A Christmas Surprise

By Nelly-Pledge

In case anyone wants to know more of the background. It’s a sequel to “21st December” and post amnesty life is taken from “A Quiet Christmas”.

It was nearly a year after Amelia Robertson’s chance encounter with Kid Curry when she was startled by her husband, Sheriff Lewis Robertson, crashing through the back door. Nearly dropping the plate she was drying, she exclaimed in alarm as their five year old son Joshua looked up from his play in fright.

The Sheriff had left for work barely 10 minutes before but was now agitatedly waving a newspaper about and angrily shouting, “I knew it! I knew it all along. They weren’t no ordinary drifters!”

“What is it Lewis?” Amelia cried out in alarm, frightened by the uncharacteristic anger showing on her husband’s face.

“Look! See for yourself! Those two drifters, Smith and Jones, the ones that helped you move from your parents store the Christmas before we married,” he shouted thrusting the paper at her. “They’re Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. Oh! If only I’d acted on my instincts, we’d be rich now and I’d be well known as the Lawman who brought in Heyes and Curry!”

She snatched the paper from him with a shaking hand, crying out in anguish, “Oh no! They haven’t been captured, or, or ….. killed have they!”

Shocked into silence by his wife’s response, he watched her closely as her eyes took in the photos of the handsome pair, a red flush creeping up her neck, then her relief as she read the print.


Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, labelled by many as the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west, were granted a full Amnesty today by Frank Warren, the inaugural Governor of the new state of Wyoming. This reporter’s initial observations on the highly controversial award is that the news has been generally welcomed by all but the railroads and banks!”

With a sigh of relief she whispered, “Oh thank God I thought they’d been killed.”

Staring in shock and with an accusatory tone, her husband asked, “You knew who they were all along didn’t you?”

Their eyes locked for several seconds, broken only by a frightened whimper, their son having picked up the tense atmosphere. “Ma? Pa?”

The Sheriff looked at his son, then and in that moment he knew. Taking the paper back, he looked several times between the dark hair and eyes, and the wide dimpled grin of Hannibal Heyes and his son, and finally back to his wife, where he saw the truth.  He quietly placed the paper on the table and walked from the cabin.

He’d been sitting in the stable for hours, thinking back on that Christmas six years before. Calling on her the day after Christmas, he was relieved to find that Smith and Jones were gone. He was delighted when she had accepted his proposal to marry quickly and move with him, to take up the post of Sheriff in this fast growing town.

Despite arriving a few weeks earlier than expected, not quite nine months after they married, Joshua was born a bonny, bouncing baby boy. He had attributed his son’s dark hair and eyes to Amelia’s father, but never having seen Albert Baker crack a smile, he could only assume that the dimples came from him too.  Although, thankfully, Joshua’s bright, happy personality had not been inherited from that sour, cruel, old man.

He thought back on how the last six years had been the happiest of his life.  They’d had their disagreements, what couple didn’t, but on the whole they had a good marriage. He could never stop loving them, couldn’t live without them, and Joshua would always be his son.  Suddenly aware of his aching limbs, the call of nature and his hunger, he stiffly made his way back to the cabin, his home and his family, their home.

Two Years Later

Hannibal Heyes and Jed Kid Curry were settling nicely into their post amnesty lives in the small town of Sundance.  Heyes had taken over the town’s Newspaper and Curry had established a successful gunsmith shop. A well paid job just before the Amnesty, poker winnings and silly amounts paid for exclusive articles, meant they were able to buy a good size plot of land. 

Eighteen months after settling there, the Kid was living with his wife and new born baby in his recently completed house.  Work was progressing nicely on Heyes’ own house, though there was no rush as his heart had yet to be captured. Heyes was content, living in the small cabin, hastily built on purchase of the land.

It was early in December when Lom’s telegram arrived, calling them both to Porterville as a matter of urgency. Although the Kid was reluctant to leave his wife and baby, Lom had made it clear that both of them were summoned.

After arranging cover for their businesses and Jed taking his wife and baby to stay with her parents, Heyes and Curry found themselves on a train to Porterville, their old worries and insecurities surfacing as to what Lom’s urgent business was.  They weren’t aware of giving anyone a reason to complain about them.  Indeed, they had been model citizens and seemed to be accepted and well liked in the town.  Their popularity with the general public had grown substantially after Heyes’ had published some frank and honest articles on their true lives, along with some pictures of the irresistibly handsome pair. So it was with some trepidation that they entered the Sheriff’s office a few days later.

The over friendly greeting they received did nothing to quell their fears. Lom was nervous, which was making them nervous!

“Ah come in boys, good to see you. Glad you could make it.  Here, warm yourselves by the stove. Coffee? You’re both looking well, lawful life suits you …..”

Heyes’ put up his hand to stop their old friend’s nervous platitudes. “What’s this all about Lom?  What’s the urgency?”

Lom sat down heavily at his desk with a look of foreboding on his face. “There’s no easy way of saying this Heyes, I think you’re in for one helluva shock. I asked the Kid to come ‘coz I think you’re gonna need his support.”

Drawing down his dark eyebrows, Heyes waved his hand towards Lom and said, “Go on.” He steepled his fingers under his chin, waiting to hear what Lom had to say.

Lom reluctantly continued, “About a week ago, a woman came to my office with a boy, she was looking for you, Heyes. She said it was real important she speak to you personally.”

Heyes’ raised one eyebrow. “So, who is she? Probably looking for a story?”

Lom cleared his throat and answered, “She wouldn’t give her name just that it was imperative she speak with you.  It’s not the woman though that got me anxious to get you here…Errrr it’s the boy, ‘bout 7 years old I’d say - he’s the spit of you Heyes!”

Even before Heyes could react, his attention was drawn to his partner’s loud groan of dismay. “Arghh I think I know who it is.”

Leaning forward he placed his head in his hands as he forlornly said, “I should’ve told you Heyes, I wanted to, really I did, I was waiting for the right time ……”

Staring opened mouthed at his partner who would not meet his gaze, his voice going higher as he spoke, “What Kid, you should’ve told me what?”

Looking thoroughly miserable and guilty, the Kid finally raised his head to meet his partner’s eyes. “I’m sorry Heyes I didn’t want you to find out this way.  It’s just that when I saw her, we were still on the run and she indicated that she and the boy were settled, happy with life.  Then, after the Amnesty, we took a while to find our way and settle down, and now we’re settled I didn’t want to stir up old memories or disrupt hers or the boy’s lives and ……”

Heyes again put his hand up, to stop his cousin, “Who Kid, tell me who?” His intense stare at his partner demanded an answer.

The Kid lowered his eyes and spoke so quietly that Heyes had to move closer to hear him. “D’you remember  ‘bout a year before our amnesty, we had to leave that nice little town real quick ‘coz we knew the Sheriff and err, probably the Deputy?”

At Heyes’ nod, Curry continued, “Well, it was Sheriff Robertson, I caught his wife’s eye just as this little kid comes running to her, showing off a miniature deputy badge his Pa had pinned on him.”

He took a deep breath and continued, “It was Amelia, Heyes, and there was no mistaking the kid’s real pa! The imploring look she gave me and the slight shake of her head told me as good as words, ‘please don’t acknowledge us, we’re a happy family’.”

The Kid watched as the different emotions ran across his partner’s expressive face.  Confusion, shock, deep hurt, betrayal, and settling on anger. He winced, half expecting a teeth rattling blow to the jaw.  Instead, a flicker of understanding was crossing Heyes’ face as he turned his attention back to Lom.

“You telling me Amelia and ….. my errrr son are here, right now in Porterville? Where?  You got to take me to them Lom!” Heyes demanded, jumping up so quickly his chair clattered to the floor.

The sound snapped Lom out of his shocked silence at the partners’ exchange. “No wait Heyes. How old is this Amelia?  She was a love interest is that right, so kinda pretty I’d imagine?”

Still standing, Heyes answered, “Yeh real pretty, she’d be in her late twenties now I reckon.”

The Kid added, “Yeh she’s pretty, a good match for Heyes, likes to talk books and that.  They had an attraction for each other straight off.”

Lom looked at them thoughtfully. “Definitely not the woman who came here, then. She’s an older woman, middle aged at least. All straight laced and business like. Not Heyes’ type at all. Poor little fella looked downright miserable. I only saw that unmistakable dimpled grin when I gave him a candy stick, which he skilfully pocketed before the woman saw it, another natural talent picked up from his Pa I’d say!”

The Kid allowed himself a small smile of amusement at that statement, before turning serious again and watching for his partner’s next move.

“Come on Lom – take us to her so we can find out what’s going on!” Heyes called over his shoulder as he made for the door, closely followed by the Kid.

Grabbing his hat as he scrambled after them, Lom shouted, “Hold on boys you’re going the wrong way, go right not left!” Lom led them to a respectable boarding house a few blocks down from their own hotel, where the owner showed them into a comfortable parlour.

“Gentlemen, make yourselves comfortable won’t you – I’ll inform Miss Young of your presence directly,” she said as she left the room.

A formidable woman of indefinable age confidently strode into the room.

Looking expectantly past her, Heyes asked, “Where’s the boy?”

“Ah Mr Heyes I presume? I’m Miss Young, I’ve been instructed by the late Mrs Amelia Robertson’s lawyer, as laid out in her Will, to hand you this letter personally.”

Still reeling from the shock of hearing the words ‘late Mrs Robertson’ Heyes took the sealed envelope from the hand thrust out before him and opened it with trembling hands.

 Miss Young continued, “Depending on your decision once you have read the letter, I am to leave the boy in your care or take him on to Cheyenne,  to deposit him at a decent school as a permanent boarder. His fees and expenses will be covered by a moderate Trust fund.”

“Dear Hannibal,

If you are reading this letter it means I have passed on already and I truly regret I  was unable to speak with you personally.  Everything has happened so quickly I barely had a chance to make my wishes known.

My dear husband Lewis, took ill just a few short months ago and passed away within the week and alas, I will be joining him very soon.

I want you to know that he was a good, loving husband and a doting father to Joshua and I grew to love him dearly.  You will be aware by now that Joshua is your son.  He is a wonderful boy and it is my dearest wish that you have the chance to be his Pa and give him the love he needs. I understand this may be a big shock to you, unless your partner has told you of our encounter a few years ago.  I hope you can forgive me for keeping this secret from you, but I want you to know I have never regretted or forgotten our brief encounter. I have made the best arrangements I possibly can for Joshua if you decide you cannot take him, but I have faith in you Hannibal.

I always loved you.

Amelia xxx

Heyes looked up from the letter with tears in his eyes and his voice shaky said, “Miss Young, bring my son to me, I’m taking him home.”

Heyes passed the letter to his partner, the look between them conveying the need for support from one and a plea for forgiveness from the other.  The Kid quickly read the letter and drew his cousin in to ua full hug.  They turned as the woman ushered a reluctant child through the doorway.

“Come along Joshua, best behaviour now!” she admonished, trying to push the unruly hair back from his face, while he squirmed away from her.

“Hello Joshua,” Heyes was surprised at the calmness in his own voice as the boy lifted his head and looked into the face of his father. His eyes grew wide with recognition and before he knew it he was running to Heyes and being scooped up into a fierce hug. Their connection was instinctual and the others in the room felt it too.

It became obvious that Miss Young had adequately taken care of his physical needs, but her nurturing skills were woefully lacking and it had taken some time and much effort from Heyes and ‘Uncle Jed’ to coax a wide dimpled grin from their new son/nephew.

A few days before Christmas, Jed Curry, couldn’t keep the soppy grin from his face, as he looked over his shoulder at the sleeping father and son snuggled together under a wool rug, in the back of the buggy. They had just pulled up to Heyes’ cabin and the inviting light coming from the windows, smell of home cooking and the Christmas wreath on the front door, confirmed  that his wife had received his telegram.

With a mischievous grin he startled the pair awake with a booming, “Ho ho ho Merry Christmas!” Then with a soft smile he quietly said, “Wake up - we’re home.”