Hannibal Heyes walked his horse Hermes carefully through the snow Kid Curry did the same with his horse Candy. His Border Collie Soldier was draped over his saddle otherwise they’d lose his in the deep snow of Idaho.
They’d finished a job that had taken them to Canada and now they were on the way home they had just crossed the border into the USA and were looking forward to Christmas with Lom Travers and his lady. Miss Sally Porter.
The weather was beginning to close in when they reached the town of Bonners Ferry, they went up to the livery stable and dismounted with a groan.
Evening gents what can I do for ya?”
“Sir could you please look after our horses for us for four days please?”
“Certainly, it will be eight dollars” said the man who owned the stable whose name was Jack.
“Thank you” said Heyes who paid the man. Then he turned to Hermes and said,
“Now Hermes you be a good boy and I’ll come out tomorrow to see ya ok.”
Kid gave Candy a love and then said,
“Sir be careful with her I think she’s with foal I'm not sure yet another couple of days and I should be.”
He lifted Soldier off Candy and put him on the floor, and he instantly disappeared into the snow.
Heyes gave a little chuckle and went and picked him back up.
“What happened there boy eh you disappear oh dear come on let’s go and find us a nice cosy room to snuggle up in”.
“You coming Thaddeus?”
“Yes, Joshua I am”.
They all three headed for the hotel they opened the door and went in Heyes put Soldier down on the floor again he shook himself which alerted the receptionist that there were guests arriving in the hotel.
He looked up from his paper and saw Heyes, Kid and Soldier heading towards the desk.
He stood up and tried to smile as Heyes, Kid and Soldier didn’t look like the sort of people he wanted in the hotel, but the manager said it was there for everyone.
“Evening Gentleman and dog what can I do for you?”
“We’d like a room with a bath please” said Heyes.
“I see that’ll be ten dollars and sixteen cents please.”
Heyes produced the ten dollars and Kid gave the sixteen cents. Then they signed the register Mr Joshua Smith, Mr Thaddeus Jones and Soldier.
Kid took the key off the desk and called Soldier,
“Come on Soldier up the stairs good boy.”
Soldier ran up the stairs in front of Kid as he reached the top of the stairs, he met Heyes he sat down and Heyes fussed him while waiting for Kid to join him with the key.
He appeared and produced the key he handed it to Heyes who unlocked the door.
They went in the room and shut the door. It was then that Heyes took off his boots and sat on the bed.
Soldier jumped up beside him and laid down Kid smiled and said,
“Someone’s in favour today.”
“Yeah, he’s being a good boy today and I think I’m eventually beginning to love him as much as you do.”
“Yeah, and he knows it.”
Then Kid had a bath Soldier watched him and gave him his towel.
Heyes laid down to rest for a while so he could think clearly when it came to playing poker that evening.
The evening arrived and the boys with Soldier went out to the saloon they walked in, and the saloon was its usual cacophony of noise and frivolity. They went to the bar and ordered two whiskies and a beer. The barman looked at them.
“Who’s drinkin’ the beer?”
“He is” said Kid as he picked up Soldier and put him on the bar stool next to him.
The barman laughed,
“he’s a dog and he drinks beer”
“Alright gents if you say so.”
The drinks appeared and Kid paid for them and then the barman watched in disbelief as Soldier put his head down and drank his beer.
Then two spots opened up at the poker table and they both made a bee line for them. They sat down and had a good evening's poker.
Then before long it was time for bed as the boys picked up their money and went to the door Kid suddenly realised that Soldier was still asleep under the table.
Kid whistled him and then said,
“Soldier come on time to go.”
Soldier got up from under the table and shook himself and then went out with Heyes and Kid.
They went to the hotel and up to their room they got ready for bed and then went to bed.
In the morning Kid woke and got up. Heyes disturbed slightly, got comfortable again and fell back to sleep.
Kid smiled and shook his head he looked at Soldier and said,
Soldier, you stay here with Heyes while I go out and exercise Candy ok.”
Soldier put his head back down on his paws and watched as Kid had his wash and shave and got dressed.
Then he went out and down for breakfast, after breakfast he went out to see Candy. He tacked her up and got on her back and then went out of town.
Halfway through their ride Candy started to limp, so Kid got off and had a look.
“Oh, Candy you’ve got a shoe lose I’ll have to walk you back to town I don’t want to risk you losing the shoe and becoming lame.”
So, Candy and Kid turned round and headed back to town.
Meanwhile in town Heyes had eventually woken up and found that Kid was missing but he had left him a note that said gone out to exercise Candy back later from Kid,
“So, he went out without me” he said to himself. Then Soldier barked.
“Oh, he went without you too, come on Soldier let’s get some breakfast and then go for a walk.”
Then Heyes got out of bed and washed, shaved and got dressed then he and Soldier went for breakfast and then they went for a walk.
Kid however was still walking back to town Candy was limping quite badly. Kid encouraged her the best he could they were getting along quite well until Kid stepped into a bear snare trap, the trap snapped around his leg and he gave a yell of agony and he fell hitting his head on a rock nearby.
Candy neighed and went over to him she nudged him, and he didn’t move so she laid down beside him.
It was getting on midday and Kid still wasn’t back Heyes was beginning to get worried. They were supposed to be catching the four o’ clock train to Porterville but as his father would say family son is always a Heyes’s first and most important priority.
So, he turned to Soldier and said,
“If he’s not back by three o’ clock I’m going after him”.
“Ok we’re going after him.”
Kid was unconscious for a couple of hours when eventually he came round, he found it was lunch time he could tell by the position of the sun but more than that his stomach was telling him it was hungry.
Candy who was still laid by his side heard him moan and she got up and went round to him. She nudged him lovingly.
“Hey girl you still here” he said as he touched his head and found it was bleeding as was his leg. He looked and realised he was in real trouble.
“Candy girl looks like I’m here for a while, but you could go and get help.”
She shook her beautiful head she wasn’t leaving him, and he knew it.
“Candy someone’s gotta go for help, maybe I shouldn’t have left Soldier with Heyes”.
Heyes by now was really worried here it was two o’ clock and Kid wasn’t back. He decided not to wait till three he needed to find his cousin.
“Come on Soldier let’s go find the Kid.”
He went down and asked Jack to saddle Hermes which he did.
“Is everything alright? Mr Smith you look worried.”
“I am worried my partner went out this morning to exercise his horse and he hasn’t been back since and wouldn’t leave without me or Soldier something’s happened I feel it” he said as he mounted Hermes.
“Come on Hermes let’s go find Candy.”
Kid was beginning to suffer not only from the pain and blood lost but also from the sun he tried to reach his hat but the more he strained the more the sharp teeth of the snare tore at his leg. In the end he turned to Candy.
“Candy get my hat there’s a good girl”.
Candy walked over to where Kid’s hat was laying and picked it up and came over to him with it.
“There’s a good girl” he said as he took it from her.
Soldier was walking in front of Heyes and Hermes sniffing the ground. They’d been walking and tracking Kid and Candy for an hour when Soldier started barking Hermes was becoming uncontrollable Heyes knew why.
“Alright you two I’m just an innocent by-stander now go on you know where you’re goin’”.
Hermes broke into a trot so did Soldier he his master was nearby he could smell him Hermes could sense his Candy wasn’t too far now.
Kid heard Soldier barking; he knew that bark anywhere, so he decided to call him.
Soldier stopped and listened then when he’d identified where the shout had come from, he went off again and it wasn’t long before he found Kid.
Heyes and Hermes joined him soon after Heyes looked down and saw his leg in the snare and realised they were in a lot of trouble.
Heyes dismounted and examined the problem a little more closely. He stood up and sighed, put his hat on the back of his head and put his hands on his hips and said,
“Kid, what we need to do is find a large branch and prise that open just enough for you to get your leg out.”
“Tell me something I didn’t know Heyes I kinda figured that out for myself”.
“Ok there’s no need to get defensive”.
Heyes looked around and found a large branch he went and put it in the snare next to Kid’s leg.
“Right Kid when I push down on this and open the trap you crawl forwards and get your leg out ok.”
“Ready one, two, three now!”
Heyes pushed down on the trap to open it with all the strength he could muster it opened slightly but it was enough for Kid to get his leg out. Once he was out Heyes let go and the trap closed again with a nasty snap.
He went and sat beside his cousin.
“Is a silly question but are you alright?”
“Yeah, and Heyes I'm sorry for snapping at ya like I did you were only tryin’ to help.”
“Aww forget it let’s get you back to town and let the Doc take a look at you”.
“Come on Soldier.”
Heyes helped Kid on to Hermes even though he objected but Heyes explain that Kid was hurt, and Candy had a shoe lose and it wasn’t fair on her to make her carry Kid with only three shoes firmly in place.
They got back to town just as the sun was setting the wind had got up again and it was getting colder. They took Kid to see the Doctor and told him what had happened.
“I see let me take a look at this leg.”
So, Kid hopped up on the bed and showed him his bad leg. He examined it and then did a lot of umming and Ahring then eventually said,
“Well, Mr Jones I’m afraid that the leg is broken, and I will have to operate to get all of the debris out of the wounds, so you won’t be travelling to Porterville anytime in the next week.”
“Oh no are ya sure doc?”
“`Fraid so, sorry.”
Heyes sighed and looked at Soldier and said,
“Come on Soldier let’s go and give Lom the bad news.”
He went across to the telegraph office just as the train was pulling into the station. He watched as all of the passengers got off the train and the last passenger to disembark was none other than Diamond Jim Guffey.
Soldier recognised him straight away he went running up to him barking with delight and his tail wagging furiously.
He looked up to see Heyes following an excitable border collie He greeted warmly.
“Heyes my dear fellow nice to see you”
“It’s nice to see you too Jim, Soldier’s happy to see you.”
“Ahh yes hello Soldier” he said as he patted him.
“What are you doin here?” Asked Heyes.
“I’ve just stopped off for the night then onto Kentucky for the Derby,” said Jim.
“Oh, I see”.
Then Jim asked,
“Where’s the Kid?”
“In the Doctor’s house.”
Heyes explained what had happened and then he went and sent his telegram to Lom.
Once he’d sent it and got a reply saying that it was ok and to arrive when Kid was feeling better Heyes went back to the Doctor’s house.
The Doctor was just coming out of his treatment room when Heyes walked in.
“Ah Joshua, I’ve just finished operating on Thaddeus and I’m happy to tell you that it went well and if he does as he’s told, he’ll be up and about in about a week. If not and it will be longer.”
“Ok Doc and don’t worry he’ll do as he’s told I'll make sure of it”.
A few hours later Kid was awake and feeling a little better Heyes could tell for Kid had eaten quite well.
He continued to improve and as the Doctor had said he was indeed up and about within a week.
He joined Heyes at the Station on the day they left. Then He, Heyes and Soldier boarded the train to Utah, Hermes and Candy travelled with them. When they arrived in Utah, they had to change trains.
They journey on to Porterville and arrived on the 8th of December Lom met the train and helped Kid off. Then Heyes went and saw to the stabling of Hermes and Candy.
That night Miss Sally Porter was told the truth about Lom, and Mr Smith and Mr Jones. She was a little stunned but was glad that they had told her the truth.
They had dinner together and Heyes made a toast to Lom and Sally. Then he made one to Kid, Soldier, Hermes and Candy for they were family now and as his father always said Family comes first.