"Alles Gute zum Nikolaus!" Mr. Shermann said happily as Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry came bustling into the warm kitchen of the farmhouse.
The Kid looked confused and turned towards his partner, but Heyes simply smiled at Mrs. Shermann as she brought out a big pile of steaming hot pancakes and set them on the table.
“Remember, Papa,” Alise Shermann smiled softly at her husband. “The boys only know English.” She nodded towards the large breakfast in front of them. “Please sit down and help us celebrate. It is December sixth, Saint Nicholas Day.”
The boys noticed, as they sat at the table, that there was a gaily wrapped gift on each plate.
“Saint Nicholas Day?” the Kid asked as he held out his cup for Mrs. Shermann to fill. “It ain’t near Christmas yet.”
“Remember, Thaddeus,” Heyes said as he passed the pancakes to Mr. Shermann. “Some of the children at the orphanage mentioned it.”
The Kid nodded his head, waiting politely but not so patiently, until Alise Shermann sat down, before he took the plate of pancakes from Mr. Shermann. He looked quizzically down at the gift on his plate and back at the steaming hotcakes.
“Please, eat, Thaddeus. We can open the gifts afterwards,” Mrs. Shermann encouraged him.
The Kid gave her a brilliant smile and moved the present to the side. He then forked several of the cakes onto his plate before passing it on to Heyes, who held it for Mrs. Shermann to take a couple before he helped himself to the rest. His face became thoughtful as he poured maple syrup over his plate, and dug into the delicious breakfast.
“Didn’t you mention that you thought your daughter and son-in-law would be here by today?” he said once his mouth was empty again.
“Wishful thinking on my part,” Alise Shermann said. “I was hoping they would be here today to help us celebrate St. Nicholas Day. Berta so enjoyed it as a child.”
“Is that why you were baking up a storm recently?” the Kid asked, before he used the last bit of pancake to sop up the syrup remaining on his plate. He swallowed and said. “Not that I’m complaining. I was very happy to sample each and every kind you made.” His smile was met by the shake of Heyes’ head, but his partner didn’t return the smile.
Heyes took a deep breath, and said, “We’ve been here almost a month. Had planned to be moving on as soon as your family arrived.”
Heyes looked over to Mr. Shermann, who was already nodding back to sleep after finishing his breakfast. He traded looks with the Kid once more. There was no way the older man could handle all the chores on the farm, if they left.
Mrs. Shermann nodded. “Ja, that is what we had talked about.” She smiled sweetly at her husband as he began to snore softly.
“You think they might be here soon?” the Kid asked quietly, so as not to disturb Mr. Shermann.
Alise Shermann sighed. “She said before Christmas. Well before Christmas. But one never knows about the roads this time of year.”
“No, you don’t,” Heyes said, again, looking at the Kid.
“Perhaps we should save the gifts for supper,” she suggested, and the boys nodded.
Later that day, as they were finishing up evening chores in the barn, Heyes and Curry were having a heated discussion.
“I didn’t like the way the sheriff was lookin’ at us,” Heyes said, as he stabbed a forkful of hay. “That last time we went into town for supplies.”
“You never like the way any sheriff looks at us, Heyes,” the Kid responded as he finished milking the cow. He patted her side and pulled out the bucket to keep it safe from any misplaced kicks. He paused and looked up at his partner. “I’m going to miss all Mrs. Shermann’s good cooking.”
“You know we can’t stay much longer,” Heyes said, a bit quieter.
The Kid sighed. “We ever gonna be able to settle anywhere, Heyes?”
His partner forced a smile on his face. “Yeah, when we get that amnesty.” He brushed the dust off his front and then paused. “That something you really want to do?”
The Kid nodded. “Eventually.”
Heyes nodded back. “Well, until then, we gotta keep moving.” His gaze wandered off. “Soon.”
The boys had just finished cleaning up after chores and were about to sit down to what looked like a wonderful dinner prepared by Mrs. Shermann, when they heard sleigh bells out in the front yard.
“St. Nicholas?” He smiled at Alise Shermann, but then exchange a more serious look with his partner, as he got up and went to peer out of the window. “Looks like it might be Mr. Peterson from the train station.” He looked closer, and then turned with a dimpled smile to look back at them. Just then high children’s voices could be heard along with those of adults.
The Shermanns exchanged a glance,
“Never having met them before, I can’t say for certain.” Heyes paused. “But I think your Berta and her family are here.”
"Alles Gute zum Nikolaus!" Mr. Shermann said happily as Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry hurried into their coats to bring the new arrivals into the warm kitchen of the farmhouse.