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 The New Teacher Part Three #2 (5,950 words) unfinished thread

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Cal

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PostSubject: The New Teacher Part Three #2 (5,950 words) unfinished thread   Sat May 13, 2017 11:26 am

---oooOOOooo---


The new Teacher
By Cal


---oooOOOooo---

PART THREE
continued...

(Scene 19 – 1,600 words)

Kid
Kids eyes had opened at the very first promise of morning. 

With a passing grunt, from the lump in the low gloom on the other side of the fire, he had headed up into the tree cover to seek the hunting trail of the ancient tribe, that had walked these hills for generations.

The early part of the trail was, almost, clear.  It was marked by a low crop of sparse vegetation, lower than that under the surrounding trees, anyway. Broken twigs, and some disturbed ground, from the boots of other more recent explorers, confirmed it was the trail heading up to the ridge above. 

But as he climbed the indicators got fewer, then petered out altogether. 

And the going got harder.  

Several times he thought he was following the right track, just to come across an impossible leap up or down, fine for a jump buck deer, not so fine for a man in a sheepskin coat, carrying a rifle and a canteen, wearing heeled riding boots. 

At the end of one such impasse, Kid sat, to swill his dry lips with cold fresh stream water, and take stock.  

He would have to retrace his steps, again. 

He inspected the rifle, weighing it in his hands.  He would get Cora some game, at least.  He knew now, that the forest ran with deer, undisturbed by the humans confined to the dusty, smoke-filled town, way way below at the side of the lazy river.

He sat quietly, looking down into a small glade, where countless deer must have landed, having launched themselves into space from this rock on which he sat, hemmed in.

A mother deer brought her fawn out into the glade, to eat the new leaves, as they caught the first rays of true morning sunshine.  She looked up, shocked, staring for a whole second, as Kid stood and touched his hat to her with a smile as he turned to retrace his steps.  

He’d get a little further up the trail, before he burdened himself with a kill to carry.  He’d seen evidence of cat predation, so he couldn’t think of leaving a kill out on the side of the trail till he returned.  

No, he’d try and relocate the main trail and get up as far as the ridge if he could.  

He wanted to see the rail tracks, maybe even the tunnel. He needed to know they had options.  Safe ways to leave town.

Right now, this trail was looking… near useless.

---oooOOOooo---

Unusable, hopeless… inadequate, impractical… ineffectual… that was one of Heyes’ words.  Kid thought it fit the situation… the circumstance… that was another one of Heyes’ big words.

Kid had made up his mind. 

The trail was no back door. Not on foot, and definitely not on horseback. They’d have to risk the road, or the train to leave town.  This trail wasn’t an option. 

About an hour after he’d seen that mother and fawn, he’d come across a mud slide, at the base of a land slip.  The trees had prevented it travelling too far down the slope, and it didn’t look like it had happened any time recently. But effectively, that was the end of the line.
 
He’d tried climbing up it, and had ended up just rolling back down it, in a tumbling mass of mud an scree.  
He’d tried to skirt around it, but he just kept finding that wall of mud.  And it kept pushing him further and further away from the ridge trail.

Eventually he’d given up, and concentrated on hunting.

It just confirmed what he already knew.

Their backdoor was locked up tight.

Useless.

Other words played in his head, as he bounced back down the trail, under the weight of a hefty jump buck slung across his shoulders.  

Eventually, he recognised the clearer trail that marked his approach to the Stumpery. The waft of the cook fire smoke came up from below and tickled at his nostrils.  

His stomach rumbled, and he grinned at the promise of coffee.  He just had to hope someone had beaten his partner to the pot.

What was Heyes gonna make of his news? Would this effect his planning?

Kid rolled his eyes.

Heyes.

What was Heyes thinking, bringing them all the way up here, into the forest, to hide out without knowing for sure they had a back door?  That was the problem.  Heyes wasn’t thinking. Wasn’t thinking properly. He was letting an eight-year-old girl do his thinking for him.  

That was so unlike Heyes. To let anyone, do the thinking… never mind a child.  But Heyes had let Frankie get under his skin, somehow.  

Kid sighed with a smirk.  

There was many a grown woman, Kid could think of, that would have paid good money to learn that little trick from Frankie.  

Heyes so rarely let anyone in. 

Not for real.

But Frankie, had Heyes’ mind… all tangled up… somehow.  He’d only known her five minutes.  How’d she DO that? 

TO HEYES!

Kid laughed.  

His famous… genius…  cousin… the great Hannibal Heyes… notorious outlaw leader of the Devils Hole gang… befuddled… (another Heyesian word) …by a four-foot female… Ha!

Kid dropped the large deer carcass at the edge of the glade.  It’d need cleaning, but it could wait till after he’d had coffee.
 
He walked over to the still reclining lump by the cook fire.

Heyes greeted him with a week nod from his blanket.

“Heard the shot” he said gruffly, sitting up and stretching his shoulders, and running his fingers back through his hair.

“Coffee?” he grunted, screwing up his eyes to see if the pot was already on the fire.

“You go wash up… I can do that…” said Kid reaching for the coffee pot, but noticing something else by Heyes’ bedroll.  

“Heyes… Did you have to drink ALL the whiskey, last night?” he added sourly, picking up the empty bottle, scouring the base for dregs.

No answer, Heyes just yawned loudly.

Kid watched as Heyes gingerly got to his feet, and meandered to the stream, using just the one eye to navigate. 

Not a lot of hope that the genius was thinking any clearer this morning then, thought Kid. 

Heyes let out a startled gasp, as his head plunged into the freezing water.

Kid shook his head knowingly.  He’d had the same rude awakening himself, just a coupla hours ago. 

This could go one of two ways, he thought.  Depending on just how sore his partner’s head was this morning. 

Heyes hadn’t chewed Kid out for the bungled rescue of the schoolteacher yesterday, and Kid didn’t know why. 

That worried him.

And now Heyes has a mind, to open the safe at Widget’s place… and maybe even rob the town bank… all… to become… shareholders… in a mine that ain’t even dug yet.  

It sounded like a… a… ‘n ineffectual …circumstance …if Kid had ever heard of one.

But…

Maybe, Heyes knew more than he did.  

Heyes nearly always steered him right.  Maybe it was like that this time.  Maybe Heyes had an ace up his sleeve and was just waiting for the right time to play it. Heyes always claimed to be a genius. Maybe this plan… to be shareholders in a mine …was just that.

Genius.

Kid just couldn’t see it yet.

The genius, behind the bushes back at the stream, groaned loudly as he emptied his bladder.

Someone had already set last night’s logs back to a deep red glow in the cook pit.  Kid shook fresh coffee grounds into the pot, and set it to warm up.  Then he took their stale mugs to the stream for a cursory splash.

Heyes emerged from the bushes, straightening up his clothes and shaking his wet hair like a dog. He put a warm welcoming smile on his face for Kid, and greeted him afresh, like he’d forgotten they’d already done that bit.  He had that smug, can’t wait to share my news with you, face on.

Kid raised his eyebrows, and looked resolved to hear what had been decided in his absence last night.

The absence’s name, was Cynthia, and he’d restricted himself to just a coupla slugs of whiskeys.  He’d only been in town for an hour or two at most.
 
When he’d returned, Heyes was deep in animated conversation with the miners and Maxwell under the wagon sheet.  He’d looked up for a second, obviously relieved to see Kid hadn’t gotten himself into any more trouble, but he was in full sway, so Kid had ridden on through. Climbed the trail to their chosen Stumpery, and fell in his blankets.  

He vaguely remembered Heyes flopping down in his bed roll across the fire, a coupla hours later.

Kid indicated that coffee was up.  And that he’d need coffee, before hearing whatever Heyes had gotten Janx, Maxwell and the others to agree to, last night.

Had they gone for Heyes’ big plan?  

Heyes said it would get them a stake… give them a chance… maybe even allow them to hide out in Mexico or Canada for a few years…  ‘til the dust settled down …after the amnesty came through.

Kid could not even let himself contemplate the possibility that the amnesty wouldn’t come through some day. 

They didn’t have a plan B for that. 

When they were gang leaders, they’d always had a plan B.  Sometimes they’d even have a plan C. But not this time.  This time they were pinning all their hopes on plan A.

I need coffee, thought Kid. 

Please let this plan, be as genius, as Heyes thinks it is.

We could sure use us a stake.

---oooOOOooo---




(Scene 20 – 1,600words)

Heyes

Hannibal Heyes happily joined Kid in the butchering of the deer at the edge of the glade.  Gave him a chance to fill Kid in on his scheming.

“Ten percent…. Ten percent Kid…. Do you realise what that could mean… Ten percent share in a mine. And we’re in at the very beginning… I mean they haven’t even broke ground yet… And the best part is … we don’t even have to do any of the actual digging… That’s getting done for us… by experts! We’ve just gotta sit back and wait for our money to come rolling in… I’m gonna ask Brubekker to open us a bank account… US…. A bank account… What do you make of that?”

He chuckled, hanging on to the carcass as Kid pulled at the skin.

Kid snorted as the leg pulled free of the skin.

“I’m hearing you Heyes… But… what I’m NOT hearing is … just what we’ll be doing t’earn this ten percent.” 

Kid pulled on the rope, that sent the skinned carcass up into the air, and tied it off.

“Ten percent… that’s a lot… of something… And this is something they’ve been prepared to sit and wait on …till the time is right… so they won’t be planning on handing over that much… not without a lot of… something… coming back from us… in return.”

Kid plunged his knife into the mid-line and started ripping.

Heyes took a step back from the falling gore.

“Well …yeah… That’s the beauty of my plan… Kid… see …all I promised we’d do is… go get the papers from Widget’s safe… the ones showing Maxwell has the mineral right to the land Emma Widget left him… That way… they can go stake a proper claim on the place… all nice and legal.  Nothing wrong in that! And they know… surety or no surety… if they can’t show legal claim to the mineral rights on that land, to the investment banker on Thursday… Well… there ain’t gonna be any mine.”

Heyes’ rolled his eyes.

“They need us.  Like I told them… ninety percent of something… is better than a hundred percent of nothing. All we’ll be doing is helping make it all nice and legal for them.”

“Legal?!” snorted Kid, concentrating on his work.

“Getting them papers… That’s house breaking, Heyes… And stealing… in anyone’s book… especially Lom’s… or the Governor’s! That’s just the sort of trouble we’re supposed to be keeping out of.”

Heyes’ hands found his hips.
 
Kid was just doing what Kid always did.  

Playing Devil’s advocate.  Making him explain everything… just to prove he’d already thought through all the angles.  Kid was good at spending money, but it took a real genius like him, to have the foresight, to see the value of a sure-fire investment like this. 
 
“It isn’t house breaking, Kid …not if someone invites you in, it isn’t…” he said reassuringly to Kid’s back.

Kid continued taking out his disquiet about the whole scheme, on the carcass, hacking and sawing with his knife.
He merely grunted his unrest. 

Then Heyes was handed a large, bloody haunch to hold.

“And,” Heyes added encouragingly.  

“We happen to know someone who lives there…” 

“Frankie” stated Kid flatly, putting a second haunch on top of the first.

“Let me see…” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.  

“It’s OK …Your Honour… We didn’t break into the house… No… We just asked an eight-year-old girl to open a window for us…”

Kid set the liver and other delicacies to one side for a quick pan fry, before he took the bulk of the meat down to Cora and Bridgette.

Heyes looked around for somewhere to put down the still warm, and rather pungent, meat in his arms.  He couldn't see anywhere suitable, and finally just dropped it where he stood, wiping his hands down the back of his pants.

“OK,” he said to his younger cousin’s broad shoulders.  

“It’s a grey area… I’ll grant you that… But Kid… it’s not like we’ll be stealing anything… Widget was gonna give Maxwell them papers, by now, anyway… it’s just he happens to be…”

Heyes didn’t want to say ‘dead’.  They didn’t know for sure yet, Widget was dead.
 
“Dead” said Kid with finality, stabbing the knife into what was left of the carcass. 

His hands, and the knife, running with red gore.

“…Indisposed…” said Heyes more delicately.

“Anyhow… There ain’t gonna be any judge asking us how we broke in… I mean… how we got into the house… coz there ain’t gonna be no robbery… so… there ain’t gonna be no trial… coz we ain’t gonna get caught.”

Kid’s shoulders dropped. He blew out a long, indulgent breath, stopped what he was doing, and turned to give Heyes his full attention.

“Let me get this straight,” he said emphatically.  

“We break in…er…I mean, we get invited… into the house. You open the safe.  You give Maxwell the papers he needs… And for that… they’re willing to give away a ten percent stake in a mine… And we just have to sit back …and wait for them to send us a share of the profits.”

Heyes nodded vigorously, eyes wide and innocent.  

Too innocent… 

He should have toned it down a little on the innocent….

Kid’s eyes narrowed.

Heyes saw it and grinned.

“Well… there maybe … just a little more to it than that… But essentially that’s it… right there… what you said… that’s the deal…”

“Heyes… I know you… There’s something you’re not telling me …”

Kid took a step closer to his cousin.

“What is it?”

Kid didn’t mean it threateningly, but he was never the less, waving the bloody butchering knife at Heyes.

“Well… there may be just a little more… I haven’t mentioned yet…”

Heyes turned his back on Kid, and began to pace away, swinging his arms wide.

“A detail... “

The silver tongue was stretched.

“There’s just a chance… there may be… a little trouble … when it comes to filing the actual claim… at the Land Office …in town… I might …have said …You’d be willing to help out… on security… Go with them … just for reassurance… just as back up… They only got the one shotgun that’s still fireable… I mean…You did shoot the other one outta Jenkins’ hands… now he says that one is… ineffectual…”

Kid dropped his head and snorted.

Heyes ploughed on regardless.

“I mean …they’re gonna need help… It would only be as a precaution… just in case… there was a problem… Don’t mean there’s gonna be a problem… but…”

Heyes sighed and came clean, continuing his pacing, his head wagging from side to side.

“Seems there’s been some bother recently… for people that own land in these parts… Spencer’s had his fancy lawyers, looking at his daddy’s land holdings.  Maxwell thinks that, the new strike over at the Spencer mine was a lie, and Spencer’s got investors breathing down his neck.  He’s looking for new seams under the adjacent land, and claiming the mineral rights belonged to his Daddy all along.”

Heyes took on the lecturing tone of …a new teacher

“His henchmen have been hanging around the Land office… and Maxwell thinks… as Spencer don’t exactly agree that the land Emma left him, is his in the first place… let alone the mineral rights…  Well… There may be trouble.”

Heyes turned to find he was looking directly at Kid’s chest wall.
 
He stopped short, finding Kid’s face far too close to his own. The sapphire blue eyes held a touch of the gunslinger steel glare.

“Oh…”

“And just what is it… you’ve said …that I’d be willing to do about any of this… Heyes?” said Kid very slowly.

Heyes focused in on the bloody knife, his eyes nearly crossing at the tip. He shrugged at Kid, and smiled broadly, shaking his head.

“Well… whatever needs doing I suppose” he tried lamely.

“On the plus side… I told them we definitely wouldn’t be robbing the bank!”

Heyes shook his head vigorously.

“I mean… No one’s gonna invite us into the bank, now, are they? So… that would be stealing! Even if we were …planning to put it back… it wouldn’t make any difference.  I told them we definitely don’t do that no more.”

You did?” said Kid, rather taken aback dropping the bloody knife to his side.

“You did. Well… good… That’s good, Heyes… coz we don’t… we don’t do that no more.”

Heyes nodded enthusiastically.  He could see he’d made inroads with Kid.  He was beginning to win his cautious partner around.  

“That’s right,” he smiled, turning Kid around at the shoulders, and slapping him on the back.

“That’s right… No bank robberies for us… we’re just ordinary honest citizens now… Just like everyone else.  All we’re doing is… helping out …some local entrepreneurs… to acquire some documents they need… and doing a little protection work, while they file a legal claim… After all, Kid… security IS your forte…”

“My what?”

Heyes rode on over Kid’s confusion, eager to emphasise the overall objective.

“And then …all we have to do …is sit back …and watch all that lovely profit… come rolling in to our new bank account.”

Heyes made it all sound so simple.

Kid looked a bit bemused. 
 
“Ontra… per…what?” he asked.

---oooOOOooo---

(scene 21 – 1000 words)
which is wrong, because it isn’t a scene, it’s a journal.  My journal.

Frankie

This is my journal. 

Theodore Smith said that I should keep a journal, because I told him about the train robbery, when Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry opened the safe on Daddy’s train, and he said

“My, Emelda… er… Frankie, what an exciting and dangerous life you have led. Already. And you are only eight years old.  Who knows what you shall become, in the future, with such adventurous experiences behind you.  You should keep a journal, so that, when you are as famous as your Daddy and come to write your memoirs, you will have a reference.”

That’s a good idea, because old people get confused (and probably too scared) and forget how to do things, like robbing banks.  

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry are too old (and probably too scared and grouchy) to rob Daddy’s bank.

So Fred and me are going to have to rob the bank.

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry said, they couldn’t tell me why they won’t help rob Daddy’s bank, because it is a secret, an outlaw secret, and they couldn’t tell anyone.  

Which is a lie. 

When Fred Janx and me did sneaking back, after school today, to the Stumpery, we heard Hannibal Heyes tell Mr Maxwell

“…we’re not at liberty to explain… all the ins and outs… but let’s just say …a good friend of ours has a friend in high places …that just might see fit to wipe our (p)late clean… if we can stay out of trouble …and out of jail …long enough for him to decide the time is right… but its gotta remain a secret till then…”

Which means that, they’ve already told the secret to Liberty, and another friend, and his friend too, and Mr Maxwell, and they haven’t shrivelled up and died.
 
And I know fine well, that Kid Curry doesn’t need anyone to help him wipe his plate clean, because I’ve seen him eat, and he does it himself, a lot.  

And, so can Hannibal Heyes.  

Fred’s mom cooked near a whole deer, it looked like. And Hannibal Heyes didn’t even leave gravy on his plate.

But they are both grouchy when they finished wiping their plates clean. 

Very grouchy.
 
And Hannibal Heyes got shout-y and Kid Curry got all sweetheart-y.  

Which is just silly.

Hannibal Heyes said

We just can’t …and that’s it! I don’t have to explain myself to you anymore… I’ve told you …six times now, Frankie… Kid and me… we don’t rob banks and trains anymore… Now enough… that’s it… that’s final… No more discussion… No more arguments… Jeez …what does it take…”

And then Kid Curry said

“It’s OK, Honey (YUK!)… what Heyes is trying to tell you, is…”

“She knows fine well what I’m trying to tell her… I already told her… SIX TIMES!”

“What Heyes …is trying to explain to you, Darlin’ (DOUBLE YUK!) …is that …we’d get in a whole lot of trouble if we went and robbed that bank tomorrow. We could get away… sure we could… a long way away… But it wouldn’t be enough… It would still get out …that it was us that robbed that bank… and then… well… we wouldn’t get… the thing that we want… the secret thing… that he said.”

Fred said it was time for us to go, because he said Hannibal Heyes was about to blow. 

Hannibal Heyes was puffing a bit.  He wasn’t blowing.  He was walking back and forth with his hands on his hips and rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

And it wasn’t six times.  It was five.

Yesterday, when he said I had to go home.  I waited, till he forgot what he just said, and then he said I could go with him to the Stumpery.

So, I waited this time too.

Kid Curry turned me around, by touching my shoulders (TRIPLE YUK!), and pushed me towards Fred.  

I am not going to be Kid Curry’s sweetheart. I’m going to be an outlaw, and Fred and me are going to rob the bank.  We broke Mr Laidlaw outta jail.  We can rob a bank, easy. I got a real good plan. We don’t need grouchy Hannibal Heyes, because I already know the combination to the bank safe, and no one needs a sweet-hearting gunslinger, whose probably too old and scared to help, anyway.

Kid Curry said

“Just… Run along and play with Fred, Darling (JUST MORE YUK!)  You said all your gonna… Just go… Go Play… Go on.”

But, he was wrong.  I had two more words to say.

I was right to wait.

Before we even got to the trees, Hannibal Heyes, who is very grouchy and forgetful, did shouting again. And we turned around, and looked at him, and he tried to do dimples. But it didn’t look like a proper smile, with dimples, because smiles are meant to be happy. This one looked like he was feeling sick.

He said

“Frankie! We need to come to your house tonight.  I’m going to show you how to open the safe in your daddy’s study… You’d like that wouldn’t you… For me to show you how to listen to tumblers… How to open the safe.  Well …we need you to invite us in… please…”

He is still grouch-y… and shout-y… and old… and confused… and forgetful… and wasn’t nice that time he put his smelly old glove over my mouth… and he can’t keep secrets …and he tells lies…

But I do want him to show me how to open safes by listening to tumblers.

So, I said, I might.

---oooOOOooo---


(Scene 22 – 1,750words)

Kid


“It’s that one” whispered Heyes, stood out in the grounds of the Big House, hidden from view behind some blowsy shrubs. 

“And just what makes you so darn sure… that’s Widget’s study, Heyes” said a weary sounding Kid.

“And don’t go telling me… its ‘coz you’re some kind of genius.”



The genius had taken some pacifying, after a visit to the Stumpery from the World’s most annoying eight-year-old. And then, the discovery that the trail over the ridge wasn’t anything like an escape route, had just made things worse. 

Kid hadn’t spared Heyes any of his well-practised adjectives, in giving his partner his opinion of their current …. circumstance. 

They’d talked it over. 

A lot. 

And they’d decided that the chance of a proper stake, for their future, to go lie low in Mexico or Canada, or even overseas, was worth the risks of continuing with Heyes’ hair brain plan. 

That was another one of Kid’s adjectives.

So here they were.



“It’s gotta be that one… ‘coz it’s the only one on the ground floor … that hasn’t had the drapes closed. Widget probably told the servants they weren’t to go into his study when he was away… so …they wouldn’t go in there to close the drapes… Its simple logic Kid.”

Heyes looked pityingly at his slower, younger partner, his lips pressed together in a tight line, eyebrows raised.

“Come on…”

Kid sighed heavily. 

Why did he listen to Heyes?

He looked out across the courtyard, and seeing no threat from either corner of the house, followed Heyes in a low crouching run to the chosen window. 

Heyes was already working the lock.

“Why are you trying to open the parlour window, Hannibal Heyes?” whispered Frankie.

Both ex-outlaws spun on their heels, Kids Colt pointed out at the night over the head of a disgruntled looking eight-year-old, stood behind them with her hands on her hips. 

Heyes juggled his flying lock picks back into his pockets.

“Frankie? … Hi… We didn’t think you’d make it… Parlour? Not your Daddy’s study?”

Kid’s eyes rolled as he holstered the Colt.

“It’s this way…” said Frankie sulkily, leading off around to the back of the house. 

Kid made an after you gesture to the sheepish looking genius. The study had French Doors, which had been left invitingly ajar. 

Frankie waved them in.

Kid sighed heavily again, taking a comfortable arm chair back to the doors, to sit on guard, Colt in hand. 

Frankie looked at him and frowned.

“There’s only Trinni and Dankworth in the house… And they’re both in the kitchen …doing drinking.”

Kid said nothing. 

He knew what a conversation with Frankie could lead to. He waved her over to Heyes with his Colt and a gunslinger stare. 

Heyes was already behind the desk swinging a large portrait of “Old man Spencer” off the wall. He smiled when he saw the make and model of the safe. He could open one of these in his sleep. 

Well almost.

He grasped the dial betwixt long dextrous digits, and lay his ear to the door of the safe, as his eyes closed. 

“Hmmmm!” coughed his impatient apprentice beside him. 

“You said you were going to show me how to do listening to tumblers.”

Heyes looked down annoyed for just a second, but seeing the small determined face, the crossed arms and the big yellow bow above the spectacles, he smiled and nodded.

“Let me find the first click, and I’ll let you listen…” he instructed taking on the air of… a school teacher.

Frankie nodded her agreement, and watched as Heyes eyes closed again and the dial was moved ever so slowly.

Kid checked the door to the passage and the hallway beyond. Satisfied, he returned to the French doors and concentrated on the expanse of courtyard that ran the length of the back of the house. It was nearly full dark, and the two servants had noisily climbed the stairs to bed.

Over by the safe the lesson continued. 

Kid shook his head and sighed out his disapproval of the time being wasted in his opinion. He’d seen Heyes crack enough safes to know this could have been over a long time ago. 

Frankie was stood on a chair doing the listening. 

Heyes was practically turning the dial for her, his hand hovering over hers, without actually touching it, of course.

They needed to be moving this along.

“Heyes!” he whispered across the room.

Heyes shh’ed him with a wince and turned back to his pupil.

“I got it!” whispered Frankie. 

“That’s the last number… We found all four…” she said excitedly. 

Heyes beamed, showing her the piece of paper as he wrote the last number down for her.

“Well what are you waiting for? You got the whole combination now… You should be able to open it.”

Frankie’s eyes were wide as saucers. Her small hands turned the dial carefully as she checked off the numbers on the paper… then… she held the lever and pulled on it with both hands. 

The lever fell, and the safe door swung open.

Heyes looked back to Kid with pride like he was expecting a round of applause.

“Just get on with it!” spat Kid.

“Find that darn paper… we came for …and let’s get outta here.”

Heyes helped Frankie down from the chair. Well, he would have done, if a look from Frankie hadn’t stopped him in his tracks. He chuckled, deciding instead to clear a space on the already groaning desktop, to start emptying the safe’s contents.

“Hmmmm!” coughed Frankie.

When Heyes looked up from the desk, Frankie handed him a large, scrolled up piece of parchment that had discoloured to near yellow with age.

“Oh…” said Heyes surprised, taking the parchment.

“This … this is it? This is what Maxwell needs?”

“Yes… I saw Daddy put it in there, when they had a will reading after mummy died” nodded Frankie.

“Daddy said… 

If you insist Steadman… I’ll have the lawyers look at it again… but you’ll find …you are just wasting my money… the legacy to Maxwell is sound... just as Emma wished it. 

And then he put it in the safe on top of the big pile of money.”

Heyes hadn’t missed the big pile of money.

Kid had seen the big pile of money from across the room.

There were also some deep blue velvet boxes that obviously contained the family jewels. 

Probably pearls 
… and diamonds… 
there were quite a few boxes.

Frankie slammed the safe door shut. 

Spun the dial and swung the painting of her grandfather back against the wall, before jumping back off the chair, and fixing both frozen partners with a quizzical look. 

“Hadn’t you better go and give that to Mr Maxwell?” she asked innocently.

Heyes looked like he was just coming around from a broken spell. He blinked hard.

“Yeah…” he coughed out, sounding strangled.

“Yeah…” echoed Kid from the French Doors.


A loud expletive cry from outside the French doors froze everyone to the spot.

“Ow! Darn strings!”

Kid pulled Heyes off his feet and they hit the floor behind an old leather sofa just as Wendell Widget walked into the study through the French doors, rubbing at his bloody knee, where his expensive trousers had ripped.

“Daddy!” shouted an over excited Frankie running straight at him and nearly knocking him off his feet again.

“Francesca? What are you doing…? Never mind that now… I suppose you were after my books… Quiet child… quiet… Is your Uncle Steadman in the house? I thought you’d all be in your beds…. Quiet child….”

Wendell put a hand over Frankie’s mouth to quash the inevitable long explanation that his questions would elicit from his only daughter.

Behind the sofa, Kid mouthed 

“Wendell Widget! I thought you said he was dead.” 

And drew a gloved finger across his neck in case Heyes couldn’t lip read.

Heyes could lip read. He answered silently.

“I don’t know… You said he was dead too! …” 

Heyes shrugged up his shoulders. Suddenly his eyes went wide.

“You don’t think he’s a “

Heyes mimed ghost by waving his hands about.

“Do you?”

Kid dropped his head into his hands, and when he looked up, Heyes got the message that Kid may just be a bit fed up with their current circumstance.

“You go back to bed …Darling… And I’ll come up and …and…read you a story …you’d like that… in just a little while. Uncle Steadman … and his men… they aren’t here… are they? I didn’t see any of them …coming in… Just …just …go back to bed … will you Francesca… and be very… very quiet…” 

Wendell Widget was trying to push his daughter closer to the study door. Frankie, came out of her rapture, at seeing this long longed-for parent, to stare up at him and ask

“Daddy… why did you come in through the garden? Why didn’t you use the big door like you usually do? Why is your knee bleeding? You did come and stand by my bed in the middle of the night when I was sleeping… didn’t you? Uncle Steadman said you were in Boston… Why don’t you want to see Uncle Steadman?...”

Other questions were in the queue waiting patiently. Wendell Widget’s shoulders slumped. Frankie had the bit between her teeth.

“Not now… there’s a good girl. I’ll answer all of your questions… but not now… I have to get …something from the safe …for Mr Maxwell… Is Mr Maxwell here?… Is he upstairs? …in his rooms?”

Frankie pursed up her lips. 

Her Daddy wasn’t going to answer her questions, but he was asking questions of his own. That didn’t seem fair.

She’d try another question. See if they could take turns.

“What do you want to get from the safe?” 

Frankie suddenly realised she could show her father she wasn’t a waste of education.

“I can get it for you!”

She ran to the painting dragging the chair behind her. The painting was swung. The dial expertly positioned and the safe door flung wide, before Wendell Widget had a chance to protest. He watched wide-eyed, as his eight-year-old daughter, breached the only security he had. He covered his face with his hands and asked hoarsely.

“How …did you learn …to do that?”


Behind the sofa two more faces were covered also. 

Eyes were closed, waiting for the inevitable answer to come from Frankie. 

They weren’t disappointed.

Two ex-outlaw heads dropped in silent groaning.

---oooOOOooo---
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