Evans was a friendly town and the sheriff didn’t mind strangers as long as they didn’t make trouble. As soon as they had taken care of their horses, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry went straight to the hotel and got a room. After a bath and a shave, their next stop was the saloon, where they found they could get a meal, along with a drink.
The steak and potatoes weren’t the best he’d tasted but Kid Curry was glad to have it. He was also looking forward to sleeping in a bed for a few nights. He and his partner Hannibal Heyes had spent weeks sleeping on the ground while working a round up. The weather had been mild so far but a chill in the air indicated a change.
Their plates were empty and they were sipping whiskey, observing the few patrons. “Sorta’ quiet,” Kid said.
“What were you expectin’ on Monday, Thaddeus?” Heyes asked.
“Yeah, just as well, we both need some sleep,” Kid replied.
Heyes smiled, “Nobody knows that better’n me, let’s call it a night?” he said.
Blue eyes narrowed, “You sayin’ I’m grouchy?”
Dimples appeared, “No, but I been givin’ some thought to hidin’ your gun,” Heyes teased.
Entering the hotel, they stopped at the registration desk. Heyes noticed a folded paper.
“Room fifteen, mind if I take this newspaper?” Heyes asked.
“Nope but it’s a few days old.”
“Won’t matter, if it’s got words he’ll keep me awake readin’ it,” Kid grumbled.
Kid rummaged through his saddle bag and took out his gun cleaning kit, placed it on the table and sat in the chair. “You give any more thought to goin’ to Silky’s?” he asked.
Several weeks earlier, after sending a message to Clementine Hale informing her they wouldn’t be able to visit, they had received a return telegram. They had been invited to spend Thanksgiving in San Francisco; she had hoped they might travel together. Before leaving town, they had replied, sending their regrets and best wishes to all.
Heyes gave him a look of regret, “Yeah but it all comes down to th’ same answer, it’s too risky,” he said.
“Be nice to see Silky an’ Clem an’ it’s warmer there. Silky’s got lots o’ room an’ food - an’ a good cook. Maybe no one’s watchin’ ‘em?” Kid reasoned.
Heyes shook his head, “Kid, we been all through this. Silky was usin’ his own name when we got arrested in Montana. The judge was glad to get rid of us, he wasn’t interested in our names but I bet th’ Sheriff was. ‘Specially after Wyoming sent word that Fred wasn’t Kid Curry. He watched me open his safe; what if he put it together and wired th’ police to watch Silky’s place. It’d be risky for us an’ for our friends,” he pointed out.
Kid eyed him, “So if we don’t get amnesty we never see any of our friends again?” he grumbled.
Heyes hesitated, “We’ll figure out a safe meetin’ place,” he bargained.
“You mean like Devil’s Hole?” Kid asked sarcastically.
Heyes chuckled, “Not sure our friends wanta’ see us that bad,” he said.
Giving in, Kid laughed softly, “Yeah. We shoulda’ got in touch with Lom, maybe he’s heard somethin’,” he said hopefully.
“We’ll do it in th’ mornin’, I’m tired,” Heyes said then lay back on the bed and unfolded the paper.
Reloading his gun, Kid paused when Heyes sat up abruptly, “What? You hear somethin’?”
“No, read somethin’, it’s near th’ bottom but still front page. ‘Outlaws Heyes and Curry Promised Amnesty’” Heyes read, worriedly.
“What? How’d they find out, would th’ Governor let our secret out?” Kid asked, confused.
“I don’t know Kid, it says rumors are circulating that we were promised amnesty an’--,” Heyes looked up, “that several newspapers have reported the story.”
They stared at each other, wondering what this meant for their amnesty.
“We better send Lom a telegram tonight,” Kid suggested.
“He probably won’t get it ‘til mornin’,” Heyes said absently.
Kid knew how quickly his cousin could slip into despair; he stood, pulling on his coat.
“Heyes, if Lom’s heard about this he’s waitin’ for word from us. Get your coat an’ let’s go,” Kid insisted.
Nodding, Heyes did as bidden, “You’re right Kid, he’s likely watchin’ for a telegram,” he agreed.
Relieved, they found telegraph office still open. Kid watched Heyes write a brief message.
Sheriff Lom Trevors Porterville Wyoming: Read newspaper story, please reply Evans Co. Hotel: JS - TJ.
“Gonna’ be mornin’ before you get an answer, be six bits,” the telegrapher said.
“We figgered that, we’ll check back early,” the Kid said, he paid him then followed Heyes.
Back in the hotel room they sat on separate beds; blue and brown eyes met, both uncertain.
“What’re you thinkin’?” Kid asked.
Heyes shook his head, “Not sure Kid, I think it musta’ come from th’ governor’s office, question is, was it Moonlight or did somebody else find out and go to th’ news people?”
“Why would Moonlight do it?” Kid asked.
Heyes swallowed hard, “Maybe so he could say we broke our agreement an’ call the whole deal off,” he said quietly.
They discussed the probabilities until finally the Kid hung his gun on the headboard and yawned. “Let’s get some sleep Heyes, maybe we’ll know more when Lom answers us,” he said.
The next morning, they were waiting outside when the telegrapher opened the door, “Mornin’, give me a minute, I’ll check for a reply,” he told them.
Moments later Heyes read the message out loud, “Get to Porterville by Friday, urgent,” he looked anxiously at his friend.
“Let’s get some breakfast, Joshua. Thanks,” the Kid threw over his shoulder.
On the boardwalk Kid looked worriedly at Heyes, “Why’s he want us in Porterville? I don’t like this, Heyes,” Kid said warily.
“We don’t have a choice Kid, we have ta’ find out about our amnesty. If it was good news Lom woulda’ said somethin’, we gotta’ go to Porterville,” Heyes said tersely.
“Take it easy Heyes, we’re goin’ - but we eat first,” Kid frowned.
Heyes smiled slightly, “That’s th’ one thing I’m sure of, c’mon,” he agreed, slapping his cousin’s shoulder.
They ate breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant and within an hour they were riding toward Wyoming, both silent and concerned, anticipating the possible outcomes; neither of them imagining the governor’s response to the public outcry regarding honoring a promise.
As territorial governor, Thomas Moonlight had expected to entertain dignitaries, prominent citizens and politicians but not all at the same time. For several weeks he had been besieged by letters and telegrams from politicians, railroad presidents, bankers, lawmen, judges and irate citizens. There’d been multiple meetings with prominent Wyoming citizens, cattle barons and influential businessmen. No one knew where the information originated and journalist refused to reveal their source. With the recent changes in the governor’s office, numerous people might have had access to sensitive information. No matter how it got to the press, he was going to have to address the situation. He placed the sealed envelopes in the pouch and secured it then finished writing the message and called to his assistant.
A short time later in Porterville, Lom Trevors smiled broadly as he read the telegram, ‘Request granted - documents to be delivered in person- press release at close of business tomorrow’. Everything was falling into place; he had sent instructions to the two men this morning and felt sure the partners would arrive by late Thursday or early Friday. Tomorrow he would notify those staying at the hotel that their diligence had paid off.
Hearing a short knock, Lom glanced up “Come in,” he called, smiling when Heyes opened the door. “Heyes, you’re here, is th’ Kid behind me?” he smiled, glancing over his shoulder.
“No Lom, he’s behind me, you said Friday, it’s Thursday, we’re here,” Heyes said flatly.
The Kid moved to the left, his hand on his gun. “You said urgent Lom but you didn’t say to who,” he said, blue eyes narrowed.
“Woulda’ thought you’d trust me by now,” Lom frowned, pulling on his coat. “Follow me,” he ordered, grasping his hat and brushing past them.
Heyes and Curry exchanged a questioning look then followed Lom toward the hotel. In the lobby, Lom spoke quietly to the desk clerk. “Few more minutes an’ you’ll have your answers. C’mon,” he said, leading them to a table in the corner of the restaurant. “Sit down boys” he instructed.
“Lom, what’s this all about?” Heyes asked, guardedly.
“It’s about you two an’ some friends of yours,” Lom replied.
“If th’ governor’s threatenin’ our friends --,” Heyes stopped mid-outburst, surprised by a familiar voice, “Joshua! Thaddeus!”
“Clem?” Kid questioned as she threw her arms around Heyes who was staring in bewilderment at the men following her. Clementine turned to greet the Kid and he pulled her to his left side keeping his gun hand free.
“Silky? Soapy? Big Mac? What’s goin’ on? Why’re you here?” Heyes asked, uncertainly.
The four new comers smiled as Lom handed a telegram to Heyes, “They decided to light a fire under th’ governor. You two need to read that,” he said.
Kid looked over his cousin’s shoulder and both stared at a message from the governor, unmoving for a moment.
“Heyes, does that mean what I think it does?” Kid almost whispered.
“Lom?” Heyes asked in disbelief.
“Congratulations boys, you made it - with some help from your friends.” Lom smiled.
There was a chorus of congratulations, hugs and hand shaking as they all talked at once. With grateful smiles, Heyes and Kid exchanged a hug then joined their friends at the table.
“You all went to see th’ governor?” Kid asked, smiling.
“We did a lot better’n that. We been here for weeks schemin’ an’ workin this out,” Silky frowned.
“What kind o’ schemin”?” Heyes asked.
“Miss Hale started th’ plan,” Big Mac said.
“Well someone had to do something, they wouldn’t even visit us anymore,” Clementine said.
“We all agreed it was time, we contacted friends and men of influence and they contacted others. Silky and I have acquaintances able to gather hidden information which gave certain influential men more desire to help. Numerous telegrams, letters and meetings helped to convince the government that our situation was as important, and no more unsavory than those of the well-received, which they immerse themselves in daily. A few stories planted in fertile imaginations and rumors begin to grow as they travel and, when printed, become fact. When the secret was out, a decision had to be made,” Soapy explained.
“The banks and railroads agree that it’s poor business to offer twenty thousand dollars to stop something that ended almost three years ago, talk is they were already considerin’ lowering or even canceling those rewards,” Big Mac added.
“You all went to a lot of trouble an’ expense for us, we’re mighty grateful,” Heyes said.
“Mighty grateful an’ glad th’ governor decided th’ way he did. What was th’ plan if he decided against givin’ us amnesty?” Kid asked curiously.
“Uh, I don’t think we got that far in our plannin’” Big Mac said, uncertainly.
“What difference does that make, th’ way things were you wouldn’a been any worse off,” Silky said in exasperation.
“I hate to say it boys but he’s got a point,” Lom said.
“Thanks for not givin’ up on us, Lom,” Heyes smiled.
“Speaking of plans, we need to plan for th’ best Christmas party ever,” Clementine smiled happily.
Per instructions, several bottles of champagne arrived at the table and glasses were filled.
“To th’ governor,” Lom said.
“An’ th’ sheriff,” Big Mac said.
“To amnesty,” Silky added.
“To keeping promises,” Soapy smiled.
“And being with people we love,” Clementine said softly.
“To the best friends a man ever had,” Heyes said.
“An’ th’ best partner,” Kid smiled, as blue eyes and brown eyes met.