as I get an idea you'll be the first to know."

The men sat quietly for some time drinking their coffee. Heyes muttered to himself, drumming his fingers on the table. Suddenly the Kid set his mug down.

"I've got an idea," he said excitedly.

"Now Thaddeus we have an agreement, remember? I do the thinking."

"I wanna hear Jones' idea," said Jim.

"Me too," seconded Frank.

Heyes cut the Kid off before he could start. "Thaddeus we need to talk. NOW."

He pulled Curry aside. The two exchanged a quick whispered conversation.

"I think before you tell them you'd better tell me this idea of yours, partner."

"Heyes, it's a great idea."

"Really? Like the idea where I made a deal with Sheriff Clitterhouse, and we ended up in jail? You mean that kind of a great idea?"

"Come on. We both knew that was a bad idea, and if you remember you didn't have a better one. This is a good one.

We wire some of the boys, maybe just Wheat and Kyle. We have them come to town and try to rob the bank. Frank can catch them and be a hero. What girl wouldn't go for that?"

"Kid, that is a terrible idea."

"It is?" The Kid was disappointed. "Why?"

Heyes sighed. "Kid what if Frank doesn't stop them? What if someone else in town tries to stop them? And what if that someone else is using a gun? They could be hurt or even killed.

Also Wheat and Kyle happen to be members of an organization called The Devil's Hole Gang. You remember them, don't you? You do remember that we were members too, and that someone here might just connect us with them."

"I guess I did forget about that. It seemed like a good idea."

"Well, it wasn't. Oh and Kid, Beaver City doesn't have a bank.

That's why all the miners take their dust to Leadville, remember?" Heyes gave the Kid a superior look.

"Very funny, Heyes. They still could have tried to rob something. You got a better idea?"

"As a matter of fact I do. I'm gonna tell you and you can tell them. That way they'll think it's your idea. Since you're the oracle they'll take it better coming from you. This is what you say…"

Heyes and the Kid returned to the table.

"Well Jones, what's the idea?' asked Frank.

"The idea Frank is that you get sick."

"What? What would I wanna do a fool thing like that for? I don't feel sick anyway. Haven't been sick in years," he said proudly.

"But this is a different kind of sick, Frank. You're sick 'cause you're pining away over losing Becky. It's a romantic kind of sick. When she hears about it she's gonna start to worry about you."

"She is? Why?"

Heyes took over. "Because she'll realize what she must mean to you. Think about it, Frank, you've fallen ill because she's rejected you. What could be more romantic to a girl? And she'll think about you, and all of those letters you exchanged. And being a girl, she'll wanna nurse you back to health. You two will…"

"She will? You really think so?"

Heyes and the Kid looked at each other. "Absolutely," said Heyes.

"Of course," said the Kid, and finishing he added, "You'll spend time together 'cause she'll nurse you like Smith said, and she'll see how much she cares about you. She'll realize she's in love with you."

"That's right. Now you go on home and get started being sick. We'll make sure she hears about it." Heyes finished his coffee.

"Ok. I'll get sick right away." Frank thought a moment. "How will I do that?"

Jim raised his eyebrows. "You just come with me. I'll make sure you're sick."

After they left, the Kid turned to Heyes. "Heyes are you sure this is gonna work?" he whispered.

"Sure it'll work. Well, we may have to help it along a bit, but it'll work."

"Uh huh. Oh and Heyes, what if Mabel isn't spunky at all. What if she's as meek as a mouse?"

"Kid, if she's as meek as a mouse, well, I guess I'll have to tell Jim that that's what you told me."
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