They had dinner in their room. Half way through the meal there was a knock on the door, and Heyes and Curry quickly exchanged wondering looks. Heyes gestured for Tara to get behind the door as he walked over to it and asked who was there.
“Telegraph for you.” Heyes looked at Curry, who loosed his gun from its holster, then opened the door a few inches. There stood a skinny, fair haired boy, maybe 10 years old. He was peering past the door, trying to see into the room. Heyes moved to block his view.
“Here you go,” he said finally, passing a folded piece of paper to Heyes then turning on his heels and dashing away down the hall.
Heyes quickly shut and locked the door, then opened the paper. It was blank.
“What do you suppose that means?” Curry asked.
“I don’t know,” Heyes answered soberly. He turned to Tara. “You better stay in here with us tonight. You take the bed, we’ll take the chairs.”
It must have been one or two o’clock in the morning when Curry heard it. Click. He cautiously opened his eyes to see the door of their room creep open. Barely moving his head, he peered as far to his right as he could, Heyes was also awake and watchful.
A large figure moved stealthily into the room towards the dresser opposite where Curry and Heyes slumped at the table. The figure hesitated at the foot of the bed and looked upon the sleeping figure, then continued on to the dresser where Tara’s bag rested. He opened it up and began rummaging through it. He pulled something out, then froze at the click of Curry’s gun.
“You might want to put that down.” Curry whispered softly. The figure said nothing and didn’t move.
“I’d do as he says,” Heyes added. The figure slowly turned around, holding up his arms, the bag in one hand and something bulky in his other. He took a few cautious steps toward them and stopped by the door.
Suddenly he threw the bag at Curry, whose gun went off. Heyes lept up and grabbed the intruder as he swung the door open. Heyes felt a whack on his the side of head and fell back as Curry reached for the man and missed him, instead grabbing onto the book which the stranger held. Curry heard a rip and then felt a fist explode on the side of his face as the intruder broke away and raced down the hall.
“What’s going on? What’s happening?” Tara cried out.
“Shhhhh, it’s all right.” Curry assured her as he shut and locked the door. He strode to the window in time to see the intruder’s dark figure cross the street below and disappear down an alley. Heyes lit the table lamp and was rubbing the side of his head.
“Was it him?” Tara cried pulling the blankets tightly around her.
Heyes and Curry exchanged a meaningful glance.
“We can’t be sure of that,” Heyes answered, picking up her bag from the floor where the intruder threw it.
“It was him! He found me! He’ll never leave me alone!” She panicked, and Curry left the window to sit beside her and put his arm around her.
“He’s gone now, Tara.” Curry said gently. “And we got a plan to get him so he won’t ever hurt you again.” She looked up, his deep blue eyes were sincere and calming, and her fear began to subside.
“Is anything missing?” Heyes asked, handing her the travel bag. He and Curry watched as she upended it on the bed and fumbled through her things, among which they spied the diary and the Derringer.
“Every thing seems to be here except the bible my father gave me.” Tara sighed, putting it all back in the bag.
“You okay?” Curry asked his partner.
“Yeah, if you don’t count my pounding head,” Heyes grimaced. “How about you?”
“I”ll live,” Curry answered, rubbing the side of his face.
“What the heck did he hit me with?” Heyes asked.
“The other part of this,” Curry held up the thick, hard leather cover of Tara’s bible. The side
where it was torn from the binder was ragged and loose and Heyes looked at it curiously.
“That’s it!” Heyes said suddenly, taking the cover from Curry. He peeled further the opening from the binder side, and found a hidden pocket, in which was….
“Look at this.” Heyes grinned, withdrawing a folded paper. The three of them moved to the table and crowded around as Heyes opened it up under the lamplight.
“A list?” Curry asked, looking at the handwritten columns of names and numbers.
“Is that what Strutford was looking for?” Tara asked.
“Ah ha, ah ha,” Heyes nodded excitedly, pointing along the page. “This shows the clients he’s been stealing from.”
“How did you know about that?” Tara asked in surprise, looking up at Heyes. “I don’t remember telling you.”
Curry’s expression was easily read by Heyes: how are you going to talk yourself out of this one?
“Well, it’s kinda obvious,” Heyes recovered quickly. “These have to be his clients, their fees, and this here’s the amount he’s been cheating them.” He flipped the page over. “And this must be the people he’s been paying off.”
“Harold Cordal is the sheriff,” Tara pointed out. “And William Mason is a judge.”
“No wonder he wanted it so badly,” Curry realized.
“I had it all the time and I didn’t even know.” Tara said sadly. “I wish my father had told me.”
“He probably didn’t have time to.” Heyes said. “Strutford must have found out he took it before…” He didn’t finish his thought, glancing surreptiously at Tara.
“Well we got it now,” Curry said quickly.
“And that makes our position a whole lot stronger.” Heyes smiled. “We better get some sleep.
I don’t think we’re gonna be disturbed again tonight.” But just the same he secured one of the chairs under the doorknob.
“I doubt he’ll have the money with him,” Heyes predicted the next morning over breakfast. They were keeping a watch out the window for the arrival of Strutford. “He’ll want to see that I have the document first, which of course I won’t have on me. Then I’ll set a meeting at an hour’s time at that old cabin we saw outside of town.”
“Joshua, I don’t feel real comfortable you meeting him without me,” Curry frowned.
“Nice of you to care, Thaddeus,” Heyes said, “but now that he knows where we are, we can’t leave Tara alone. What if he slips out after we leave the hotel and circles back up here? Don’t worry, you’ll be with me when we meet up with him later. That’s when it’ll really count.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Curry said. “I just don’t like it.”
Finally Strutford rode up and entered the saloon. “Wish me luck,” Heyes said, and left the room. Curry and Tara watched from the window as Heyes crossed the street below and went into the saloon. However, he came back out just moments later. He looked up at Curry and shrugged with his hands out in an easily read gesture of where is he? Curry shook his head, neither he nor Tara had seen Strutford leave. Heyes stood before the saloon, looking up and down the street, but there was no sign of him.
Curry didn’t like this. He got a knot in his belly as he watched Heyes. What was Strutford up to?
“Tara, take out your gun and go sit on the bed.” She silently followed his instructions. He watched Heyes finally cross the street towards the hotel. When Heyes got back to the room, he’d figure out what they should do next. That is, if Strutford didn’t show up first.