The Long Road – Part 6
Heyes and Kid rode hard all night. They only slowed or stopped to take care of the horses. They weren't hungry or tired; they were just determined to get home. As the sun was just peeking over the horizon, they pulled up out front of Lom's house. They tied their horses and walked to the door. Heyes knocked and waited, then knocked again. They could hear rustling around from inside the house and then it stopped. Heyes knocked again.
"Hold your horses, I'm coming," the voice said from the other side of the door.
Heyes and Kid grinned.
"Who's there?" yelled the voice.
"Lom, it's us," Heyes and Kid said together.
Lom heard the voices and shook his head thinking he was still sleeping. "Who?"
"Lom, It's Joshua and Thaddeus," Kid yelled out.
The door whipped open and Lom stood with his gun drawn pointing at the two of them.
"Now is that a way to greet old friends?" Heyes said with a smile.
"Heyes, Kid," Lom gasped. "You're alive?" He put his hands on the outside of their arms. "I'm not dreaming am I?"
"No Lom, you're not dreaming," Heyes chuckled as he placed his hand on Lom's arm.
"It's us in the flesh," Kid stated with a smile so big it went from ear to ear.
Lom grabbed both of them, pulling them into a hug. "You're both a sight for sore eyes! Come in, come in," he said stepping back into the house. "What can I get you?"
"Whiskey," they said in unison, looked at each other and shrugged.
"Whiskey? The sun's not even up," Lom said.
"It's been a long four months Lom. A shot of whiskey, then some coffee, food, bath, sleep," Kid said.
"I'll take the whiskey and the coffee," Heyes said. "Then I gotta go."
"You can't leave until you fill me in on what happened," Lom said. "And if you're in a hurry to get back to Laurie," Lom paused taking a breath and quickly added, "You should take a bath and shave first, you look like hell."
"Lom," Heyes said quietly. "Is everything okay with Laurie?"
Lom just looked at Heyes.
"Lom, the way you stopped," Heyes said sounding nervous, "Is something wrong with her?"
"She misses you very much Heyes. She's been holding her own, but it's been difficult," Lom said hoping Heyes wouldn't push him any further and his voice wouldn't give anything away. "She deserves to see you looking better than you do now."
Heyes hadn't thought about it but Lom was right. A bath and a shave were in order. He nodded in agreement.
"Good, I'll get the whiskey, start the water for the bath and the two of you can sit down and tell me what happened." Suddenly remembering Lom blurted out, "The Brewsters."
"Dropped all three of them off at a friends farm outside of Lewistown before we came here," Kid said. "And before you ask, Margaret was to take the payroll to the Sheriff's last night."
"Margaret?" Lom raised an eyebrow.
"When you live in a small one room cabin with someone for four months, first names seem appropriate," Heyes stated as he took the whiskey and downed it all in one gulp.
"Guess you're right," Lom said as he began making coffee. "The mother and children okay?"
"They're all fine," Heyes stated. "So Lom, when did you find out who her father was?"
Lom turned around and looked at Heyes. "After I got back with the Captain. Guess it figures being together for so long, you would find out too."
"One of the reasons we dropped her off at a friends and didn't take her to the sheriff," Heyes said. "Didn't want mixed loyalties to come up. Also didn't know if they knew who we were and didn't want to take the chance."
"Kid did you say you got the payroll?" Lom asked when Kid's comment finally registered.
"Wondering what took you so long to say something," Kid chuckled, getting up to check the coffee as Lom started to bring food out to prepare. "Oh, eggs, bacon," Kid said sounding wistful. "Lom," he said looking at the lawman with puppy dog eyes, "You're the best."
Heyes and Lom chuckled. "Have to admit it Lom," Heyes said, "Got to agree with Kid, you're the best."
"Aim to please boys," he said then added, "You certainly are a sight for sore eyes." He shook his head in amazement that the two were sitting in his kitchen. "Heyes, the water for the bath should be ready and you can borrow the razor next to the mirror. Why don't you go while I get breakfast ready?"
Heyes nodded and left the room.
Kid sat and stared in awe of Lom as he prepared breakfast.
Heyes sat enveloped in the warm water of the bathtub. It felt so good, to sit, soak and think of going home to Laurie. Just a little longer and he would be holding her in his arms. He hadn't realized how tired he was until he started to struggle to keep his eyes open. Kid had said they should stay at Lom's for the night and head back to Laurie the next day. He had argued with him that he was fine and it would be a quick stop at Lom's and then Heyes would continue on. If Kid wanted to stay, that was fine; Heyes knew he wanted to leave. As he washed to keep himself awake, he chuckled quietly to himself, Kid was right. They needed to rest. He would send a telegram to Laurie and head home after resting. After finishing his bath, he stepped up to the mirror. Just one more step and he would feel like a new person.
Heyes shaved and then pulled the only other clothes he had out of his saddlebag. He looked at the ripped and stained shirt he had worn when he pulled Kid out of the gorge and sighed. It was better than what he had been wearing and although stained it was clean. He put the shirt on figuring he would buy new clothes in town when he sent Laurie the telegram.
Finishing up, he walked back to the kitchen, "I put the water on for you, Kid," Heyes said as he looked at his partner with a huge plate of bacon and eggs in front of him. He smiled, "Should be done by the time you finish eating." Kid nodded and raised his fork in Heyes' direction indicating thank you, but never stopped eating.
"Have a seat Heyes. I have a plate for you," Lom said.
Heyes sat down at the table and Lom placed the plate in front of him. Taking a bite of eggs Heyes closed his eyes, savoring the flavors. He didn't remember anything tasting as good except for the turkey they had for Christmas.
Picking up a plate for himself, Lom sat next to Heyes. "Kid was filling me in a little on what happened after I left," Lom stated. "Do you have anything else to add?"
They sat eating and talking for the better part of an hour. Heyes and Kid filled Lom in on what happened after he left. Kid getting hurt, the payroll, the stocked cabin, Margaret knowing who they were, them finding out who she was and then finally digging out the pass and the trek down the mountain.
"Does Margaret's father know who we are?" Kid asked.
Lom looked confused at Kid and then understood the question. "No, the Governor and I decided it would be best not to tell him. He was pretty insane as it was. Didn't think telling him that Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were the two men that were sent to rescue them was such a good thing. I really thought after the first snow he was going to find a way to get through the pass. He was determined and offering a lot of money to anyone who could get through the Needle to bring his daughter and grandkids home. Then the second storm hit and even Jay Gould didn't have enough money or power to do anything.
"So the Governor knows?" Heyes asked looking for a reaction from Lom.
"Yep, he knows. Also knows you were the ones that got the money safe to Lewistown in the first place."
"By the way, how's Captain Turner?" Kid asked.
"Doin' good. In fact, I've been in touch with him. He and his men were getting ready to try to go into the Needle to find you." Lom paused and looked at the table.
"Lom..." Kid said wanting to know what he was holding back.
Lom looked at the two of them, "Well guess it doesn't really matter since you're here." He paused again. "Told me he would go find your bodies and bring them down. He would arrange for a full military funeral and award you civilian medals of honor."
Heyes and Kid sat up and puffed their chests looking very pleased with themselves. "You and me Heyes. Who would have thought? Military honors!" Kid said.
Heyes chuckled and shook his head. "Guess we ruined his plans."
"Well I for one am happy about that," Lom
"Getting all mushy on us Lom," Kid joked.
"Naw, but I got to tell you. I think the two of you can get out of most jams and I had faith in you, but I got to tell you..." Lom's voice faded off as he looked down at the table.
"Thanks Lom," Heyes said quietly. "Means a lot to us to know you believe but to be honest, if Mad Dog hadn't stocked the cabin, the captain would have been right. The only thing to eat up there was a scrawny turkey that showed up out of the blue on Christmas." The three sat in silence.
Breaking the silence Kid stood up, "That was good," he said as he stretched. "Now I think I'll take a bath."
Kid left Lom and Heyes sitting, drinking coffee at the kitchen table and went to soak in the bath. Lom looked at Heyes, he was hunched over, exhausted and then noticed his shirt was ripped. Heyes looked up at him and he motioned to the shirt.
"I was wearing this one when I pulled Kid out of the gorge," Heyes said. "I'll buy some new clothes when I go to town to send Laurie a telegram."
"Oh, guess you were in the bath when I told Kid the telegraph office is down."
Heyes shoulder's sagged.
"Otis has been fillin' in so Seth could go see his new granddaughter. Seems Otis thought he could do things better and went to rearrange the office."
Heyes was listening intently.
"He rearranged it all right. Kind of set the inside on fire."
Heyes' eyes bulged a little as he choked on the sip of coffee he had just taken.
"Nothing terribly bad," Lom continued in a very even tone. "Just enough to shut the office down for a day or two." Lom looked up and saw Heyes close his eyes, a pained expression on his face. "He was hoping to get it up and running today or at the latest tomorrow."
Heyes' heart sank. If he couldn't be with Laurie, he at least wanted to let her know he was alive. He was going to send the telegram marked urgent and wait for her to send a reply. It wasn't the same as being with her, but it would do for a day. "Well, I know Kid thinks we should rest and it's the smart thing to do. He can stay, but I got to get home to Laurie."
"Heyes, I know you miss her, but after all this time, do you want something to happen on the way home just cause you're too tired to stay on your horse?"
"Lom, I've had to stay on my horse when I've been more tired."
"Yeah, but Kid's always been with you. Look, you take a rest. I'll go to town and check on the telegraph office. Maybe they have it up and running. Okay?" Heyes hesitated and then reluctantly nodded his head. "Good, you look like you're about to pass out. You know where the bedroom is, why don't you go lie down? I'll tell Kid when he's done with his bath."
Heyes slowly stood up. "Thanks Lom," he said placing his hand on Lom's shoulder as he passed him heading to the bedroom.
Heyes rolled over as the sun was beginning to set. It took a minute to register where he was; he was in Lom's bedroom. He sat up on the edge of the bed and rubbed his eyes. He hadn't realized how exhausted he was until his head hit the nice soft pillow and Lom's comfortable bed. Looking around the room he saw a neatly tied package of clothes under his hat. He got dressed in the new clothes, tied his gun down and walked out of the room to find Lom and Kid. They were sitting having coffee in the kitchen when Heyes found them. Walking into the room he said, "Thanks for the clothes Lom. Is the telegraph working?"
"Not yet, but it's close," he replied.
Heyes sighed, "Well, Lom thanks for the hospitality, but I think it's time for me to head home."
Lom groaned and Kid chuckled as Lom handed Kid a handful of money. Heyes looked at them and creased his brow trying to figure out what was going on. Kid looked at Heyes, "I bet Lom that when you found out the telegraph was still down, the next words out of your mouth was that you were leaving."
"I thought maybe the rest and the time of day would make you see the logic in staying the night," Lom stated. "Actually, if it wasn't so late, I wouldn't have taken the bet. I figured you would have slept for a couple of hours and then left. But Kid told me how you dug out the pass. Guess it took a toll on you."
Heyes nodded. "Guess it did. Thanks again for the clothes and food, Lom. If you could check on the Brewsters and the payroll when the telegraph lines are up, I'd appreciate it."
"Worried she won't turn it in?"
"No, just want to make sure she got back to her family safely. Didn't like leaving her like that but she looked like she was in good hands. As for the payroll, yeah, I just would like to know that we're not being blamed for stealing it. It's been a long four months and I'd like not to have to worry about that."
Lom nodded his head, "Will do."
Kid stood up and extended his hand to Lom, "Thanks for everything Lom. The new clothes feel great. We'll be in touch."
Heyes looked at Kid, "I thought you were staying until tomorrow?"
"I'm your partner Heyes, if you leave I leave."
"But, you said,"
"I know what I said but I've had food, a bath and some rest. I think I'd like to get home too."
Lom picked up a sack and handed it to Kid, "Here's some sandwiches, they should hold you over until you reach Small Falls."
Kid tilted his head at Lom.
"I figured the two of you would be out of here when you woke up so I made some sandwiches while you slept."
"But you bet me."
"Yeah, hadn't done it in a while. Felt good even though I was gonna loose. Anyway, it's some of the money I owe you for takin' the payroll to Lewistown. I already sent most of it to Laurie but held back some of it in case you showed up. I wanted to make sure you had some travelin' money."
"There you go gettin' all mushy again Lom."
"Well Kid, guess I just like knowing where the two of you are."
"We'll be in Small Falls late afternoon day after tomorrow if you two stop jabberin'," Heyes kidded. "Lom," Heyes said as he stuck out his hand to shake. "Thanks."
"Anytime, Heyes, anytime." Lom started to shake his hand and pulled him into a hug. He did the same with Kid.
Heyes and Kid mounted their horses, tipped their hats and rode off into the sunset towards Small Falls.
Once again Heyes and Kid rode all night and day, only stopping to briefly to rest, water their horses and eat the sandwiches Lom had made. Night was falling when they approached the fork in the rode to Small Falls. Kid pulled his horse up. Heyes looked curiously at him.
"I figured I would ride into town and send Lom a telegram. See if he found out about the Brewsters and the payroll. Let Doris and Walter know we're home."
Heyes looked at Kid, "You know you're the best partner anyone could ask for. Thank you." He smiled the smile only Kid and Laurie got to see.
"Feel the same Heyes," Kid replied. "Tell her I love her and missed her too." Heyes nodded and they went off in separate directions, Kid heading to town and Heyes heading to the house and Laurie.
Hannibal Heyes stopped at the edge of his property. He surveyed the land, the barn and his gaze stopped at the house; it was quiet. His eyes filled with tears as he urged his horse forward. As he approached the side of the house Sam came bursting through the screen door barking all the way to him. Heyes dismounted and leaned over to pet Sam as he danced around while barking. "Hey boy, good to see you," Heyes said as he petted the dog. Sam jumped up to lick Heyes almost pushing him over. "Where's Laurie, Sam?" he asked as he greeted the dog happily.
Laurie was in the den sitting in Heyes' chair reading a book when she heard Sam barking. Figuring Sam was announcing Sarah's arrival from town, she paid no attention to it. As he continued to bark, Laurie got up to see what was going on. Sam was still barking as she reached the kitchen. "Sam!" Laurie yelled, "Sam really, Sarah hasn't been..." she said as she walked out of the kitchen door onto the side porch with the book still in her hands. Laurie turned towards the sound and stopped dead in her tracks dropping the book.
Hearing the screen door open Heyes looked up from Sam and saw Laurie. He stood up, frozen where he was, watching her as she walked out. Their eyes met as she stopped. Laurie slowly closed her eyes and then opened them. Tears welled in her eyes as her lip began to tremble. She brought her hand up over her mouth and gasped. "Heyes," she quietly cried.
Hearing the sound of her voice, even as faint as it was, was enough to get Heyes to move. He took two giant steps towards the porch and then up onto it, pulling Laurie close to him. Laurie stood shaking as Heyes hugged her. "Sshh," he said. "It's over, I'm home. Sshh." Heyes held her trying to calm her down.
Laurie looked up at him, was she imagining all this? He felt so real, his arms, his body; she looked into his eyes. The eyes that so loving looked back at her. She closed her eyes again and opened them slowly. He was still there, looking at her, smiling the most beautiful smile she had ever seen. She took half a step away from him and placed her hands on his face. She touched it and a smile began to form on her face, "It's really you Han, isn't it? You're really home."
"It's really me Sweetheart, I'm home," Heyes said smiling as he looked deep into her eyes and caressed her face with his hand.
Laurie reached up and kissed his chin, then his cheek, "You're here," she cried as tears flowed freely down her face. She kissed his nose, his other cheek and she began to giggle as she continued to kiss his face as she touched his shoulders, his arms, his chest. "You're really home."
"I'm really home," Heyes said looking into her eyes and leaning down to capture her lips. He started off gently and then as the kiss became more passionate he pulled her into a tight embrace. Heyes suddenly stopped, put his hands up in front of him and stepped back. He looked at Laurie and his eyes traveled down to her stomach and then back to her eyes as shock registered on his face.
A small smile formed on Laurie's face as she took a step towards Heyes, "The doctor was wrong," she said quietly.
He stood there staring at her.
"The doctor was wrong," she repeated as the smile got a little bigger and she reached out to hold his hands.
Heyes stood looking at her with a blank expression on his face. His eyes once again traveled down to her stomach.
"Heyes," Laurie said quietly. "Han," she said when she had gotten no response.
Slowly Heyes eyes lifted to meet hers.
"Han, the doctor was wrong," she paused. "I'm carrying your child," she smiled at him but still got no response. "Heyes," she said a little louder, "I wasn't sick before you left. The doctor was wrong. It's your baby, our baby."
Heyes slowly closed his eyes and then they shot open. His eyes got wider as what Laurie had just said sunk in.
"You're going to be a father," she said with a huge smile as she looked lovingly at him. Laurie didn't think she had ever seen a bigger or better smile than the one that spread across Heyes' face right before he pulled her into a passionate kiss.
Frightened he stopped and stepped back blurting out, "I didn't hurt you, I mean the baby did I?"
"No," Laurie giggled, "You didn't hurt us."
Heyes smiled as he stared at Laurie's belly.
"Happy?" she asked.
Heyes' eyes drifted back up to meet hers, "Very," he said as he carefully pulled her into an embrace and kissed her forehead. "I am the happiest man in the world," he said as he held her close and then started to kiss the side of her head before he continued down to her neck. "I have missed you so much," he said as he continued kissing her neck and up her throat until he reached her lips again.
"I've missed you too," Laurie said as she began to get lost in his kisses.
Capturing her lips once again, his kiss became more and more demanding as the feelings of being apart for all those months came flooding in. Laurie kissed him back as passionately as he kissed her. "There is so much to tell you about," he mumbled between kisses, "but right now, I just need to be with you. To hold you, to touch you."
Laurie's breath had become as shallow and erratic as his.
"I need you," Heyes said as he looked deep into Laurie's eyes.
"I need you too," she responded as she returned his gaze.
Still holding her and once again ferociously kissing her, Heyes scooped up Laurie's legs and headed into the house.
Laurie pulled her lips away from Heyes while still in his arms, "Where's Kid?" she asked sounding concerned.
"He went to town to send a telegram to Lom," Heyes said pulling her close again as Laurie wrapped her arms around his neck. Carrying Laurie through the kitchen Heyes somehow removed his coat and vest; discarding them along with the apron Laurie had been wearing.
"Stop," Laurie mumbled through a kiss. "You can't just leave them there."
Heyes continued to walk as he began to nibble her ear, "Kid won't care."
"But Sarah," Laurie said.
"What about Sarah?" he nibbled her ear as his breathing became even more uneven.
"She's been living here with me. You can't just let her find them on the floor," Laurie barely got out as she breathed heavily. "Go back and get them. Please."
Heyes moaned but turned around, scooping them up, he carried Laurie up to the bedroom.
Stopping before he entered the bedroom he asked, "The baby..."
Laurie gently placed her hand on his lips, "Doc said it's okay."
Slightly confused, Heyes raised an eyebrow.
"I knew you would come home, so I asked."
Heyes smiled and continued into the bedroom.
Laurie lay cradled in Heyes' arm, resting her head on his shoulder. She ran her hand across his chest still making sure he was there and real. "Hmm," she purred.
Heyes kissed her forehead, "You okay?"
She tilted her head so she could look into his eyes, "Better than okay." She stared into his eyes for a moment as tears welled up in hers. "I never had any doubts."
Looking deep into her eyes, "I know." He said as he stroked the side of her face.
"I missed you so much." She said giving a tight smile trying to hold back the tears.
Heyes wiped off the tear that trickled down the side of her face. "None of that, I'm home." He said and kissed her again. Still looking into her eyes he said, "I'm sorry." He paused for a second and then continued. "I'm sorry I wasn't here for you, for the baby."
"Did you want to stay away?" Laurie asked.
"Nooooo," he said as he stroked her face.
"Did you save the woman and her children?"
Heyes nodded. "Yes."
"Then you have nothing to be sorry about." Laurie ran her hand lightly down the side of Heyes' face. "I want to hear everything but right now, I just want to be in your arms. You can tell me what happened now if you want, or I can wait. What ever you want, I just want to be with you," she said lifting her head and looking at Heyes.
"I tried getting back, I really did. Kid was hurt and then the snow came. I'm sorry."
Laurie saw sadness in his eyes. "It wasn't your fault. The baby isn't here; you didn't miss anything. You did a really good thing. I can live with the fact you were gone so long because you saved three people. If it wasn't for you and Kid, they would be dead." She smiled and stroked the side of his face, "Our child will know that too. And anyway, you're here now. That's all that matters." She reached up and kissed him lightly.
Heyes reached down and touched Laurie's belly. "When?"
Laurie looked confused.
"When are you due?"
Laurie smiled, "Doc says in about two and a half months." She nestled herself into Heyes' arm and held on. She had forgotten how safe and wonderful she felt in his arms. As she was drifting off to sleep she sprang up, "Oh, Sarah."
"Hey," Heyes said pulling her back towards him. "What's the matter? What about Sarah?"
"I have to tell her you're here," Laurie said.
"Kid can find her tomorrow and tell her."
Laurie turned and looked at Heyes, "You don't understand. Sarah has been staying here, living here with me since," Laurie stopped and got all choked up. She closed her eyes and tears flowed down her face, "Since I got the telegram telling me you didn't make it through the pass in time. I wouldn't stay in town with Doris and Walter so she came out here to make sure I was okay. She's been living in the bedroom down the hall. She was in town but is due home. I have to tell her she can stay." Laurie tried to get up again. Heyes held her down.
"I'll go," he said. "You were just about to fall asleep and you do look tired. I'll go downstairs and see if she's back. I can check and see if Kid got home too. You rest," he said kissing her forehead.
"But," she started to protest.
Heyes gently placed his finger on her lips and shook his head, "No. You rest. You are carrying our child. You need to get rest so that he'll be strong."
Laurie's eyes sparkled as she smiled at Heyes, "He, you called our baby, he."
Heyes nodded, "I did didn't I?" Smiling, he dipped his head to kiss her. "Go to sleep. I'll go check on Kid and Sarah. I'll be back soon."
Laurie rolled over in the bed and buried herself in the covers, "Go have a drink with Kid. He's probably in the kitchen cleaning his gun." She sighed and drifted off to sleep.
Sarah had gone to town to get supplies she and Laurie needed. Once the wagon was loaded, she headed to her family's house at the edge of town for a visit. She had been staying with Laurie since the telegram arrived. Laurie was devastated but stubborn. She insisted she was going home, insisting Joshua and Thaddeus would be home. No matter how much pleading anyone did, even in her condition, she refused to accept help saying she could take care of herself. She declared she had been taking care of herself most of her life and she could still do it. Sarah remembered the day the telegram came like it was yesterday and it was all in slow motion.
The day had started out so wonderful. Laurie had just been told she was not sick but carrying Joshua's child. It had taken Doris to finally recognize all of the symptoms and tell the doctor. They were all so sure she couldn't have children because of the attack that they really never considered the possibility. Laurie never talked about it, no one talked about it, but they did know she told Joshua he didn't have to marry her when the doctor said he didn't think she could have children. Of course, Laurie only heard that she couldn't have children. She never heard the part when the doctor said the injuries were internal and he could never really be sure. Then that day came, in the morning, the doctor told her she was with child. She was the happiest anyone in town had ever seen. Then in the afternoon, her world stopped. Sarah thought that if it hadn't been for the baby, Laurie would have laid down and died.
Sarah smiled sadly at the memory and urged the horse pulling the wagon through town. It had been over four months and not a word. Laurie never gave up hope that Joshua and Thaddeus would come home. Laurie reminded everyone that they were high in the mountains and spring arrives late there. She fully expected Joshua home in time for the baby to be born. No one else in town believed it anymore but wouldn't let Laurie know. They were all so worried about her. As happy as they all were when they found out she was with child, the doctor had made it clear, it would be a very difficult time for her. She continued to be sick and had been ordered to stay in bed. There were even a couple of times they thought she was going to lose the baby. One of the times, they thought they would lose her as well.
Kid rode into Small Falls and smiled, he was just as happy as Heyes to be back. He really wanted to be at the house but thought he should give Heyes and Laurie some time alone. That's why he said he would send the telegram to Lom. He arrived at the telegraph office just as Mr. Quimby was about to close up for the day.
"Mr. Quimby," Kid said as he dismounted, "Any chance you could open up for just one more telegram?"
"I'm sorry son," Mr. Quimby said as he locked the door, not seeing who he was talking to. "I have a very important telegram to deliver and then I have to get home for dinner," he said waiving the telegram in the air. He turned and looked at Kid. "Come by first thing in the morning Thaddeus and I'll send it for you." Mr. Quimby took a step and it hit him, "Thaddeus!" he exclaimed, "You're here!"
"Yes, I'm here," Kid chuckled.
"Joshua?" Mr. Quimby asked anxiously looking around and not seeing anyone else.
"Joshua is here too."
Mr. Quimby looked confused as he looked around Kid.
"He went directly to the house to see Laurie. I came to town to send a telegram."
"To Sheriff Trevors?" Mr. Quimby asked.
Kid tilted his head, "How did you know?"
Mr. Quimby waived the telegram in his hand and then handed it to Kid, "Cause I just got one from him saying you were alive!"
Kid looked at the telegram and chuckled.
To: Laurie Smith, Small Falls.
From: Lom Trevors, Porterville.
Joshua and Thaddeus did it! Woman and children saved. Will be in contact soon! Lom
"Well let's get back in the office and send your telegram so you can get home," Mr. Quimby said turning back to the door.
It was getting late and Sarah said good-bye to her parents. She wanted to get back out to the house before the sun set completely. As she rode back through town she noticed how quiet it was. It was just about dinnertime and the stores were closed or closing up. Turning along the main road she noticed the telegraph office was still open. She giggled to herself, Mr. Quimby was certain to get an earful from Mrs. Quimby. Everyone in town knew that Mr. Quimby was very prompt closing the office to get home to his wife and dinner. Unless there was an emergency, the telegram would have to wait until morning. As she stared at the office she noticed two men walk out. The first was Mr. Quimby; he shook the second man's hand and turned for home. The second man moved and Sarah saw his face before he turned back around towards his horse. Sarah pulled her horse to a stop and jumped down off the wagon. She reached Kid just as he turned to see who was running towards him. "Thaddeus," she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around him.
"Sarah," Kid replied as he picked her up held her tight against him. Placing her down he looked into her eyes seeing the tears begin to form and fall down her face. "Hey, none of that," he said and took his hand, gently wiping them off her face.
"It's really you isn't it?" she cried. "I mean you are really standing in front of me aren't you?"
Sarah put her hands to her face, "Laurie never..." she started and then abruptly stopped. "Joshua!" she exclaimed looking around for him.
"He went directly to the house. I came to town to send a telegram," Kid said as he placed his hands on her arms and rubbed them slightly.
"He's okay too?"
Kid nodded his head.
"Laurie never stopped believing you would be home." She stood staring into Kid's eyes.
He returned the gaze and moved in closer. He leaned down, kissing her gently on the lips. "I've missed you Sarah," he said, pulling her into a hug and kissing the top of her head.
"I've missed you too," she replied as she hugged him back.
"As much as I would like to stay like this, I think I should let Walter and Doris know we're back before I head home."
Sarah lifted her head off Kid's chest, looking into his eyes she nodded. "Oh," she said and stepped back. "You and Joshua are home."
Kid smiled and nodded.
"Oh," Sarah repeated.
Kid tilted his head, "Somethin' wrong Sarah?"
"Oh, no nothing is wrong, it's just, well, it's, um," Sarah hemmed and hawed.
Kid continued to look at her trying to make sense of what she was saying.
"Well you see, I have been staying with Laurie since the two of you were gone. Now that you're back, I'll have to move back home."
"I don't' mind if you stay at the house. I'm sure Laurie and Joshua wouldn't mind you stayin'," Kid stated.
A look of horror swept across Sarah's face.
Kid saw the change in Sarah's expression and started to back peddle. "The house has a lot of rooms," he said. "No, that's not what I mean, well it is, but it has a lot of bedrooms. Bedrooms that aren't mine," Kid said getting very flustered. "It would all be very proper."
Sarah watched Kid as he tried to save himself and instead kept getting deeper and deeper. Finally a little giggle escaped from her. "Thaddeus," she said placing her hands on his arm. "I know what you meant and thank you." She stared into Kid's blue eyes and smiled. "I have enjoyed staying with Laurie very much. We have become very close but I was only staying at the house until you and Joshua got home. I can't stay out there now. It just wouldn't be proper."
Kid nodded as he continued looking into Sarah's eyes. "I'm sorry."
"No," Sarah said softly as she touched the side of his face. "I'm so glad you're home."
Kid stepped in and gave Sarah a soft kiss and then pulling her close to him, the kiss became passionate. As they released their embrace he said, "No, I guess you're right. It wouldn't be proper."
Sarah smiled and nodded.
"Well I better get goin', can I call on you tomorrow?"
"I would like that very much," she replied. "Oh, take the wagon. It's full of supplies, I was just heading back out to the house."
"Let me help you into the wagon, I'll take you home."
"Don't be silly. You need to get home. I can walk down the street. It's not far," she said. "You'll find a pot of stew simmering on the stove. It should be enough for dinner." Sarah smiled at Kid. "Tell Laurie I will see her tomorrow to get my things and tell Joshua hello for me." Sarah turned and walked down the road. She turned back to watch Kid get into the wagon and start out of town towards the house with Kid's horse in tow.
Heyes walked down the back stairs and into the kitchen. He stopped in the doorway and chuckled. Kid looked up from cleaning his gun. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing," Heyes replied as he continued into the kitchen. "Laurie said I would find you here cleaning your gun." Heyes looked at the pot of stew on the stove.
"It's still warm. Sarah made it."
"Speaking of Sarah, where is she?"
"She went home."
Heyes turned and looked at Kid, "She was staying with Laurie."
"Yeah, I know. I ran into her in town when I was sendin’ the telegram to Lom. She decided it wouldn't be proper for her to stay at the house now that we're home."
"She's sleeping," Heyes said.
"I'm awake," Laurie said appearing at the kitchen door wrapped in a blanket.
Heyes turned, smiled and walked over to greet her. Bringing her into his arms, he hugged her as he kissed her head. "I thought we agreed, you were going to sleep and I was going to check on Kid and Sarah."
"I know, but," Laurie said and stopped.
Heyes leaned his head back slightly and looked down at her.
She looked back up at him as tears formed in her eyes and her lip began to tremble. "I woke up and I thought maybe it was a dream. Maybe you weren't really home," she squeaked out and forced a smile.
Heyes pulled her close and stroked her hair. "Sshh, it's not a dream. We're home."
Kid stood up and walked over to the two of them, "Can I give you a hug and kiss to prove we're home?" he asked with a huge smile on his face and his arms wide open.
"Kid," she cried out as tears flowed freely down her face.
Heyes let go and she turned to Kid's waiting arms.
He pulled her in for a tight hug and then just as quickly dropped his arms, stepping back. Eyes bulging, nostrils flaring, he stared first at Laurie and then at Heyes.
Chuckling, Heyes wrapped his arms around Laurie resting his hands on the bulge protruding from her belly. "I'm gonna be a father," he said with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile that reached ear to ear, lighting up the room.
Kid stared at him with a frightened look on his face.
"Kid, did you hear what I said?" Heyes asked. He exchanged glances with Laurie, and then shrugged. "Kid," he said a little loud. "You in there?"
"What?" Kid said shaking his head. "What did you say?"
"I'm going to be a father. Laurie is carrying my child."
The frightened looked slowly turned into a look of elation as Kid yelled out, "Heyes!" and bounded to the two of them. He reached Heyes who had stepped to the side seeing Kid coming at him and gave him a huge bear hug whacking his back rather hard.
"Kid," Heyes coughed out, "A little less exuberance would be nice."
Kid stopped and stepped back looking at Heyes, "Again with the big words." He said trying to sound hurt but couldn't hide the smile on his face. "Sorry, just got carried away," Kid said once again pulling Heyes into a bear hug, this time patting his back. After a few minutes he released Heyes and turned to Laurie. "It's so good to see you," he said as he gently pulled her into a hug giving her forehead a kiss. "I've, we've missed you so much, and now this." He leaned his head back, looking on her, "I can't believe it."
"I know, it is a little bit of a shock isn't it," she said as Kid let go of her and she returned to Heyes. "I wasn't sick before you left," she shrugged, smiling at Kid. "Why don't we go into the den? The two of you can have some whiskey while we talk."
"Sounds good to me," Kid smiled as they turned and walked into the den.
Sitting on the table next to Heyes chair was an unopened bottle of good whiskey along with two glasses. Heyes walked over and picked up the bottle.
"I bought it for you to have when you got home," Laurie said meekly.
"It's been sitting here all this time?" Heyes replied.
Laurie nodded. "I've changed the glasses so they are clean, but yes. I wanted to make sure it was here and ready for you."
Heyes reached out and pulled Laurie into a hug kissing the top of her head. He poured glasses for himself and Kid. Laurie shook her head no when he motioned to her. Sitting in his chair, he gestured to Laurie to come sit on his lap. Laurie shuffled across the floor with the blanket still wrapped around her. She carefully sat down on Heyes' lap and curled up, resting her head on his shoulder and chest.
"I almost forgot," Laurie said, "Where's Sarah?"
"She's at home. I ran into her in town when I went to send a telegram to Lom. She said it wouldn't be proper to stay here anymore. She'll out in the mornin’."
Laurie nodded her head. "She must have been thrilled to see you and Doris must have hugged you to death."
"Doris and Walter!" Kid exclaimed. "I forgot to stop and tell them we were home."
Heyes raised his eyebrow at Kid.
"I saw Sarah and she said she was glad to see me. Then she told me to go home," Kid said sounding flustered.
Heyes reached out and patted his partner's arm, "Don't worry about it. No harm done. We'll ride into town in the morning to see if Lom responded to the telegram. We can stop in then. What's the worst she could do, stop making pie for you?" Kid looked horrified as Heyes chuckled.
Laurie playfully swatted Heyes' arm, "You are terrible. I'm sure Doris will be making all the pies Kid wants for quite some time she'll be so happy to see him. Well, happy to see you both. They have both been very good to me since you've been gone. I owe them so much."
"I'm glad they were here for you," he said kissing her temple. "I wonder what Lom will find out about the Brewsters," Heyes stated.
"I hope they had as good a home coming as we did. And that the payroll was returned," Kid said.
"I'm sure it was," Heyes replied.
Kid chuckled remembering the family they had just spent four months with. "Rachael really had you wrapped around her finger."
"No she didn't," Heyes protested but couldn't hide the smile or the twinkle in his eyes thinking of the little girl.
Laurie watched and listened as Heyes and Kid bantered back and forth. After a few minutes she decided she couldn't take it anymore. She sat up on Heyes' lap, "I think maybe I do need to get some sleep," she said as she stood up and started to shuffle towards the door.
"I'll come up with you," Heyes said as he set down his glass and began to stand up.
"No, you stay. Finish your whiskey. I'm going to go to sleep."
"If you're sure," Heyes replied. Laurie nodded yes. "Okay, sweet dreams. I'll be up soon."
Heyes quietly opened the door, expecting Laurie to be back in bed and asleep. As he entered the room, he saw her sitting at the vanity brushing her hair, "Hey Sweetheart, I thought you were going back to bed." He walked over to her, stood behind her and rubbed her shoulders. "Come back to bed with me," he said and then noticed her sad reflection in the mirror. "What's wrong?"
Laurie continued brushing her hair, not looking at his reflection in the mirror.
Heyes moved to the side and crouched down next to her, "Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
Laurie closed her eyes, "If you have feelings for Mrs. Brewster, I understand."
Confusion spread across Heyes' face, "What? I don't have...Sweetheart; I thought we were over these kinds of feelings. You know you're the only one."
"I saw your eyes light up when you talked about her," Laurie quietly said, tears building in her eyes. "I understand. You were gone for a long time. I won't stand in your way. I'll, we'll be fine," Laurie said stoically as she unconsciously placed her hand on her belly.
"No," Heyes stated and turned Laurie to look at him. "You, you're the only one I've ever had feelings for. You're the one I thought about every day. You're the one I dreamed about. You. You are my life, don't you understand? Since the day I met you, you are the only one. My eyes didn't..." Heyes stopped himself short. "If they lit up," he paused, "it was because of Rachel."
Laurie closed her eyes and pursed her lips.
"Rachel is the four year old daughter," he began to explain. "She had long, light brown hair and big hazel eyes." Heyes reached up and put his hand on the side of Laurie's face, "She reminded me of you."
Laurie opened her eyes and looked into his.
"She was so sweet, so innocent," he smiled. "I could image it was you when you were her age." Heyes smiled grew, "Of course, you were much more beautiful, even when you were four."
"Really?" Laurie asked.
"Of course you were more beautiful," he responded.
"No, I mean about..."
"Yes, I love you and only you. You are what kept me going, wanting to get back to you. I was thinking that maybe when the amnesty came through, we could adopt a girl." He placed his hand on top of Laurie's, "Guess we don't have to anymore." He smiled. "Mrs. Brewster's first name is Margaret. She wouldn't even look or talk to me in the beginning. I don't have feelings for her." Heyes stroked the slide of Laurie's face as she leaned into his hand. "I think you're tired."
"Let's get to bed and I will tell you everything tomorrow, okay."
Heyes helped her up and over to the bed.
The sunlight shone through the crack in the curtain when Laurie opened her eyes. Heyes' arms were still wrapped around her and she smiled to herself; the morning had come and he hadn't disappeared. She sighed as she lay in his arms, her back touching his chest; she hadn't slept this good in so long.
"Hey," he said quietly when he heard her sigh. "You okay?"
"Better than okay," she replied and wiggled closer to him.
"Good," he said sleepily and closed his eyes again.
She lay there listening to his breathing. The sound was so peaceful she smiled and giggled.
"What's so funny?" he said with his eyes still shut.
"Nothing," she giggled.
"Hmm," he replied still half asleep. "Then why are you giggling?"
"You are determined to wake me up aren't you?"
"Then why don't you tell me why you are giggling?"
"Because, it's stupid."
Heyes lifted his head up and peered over her shoulder.
She looked up at him and smiled. "It's just," she said and stopped.
Heyes raised his eyebrow.
"Okay, it's just that I was jealous of a four year old. I mean I know you love me, I don't know what got into me."
Heyes smiled and kissed her cheek as he laid his head back on the pillow. "Sshh. You've been through a lot lately," he said as he kissed her neck. "I'm sure it's all perfectly normal," he continued as he kissed her neck again and continued to her shoulder. "We'll talk to the doc today," he said as he was now fully awake, pushing himself up on his elbow, he rolled her towards him. He continued to rain kisses up her shoulder and now was once again working up her neck and stopped. He looked down at her and smiled, "I've missed you so much." He dipped his head for a soft kiss.
Laurie rolled slightly and grabbed for her cup of tea. The sudden movement had sent the room spinning. She picked it up, empty, she sighed. Heyes lifted his head, she smiled at him as he dipped his head and captured her lips again. Laurie willed the room to stop spinning as Heyes' kiss became more passionate. She dropped the cup on the bed and wrapped her arms around him. Heyes stopped and lifted his head, "Sweetheart, what's the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing," she replied trying as much to convince herself as to convince Heyes.
"I may have been gone a long time, but I can tell by the way you just kissed me something is the matter. What is it?”
Laurie laid looking into his eyes not speaking concentrating on not getting sick.
"Are you still worried about us?"
Laurie shook her head ever so slightly no and the mere movement caused her to loose it. She quickly rolled over to grab the basin by the side of the bed and got sick.
Heyes watched in fear. He rubbed her back as she finished. "Sweetheart, why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't want to worry you."
Heyes looked at her, "I'm you husband, of course I'm worried that you are sick but you can't keep this from me."
"I just moved too quickly, I'm fine," she said as she leaned over and kissed his chest trying to change the subject. She continued to kiss his chest and worked her way up to his neck.
Heyes lifted his head and closed his eyes as he concentrated on not letting his body respond. Opening his eyes he said, "I think I would like to talk to the doctor before I continue."
Laurie looked disappointed at him.
"I want you to know how much I love you and how much I want you. I can't even explain how much I want you. I just need to know this is all right, if you and the baby are all right. Understand."
She nodded her head ever so slightly trying not to be sick again.
He kissed her forehead and rolled over, "Now I think I'll go make breakfast. Maybe you just need some food. You are eating for two."
"I can," Laurie started but was interrupted by Heyes.
"No, let me. You rest. I'll call you when it is ready." He stood up, got dressed and left.
Laurie sighed as the door closed. She reached for the teapot and frowned. It was empty too. Okay, she thought, I'll have to make it to the kitchen to get some more. I'll just take it slowly and I'll be fine.
Heyes was starting the coffee as Kid walked into the kitchen. "Hrmpf," he snorted. Heyes turned and looked at him.
Kid chuckled, "Just thinking nothing's changed. It's like four months ago."
Heyes smiled, "Yeah, but now we know why Laurie's sick."
Kid smiled back at Heyes, and patted his shoulder as he walked over to the stove. "It's great news Heyes." He looked at a pot filled with a little liquid that was sitting on the back burner of the stove. "Any idea what this is?" he asked as he pointed to it.
"No," Heyes replied.
Kid picked up the ladle as took a sip. Turning his head he spit, "Oh, that is awful! What is it?"
"No idea," Heyes chuckled. He watched as Kid shook his head and stuck out his tongue. "You know you don't have to go trying everything. Maybe it's used for cleaning?"
Kid's eyes bulged, "Why didn't you say that before I tried it?"
"I didn't know you were going to try it!" Heyes laughed.
"Well, I'm dumpin' it before anyone else decides to try it," Kid exclaimed as he picked up the pot and headed for the kitchen door. Opening the door he almost ran into Sarah. "Oh," he said startled, "I'm sorry, I didn't know you were here."
"That's okay," Sarah smiled. "Good morning, Thaddeus. I told you I would be by today." Looking at the pot in Kid's hand she quickly asked, "What are you doing with that?"
"Tossin’ it before anyone else tries it," he said as he started to swing his arm.
"Nooo!" Sarah shouted as she grabbed his arm.
He stopped and looked at her.
"It's for Laurie."
Heyes heard the noise and came to the door.
Sarah looked at him as she released Kid's arm, taking the pot from him. "She hasn't said anything to you has she?"
Heyes pursed his lips and shook his head no.
"She drinks this," she pointed at the pot, "tea for lack of a better word to help settle her stomach."
"That," Kid exclaimed and pointed at the pot, "helps settle her stomach!"
"Yes," Sarah replied.
Heyes was staring at her waiting for her to continue.
Sarah shifted uncomfortably.
"Does she get this in the morning?" Heyes asked.
"Yes, before she moves from bed," Sarah replied.
"Any other time?" he asked.
Sarah nodded her head.
Heyes looked at her for a moment and then said, "Can you prepare a cup of tea and whatever she needs and I will take it up to Laurie."
Laurie was sitting up on the side of the bed with her feet hanging over the side when Heyes walked in. She looked up at him, willing a smile on her face and then saw the tray he was carrying. Her smile disappeared as her eyes drifted to the floor. Heyes closed the door behind him, walked over, sat next to Laurie on the bed, and handed her the cup of tea.
He watched her take a sip of it and her body shuddered. "If it tastes half as bad as it smells, it must really be horrible," he said, tilting his head down trying to see her eyes.
Laurie didn't lift her head but her eyes drift over to Heyes'. "Guess Sarah is here."
"Guess I have some explaining to do."
"You know," she said trying to change the subject. "You really did the tea and biscuit thing perfectly. Since when do you know how to serve tea?"
He chuckled, "Since Rachael made me have a tea party with her and her doll Penelope just about everyday."
Laurie giggled, "You and Kid playing tea, that's so sweet."
"Oh no, not me and Kid; me, Penelope and Rachael. That's all she wanted at her tea party. Not Kid, not her mother and not her brother. Kid got lucky he got to play with Daniel."
Heyes chuckled and then stopped. "You're trying to change the subject on me." He said trying to look stern at her but not pulling it off. "You know I'm on to the lip thing so you're trying to change the subject."
Laurie looked at him with puppy dog eyes trying her best to play innocent. Instead, tears began to form and she diverted her eyes to the floor. "I just didn't want you to wish you had stayed away," she blurted out as she blinked back tears.
"Hey," Heyes said as he sat up and carefully pulled Laurie into a hug kissing her head. "Sweetheart, nothing could want me to wish that." He kissed her head again. "Now," he said as he loosened his hold on her, "I guess we both have lots to tell each other."
Laurie smiled meekly at him.
"First I want you to lie back in bed and drink the tea. Then Sarah said you need to eat this," he held the biscuit up and twisted his face, "thing that looks like a rock."
Laurie giggled. "It tastes like a rock too."
Heyes chuckled and then got serious. "Don't try to hide things from me. I need to know so I can take care of you." He moved closer and smiled, "Okay?"
She returned the smile and then bit her bottom lip.
"Oh no," Heyes said. "You are not going to distract me with the lip thing; none of that until I talk to the doctor. Speaking of the doctor, does he know about this stuff?"
"He's the one that told me to have them," she replied.
Heyes raised an eyebrow. "He couldn't come up with something better?"
"He tried. He tried everything," Laurie said. "Nothing worked. I kept getting sick and I couldn't eat anything. He was really getting worried about me and the baby. He finally talked to an old doctor friend who told him to try this tea and biscuit." She paused. "It's some old family remedy from the old country that was supposed to help. He didn't know what family or what old country but he looked at what was in it and figured it couldn't hurt. Of course when Sarah boils all the different roots and herbs in the pot to make the tea you would think it would kill you but once you get past the smell and the taste, it's not so bad.
Heyes chuckled, "Once you get past the smell and the taste."
"It worked. I don't care what it tastes like. It was the only way to keep the baby. I would do anything not to lose it." Tears began to well in her eyes.
"Sshh," Heyes said as he gently pulled her close. "I know you would." He held her and rubbed her back, "I'm sorry I wasn't here."
"You were doing something very important and I had Sarah. If it wasn't for her, I don't know how I would have made it."
Laurie and Heyes sat up in the bedroom telling each other about the past four months while Kid and Sarah talked in the kitchen doing the same thing. A short time later, Walter and Doris showed up at the door. Doris first scolded Kid for not telling them they were back in town and then produced several muffins, pies and dinner for them. As Doris was hugging Kid, Heyes walked into the kitchen carrying Laurie.
"Laurie, are you all right?" Doris asked anxiously as she rushed over to her.
"I'm fine, Joshua wouldn't let me walk down the stairs by myself," she replied as he gently set her down on a chair.
"Oh, Joshua," Doris said, hugging him. "I'm so glad you and Thaddeus are home.
"It's good to be home," he replied. "Now I just need to ride into town to get Doc Williams to come check on Laurie."
"He's about five minutes behind us," Walter replied. "He was stopping in his office for something before he came out."
Heyes looked at Laurie, she shrugged. "He comes out every other day, sometimes every day to check on me," she said meekly.
"Anything else you want to tell me?" Heyes asked.
"Father John comes out Wednesdays and Sundays and sometimes, Mondays. Walter, Tom and Matt fixed the barn roof and the corral. Doris made the rest of the curtains for upstairs. Matt has made sure we had firewood and supplies during the winter. Lets see, Walter, Doris, Matt, Mr. and Mrs. Quimby, Tom, Sally," she paused, "Oh just about everyone in the town has come out to keep me company and give Sarah a break. Sarah has been staying down the hall next to Thaddeus' room taking care of me and the house. Oh and I'm carrying your baby." She looked around at everyone standing in the kitchen and then back at Heyes. "I think that covers it," she said and shrugged.
There was a knock on the kitchen door before Heyes had a chance to respond. "Thaddeus, Joshua," Doc Williams said as he walked in and shook their hands. "You're a sight for sore eyes. It's good to see you both." Turning to Heyes, "Bit of a shock for you Joshua."
Heyes tilted his head and smiled.
"A good shock though. Congratulations."
"Thank you," Heyes said shaking his hand. "I have some questions for you, if we could go into the den."
Doc nodded his head and Heyes bent down to pick up Laurie. "Joshua, I believe Laurie can make it to the den herself." Heyes looked at Laurie and she nodded in agreement. He held out his hand to help her stand up and the three walked into the den, closing the door behind them.
Doc Williams went through all of the problems Laurie had had the past four months, including almost loosing the baby and dying. Heyes sat holding her hand and asked a billion questions. The doctor answered everything. He told Heyes that Laurie was probably well enough to walk for short distances but shouldn't ride a horse or wagon and it was probably a good thing at this point in time to limit relations until the baby was born. As long as Laurie was up to it and she felt no pain it would be alright for a week or two but then they would have to wait until after. Laurie asked about the tea and he replied as long as she was still dizzy or sick, she should continue to drink it. Although she had put on some of the weight she had lost, she was still too thin and it wasn't good for the baby. He hoped that with Joshua home she would be less troubled and would start to feel better.
When Heyes was done asking all of his questions and they were through talking, the three stood up. "Joshua, Laurie has struggled very hard to keep this baby," Doc Williams said. "She never had any doubt you and Thaddeus would find your way home. She's a very strong woman, you should be proud."
Looking into Laurie's eyes and smiling he replied, "Oh I am Doc, I am." Leaning in he gave Laurie a soft kiss. She reached up and brushed the side of his face.
As the three re-entered the kitchen, they saw the welcoming group had grown. More and more people from town had heard that Joshua and Thaddeus had arrived home safely. They gathered in the kitchen where they talked and ate as a steady stream of visitors bringing an assortment of baked goods and dishes came and left. Kid ate everything offered to him and Heyes stayed by Laurie's side.
After a few hours, Heyes glanced at Laurie and saw how pale she was beginning to look. He stood up taking her hand and guided her into the den, closing the door behind them. "A bit too much?" he asked.
She nodded slightly as she blinked back the tears forming in her eyes.
"Sshh," he said pulling her into a hug and kissing her forehead. "We'll stay in here until everyone's gone." He kissed her head again, "Okay?"
Heyes sat down in his chair and once again Laurie curled up on his lap resting her head on his chest and fell asleep.
A short time later, there was a quiet knock on the door and Kid peeked in. Seeing who it was, Heyes waved his partner in. "Tom's here and wanted to say hi," Kid whispered.
Heyes nodded, "Help me get Laurie to the sofa and I'll come out." Kid walked over and carefully picked Laurie up from Heyes, he was amazed how light she was especially in her condition. He laid her down on the sofa and Heyes covered her with a blanket.
"Everything go okay with the doc?" Kid asked as he watched his partner cover Laurie.
"Yeah," Heyes replied quietly as he stood up and watched Laurie sleep. "She's had a really tough four months," he said sadly.
"I know," Kid said placing his hand on Heyes' back. "Sarah filled me in on everything when you took the tea up to Laurie." He paused and then added, "She's strong. They'll both be fine." And then trying to lighten the mood, "If she can drink that tea, she can do anything." He patted Heyes' back, "Let her sleep, we'll just be in the kitchen." Heyes nodded.
By the time the two had emerged from the den, most of the kitchen was empty. The only people remaining were Sarah, Doris, Walter and Tom. Stopping at the door they looked around. "Sarah thought there had been enough excitement for the day, so she shooed everyone away," Walter stated.
"It's not like they're going to disappear," she said and then looked at the two men for reassurance. "Everyone can visit another time. Laurie needs her rest and I'm sure Thaddeus and Joshua would like some time to get their bearings."
"Sarah's right," Doris said as she walked over to Heyes and Kid, hugging and kissing them both. "I'm just so happy," she said as she smiled and looked at them.
"Oh, come on Doris," Walter said coming up behind his wife. "Let's leave the boys before the waterfall begins again." He shook both their hands, "So glad you both are alright. We'll talk more later." The two turned to leave and the group moved out onto the side porch.
Watching Doris and Walter ride away Sarah said, "Well, I think I'll go start packing my things." Turning to Heyes, Kid and Tom she said, "If you'll excuse me."
"Well it's just you, Tom," Heyes said turning towards the Sheriff. "Any reason you stayed?"
Tom chuckled, "Haven't lost your touch Joshua, still know what's going on around you." He paused and then took a telegram out of his pocket and handed it to Heyes. "Mr. Quimby asked me to deliver this."
Heyes and Kid glanced at each other and then the telegram. Heyes sighed and took it from Tom.
"Well," Kid asked as he watched for a reaction from Heyes.
"Well, nothing," Heyes said sounding rather disappointed as he handed the telegram to Kid to read. It was from Lom.
To: Joshua Smith, Thaddeus Jones.
From: Sheriff Lom Trevors.
The Brewster Family made it home. The package was returned.
"That's it!" Kid exclaimed after reading it. "That's it! Nothin' else! No I'll be in touch. No, I'll talk to the Governor, you saved the family and returned the payroll you have earned you amnesty! Nothin'!"
Tom watched as Heyes stood silently looking the kitchen door at their land. Kid even noticed the quiet non-reaction by Heyes.
"Kid," he said quietly, "I don't know anything else we can do to prove ourselves. I don't think the Governor has any intention of granting us amnesty." He turned and quietly walked back through the kitchen and went into the den, closing the door behind him.
"I'll talk to Lom," Tom said. "Maybe if we both went to the Governor."
Kid shook his head, "You know, I think Heyes may be right. After all this."
"Don't give up hope Kid," Tom said surprising both himself and Kid with the use of the name. "I'll talk to him, see what we can come up with."
" ‘ppreciate you tryin’ Tom," Kid said and shook his hand as he turned to go back into the house.