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 Revival by CD Roberts

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Posts : 432
Join date : 2013-10-13

PostRevival by CD Roberts

Starring Pete Duel and Ben Murphy

Horatio Humphries    Jack Albertson

Pernell Roberts     The Stranger

Andy Brown      Allen Jenkins

Jenny Owen     Victoria Thompson

Jeremy Owen      Bobby Sherman

Mrs. Owen      Mitzi Hoag

“Gentlemen, as has been said by many better men before me, ‘the hand is quicker than the eye’. Nevertheless, do not take my word for it, watch and see.

I place before you three tin shells, thus, and one small copper pea. The pea is deposited under one of the shells, so…and now, keep your eyes on the shell with the pea, you sir, yes you. Watch that shell sir; watch it, for I shall do my best to confuse your perception sir. Would you care to make a wager sir? A small one, oh say twenty-five cents. Fine sir, I see you are a gentleman indeed. Well sir, which shell is the pea beneath? That one sir? The gentleman selects the shell in the middle.”

The barker picked up the shell, and there beneath it was the copper pea. He scratched his pate in bemusement. The group of men that had been gathering laughed.

“Well, sir, you have me there. You have a fine eye sir, a fine eye indeed. I believe I owe you one quarter. Here you are sir.”

The barker paid the man, and the man wandered away.

“Would anyone else care to place a wager and take a chance on the shells? You can see I am an honest man.”

Men rushed forward, eager to bet, only to walk away disappointed by their losses.

The crowd dissipated until only two men, in the rear remained. They were dressed like two out of work cowpokes, a lanky one with a black hat, and a slim, but not so lanky one, wearing a brown Stetson.

“You sir, would you care to make a small bet, sir?” the barker called out to the young man wearing the brown Stetson. The man smiled and shook his head.

“Well then, you sir?” he asked the other man. The man smiled and walked forward. His friend followed.

“Tell you what. I’m thirsty. So’s my friend here. I’ll bet you a drink against you buying us drinks…”

“Certainly, sir.”

“…if you can guess which shell the pea is under.” Hannibal Heyes held out his hand.

The barker sputtered, apparently nonplussed by the offer. “Well that is somewhat unusual, sir, but, I am a gambling man myself and I’ll take the risk, yes indeed I shall sir.”

He put the pea on the wooden bench, and watched closely as Heyes put one of the shells on top of it.

“Now you were saying something about the hand being quicker than the eye. Well, I suppose that’s a possibility; you certainly seem to have proved it today.”

Heyes moved the shells rapidly. “And my friend and I here are pretty firm believers in that. You are watching the shell with the pea under it, aren’t you?”

The man looked at Heyes’ rapidly moving hands. “Ah, I am impressed sir, impressed.”

“Which shell is the pea under?” asked Heyes.

“Well sir, I would say that one,” he said pointing, “but then sir, I would be wrong, would I not?”

Heyes raised the shell the man had pointed to. There was nothing there. The man chuckled and slowly raised the two remaining shells, which also had nothing beneath them.

“I am filled with admiration, sir that is worth a drink…ah two drinks that is.”

“And the pea...,” said Heyes, who stopped, and then raised his eyebrows to encourage the barker to complete his sentence.

“My dear man, you palmed it of course, as I would have done. It is under your fingernail, I presume?”

He held out his hand and Heyes returned the copper pea.

“Gentlemen, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Horatio Humphries.

“Joshua Smith,” said Heyes pointing to himself, “and my partner, Thaddeus Jones.”

“Let us continue our conversation at the best house of libation in Mule Hoof Bend. To be honest, it is the only house of libation in this backwater town, but I have found it more than adequate to supply my humble needs.”

Horatio Humphries carried three glasses of beer from the bar and sat down at the table with his new-found acquaintances. The three men raised their glasses in a salute, and then drank.

Horatio assessed the two friends with his small blue-gray eyes. They studied him in return. He was slightly over fifty years, with a round deceptively open face, somewhat on the stout side, with pale skin and white hair. He could be anybody’s favorite uncle.

“Gentlemen,” he said, after apparently coming to his own conclusions about his companions, “are you by chance, in the market to earn some extra income?”

“Depends what you mean by ‘earn,’” responded Curry.

“I am in need of some clever and dexterous assistants at this time. My former assistant has departed my employment to pursue matrimonial bliss. The work is not unduly laborious; in fact I think you will find it enjoyable.”

He paused, allowing them to absorb this information, before smiling slightly, and continuing. “I am a minister, and will be departing tomorrow morning for a revival at Globe.”

Curry choked on his beer, and Heyes asked “You? Are a minister? Since when does a minister play shell games?”

“I am afraid I found myself short of funds to reach my eventual destination. After my arrival in Mule Hoof Bend I was compelled to resort to my previous method of accruing income, but only out of necessity, and only temporarily. Embarrassing, I admit, but hardly criminal.

“To continue; a revival of this sort attracts great crowds of people. It is my duty to bring faith and light to as many of these as possible, and in order to do that I must attract the populace to my tent.

For this, I require an assistant, or assistants. I have found that the surest guarantee of a crowd is a shell game, or a faro table. It attracts the sinners, and when they are ‘cleaned out,’ they remain to hear my humble talk, such as it is. It is astounding what effects a timely sermon can produce on a man in reduced circumstances.

We, you, as my partners, and me, divide the proceeds three ways evenly, of course. The result is a most satisfactory combination of good works with profit.”

Curry and Heyes exchanged skeptical glances.

“Uh Humphries, Reverend Humphries, I think you picked the wrong men,” said Curry.

“It’s not that we don’t appreciate the offer,” added Heyes, “It’s just that it doesn’t seem entirely honest, and my partner and me are honest.”

“Honest and law abiding,” Curry completed.

“A shame, a shame,” said Humphries. “You do seem the ideal candidates for the position. The offer, however, remains open. I will be leaving Mule Hoof Bend early tomorrow, as I said previously, and you are welcome to join me.”

He sighed. “I was hoping for congenial traveling companions, but you can still meet me in Globe if you change your minds. The Revival is not for another week.”

“No, Thaddeus and me will stay on here in for awhile. I think we’re finding Mule Hoof Bend a friendly, congenial town.”

Curry nodded. “Real friendly.”

Heyes resumed. “We figure we could get some work, legal work that is, here.”

“Ah, well I often find that the degree of hospitality in a town can suddenly change.” Humphries shook his head and looked down at his glass. “I have enjoyed my stay here.”

He turned the glass over. “However, Sheriff Bradley is returning tomorrow afternoon and, as he made it plain to me prior to his leaving town, he would rather not see me on his return, I shall say my farewells to you two gentlemen now.” Humphries stood.

Heyes and Curry exchanged quick horrified glances.

“Uh, Sheriff Bradley?” queried Curry, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Not Sheriff Dwight Bradley,” said Heyes, stifling a groan.

Humphries brushed off his vest. “Unfortunately, yes, Sheriff Dwight Bradley.” He looked at the two men, and quickly hid an emerging smile. “You wouldn’t by any chance know the man would you? I must say I find him most unpleasant.”

Humphries picked up his glass, finished his beer, and looked into it with disappointment. He shifted his weight as if about to depart.

“Humphries, uh, my friend and me were just thinkin'…” began Curry.

Humphries quickly resumed his seat.

“…that maybe this town is a little small for us.”

Heyes smiled. “And we could use a small trip. We haven’t been to Globe. Tell you what, we’ll travel with you…”

“Not that we’re gonna take the jobs, mind you,” added Curry.

“No, no, of course not. Would you gentlemen care for another beer?”

“Can’t help it. He sorta reminds me of some of our friends, you know like Soapy or Silky.” Curry said this quietly to Heyes when Humphries was out of earshot one night on the trail.

“Uh huh, I know what you mean. ‘Course our friends happen to be diddlers and con artists.”

“Well, and what are we?”

“Former outlaws. We’re on the straight and narrow now.”

“He’s not suggesting anything illegal, just sort of…”

“Shifty?” finished Heyes for him. “Look, I like him too--and you’re right, there’s nothing illegal about gambling and winning. It’s just that it could mean trouble.” Heyes paused. “And he’s too glib by half.”

“I don’t suppose he reminds you of someone you know,” replied Curry, looking straight into Heyes’ eyes. “Someone who maybe has a silver tongue, and can talk people into…

“Let’s just say, I know enough to not trust him,” Heyes interjected quickly to cut off Curry’s response. “He seems like he’s cut from the same cloth as Soapy or Silky, but we don’t know what he really is.”

“Or what he’s done,” Curry agreed. “And we sure don’t know what he’s like underneath.”

“Uh huh.”

“Heyes, how much money do we have?” asked Curry, changing the subject.

“One dollar, fifty-four cents. Not even enough for a hotel room for more than a couple of nights. A cheap hotel room, that is.”

“I say we help him. For awhile that is. We can always move on if there’s trouble.”

Heyes thought their situation over. “OK, we’ll help him out for awhile.” He smiled. “At least it’s easy work. We could probably ‘earn’ a lot in a short time.”

Humphries returned to the camp and they changed the subject.

The three men neared the revival. It was set up on the open plain on the outskirts of Globe. There were many tents set up as living quarters that encircled a large central tent that was being used as a meeting house.

“Humphries, I gotta say this for you, it sure is an impressive revival. Look at the size of that tent. They must be expectin’ a huge crowd.”

“I agree with Thaddeus. This looks to be one of the biggest revivals I’ve ever seen.” Heyes smiled. “Not that I go to revivals all that often.”

Humphries scanned the view with satisfaction. “Yes, this shall be quite the event. It is bustling gentlemen, bustling with energy. We shall do considerably well here, gentlemen. Saving souls, I mean.”

He rode on. Heyes and Curry smiled.

“I do believe he’s right, said Curry. We are gonna do well here.”

“Huh. I think you could have a point.”

Heyes glanced to his right and saw two men playing craps behind a tent. A woman, holding a broom, came out of the front of the tent. She stormed to the back, shouted, and waved her broom at the offending men, missing one and ‘clipping’ the other.

“‘Course we have to be more discreet than those two. I do ‘smell’ money though,” he said with a smile, “and we’ll be saving souls too.”

Curry laughed, and shook his head. “Sheesh.”

The two men rode after Humphries in time to select and set up a tent to bivouac in. The three men struggled with the tent poles.

A short slender man with slicked back brown hair slouching against a tree stared at them. His clothes had the cut of an easterner, topped off with a bowler hat.

Curry, looking over his shoulder to see where he had put a tent spike, noticed the man, and coolly returned the stare. He nudged Heyes.

“Joshua, you know that man?” he whispered.

Heyes turned around to look. “What man? Why?”

“He’s gone now. He was staring at us. Brown hair, greased back, sorta on the short side, thin.”

“Thaddeus, I know a lot of people that could fit that description. Got anything more specific to work with?”

“Looks like a city slicker. Not from ‘round here.”

“Tell me if you see him again,” Heyes muttered as Humphries neared.

“I believe we are almost done with the physical labor, gentlemen. Do you two mind if I leave the rest to you? I would like to introduce myself to the gentleman in charge, Reverend Stanford, and give him my references, etcetera.”

“You go ahead, Humphries,” said Heyes, “We can handle the rest of this.”

“I bet fifty cents.”

It was evening. Curry and Heyes had finished with the preliminaries of staking their tent and arranging their belongings, and were now occupied with increasing their income.

Curry stood with his arms crossed and watched the action. Heyes was dealing faro and an excited group of men was busily occupied in losing their money. In the distance, hymns emanated from the big tent, and traveled across the cool night breeze. The gamblers ignored the songs.

Curry listened to the music while watching the men for signs of cheating or stealing. He shook his head at the sight of one young fellow. This young man, barely out of boyhood, was going through his money fast. Curry looked at Heyes. Heyes returned his look.

“Son,” he interrupted, walking over, “you got any family here?” He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

The boy, clearly annoyed, shrugged it off. “Do you think I’d be crazy enough to come here on my own? ‘Course I’ve got family. My ma and my sisters are down at that tent like all the women, a singin', and a prayin’.”

“Maybe you ought to join them. The way you’re runnin' through your money, maybe you could use a break.”

“And go down there to pray? Mister, I’m already doing plenty of prayin’ here.” He turned back to Heyes. “I said; I bet fifty cents.” He put his fifty cents on the face card.

Heyes turned up a card from the deck.

“House wins.”

The boy went through his pockets searching for more change. While he had his arms engaged, Curry pulled him away from the faro table.

“Hey, leave me alone.”

A young lady ran over. Curry dropped the boy’s arm.

“Jeremy, we’ve been looking for you everywhere. Mother is worried you might have gone off and…” she searched her brother’s face. “Oh Jeremy,” she said, in a disappointed tone, “Have you been gambling? No, you don’t have to answer me; I can see it in your face.

Our money, mother entrusted it to you, did you lose it? Did you lose all of it?”

She paused and Jeremy shuffled, guiltily.

“I was just lookin’ for a little excitement,” he mumbled. “It’s boring here.”

“Boring? Jeremy, how could you?” She turned to Curry. “And how could you? Enticing a boy into sin? Certainly a man like you should know better.”

“Miss, I…”

“And that was our money for the week, with which to buy extra food and to give to charity.”


“How despicable of you. How evil is man. I sincerely hope there is some spark of good remaining in you, that you will find the strength in yourself mend your ways, and that you will not lure other young innocents into depravity in the future. How could you behave so sinfully, here, at a revival of all places?”

“Miss, I did not…”

She took her brother by the hand and dragged him after her. Curry went to the table and quickly picked up enough money to cover the boy’s losses.

Heyes smiled at him. “Pretty, isn’t she?”

“I didn’t notice,” Curry replied. “Well, not too much at any rate.” He smiled and then walked after the girl and her brother.

Humphries returned. He smiled benignly at Heyes. His smile broadened when he saw the large pile of money in front of his ‘employee’.

“Very nicely done, Mister Smith,” he began. He bent forward to continue and a shot rang out. Both Humphries and Heyes started back as a bullet whistled between them.

Heyes jumped up and pulled out his gun. There was movement and rustling in some nearby bushes. Heyes aimed his gun at the bushes, but the rustling sounds faded. It was obvious that the attacker had fled.

Heyes walked briskly towards the bushes.

“Mister Smith,” Humphries called out after him. “Have a care.”

“It’s OK,” Heyes responded. “Whoever it was is gone.”

He walked into the bushes and searched around them. Humphries joined him.

“Humphries, you got any enemies? Who’s after you?”

“After me?” replied Humphries. “You do mean, who is after you, don’t you Smith?”

Heyes and Humphries stared at each other. Heyes slowly smiled. “Whoever it was could have been after either one of us. That bullet went right between us.”

“Mister Smith,” said Humphries, having regained his composure, “I assure you, I haven’t an enemy in the world.”

Heyes thought that over. “What about Sheriff Bradley?”

“Very well then, I’ll admit it. Sheriff Bradley is not overly fond of me. However, I do not believe he would take a ‘pot shot’ at me in the dark.

“I’d have to say you’re right,” responded Heyes as Curry returned.

“Perhaps we should bring our belongings into the tent for the night, gentlemen, and…” Humphries stopped and scratched his chin in thought, “...perhaps we should take turns keeping guard.”

Humphries returned to the tent, and began to prepare for slumber.

Heyes and Curry watched him walk back to the tent.

“What happened?” asked Curry.

“Someone took a shot at me, or at him.”

“That fellow I saw earlier.”

“Mmm, probably.” Heyes watched the tent. “You sure you’ve never seen him before?”

“Nope. But he must recognize you.”

“Or Humphries.”

“Maybe, but I don’t think Humphries is wanted dead or alive.”

“Thanks for reminding me. Guess we had better keep watch, then.”

“Suppose so. ‘Course I don’t have to worry. It’s you he’s after.”

“If he knows who I am, he’s gotta know who you are.”

The two friends walked back to the tent.

“So what happened with the girl?”

Curry smiled. “You mean Jenny? It’s all right, now. I explained to her that I was trying to keep her brother from gamblin', not tryin' to lure him into it. She liked that. And after I explained it was all your fault, she agreed to join me for lunch tomorrow.”

Horatio Humphries, his voice rising, delivered a rousing revival sermon.

“Sinner! Hear what the prodigal says: - I've strayed from my father's house - I've wandered far from the path of duty. Here I am, all in rags - nothing to eat but these husks. I can't eat husks! Well, says I, why don't you go home to your father's house - he has bread enough! O says he, I can't do that. I can't commit myself. I'll do everything but that! - But finally, he musters his courage and sets out. It's done! - He arrives safe, and his father weeps and rejoices over his long lost son! So with the sinner. He's willing to do every thing but the right one. Willing to be any thing but a Christian.

Now, sinners, I want to get your minds into the willing posture. I want to introduce a train of thought. Nothing is so well calculated to produce the desired effect as these anxious seats. I wouldn't have you think there's any virtue in a front seat, but by taking these you commit yourselves - you take the first step towards the kingdom of your Heavenly Father.*

Hannibal Heyes stood in the back of the tent and observed Humphries’ performance. It was an admirable one, full of fire and brimstone. Humphries modulated his voice perfectly to inspire and draw in the crowd, and even Heyes looked as if he could feel the electricity.

Humphries now directed his sermon at a man with a skeptical look on his face. The crowd began to watch the man intently. At first, the man backed up a few steps as if he was going to flee, but then he stopped and stared at Humphries as if under a hypnotic spell. The man’s body began to twitch and soon he was shaking. The crowd became more excited as the man fell and writhed on the ground.

Heyes tore his eyes away. He saw a brown head amongst the audience that looked familiar. He followed the head’s movement as it bobbed up and down, and back and forth.

Instinctively, he turned to focus on another man in the back of the tent, in the far corner across from him. The man was staring. But this second man wasn’t staring at him; he was staring at the brown head.

“Now, what is that about?” Heyes whispered to himself to himself. The second man changed the direction of his gaze, and now looked directly into Heyes' eyes. The two men mutually appraised each other. The man broke off his stare and abruptly walked out of the tent. Heyes followed.

The starer was under the shade of a large tree, lighting a cigar, and waiting for him.

He approached the man, and the two again looked at each other thoughtfully.

The man was another city slicker, but there all similarity to the city slicker Curry had seen ended. This man was wearing a well-tailored suit, was obviously well to do, and he smoked a fine cigar. He had quick, intelligent eyes that showed no animosity towards Heyes.

He reached into an inner coat pocket and took a cigar out for Heyes, which Heyes accepted.

They smoked, watched the tent, and then Heyes addressed the stranger.

“Do you know who that brown-haired man is?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. Do you?”

Heyes did not respond.

The stranger continued. “I intend to conduct some business with him.” He stopped, and reappraised Heyes. Heyes returned his stare with a bland look. “I won’t be conducting my business today. Possibly in two or three days.”

The man puffed on his cigar thoughtfully.

“You are not aware of who he is, are you?” he asked, more as a statement of fact to himself than as a question to Heyes. “I find that interesting. It certainly provides me with something to ponder.”

“And why is that?” asked Heyes keeping his countenance expressionless but opening his eyes slightly wider.

The man smiled but his eyes did not. He resembled a sphinx. “I think I will let you ponder that, Mr. Smith. Please give my regards to Mr. Jones.” He walked away before Heyes could ask him his name.

Heyes watched him disappear, and muttered, “But whose regards would I be giving?”

Curry was lunching with Jenny, but the meal was not what he had anticipated. For one thing, he and Jenny were not alone. Instead, they were picnicking on the grounds set aside for communal eating with Jenny’s entire family on a large blanket surrounded by other believers.

Jenny’s mother, Mrs. Owen, had apparently made up her mind that Curry was a young man of sound morals and a good upright Christian, and so favored him.

Jeremy, after many complaints about how dull a picnic was and how he wanted some excitement, sat off alone. He only occasionally gave his attention to his mother, sister and their guest, either in the form of request for food, or to give Curry a dirty, ungrateful glance of contempt.

Even so, Curry returned to Humphries’ living quarters with an aura of genial, self-satisfied happiness.

He entered the tent, and quickly frowned.

Heyes was standing in the middle of the tent. Curry walked up to him.

“Someone’s been in here,” he said.

“I’ve got that feeling too. Things don’t seem the same.”

“They aren’t,” Curry said. “Humphries books have been moved, and…” he stopped and turned in a circle, “…someone’s gone through our saddle bags. They’ve been moved.”

Heyes picked his up. He opened it. “Nothing’s gone.”

He sat on a folding chair. “Who ever’s been in here isn’t interested in us. It's Humphries they’re after, or something Humphries has. I’m sure of it.”

“They’re after Humphries, and they’re going through our bags?” Curry asked. “Why?”

“Think it through. Why would anyone who knows who we are go through our bags? Any money we took is long gone; I mean we weren’t exactly known for hanging on to the money we stole, and if they figured we’d actually saved some and hid it, then it wouldn’t be on us, would it? If anyone wanted us for the reward they wouldn’t be going through our bags.”

“Maybe they aren’t sure who we are.”

Heyes shook his head. “And they think we’re going to leave something in our bags that identifies us?”

“Well, maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe someone just came in here for the money, just a regular robbery. Hey, maybe Jeremy figured I had more money. No wait, that’s no good. He was with Jenny and her mother and me since I left here.”

Heyes smiled. “You had lunch with the family?”

“Yes, Heyes, I had lunch with Jenny’s family. Mrs. Owen thinks I’m a real nice upright man, and seein' how she's a good Christian and all, she would know.”

Heyes shook his head again and gave a low whistle. “Boy is she ever gonna be disillusioned.”

“Why? You gonna tell her who we are? Anyway, what about it being a coincidence?”

“Maybe,” said Heyes, doubtfully. “It doesn’t feel right though.” He got up and walked over to Humphries trunk. He bent down and checked it.

“What are you doing, Mr. Smith,” a sharp voice interrupted Heyes and Curry.

“Someone’s been in here, Humphries. Whoever it is has been through our bags, and your trunk. The lock’s broken.”

Humphries hurried to the trunk. Heyes moved aside for Humphries to examine it.

“Maybe you should tell us who’s after you Humphries, or what it is he’s after?”

“Mr. Jones, as I have expounded on earlier, no one is ‘after’ me. We have been collecting considerable funds. I imagine this was an attempt at thievery.”

“Humphries do you really believe anyone would think we would leave the money here and not carry grouch bags?”

“An amateur would. Ah, but you gentlemen are not amateurs and would not consider that.” Humphries said smiling, his voice insinuating they had past experience in similar matters.

Heyes answered returning the smile, but in a cold voice, “And you are not an amateur either, are you Humphries? No, whoever this is, he isn’t interested in me and my friend.”

“Speculating, Mr. ‘Smith’?”

“Possibly. But I think not.”

“Gentlemen, I have a meeting I am required to attend. Please remember to concentrate on the business for which we are here in Globe. I would not be distracted by such a trifle as this if I were you. It could cost us considerably.”

Humphries left.

“I don’t think you got much out of him Heyes.”

“No, and I didn’t get much out of that other fellow either.”

“What other fellow? The one who shot at us? Weasel face? You talked to him?”

“No, not him. Someone else. I can’t stop wondering about him though. I mean, I know I never met him, but I know him.” Heyes stretched and scratched his lower back. He grinned at Curry. “Weasel face?”

“Yeah, we gotta call him somethin’. How can you know someone you haven’t met?”

“When I know that, you’ll be the first to know.”

There is a moment when one is entering slumber that is often interrupted when one’s leg jerks spasmodically. Hannibal Heyes was startled by one of those moments. Instead of rolling over and drifting off to sleep, he stared upwards at the tent in thought, muttering to himself.

He glanced over at Curry, who was gently snoring. Heyes smiled to himself, and turned over to resume his sleep.

“Thaddeus, I must thank you for all of the kindness and guidance you’ve shown to Jeremy. He does appreciate all of your wisdom and knowledge of the world, so.”

Jenny gave a gentle sigh, and continued. “He is still young, and finds our life on the farm stifling. He craves excitement. But with your good example of the rewards of a steady and blameless life, Mother and I are confident he will follow in your path.”

Curry grunted. “I hope so, Jenny. But he was playing craps again with some real hard cases. They ain't such a good influence as me. But he hasn't exactly shown his gratitude.”

“Mister Jones, Thaddeus, he is only a boy, and so still inarticulate. But, you lectured him nicely, and he will come along under your guidance. Mother and I have no doubt he can be molded to be just like you.”

“I can't disagree with you there, Jenny.”

Jenny was pleased, and her pretty brown curls jiggled with delight at her brother’s supposed future transformation.

Curry and Jenny were taking a late morning walk on a sloping hill above the revival grounds. He kept a watchful eye on Jeremy from above. And on Humphries, and on Heyes who was watching Humphries, and at the same time watching another man watching Humphries.

“Miss Owen, I…”

He stopped. The slouching city slicker that Curry had taken to calling Weasel Face, showed up on the scene, looked first at Heyes and then at Humphries.

“Miss Owen, I have to go talk to that fella down there.”

“Thaddeus, must you leave?” Two sweet, innocent eyes pleaded with him to stay.

“I really am sorry, miss, more than you can think.”

“He looks disreputable, Thaddeus. He is a friend of yours?”

“No Jenny, I can honestly say he’s no friend of mine. He’s, he’s one of the fellas around here that’s leading boys like your Jeremy astray. And I’m gonna set him straight.”

“Oh Thaddeus, is he dangerous?”

“No,” lied Curry, “but you can see that this isn’t work for a pretty young gal like you.” She blushed, and watched him stride down the hill.

He came up behind Weasel Face, without the man hearing, and was close enough to the man to smell the Macassar oil in his hair.

“We need to talk,” Curry whispered into the man’s ear.

The man jumped slightly, clearly surprised.

“Why should I talk wid you?” he asked glancing over his shoulder.

“Because we have some business, that’s why. Now, you’re not gonna force me to force you to come with me, are you?” Curry smiled, and stroked the butt of his colt.

“You goin’ to pull dat ting on me? In dis crowd?”

“Mister, I can see you’re unfamiliar with the west, and you sure don’t know who I am. Out here, a man can get shot for snoring.”

The man hesitated.

Curry’s smile broadened, but his eyes became colder.

“OK, we talk. Away where no one can hear, but out in da open so we can be seen.”

“No problem. I just wanna have a few words with you.”

They walked to a clearing.

“Mister, I just wanna give you some advice,” Curry began. “You are in the west now, and we do things different here. You are in over your head.”

“You brung me over ta here to tell me dat? Are you dreatening me?”

“You really don’t know who I am, do you? Or who he is?” asked Curry indicating Heyes. “We run things here.”

“I don’ need ta know who you is. As far as I’m concerned, you are a couple of new goons for Humphries ta cheat out of da take.”

Curry smiled, crossed his arms, and shook his head.

“Mister, you must think we are real stupid. We’re goin' to get what you are after, and if you play your cards right, you’ll get a piece of it. That means you gotta stop takin’ pot shots at Humphries, and goin’ through our belongin's. You wait for us to tell you when to show up.”

“Youse can’t know about da money. Humphries wouldn’t tell ya. Who coulda squeeled?” The man was becoming angry.

“We know. Like I said, we run things out here. We have our connections, and they’re none of your business. Now do you want a piece of the take or not? ‘Cause if the answer is no, then I gotta figure you’ve insulted me, and I’ll have to call you out.”

“Call me out?! Whaddya mean, call me out? Dis some kinda joke?”

Curry stood still, arms crossed, smiling as his meaning sank in to the now befuddled man.

“You wouldn’ do dat,” he spluttered.

“I would, and I’d win. You ever heard of Hannibal Heyes?”

“Sure, I reads da papers.” He narrowed his eyes into a squint to make out Curry’s features better.

“You ain’t him?” he queried in an uncertain voice. He took a deep breathe and continued. “Anyway, from what da papers say, he may be some kinda big time crook, but he ain’t no shooter wid a gat.”

Curry struggled momentarily to translate what the man had said. “Nope, you’re right about that. He’s not a fast draw, and I ain’t him. He’s a brown-haired fella, about my height, thinner than me, brown eyes.” Curry looked down the hill at his friend. Weasel Face’s eyes followed.

“His description is on any number of wanted posters. You can check ‘em out for yourself. He’s got a partner.”

“Kid Curry,” the man whispered.

Curry touched his hat. “And Kid Curry is a fast draw. Funny enough, I do resemble him.”

The man visibly gulped. His body trembled.

“Guess you do read the papers,” Curry observed.

“I can go to the law,” he managed to gasp out, “I’ll tell ‘em about youse two.

“No you can’t. You’re running from the law.”

Weasel Face crumpled.

“Dis ain't fair. I dunno no one out here. You fellows don' even speak English. Humphries gypped me,” he whined.

“We know that, and we’ll make sure you get what you deserve.” Curry’s body relaxed and he no longer looked so fearsome.

“So's I got no choice. I’m like a rat in a trap.”

“You could put it like that. But you’re makin’ the right choice. You help us, and we’ll help you. Now me and my friend are gonna need to contact you later. Have you changed the name you are using?”

“No, I’m still goin’ by Brown. Andy Brown.”

“OK, Brown, you come to our tent 11 pm tomorrow night. You don’t come in. You stop there, by the hitchin' post, understand?”

“But how are youse going ta collect from Humphries?”

“That’s none of your business, Brown. You just do what you are told.”

Curry turned his back on the man, and walked down the hill towards Jeremy.

“Now I’ll give you some excitement,” he muttered.

“Just why are we doing this?” asked Curry.

“I told you who he is.”

“No, you told me who you think he is. We could just up and leave. It’s none of our business.”

“We’ve been here with Humphries for how long? Almost two weeks? Do you think any law man would think we weren’t accomplices?”

“But the law don’t know.”

“Do you think they won’t find out? Look, you trusted me about Judge Handley. You’ve gotta trust me about this. I’m certain who he is. We have to do this.”

The next morning Heyes spotted the well-dressed man in the tent listening to Humphries orate, but showed no surprise at seeing him.

He loped towards the man in a relaxed manner.

“Can you spare some time to talk?” he asked.

The man raised his eyebrows in the direction of Humphries.

“Oh, he isn’t going anywhere today.”

“Very well. A quieter locale, perhaps?”

The man followed Heyes, who stopped at a lemonade stand.

“It’s a hot day. Care for a glass of lemonade?”

“It is a hot one, isn’t it? Thank you, I do not mind if I do.”

Heyes purchased the drinks, and they walked over to a quiet shady spot.

“You’re going to follow Humphries when he leaves.” Heyes stated this as fact, not a question.

The man merely gave a noncommittal glance as a reply.

“It could take a long time before he or Brown lead you to the haul. What if my friend and I can get it for you sooner?”

“You have identified Mr. Brown. Excellent. Now I am interested. How soon?”

“Would tonight be soon enough?”

“You can do that?”

Heyes smiled. “We can.”

“I don’t condone violence. My understanding is that you are not a violent man.”

“We can get it without violence. This may surprise you, but my partner is not a violent man either.”

The man was evidently skeptical.

“I am being honest here. Oh, he may have been a hot head in the past, but he is not willfully violent. Sometimes, the circumstances mean he has to act in self-defense, but even you have had to do that.”

“Ah, I see you have discovered my identity.”

“Yes, and I respect you. I’ve heard you are a fair man. I wouldn’t be here talking to you otherwise. ”

They drank their lemonade and studied each other.

“This is an interesting proposal. You have evidently puzzled out the circumstances, because I am certain Humphries would not have confided in anyone. Therefore, I am not breaking confidentiality. You will obtain the goods tonight?” he reiterated.

“Yes, but you will have to play one small part in the plan.”

“I see. Here we come to the crux. And what exactly do I have to do?”

“Stand outside the back of our tent at 11pm where you can be seen through the flap window.”

“You are expecting trouble? You want me to be a back up.”

Heyes shook his head. “No, no trouble. I just want Humphries to see you.”

“Humphries does not know my identity.”

“I know.” Heyes grinned.

The man laughed. “Now, I must see it through. I am thoroughly perplexed as to how you plan to manage this.”

He held out his hand. He and Heyes shook on the deal.

“Now,” Heyes said, “there are one or two more small details I need to know to carry this out.”


“Smith,” Heyes interrupted quickly. “Don’t be alarmed. This has nothing to do with whoever hired you. Just a couple of small details about the case, and some information about the Lexow Committee.”

“The Lexow Committee? What on earth are you considering, my man?”

Heyes grinned again. This time he bore a startling resemblance to the Cheshire Cat.

A gentle breeze blew through the tent. Curry sat on his cot cleaning his gun. Heyes was reading at the table, and Humphries was tallying the day’s take.

Heyes reached his hand out and put it on Humphries, stopping him.

“Where is it Humphries?”

Noticeably nonplussed, Humphries replied irritably, “You have made me loose my count. Where is what?”

“The money,” said Curry, polishing the gun with a soft cloth.

“I would think that was obvious. It is on the table.”

Heyes shook his head. “Not that money, Humphries. The haul from the chump in the Green Goods game.”

Humphries gave a start. “We know the deal Humphries. You played the ‘Old Gent’ who sold the ‘goods’, Brown was your ‘steerer’, and Bumbrage, the ‘ringer’ who made the switch. ”**

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Humphries went white and his voice quavered.

“You know exactly what we are talkin' about,” said Curry.

“Humphries, why do you think we are here?” Heyes smiled.

“You’re not the law. You don’t know anything. And if you were the law I wouldn’t tell you what I know.” Humphries crumpled in his chair, and exhaled like a balloon deflating.

“You’re right. We’re not the law, but we do know everything. We’ve been sent by the Lexow Committee. They want us to bring you back to New York to testify.”

Humphries looked at the two men with disdain. “The Lexow Committee. A bunch of do-gooders. They can’t stop corruption in New York. I am not a squealer. I have nothing to tell you.”

“They want you back Humphries,” said Curry picking up the gun he was polishing.

“You can’t force me to return.”

“We can’t, but Mr. Stanhope has a subpoena, and he’s right outside. If you don’t believe me look out the back window.”

Humphries rose shakily and crossed the tent. He looked out the window. “I do not know him,” he said in a quiet voice.

“Why should you?”

Humphries turned. “I could simply leave. You wouldn’t dare to stop me. I shall back my belongings and depart.”

“Go right ahead,” said Curry.

“But remember to give our best to Mr. Brown on your way out,” added Heyes.

Humphries visibly panicked at this. He jumped slightly. He crept to the front flap of the tent, and then cautiously peered out. Sure enough, Brown was not more than ten feet from the doorway.

“Well then, I suppose you are going to turn me in to your Mr. Stanhope.”

Heyes and Curry looked at each other.

“You’re forgetting something, Humphries. The money.”

“There is no money, and if there was I certainly wouldn’t tell members of the Lexow Committee where it was.”

Heyes and Curry grinned. “It’s like you said Humphries. The Lexow Committee can’t stop all the corruption in New York.”

“Or out of New York, for that matter,” Heyes added.

Humphries returned to the chair and sat down. “So what you are saying,” he spoke slowly and carefully, “is that if I tell you where the take is, you won’t hand me over to testify.”

“That’s about it, Humphries.”

“And if I don’t, you will call Mr. Stanhope in, and he will deliver his subpoena, and if I try to leave…” he looked towards the front of the tent.

“Well, we can’t answer for Brown if you choose to go out front.”

“You would let him shoot me?”

Heyes and Curry shrugged.

“If I tell you where the money is, if there is money, that is, how do I know I can trust you?”

“You don’t have to trust us, Humphries. You can leave. You can go out front and face Brown, or you can call Mr. Stanhope in.”

“I could let Mr. Stanhope deliver his subpoena and then leave.”

“All you’ll have then is a subpoena, and Brown will still be out there. He was only tryin' to scare you before. I get the feeling he’s not such a patient man, however. The feeling I got from talkin’ to him was he was done waitin’.”

Humphries remained silent for a few minutes. He was evidently undergoing an inner struggle. “No way out,” he muttered.

He slowly raised his hands to his neck, and pulled on a leather thong hidden under his collar. On the end was a small grouch bag.

He opened the bag and took out a key that he handed to Heyes.

“A safe deposit box?” Heyes queried.

“In Mule Hoof Bend.” Humphries smiled.

“You know we’re gonna have to make sure the money’s there.” Curry walked to the table, took a cigar from a box on it and went over to the tent flap. He stood in the opening and lit his cigar. He saw Jeremy walking in the direction of the tent and pulled the flap closed. He grimaced.

“One of you can stay here with me, and the other ride to Mule Hoof Bend. I’m in no hurry to leave. Since you two will be absconding with my money, I will need to remain here and earn a sum, honestly, by donations for my sermons, to live on in a more modest style.” He made a face while saying modest.

“It isn’t your money,” Heyes reminded Humphries as Curry walked back across the tent and stood near the window flap. He took his cigar out and looked down at it. “Out already,” he muttered, “that’s what you get for having a good cigar.” He struck a match and re-lit it.

Humphries shrugged his shoulders. “At least I will not be returning to Mule Hoof Bend to face the sheriff.”

Outside Jeremy approached Brown. “Hey mister, I heard you like the dice. Shoot some?”

“Kid, I’m busy here.” Brown eyed the tent nervously.

“Oh, you waitin' for someone? Well how about a couple of quick rolls. They ain’t loaded. You can check ‘em.” Jeremy held out the cubes.

Brown weighed the small dice in his hands. He looked at Jeremy, and muttered “chump.”. He looked at the tent again. All was still. “OK, I need sometin' ta keep me busy.” He nodded to the Jeremy.

He kept his eyes on the tent while he and the kid squat down. He felt something metallic behind his head. “Oh, hell,” he said. He groaned. “I shouldna let down my guard. I knew bedder dan ta trust dis kid.”

“Mr. Brown, please take your pistol out with two fingers and put it on the ground before you. That’s right. Sit back a bit please. Thank you. Jeremy, will you carefully pick up Mr. Brown’s gun.”

“Sure thing, but you don’t have to worry. I know how to handle guns.” The boy picked up the gun. To show that he knew what he was doing, he made a point of checking it to make certain the hammer was on an empty chamber.

“That is excellent Jeremy. Mr. Brown you may stand now, but with no sudden movement.”

Brown slowly stood. “Who are you? I don’t know youse.”

“I shouldn’t think you would. Why don’t we all go into the tent?”

Jeremy proudly aimed the pistol at Brown. The three men went into the tent.

Humphries stared at the three newcomers as if he didn't grasp the change in the situation, and was recalibrating his tactics.

“Sir,” he said in a firm voice to the man in the suit holding the gun on Brown. “These two men are attempting to relieve me of a considerable sum of money. I see you have their accomplice in custody. They have an item belonging to me…”

“Humphries,” Curry shook his head.

“Do you gentlemen have the money? Alternatively, perhaps I should ask if you have discovered its location, as it is unlikely Mr. Humphries has it hidden here. I’m already aware that you, Mr. Brown, have made a thorough search for it here.”

Heyes held up the key. “Humphries, Brown, allow me to introduce you to Mr. William Bannerman, and to Jeremy Owen.” He smiled.

Jeremy stood straighter.

“You are William Bannerman?*** Of the Bannerman Agency? You are George Bannerman’s son?” asked Humphries, again nonplussed. “But sir you are aiding and abetting these criminals. They are robbing me of my savings,” Humphries blustered.

“Yeah,” added Brown, “dose two is Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, and youse should be taking dem in, not me.”

“Mr. Humphries, Mr. Brown, I am afraid I must correct your misconceptions. These two gentlemen are not robbing you Mr. Humphries, as the money was never yours to begin with. I was hired by the gentleman you fleeced in the business of the Green Goods game two weeks ago to recover that money.

Understandably, he was too embarrassed by his singular predicament to approach the law, as the situation would have been compromising to say the least. He was afraid the authorities would jump to the erroneous conclusion that he was trying to purchase counterfeit currency during the transaction wherein you men substituted a bag of paper for his purchase.

Mr. Grant, and Mr. Gaines,” he continued, indicating Heyes and Curry, “are two of my best agents, and have been aiding me in this matter.”

“If I had known you were Bannerman agents I would have told you nothing,” Humphries said bitterly. “You had nothing concrete on me.”

“We did sort of figure that.” Curry smiled.

“But,” said Humphries, slowly, “if you are Bannermen agents, and, if Mulcahey filed no complaint, you cannot hold me.”

“Or me neither,” added Brown.

“In your case Humphries, you are, unfortunately, correct. Much as I wish I could prevent you from taking advantage of another victim, I have no authority with which to hold you. However, you Mr. Brown are wanted by the authorities for the attempted murder of Joseph Bumbrage.”

“Joey,” cried Humphries, shocked. “You tried to kill Joey?”

“Dis fella has it wrong. I didn’ try ta moider Joey. I tought he had da loot, and I tried ta beat it outta him. You birds woulda done the same if you figured your best pal had double-crossed you. And anyway, dis ain’t New York so youse can’t put me in da cooler.”

“No, this isn’t New York, but the law will be happy to hold you here, until arrangements are made for your extradition. Jeremy, would you care to cuff our Mr. Brown?”

“Would I? You bet. This is the most excitement I’ve ever had.” He turned to Curry. “You were right. This is much more excitin' than gamblin'.” Curry rolled his eyes.

“Gentleman,” said Bannerman turning to Heyes and Curry, “Jeremy and I will ride to Mule Hoof Bend and examine the contents of the safe deposit box. On the way there we will deposit Mr. Brown in the local jail.”

Jeremy looked at William Bannerman with near adoration as the man spoke. Bannerman and Jeremy departed with Brown in tow. On the way out the tent, Bannerman gave Heyes a significant look.

Humphries began, hastily, to pack his belongings.

“I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry, Humphries,” said Heyes.

Humphries paused, shirt in hands. “And why is that?”

“You forget, Mr. Bannerman has to ride to Mule Hoof Bend to check on that safety deposit box. You’ll stay here with us until he does that.”

“You can’t hold me. You aren’t the law.”

“Will this do instead of a badge?” asked Curry pulling his gun and aiming it at Humphries.

“I protest,” Humphries began.

“You can protest all you like, but you are staying here until they return,” said Heyes.

“I see.” Humphries sat down. “Mr. Gaines, Mr. Grant that money is in the box.” He sighed. “I see in your faces you do not trust me. Well, but I suppose I must remain here for the present until you verify my veracity.”

“You’re supposin' right,” responded Curry.

“Actually, it is a pity the money is there. I should never have told you. If I had not been so gullible, you would have been unable to ascertain its location.”

“Oh we would have found a way,” said Heyes. “Perhaps we would have tried the method Brown used on Joey Bumbrage.”

Humphries was about to contradict that statement, but apparently had second thoughts on looking at the two men’s faces. Curry had a steely cold glare in his eyes, and Heyes had a peculiar unnerving smile. He sat, with an air of dejection.

“Gentlemen, now that the Bannerman Agency has the money, I must thank you for your assistance. I will keep in mind your contribution. In addition, I have some remuneration for you. ”

“What about Jeremy?” asked Curry. Where is he?”

“I am was pleased with Jeremy’s performance in this matter. He will make an excellent Bannerman man. I've arranged for the him to travel to Chicago for training.”

The Kid groaned. “Jenny and her mother are not going to like this.”

Heyes gave the Kid a pat on the back. “Take it in stride. You'd have to stop seeing her anyhow, that is until we get...” He paused and faced William Bannerman.

The Kid began to speak, shifting from leg to leg. “Uh, we were hopin' you would do more than keep in mind what we did,” said Curry. “Not that we wouldn’t appreciate a reward. We were sorta hopin' you would speak up for us.”

“Speak up for you?”

“It’s simply that we did this without a reward in mind,” said Heyes. “You might find that hard to believe, but we have changed. We are no longer the men you after. You have been a witness to our going straight and helping the law,” Heyes reminded Bannerman. “A good word from the Bannerman Agency to the right people…”

“…we, um, well we can’t say, but if you were to contact the Governor of Wyoming…”Curry continued hopefully.

“Gentlemen, I appreciate what you are saying, and your situation. I am aware of the governor’s offer. I heard the rumors, and confirmed them quite some time ago. If I had not been aware of the arrangement with the governor, I don’t believe I could have avoided contacting the law, and I certainly could not have allied myself with you. You exceeded my expectations. If it were up to me, I would remove your names from The Agency’s wanted roster, and discuss the matter thoroughly with the governor, the bankers, and so forth.”

Heyes and Curry’s faces fell.

“It’s not up to you?” asked Heyes.

“I do not own the Agency. My father does. Moreover, he is considerably more rigid in these matters than I am. I cannot go behind his back to help you, as I believe you well understand.”

There was an uncomfortable pause. William Bannerman looked down at his feet, before looking Heyes and Curry in the face and continuing to talk.

“As a son, I probably should not say this, but my father is quite elderly, and he won’t be managing the agency much longer. A few more years, perhaps…ahem, well at some point I will be senior partner, and my brother junior partner. I will have much more leeway to follow my own will at that time.”

“That’s it?” asked Curry.

“Ah, I cannot go out of my way to contact the governor, but if by some chance we should meet, I will indeed, shall we say, let slip information as to what has occurred here. Gentlemen, I truly will do what I am able. Now I must take your leave.”

Bannerman held out his hand and they shook it in turn. As he walked off, Curry turned to Heyes.

“Heyes, remind me what we just did.”

“We helped the Bannerman Agency.”

“Uh huh.”

“We made an important friend.”

“Some friend. He didn’t even leave us any reward.”

“We did make it sound like we didn’t want a reward. A reward of money, I mean.”

“Well, we didn’t get any reward, did we? Money or otherwise.”

“Well, that might be, but you have to look at this as an investment in our future.”

Curry glared.

Heyes quickly continued. “If you had a son as capable as William Bannerman, wouldn’t you want to retire? I know I would. And when William takes over the agency, we’ll have it made.”

Curry turned on his heel, and strode towards the main tent.

“You’re going in--in there?” asked a dumbfounded Heyes.

“Why not? It can’t hurt, and it’ll probably work a whole lot better than your plan.”

As Curry walked through the tent flap he muttered something about ‘prayin’ there’d be no more Hannibal Heyes’ plans.’
Heyes stared after the Kid, before he turned and slowly walked away.

*Revival Sermon by Jedediah Burchard

**The Green Goods game was the most successful confidence game during the late 1800s. Circulars were mailed, generally to Westerners who distrusted the US government, and disgruntled Southerners, hinting at the sale of large amounts of counterfeit cash. The buyer was told he would be the sole person in possession of the money in his immediate area, sort of a franchise. Samples were sent which could not be distinguished from genuine US notes (because they were genuine). The ‘come on,’ taking the bait, was lured to one of the large eastern cities, and directed to a hotel. He would be met by the ‘steerer’ who steered him to the place of business. The buyer would meet the ‘Old Gent,’ be shown the goods, which were not counterfeit, and make a purchase. The ‘ringer’ who was hiding would switch the real money being ‘sold’ for blank paper. Since the whole transaction was illegal, the victim could not go to the law.

***William Bannerman is modeled on William Pinkerton, the son of Allen Pinkerton, a man who did not share his father’s rigid views on criminals. Pinkerton enjoyed the company of many of the criminals he chased, or met. He confessed to enjoying their company more than that of honest men. On one occasion, he entered a criminal establishment, a restaurant/ saloon, a front for an illicit gambling house. He was in search of information. He approached the owner, whom he admired as a criminal mastermind. Although they had never met, they knew who each other was (something to do with criminal networking), and they enjoyed a friendly conversation. It had nothing to do with his investigation. Eventually Pinkerton aided this particular criminal in selling a picture he had stolen to its rightful owner, J.P. Morgan, (Morgan had purchased it in an auction in London but had not taken possession of it when it was stolen) and found a position for the criminal’s son-in the Pinkerton Agency.

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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