Part Six

"Ya sure picked a nice town darlin'," Heyes as the three rode up the main street of Aladdin. "Prob'ly the only town in Wyoming we can walk into a saloon like a pair of Texas Rangers, ain't that right, Kid?"

"Yeah, that's what you said about that town that Big Mac told us to wait in for that blasted bust of Caesar." Kid replied.

"Who's Big Mac?" Sarah asked.

"You don't know who Big Mac McCreedy is?"

"Heyes, I spent my whole life living in Montana, people south of Miles City are worth less than a plug nickel to me."

"He's a friend, but he's nearly lost us the amnesty deal twice."

"Sounds like any other law man and bounty hunter you know."

"Nah, that's Harry Briscoe, our 'friend' in the Bannerman Detective Agency."

"And you say that why?"

"We, sorta, maybe, ruined his plans to send the Devil's Hole Gang into oblivion, and collect the twenty thousand reward on us."

"Will you speak up; I don't think the deputy sheriff heard you." Sarah looked over at the Kid; his silence was a tactful virtue that she only wished she could possess. "You want to add anything to that Kid?"

"Nope,"

Heyes looked to his right and saw a familiar face. Oh gees why does he have to be here where no one's ever seen us or much less heard of us. He musters a friendly smile and waves as he's just returning a gesture from a stranger.

Briscoe looks up as the three riders pass the hotel's porch and on down to the saloon. A look of recognition crosses his face at the sight of Heyes and the Kid, he then notices the girl with them as Reverend Howard's missing daughter.

"Hey fellas! Joshua, Thaddeus, long time no see,"

"Hello Harry," Heyes says dryly.

"How's about you fellas let me buy you a drink."

"Where are my manners; Harry, this is my wife Ella."

"Pleased to meet you ma'am,"

"Charmed, I'm sure." Sarah replied in a dry tone.

The three tied their horses at the hitching rail outside the saloon then followed Harry to a table in the back of the establishment then he ordered a bottle of the house's finest whiskey.

"Any for you ma'am?"

"No thanks Mr. Briscoe, only alcohol I can handle is brandy, wine, and, on occasion, rum."

"Heyes, where did you find this girl?"

"Well, Harry, let's just say a small town in Montana."

"And how do you feel about this Kid?"

"Will you keep your voice down, I don't mind; long as her Pa don't send another posse after us."

"Boys you know that a preacher's daughter has gone missing, name of Sarah Howard, from Miles City." Sarah and Heyes exchange a nervous glance

"I'm from Billings," Sarah hoped the Bannerman man would buy her story.

"Your accent sounds eastern,"

"My family hales from Baltimore, Maryland; my maiden name was Balfour."

"Ah, that makes sense; ya'll going to be in town long?"

"No," Kid said. "Just long enough to rest up a few days, and then we'll head south to Texas where we have a job waiting on us."

After the three men had one last drink the three companions exited the saloon and took their horses to the livery before heading over to the hotel to get rooms for the night.

"Billings? Is that the best you could come up with?" Heyes asked with a hint of skepticism.

"Excuse me for not having a silver toung like you," Sarah answered hotly. "I heard once that you were able to talk your way out of a Comanche scalping."

"That never happened, yes I was held prisoner by Indians before, but they weren't Comanches."

"Oh, really?" She asked sarcastically.

"Sarah,"

"Heyes,"

"C'mon Sarah, let's end this little spat and get settled in for the night."

"Don't test me Hannibal."

Heyes looked at his wife with bewilderment, the whole time that he had known her (about two months) he had only heard her say his first name once, and now this was the second. Kid knocked on the rooms' adjoining door.

"Who is it?" Heyes asked.

"The man who's been your partner of the last six years, sheesh who else would it be?" Kid retorted. Heyes opened the door to let the Kid in to the room he and Sarah were sharing. "Is everything alright, I heard you two arguing and I wanted to see that you didn't start killing each other."

"Your friend Briscoe is on to me."

"Sheesh, ya think?" Heyes asked sarcastically. "Even I could see through that little cover up."

"Alright, so explain to me how Briscoe knows your real names?"

"He read our wanted posters,"

"From your wanted posters-"

"And we told him it was the truth." Heyes sighed. "And we told him the descriptions were as close as you could get to being us."

"Will you two give it a rest? Can we just agree that Harry Briscoe is the one person that we can't stand to be around?"

"Sarah, I'm Kid on this one."

"Alright, fine

oooOOOooo

Sarah sat on her bed reading one of Heyes' dime novels while the two reformed outlaws were over at the saloon playing a few hands of poker. With her background, she had been taught that gambling was a sinful thing, but with the time she had spent with Heyes and the Kid she no longer thought it was sinful, it was really the only way they could support themselves without reverting back to their old ways. A knock at the door pulls Sarah from her thoughts.

"Who is it?" She asks, thinking Heyes was on the other side.

"Harry Briscoe, ma'am." The Bannerman man answered.

"Just a minute, Mr. Briscoe," Sarah opens the door and Briscoe walks in.

"You're not from Billings, are you?"

"Ye- no sir,"

"And you're not from Baltimore, are you?"

"No sir,"

"And your maiden name isn't Balfour, is it?"

"No sir,"

"And you're not legally married to Hannibal Heyes, are you?"

"Yes, I am legally married to Heyes." Briscoe ignores her answer.

"Well, Ms. Howard, I guess the only thing left to do is return you to your father and put Heyes and Curry away for twenty years."

"Mr. Briscoe, you have to be half out of your mind if you think that I'm going anywhere with you tonight, or any night for that matter."

We'll leave at first light tomorrow," Briscoe makes a quick exit, leaving Sarah shaken and pale.

Later, after winning a great deal from the poker tables, Heyes and the Kid return to find Sarah with a glass of brandy in her hands. Growing concerned, Heyes goes to his wife and puts an arm around her.

"Hey, Sarah, something the matter?"

She tells them what happened with every detail. She listens to the two ex-outlaws as they discuss their plan.

"Sarah," Heyes finally said, "We find it best for you to go with Harry tomorrow, we know a shortcut through the mountains and plan to be in Miles City before you and Harry."

Sarah nodded in agreement, it would be best for her to comply with the Bannerman agent.

oooOOOooo

"Sarah, oh thank God you're safe." Reverend John Howard said.

"Pa," Sarah replied dryly.

"Mr. Briscoe, I can't thank you enough for finding my daughter."

"It weren't any trouble, Reverend; be assured that those two kidnapers will be hanged." Briscoe tips his hat to Sarah then rides off towards Denver.

"Pa," tears started to form in Sarah's eyes.

"What is it Sarah?"

"Smith and Jones didn't kidnap me, I willingly went with them, and they were perfect gentlemen." She takes a deep breath. "I…uh…can't marry George, Pa; city life ain't for me, and I won't force myself to be something I'm not."

Reverend Howard sighed, 'She takes after her mother.' He leads his daughter back to the cabin and takes her inside. Later that night, Sarah sneaks out to the barn to tend to her horse. Out from the shadows cast by the oil lantern, Heyes steps into view.

"Sarah," his voice barely a whisper.

"Heyes, where's the Kid?" She asks.

"In town, let's get you outta here."

"I'll come into town tomorrow; meet me at the livery stable."

"How's your pa gonna take it?"

"I told him that I was going to go to New York to tell George that the engagement is off, when in reality I'll be going off with you and the Kid."

"Sarah, I think I'm starting to rub off on you."

"Might not be a bad thing Heyes,"

"I gotta go, see ya tomorrow."

By the light of a single lamp, Sarah repacked her saddle bags and her carpetbags. The last thing to be packed was her mother's jewelry that she had inherited. She slept very little that night and left at first light the next morning.

oooOOOooo

"It feels good to be back on the trail with you two,"

"It's good to have you back Sarah,"

The three where silent for a few minutes, just being in each other's company.

"Darlin', I missed your biscuits for the past week,"

"Aw, thanks Heyes, at least my cooking isn't as bad as I thought it was. I really missed the feeling of freedom that I had riding with you."

"If'n you call running from the law freedom."

"Well it's good to be back all the same."

"I wonder how Clem's gonna take it when she finds out?"

"Uh… who's Clem?" Sarah asked, reluctantly.

"Clementine Hale, she's a very old friend of ours." Heyes sighed heavily. "She's black mailed us more than a few times over the years."

"I don't want to know."

They all laughed. Sarah had figured it right, for that week that it took to get back to Miles City, Heyes and the Kid must have been board without her.