Posts : 244
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Norfolk, England
|Subject: Settling Wheat – Part Twenty Three (The Governor) Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:09 am|| |
Settling Wheat – Part Twenty Three (The Governor)“Jed, a telegram came while you in Salt River,” Mary said, holding it out to him.
“Caroline?” While he always liked correspondence from his wife, a telegram might be bad news.
“No, it’s from Cheyenne. It looks official.”
The Kid frowned as he took it. Heyes stretched his neck to see but the Kid moved away to read. Heyes rolled his eyes and puffed. Mary smiled and linked her arm through his. He smiled too. Mary seemed to have forgiven him for going to Salt River.
“Let’s leave Jed to his telegram. Come and tell me about your day. How’s your foot?”
Heyes limped off with her to the lounge. “Hurts now,” he said, going for sympathy.
“Poor darling,” Mary smoothed.
“Might need a kiss. That would make me feel better.” He gave a deep martyred sigh. “Just a li’l bit.”
The Kid smiled. He was in no doubt that Heyes would get his kiss. Shaking his head he tore open the envelope and read, Appointment made to see Governor. Tuesday next. 8am. Bring Brown and Cowdry. Gruber.”
He frowned. That was odd. The federal authorities had taken over all proceedings in The Pine Lake Affair, telling him to make himself available for the trial next month. He hadn’t expected to hear anything until then.
“Only one way to find out, Kid,” Heyes told him cheerfully when they met in the study later.
“Why d’ya think the Governor wants to see me? And Wheat? And Cowdry?”
Heyes shrugged. “I dunno. Perhaps … .” he paused, desperately thinking of a perhaps. “He has a basket of fruit for you,” he beamed, triumphantly The Kid rolled his eyes but Heyes was now in full flow. “Y’know to show his appreciation. For you being instrumental in bringing Bloodstone to justice.”
“Heyes.” The Kid gave a long-suffering sigh. “I’m sure an important and busy man like the Governor isn’t asking me to come all the way to Cheyenne to give me a basket of fruit!”
“Exactly! So it must be for something else,” Heyes said, logically.
“I dunno!” Heyes shrugged. “You’re gonna have to go and find out. Wheat and Paul were big parts of the operation.” Heyes licked his lips and smiled smugly. “I bet their baskets are bigger than yours,” he muttered, innocently looking up at the ceiling. Fortunately, either, the Kid didn’t hear or chose to ignore.
The Kid looked at him suspiciously. “D’you know something I don’t?”
Heyes shrugged. “Kid, I know many, many things.” He blinked innocently.
The Kid looked at him. “Heyes have I ever told you … ?”
ASJ ASJ ASJ ASJ“Why’d I have to wear a suit?” complained Wheat, as he fiddled yet again with his stiff new white shirt collar.
“’Cos ya going to see the Governor and ya need to look smart,” the Kid told him for the umpteenth time, straightening Wheat’s tie.
“Yous and Cowdry are goin’, don’t need me as well,” the smart man grumped.
“The Governor asked for you special. Ya gotta go and you’re going,” the Kid said, firmly. Heturned to Cowdry. “What d’ya think Paul?”
Cowdry cast the critical eye of a gentleman’s gentleman over the big man. He pursed his lips thoughtfully, tilted his head first one way then the other, sniffed and then pursed his lips again. Wheat glared at him, the Kid gave in to an amused look.
“He’ll do,” Cowdry declared, finally. “Just.”
“Now jus’ a dang … .” Wheat took a step forward towards Cowdry but the Kid caught his arm.
“Wheat, believe me that’s high praise,” the Kid said, glancing at a grinning Cowdry. At first, Cowdry’s comments had irritated him too but gradually he had begun to recognise them as valuable. Cowdry seemed to have a knack of saying what the Kid needed to hear, not wanted. He was never effusive in his praise, never flattering for the sake of flattering but never overstepped the mark either.
Wheat grumbled, not entirely mollified but conceding that the Kid knew the pesky va-lay better than he did.
“We’re ready let’s go,” the Kid said, picking up his derby.
Cowdry opened the door and the Kid walked through. As Cowdry looked back, Wheat had picked up his grubby, light grey Stetson.
“No,” Cowdry said, wrestling it from his hands. “Here.” He presented the new derby. Wheat glared. “Mr Brown. I know it’s hard sir but you ought to look your best. This is an important meeting.”
With another glare, Wheat snatched it from him and slammed it on his head. “That do ya?” he growled.
“Very nice,” Cowdry smiled, pleasantly.
Wheat stalked to the door, where the Kid was waiting. The Kid chuckled and shook his head after Wheat had passed him. Cowdry grinned.
ASJASJASJAJSJSometime later three smart men were sitting in the corridor outside the Governor’s office. Two minutes after the appointed hour, Gruber joined them.
“Gentleman! Good to see you again,” he grinned. The three got to their feet and it was theKid Gruber turned to first. “Mr Curry,” he smiled tight-lipped, as they shook hands, all pretence that he was Deputy Jones now gone.
Gruber turned to Cowdry. “Mr Cowdry.” They shook hands. Then Gruber turned to Wheat and looked him up and down. “Mr Brown. Very smart.”
Wheat grunted and sat down, folding his arms.
“I’ll just go and see what the hold-up is,” Gruber said and disappeared into the office.
The Kid and Cowdry returned to the seats either side of Wheat.
“I’ve got a real bad feelin’ ‘bout this Kid,” Wheat growled.
“Now Wheat we’ve been asked here for a reason.”
“Yeah an’ I knows what it is. To lock me up in the Wyoming Territorial Prison.”
“State prison,” Cowdry corrected and then when Wheat looked at him. “Wyoming is a state now.”
“I knows that! Still a prison!” Wheat grumbled.
The office door opened and a smiling Gruber appeared. “Uncle Amos will see you now.”
The Kid and Cowdry got up. “Uncle Amos?” the Kid mouthed at Cowdry, who shrugged.
They were about to enter the office when they realised Wheat hadn’t moved. If anything he looked like he was about to take off in the opposite direction. Taking an arm each they levered him to his feet.
Keeping Wheat firmly between them, they made their way through the outer office into theGovernor’s office. The first thing the Kid saw as he walked in was an elaborately decorated basket of fruit sitting on a side table. He went cold. No! He could just imagine the smug grin that would greet him if he returned to Amnesty with that.
The Governor stood up from behind his desk.
“Uncle, I’d like to present Mr Jedediah Curry.”
“Yes. Good morning,” Governor Barber said, walking around the desk. “Of course, I HAVE heard of you,” he added, as they shook hands.
“Yes sir. I figured ya might.”
“Mr Paul Cowdry.”
“Governor, pleasure to meet you.” They shook hands.
“And Mr Walter Brown.”
“Ah! Yes, Mr Brown.” The Governor extended his hand and the Kid nudged Wheat to accept.
“Take a seat, gentlemen this won’t take long,” said the Governor, retreating or so it seemed to Wheat, behind his desk. When everyone was seated, the Governor laced his fingers on his desk. “Muttie tells me … .” He stopped and laughed at the faces pulled in front of him. “Ah yes I should say Helmut. Muttie is a family name and it’s indiscreet of me to use it in a formal setting.” He cleared his throat. “Helmut has told me all about Nathan Bloodstone and how he now comes to reside in prison awaiting trial. The federal authorities are extremely relieved that he has finally been stopped. The Government has lost a fortune over the years as the result of Bloodstone’s nefarious dealings. The more the investigation proceeds the more things are uncovered.” He shook his head. “Shocking business. Of course, I know you’re aware the trial will commence next month but … well we shouldn’t prejudge these matters … but there are high hopes for a conviction. Especially with your testimonies Mr Curry, Mr Cowdry.”
Nods in agreement.
“I understand that this all came about because you were interested in purchasing a piece of land called Pine Lake. Is that correct, Mr Curry?”
“Yes sir. Looking for somewhere close to my cousin where I can built a summer retreat for me and my family. Kinda home from home. Get away from Boston for a while.” The Kid’s eyes strayed to the basket of fruit.
The Governor smiled knowingly. “And your cousin being Mr Heyes?”
The Kid returned his attention with a start. “Er yes sir. He lives quietly in Porterville these days. As I’m sure you’re aware.”
“Indeed. Mr Heyes has become quite the entrepreneur I believe.” The Kid nodded. “And I understand you’re going to be working for him, Mr Brown?”
“Er … .” Wheat swallowed hard and cleared his throat. “Yes that’s correct. Managing the store over at Salt River.”
“Well I hope it all goes well.” The Governor hesitated. “Which leads me very nicely onto whyI’ve asked you here. Sometime ago Sheriff Trevors came to see me about granting an amnesty … to a certain Wheat Carlson.” He looked hard at Wheat, who blanched. Here we go thought that man. “As you know I’m only acting in the role as Governor and at the time Trevors came to see me I didn’t feel able to grant that request. Instead, I opted to follow precedent and agree to review the situation in a year’s time. When I hoped I would be assured that there had been no more crimes committed by Wheat Carlson.” He paused. “I have now changed my mind.”
Wheat groaned and slumped in his chair.
“Given your involvement in Bloodstone’s apprehension and the fact that Mr Heyes has given you a job, I’m inclined to grant you amnesty now.”
“Now?” Wheat gasped. He sat up, suddenly interested.
“If you would like it of course,” the Governor added, faintly amused.
“Er … well … yeah … ‘course.” Wheat gave a short chortle. “Me. Amnesty. Sheesh!” The Kid nudged him and gave him a frown. “Well yes Governor thank you. I sure do appreciate that.”
The Governor looked amused as he opened his desk drawer. He brought out an official paper and dipped his pen in the ink well. “I’m prepared to fill this out and sign it now. However, there are three conditions, Mr Carlson which I would like your agreement on before I do that.”
“The first is that you will work for Mr Heyes for a period of no less than five years. I shall of course write to Mr Heyes with the conditions you are under in order to fulfil the terms of your amnesty. Which means Mr Carlson that you will not give Mr Heyes any reason to fire you during that time. Is that understood?”
“Yes sir,” Wheat swallowed and nodded.
“The second is to tell the sheriff in Salt River who you are and your restrictions. An officer of the law needs to know who’s abroad in his community. No doubt he will keep an eye on you.”
“And the third is you will of course have no contact with any criminals during that time. You will continue to live under the alias of Walter Brown. After five years if you want to reveal your true identity to those around you that will be your decision. Do I have your agreement to those conditions?”
“Well yes sir I understand. Walter Brown that’s me.”
“Good then I am happy to sign this.” The Governor started to fill in Wheat’s name and stopped. “Is your name really Wheat?”
Wheat moved uncomfortably. The Kid looked at him with interest. He knew Wheat wasn’t hisgiven name but had no idea what that was.
“No sir it ain’t. I mean it’s not.” The Governor waited for more. “It’s er … well it’s er … .” He rolled his eyes and his shoulders slumped in resignation. “It’s Walter.”
The Kid put a hand over his mouth to hide the grin. Cowdry just looked away to hide his. The Governor just smiled as he wrote Walter “Wheat” Carlson. He signed the bottom with a flourish, and blotted it. “Helmut, please have my secretary record this. You can collect it on your way out. Congratulations, Mr Carlson, you are now a free man.”
Wheat let out an audible sigh of relief. The Kid and Cowdry both patted him on the shoulder.
“Thank you sir.”
The Governor nodded and turned to Cowdry. “Now Mr Cowdry I understand without your intervention the situation might have turned out somewhat differently. Perhaps even losing the quarry entirely.”
“Well I … .” Cowdry shrugged modestly. “Spur of the moment sir. I didn’t plan it.”
“Nethertheless, your intervention allowed Sheriff Gunnison to make the arrest. I believe you’re originally from England Mr Cowdry?”
“And I also understand that it is the custom in that country to give the freedom of the city in acknowledgement of a public service.”
“I believe so sir.”
“Well then,” The Governor reached into the drawer again and brought out another official paper. He grinned almost boyishly. “First time I’ve given one of these. We’ve had to draw this up specially.” He dipped his pen and said aloud as he wrote, “Mr Paul Cowdry, I hereby grant to you the freedom of the city of Cheyenne.” He signed with a flourish, blotted and spun the paper round in Cowdry’s direction.
Cowdry got up and took it, shaking the Governor’s hand as he did.
“Thank you sir. I’ll treasure this.”
Both the Kid and Wheat leaned in to view the ornately decorated certificate, with it’s officially phrased wording, before Cowdry carefully rolled it up.
“Mr Curry.” The Kid’s gaze had drifted to the fruit basket again and he looked a little sick at the thought of having to accept it gracefully. The Governor followed his distraction. “It’s pretty isn’t it?”
The Kid sighed. “Yes sir.”
“It’s a long service award. I’m due to present it next.”
“Ah!” the Kid sighed with relief.
The Governor rubbed his chin and grinned mischievously. “Of course if you would like it, I’m sure we could find Lilian something else … .”
“No, no. I’ll not deprive Lilian of its pleasure.” Whoever Lillian is, he thought, lovely woman.“I’m sure she can make better use of it than I can,” the Kid smiled. Phew!
“Yes I’m sure she can.” He paused. “All I am going to say to you, Mr Curry is that the Department for Land Management has looked favourably on your request to purchase Pine Lake. If you would like to drop by the office afterwards then I’m sure you can negotiate to buy it. Of course you will have to adhere to the usual terms and conditions of sale for a piece of land with such valuable mineral rights on it as Pine Lake has.”
The Kid nodded with a pleased smile. “Thank you Governor I’ll do that.”
Gruber coming back into the office was the signal that their time was up. With a final shake of the Governor’s hand each, three pleased and proud men left. As Wheat collected his amnesty papers, Gruber drew the Kid aside.
“I’d just like to thank you, Mr Curry, for your assistance in this matter.”
The Kid grinned. “Aw, don’t think anything of it Gruber. It was a difficult case for your first time out.”
“Yes it was,” Gruber acknowledged. “More complicated than anyone first thought but there’s something else I want to thank you for.” He paused. “Thanks to you I now realise that being a lawman isn’t what I’m cut out to be. I only went into it because my father and two brothers … .” He rolled his eyes and the Kid nodded in understanding. Family pressure and expectation. Gruber took a deep breath. “So I have enrolled at the University to study chemistry next semester.” He smiled. “I think I shall enjoy that far more.”
The Kid smiled. “Helmut, I know you will.” He offered his hand. “The very best of luck.”
“Thank you,” Gruber smiled back, shaking hands. “I shall remember Deputy Jones with a great affection.”
“Ha!” The Kid turned to his two companions. “Mr Brown. Mr Cowdry. Quick stop by theDepartment for Land Management and then we have some serious celebrating to do.”
“Who’s buying?” Wheat wanted to know.
ASJASJASJASJWheat wanted to make a start on celebrating and Cowdry suggested he went along to keep an eye on him. The Kid agreed so he went alone to the Department for Land Management. The main door was open as he approached, a sign writer removing Bloodstone’s name from the glass. I wonder who is in charge now, went the Kid’s thought as he went in. It didn’t take long to find out.
Mike Templeman got up from behind what had been Bloodstone’s desk and grinned. “Mr Curry, how nice to see you again. Do sit down sir.”
“Mike, what happened?”
“Well, with Mr Bloodstone out of the way the Government needed someone to run this office. My dismissal hadn’t made it any further so when I was asked to take over, I accepted.”
The Kid laughed. “That’s really good news, Mike. You deserve it.”
“Thank you. So here I am. How may I help you today, sir?”
“Well Mike I’m in the market for a piece of land and I believe you have a piece for sale that would suit me just fine.”
“Ah, Grassy Flatts wasn’t it?” Mike grinned.
“No Mike. Pine Lake.”
They chuckled together.
An hour later, the Kid emerged from the Department for Land Management with the title deeds to Pine Lake in his pocket and considerably lighter in the wallet. Mike had proved to be a skilled but fair negotiator. The Kid had paid more than he intended to for the property but he knew there would be a source of income from the sale of the fibrous talc. He knew who would be interested in that but that would be for another day. Right now, he had some celebrating to do. He went off in search of Wheat and Cowdry and hoped he could catch up.
Kid Curry and that other fella; Hannibal Heyes and whatsname