Diamonds and Spades
An Alias Smith and Jones/Highlander Crossover

 

By Catherine & Hilary

This story refers to the Highlander episode “Double Eagle,” but the fact that Amanda and Kit are Immortals has little or no bearing on the action of the story. In the AS&J timeline, this story occurs prior to the series, when Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry are still happily robbing banks and trains, and haven’t yet decided to go straight. This one’s dedicated to Annie, in the hopes that someday she’ll finish her Methos/ASJ crossover!

"I don't know about this, Heyes. Banks and trains, yeah, but stealing jewelry from a private house? That's not quite our style, is it?" Jedediah “Kid” Curry, popularly known as one of the most successful outlaws in the West, paced the cabin floor. His long legs and the small size of the room meant he had to change directions quite often.

His partner just leaned back further in his chair and said, "Kid, the Emerson jewels are worth a cool million. That's more money than you or I have seen in our entire career as outlaws. Besides, Arthur Emerson's a railroad baron, ain't he? So what's the difference where we steal it from? He got it the same place, anyway."

"The difference is how much easier it is to get caught, robbing a private home. Or have you forgotten about that part? Some of our boys ain't exactly subtle in their approach to things." Curry frowned, his forehead corrugating beneath his dark blond curls.

"Oh, I wasn't thinkin' about the boys, Kid. I thought this one might be just you and me. Sort of a vacation from the Devil's Hole Gang. And you know that you and me could manage it all right. Even a railroad baron’s not likely to have a safe I can’t crack, and we’d be in and out of there quick and easy." Heyes’ dark eyes were sparkling at the prospect, and his broad grin was infectious.

Kid Curry still looked doubtful. "A big haul like that, and you want to leave the boys out of it? I don't think they're gonna like that very much. I can just see Wheat now, talkin' about how our loyalty to the gang ain't what it should be, and what they need is some new leadership."

Hannibal Heyes smiled at the thought of Wheat Carlson making yet another bid for power with the Devil's Hole gang. Wheat didn't have the brains to lead a couple of small boys on a fishing trip, much less one of the most successful outlaw gangs in the entire Western United States, but he didn't have the sense to know that, either. There was mischief in his eyes as he responded, "What they don't know, Kid, won't hurt 'em. Besides, we'll kick some of the proceeds into the kitty. Lay some extra supplies in for the winter and so forth. We'll just tell 'em we're goin' on a little vacation. And when we come back with the extra supplies and things, we’ll tell’em we won big at poker. They’ll believe that, coming from you and me, and they don’t need to know about the rest of it."

"Well, Heyes, maybe you're startin' to convince me just a little bit, but tell me more about these jewels before I say yes."

"They come all the way from Europe, apparently, and there's lots of 'em. Emerson just married him a pretty young wife, and she didn't pick him for his looks or his charming personality, put it that way. There's diamonds, and emeralds, and rubies. Word I heard was there was something between half a dozen and a dozen necklaces, alone, all of 'em top quality. Earrings and bracelets, too."

"Where'd you hear that kinda word, anyway, Heyes?" the Kid asked suspiciously.

"I have my ways," said his partner.

"Not good enough, Heyes, not good enough. I'm not takin' that kind of a risk because you have your ways. I wanna know where you know this from, and I wanna know just exactly how you know it . . . "

Heyes looked a little embarrassed. "Well, you know that pretty young wife of Emerson's that I was talkin' about? He met her at the Wildcat Hotel in Denver."

The Kid grinned. "Heyes, that's a whorehouse."

"I know, Kid, I know. She was called Emmy then; I understand she calls herself Mrs. Emmeline Emerson now. Anyway, there's a girl there called Belle, and she and I got to talkin' when we were in Denver a couple of weeks ago."

"When were you at the Wildcat Hotel, Heyes? We ain't ever been inside that place, have we? And I was with you most of the time, that trip."

"Belle was gambling at the casino. Remember, how Lady Luck just wasn't with me for a change, so I sat it out after awhile?"

The Kid's grin got wider. "Oh, *her*? The redhead? She was awful pretty, as I recall. Just my luck that for once the luck of the cards was with me and not with you."

"Anyway, after a few glasses of champagne she started to complain about her old friend Emmy and how high-and-mighty she'd gotten. Said she'd run into her on the street and got royally snubbed. Said later on a messenger came to her and she got ushered in the back way to "milady's chamber," as she called it, where all Mrs. Emmeline Emerson could do was brag about her Arthur and all the lovely things he bought her."

"Sounds like Mrs. Emmeline Emerson could stand to learn a lesson or two about what's really important, huh, Heyes?"

"That's just what I was thinkin', Kid. That's just what I was thinkin'. And if someone's gonna profit from this lesson, it might as well be us, right?"

Kid Curry rolled his blue eyes. "I'm probably gonna regret this, Heyes, but I'm in."

The Emersons' San Francisco mansion was located on Nob Hill. Heyes and Curry had discussed whether they should stay right on the Hill, at the home of their friend Silky O'Sullivan, or whether that would make them too conspicuous, but finally they’d decided that the advantages of staying with Silky far outweighed the disadvantages.

As the driver dropped them off in front of the house, the two outlaws reflexively straightened their jackets. Instead of their usual trail clothes, they were wearing suits, and Kid Curry straightened his hat on his blond curls. But even dressed up in their best, they still found the magnificence of Silky’s home a little overwhelming, especially at times like this one, when they were coming straight from the cabins and rough-hewn surroundings of Devil’s Hole.

Their host, a dapper grey-haired gentleman in his sixties, rose to greet them as they were shown into his drawing room. "Good to see you boys, as always," Silky said, "and whatever you're up to, if it's good, I want in on it."

"Oh, we'll see," said Heyes, with a mysterious smile. “It’s not really in your line, Silky.”

“I don’t much like the sound of *that.* If it’s not in my line, that means it’s probably a little riskier than I like in folks who are keeping my company.”

“Now, Silky,” said Kid Curry, “would we put you in any kind of danger?”

“Especially with you bein’ one of our best friends in San Francisco and all?” Heyes added.

Silky looked doubtful. “Well . . . I guess not, boys. I guess not.”

“It’s good to be back in the big city,” Heyes continued. “What say the three of us take a stroll over to the Double Eagle Saloon and see if there’s anything going on there tonight?”

“Heyes!” his partner remonstrated. “The Double Eagle’s a little rich for our blood right now. We haven’t had any really *big* hauls in a while, and those games are about as high-stakes as they come.”

Silky began to chuckle, his laugh almost as raspy as his speaking voice. “You boys haven’t been here in awhile, have you?”

The outlaws looked at each other and shrugged.

“The Double Eagle is no more. Kit O’Brady lost it in a poker game.”

“Lost it in a *poker* game? Now that’s one game I wish I’d been there to see,” said Heyes. He’d been around and seen enough in his twenty-eight years that very little impressed him anymore, but a poker game where an entire saloon -- and one as posh and profitable as the Double Eagle -- was thrown into the pot . . . that could still do it.

“And the lucky winner shut it down?” asked the Kid.

“No, it’s still there. It’s just open under new management, and a new name.”

“Who is he?” asked Heyes.

“‘Tisn’t a he,” said Silky, eyes twinkling. “It’s a she.”

“A she? A woman beatin’ Kit O’Brady at poker? Now that *must* have been something to see.”

“She conned him,” explained Silky. “Pretended she was French and hardly knew any English. Pretended she’d never played before. A real operator, all right. Pretty as they come, too.”

“She sounds right up your alley, Heyes,” said the Kid, his eyes gleaming at the thought.

“Oh, I don’t know. A pretty woman who could con Kit O’Brady and win an entire saloon at a poker game sounds like she might be too much for even me to handle.”

But from Heyes’ smile and the expression in his dark eyes, his partner could see that he was tempted by the prospect. “You? Resist a challenge like that?” The Kid’s tone was teasing.

“Well, what about you, Kid? You’re the ladies’ man, ain’t you?”

“Aw, Heyes, you know I like ‘em two ways -- saloon girls and respectable girls. I leave the schemers and the con women entirely in your hands.”

Heyes nodded. It was true that his partner enjoyed the favors of the free-and-easy young ladies they met along the way, while they, in turn, regarded the Kid as something of a working holiday. On the other hand, he was as chivalrous as they came with respectable young ladies, even though he had to confine himself to polite flirtations and, usually, a single, regretful farewell kiss. But he left the more complicated and usually, considering their line of work and the circles they travelled in, more devious women to Heyes, who only really found himself drawn to women who presented some kind of a challenge, anyway.

“Don’t even think about it,” said Silky. “She’s got a gentleman friend, a Scotsman who’s about as big as the two of you put together.”

Heyes looked at himself and his partner reflected in one of the many gilt-framed mirrors that lined Silky’s drawing room wall. They were on the tall side of average, and it was true they were both lean, especially Heyes, but they were wiry and well-conditioned. Still, even if this Scotsman wasn’t literally twice their size, Silky wouldn’t have said it if he wasn’t an impressive specimen. Probably not a good idea to laugh at his kilt.

“On the other hand, if you could see your way to winning the saloon back at poker, Kit O’Brady’d be mighty grateful to you.”

“Since when are you and O’Brady such pals?”

Silky smiled. “We’re not. It’s just that he owes me quite a bit of money, and if he doesn’t get the saloon back, I don’t expect to see my money anytime soon.”

“Ah,” said Heyes. “A business deal.”

“More or less.”

Kid Curry looked confused. “But if Heyes could win the Double Eagle at poker, why’d we give it back to O’Brady? Why couldn’t we just keep it ourselves?”

“‘Cause you two are wanted men, if you haven’t forgotten, and someone would figure out who you were, sooner or later. You couldn’t run it yourselves, and you might even find it tough to unload.”

“What about you, then, Silky?”

“You know I’ve gone into retirement. I won’t say I have all the money I could ever need -- nobody ever does -- but I will say I’m not interested in putting in that kind of work, anymore.”

“More important, Silky,” said Heyes, “where’re we gonna come up with the kind of money we’d need to buy into that kind of a game, anyway? Like the Kid said, it’s been awhile since our last haul, and it sounds like you’re talkin’ about a game that’d be too rich for our blood.”

“I’d stake you. Like I said, I want to see O’Brady back on his feet.”

“What if I lose?”

“This *is* Hannibal Heyes I’m talking to, isn’t it?”

Heyes grinned. “Guess you got a point there. What do you think, Kid?”

“If Silky’s stakin’ you, I don’t see any reason not to. Only thing is, we’ve been travelin’ for the past couple of days. Tonight’s not the night to get into a big game.”

“Kid’s right,” said Silky, and rang the silver bell that sat on a small table near his armchair. “Whiskey and some supper?”

“Sounds like heaven,” said Kid Curry, putting his feet up, and leaning back in his chair.

“But Wheat, how do you know they’ve gone to San Francisco?” The speaker was a short, slim man with lank blondish hair and protruding teeth.

His companion glared at him. He was tall and handsome, with a thick mustache, and would have made quite an impression if not for the expression of scheming stupidity that often marked his features. It would have helped, too, if he’d washed a little more often. But Wheat Carlson didn’t find all that fastidiousness very manly, and was constantly amazed at the fondness of the gang’s leaders, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, for bathing every chance they got.

“Kyle, I told you, that new telegraph girl over in Kirbyville’s gone soft on me. I asked her, and she told me they’d sent a wire to Silky O’Sullivan in San Francisco.”

“Silky O’Sullivan?” Kyle was impressed. He’d heard stories about Silky’s many clever con games, and everything he’d taught to Heyes and Curry about gambling, but he’d never met the man. “He lives on that Snob Hill, don’t he? Where the doorknobs are made of gold and . . .”

“They ain’t made of gold, Kyle. Ever’body knows that’s just a fancy story.” But Wheat looked wistfully at the hand-adzed beams of the Devil’s Hole bunkhouse in which they sat. The doorknobs here were made of wood, same as everything else, and the doorhinges of leather. Wheat could remember a fancy hotel the gang had stayed at once in Denver, where the doorknobs were made of cut crystal and refracted sunlight and gaslight alike into rainbows of color. Not that Wheat knew what “refracted” meant, just that the rainbows were awfully pretty.

“Anyway, I figger they’re up to somethin’, just takin’ off sudden, like that. So I want you to follow ‘em to San Francisco and just kinda keep an eye on ‘em, from a distance, like.”

“What if they spot me, Wheat?”

“They won’t. You’ll keep out of their way. Silky O’Sullivan’s real well-known in certain circles ‘round San Francisco way. There’s folks that make it their business to know things about him -- including who comes to stay with him. Just spend your money in the right saloons and you’ll get all the information you want.”

“Why me, though?” Kyle was aware of his own limitations as a spy. He knew full well he wasn’t of the cleverest, and he knew he was pretty distinctive-looking, as well.

Wheat smiled. “‘Cause you’re my best friend, Kyle. You’re the Kid Curry to my Hannibal Heyes. And when *I’m* runnin’ this gang, that’s just how it’ll be.”

Kyle’s expression was a little doubtful. It was true that he and Wheat were close friends, but much as he liked the tall outlaw, he had a lot more trust in Heyes and Curry to keep things running right. They were a lot smarter than Wheat, if the truth be told, and they’d always treated Kyle fair.

“All right, Wheat,” he said, finally. “But you’ve gotta promise me that if they catch me, you’ll back me up on whatever story I make up to cover.”

“Done,” said Wheat, and gave a loud whoop! of joy. Heyes and Curry had to be up to something the boys wouldn’t approve of. Finally, the leadership of the Devil’s Hole gang would be his, like it always should have been. Like Big Jim Santana had virtually promised him, before Hannibal Heyes and his quick brain had come to supplant him as Big Jim’s second-in-command.

Amanda looked around the Queen of Spades once again. The decorators had finally finished with the changes. She lifted her hand to straighten the amethyst-and-gold necklace that partially filled the décolleté of her gown. Finally, a place of her own. She only wished Duncan MacLeod wasn’t quite so judgmental about the way she’d gotten it.

After all, she’d won at poker, fair and square. It was Kit O’Brady’s idea to stake the saloon, not hers. She’d only been there to hustle some of the wealthier clientele over the card table. If things had been different, she and O’Brady might even had made a good team. Professionally, only, of course. After all, she had her standards.

But O’Brady was plunger, and a loser. Was that her fault? Duncan seemed to think so, and that bothered her a lot. But she knew she was in the right. And whistling to herself, Amanda went about making her preparations for the evening.

When Heyes and Curry joined Silky in his grand dining room for lunch, they were greeted by a surprise. A tallish man, with regular features and a rather impressive mustache, sat next to their host at his table. He had light brown hair combed back from his forehead, and he was wearing just about the finest specimens of the tailor’s art the outlaws had ever seen. But his fine clothes were a little the worse for wear, and as he rose to greet them, it was apparent he had already had just a little too much to drink, even this early in the day.

Silky grinned. “Boys, I think you’ve already met Kit O’Brady.”

O’Brady made slight bow in their direction. “And I’m much obliged to the pair who are going to help me get even with Miss Amanda.” As he said her name, he made a face, almost as though he’d just eaten something that tasted really bad. “I do recall you two. Any night you spent at the Double Eagle was never as good for the house as it could have been. Mister Harrison and Mister Carlyle, wasn’t it? Good to have you on my side, at last.”

Heyes and Curry just looked guiltily at each other, while Silky laughed aloud.

“Now, Kit, you wouldn’t expect Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry to go by their *real* names, would you?”

Kit’s eyes widened. “*You’re* Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry? Well, no wonder you always cleaned me out. It really *will* be good to have you on my side.” He turned to Silky and smiled. “Somehow I didn’t expect those two to be quite so young. I had no *idea* you kept this kind of company, O’Sullivan.”

But Silky just mumbled something about how Kit was full of it.

And soon luncheon was served, and they were toasting to getting even.

That evening, the Queen of Spades Saloon was as busy as ever. Amanda was talking to her manager, Winston, when she felt the buzz of another Immortal approaching. MacLeod had promised to rejoin her in San Francisco, soon, so she went to the door eagerly . . . only to be greeted by the sound of a sneeze.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said, disappointed. “Have you come to lose some more money, or just to stand in a corner and look sad?”

“Charming to see you again, too,” said Kit O’Brady. “No, Amanda, I think my luck’s going to change.”

“I thought you were certain that your luck was never going to change, not unless you got your lucky piece back.” Amanda gestured to the bar, above which hung a framed gold coin -- the famed double eagle from which the saloon first took its name.

But even while she taunted Kit, it occurred to her that if he would just once ask her for it nicely, the coin would be his again. All she wanted was an apology. She might have hustled him, but she hadn’t cheated him -- she’d won that game of poker fair and square. It wasn’t *her* fault he’d had to top her throwing her diamond necklace into the pot by raising her by the deed to the Double Eagle, was it? All right, maybe she’d heard he had a weakness for making the dramatic gesture, but was that her doing? If she hadn’t taken advantage of his weakness, someone else would have.

Anyway, if just once Kit O’Brady would stop calling her a liar and a cheat, and ask for his coin nicely, instead of demanding it angrily, she’d call it even and give him back his lucky piece. *Maybe I’m spending more time with MacLeod than is good for me,* she mused. But no, all she wanted was a little fairness. What was so wrong about that?

Of course, O’Brady lost again that night. The surprise would have been if he’d done otherwise. But he left looking too happy for someone who’d lost as much as he did, and Amanda wondered what was behind it.

Kyle Murtry had been in San Francisco for a day, already, and he was beginning to think the only way he was going to get news about Heyes and Curry was to call on them at Silky O’Sullivan’s and ask them how they were doing. He’d been from saloon to saloon, and from gambling establishment to whorehouse, but if anybody really made it his or her business to keep up on O’Sullivan and his doings, he or she was not very forthcoming with the information.

He wondered if it might be his technique. Maybe he just didn’t have the knack of asking right . . . or of bribing right. Here Wheat had trusted him with an important job, and he was making a mess of it. On the other hand, he liked Heyes and Curry, and didn’t feel right spying on them. Why did Wheat have to drag him into the middle of this, anyway?

As he was thinking that, his eye was caught by the sight of one of most beautiful women he’d ever seen. She had dark hair piled up on the top of her head, and shining eyes. And she went into an entrance labelled *The Queen of Spades Saloon*.

While he was thinking about just how pretty she was, and how he’d never even be able to get up his nerve to wish her a good day, something unexpected happened.

Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry came walking down the street, and turned into the same doorway.

“You given any more thought to that Emerson job, Heyes?” asked Kid Curry, as he pulled on his jacket.

“Sure have, Kid, but now’s not the time. After we pull that, we may need to hightail it out of town. We’ll do what we promised Silky and Kit, first, and then we’ll do the job we came here for.” Heyes straightened his tie.

They made their way down the stairs, only to find Silky clad in a velvet dressing gown.

“You ain’t comin’ with us, Silky?” asked Heyes, in surprise.

“Kit and me figure you boys have to do this on your own. We don’t want to tip off Amanda that you’re workin’ with him.”

“Suit yourself,” said the Kid. “But you’ll be missin’ the big party.”

“I can keep myself occupied,” said Silky, and just then, the sound of feminine laughter came from an adjoining room.

“Sounds like you’ve got your evening just set up your way,” said Heyes, and grinned.

Silky shot them an annoyed glance. “You boys have filthy minds,” he said sharply, and disappeared.

Heyes and Curry looked at each other and shrugged.

The Double Eagle and its successor, the Queen of Spades, weren’t just your average saloon, filled with dust-covered cowboys bellying up to the bar to order another glass of rotgut. No, it was a fancy establishment, where the clientele dressed to impress. It had green-baize covered card tables, and lots of gilt everywhere. Not gaudy, though. Sophisticated.

Heyes looked around. The new patron had made her mark on the place without changing the tone at all. High-class gamblers mixed with folks who were just high class, period, and though most of the women in the place were members of the demimonde, this was one of the few places in San Francisco a society woman might make a well-chaperoned excursion into the realm of the forbidden.

There was a woman standing over by the bar, conferring with a grey-haired gentleman. She bore a striking similarity to the woman on the sign. It was the Queen of Spades herself, Amanda. Heyes looked her over appreciatively. Her hair was dark and lustrous, and her figure was slender but quite shapely. She wore her rich, low cut evening dress very well. He heard the Kid behind him taking a quick breath.

As they walked closer, Heyes could see that she had delicate, regular features, and a certain sparkle in her eyes. And *this* was the woman who won this place over a hand of cards? She was just about the loveliest thing Heyes had ever seen. For a brief moment Heyes contemplated giving Silky back his stake, apologizing to O’Brady, and sweeping this woman off her feet. He could just see it -- him, her and the Kid, running this place together. Wouldn’t that be the life?

His fantasy took such a rapid pace that he’d progressed from their courtship and their gambling triumphs together to imagining the first possible flaw in the plan, before he got halfway across the room. Well, even if she *did* like the Kid better, he could settle for just being partners with her. After all, who was he to stand in the way of his best friend’s happiness? But then reality set in. He remembered the large Scotsman who was rumored to be in the picture, and he remembered that he and the Kid were wanted men, with $10,000 apiece on their heads. He could just imagine an angry loser trying to recoup his losses by turning them in to the law.

He stopped, halfway across the room, suddenly developing an overwhelming interest in a roulette game that was going on. Kid Curry stopped at his side.

“Kid,” he whispered, “let me handle this one, okay?”

His partner smiled at him. “How come you always get to have all the fun, Heyes?”

“I just don’t want her to think she’s being conned, that’s all. If we get a game going, you can join us.”

“And if you don’t?”

“Oh, I will, Kid. I will.” Heyes gave a cocksure grin that deepened his dimples and made his partner either want to smack him or believe him -- or quite possibly, both.

“Whatever you say, Heyes,” said the Kid. He’d soon caught sight of a table halfway across the room where the dealer was laying out hands of blackjack, and he took his leave of his partner.

With a mental word of encouragement to himself, Heyes continued on his path towards the bar and the mysterious Amanda. As he approached her, he gave his best smile, the one that showed all his dimples. That smile had made women weak-kneed from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean.

She smiled back, politely, and turned away.

*Well,* thought Heyes, *I’m not doin’ too well so far. I wonder if the Kid *is* more her type.* But though flattery was certainly one of his objects, his goal was to lure her into a game. He wasn’t going to lose sight of that. “Excuse me, Miss, but I understand the Queen of Spades is your place.”

She turned back to face him. “That’s right,” she said. “I’m Amanda. Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Well, I’m lookin’ for a game of poker.”

“Take your pick,” she said, gesturing around the room with her hand. “There are several games going on right now with empty seats. Or you can claim that table over there in the corner, and I’ll send over a dealer, and we’ll see about steering some other players your way.”

“No,” he said. “I’m lookin’ for a special game.”

She gave him the once over. Even in his best suit, he realized that he probably didn’t look enough like a high roller. Too bad he’d had to pawn that heavy gold watch chain he’d had for awhile. It was the sort of touch that said “Money” to all who saw it.

“I’ve been here before,” he said, “under previous ownership. There’ve been some legendary games played right under this roof, and I’ve had the privilege to play in one or two of ‘em.”

“Really?” she asked. Her smile was skeptical, but it said “convince me,” rather than “don’t bother wasting my time.”

“Yes, well, there was the time that I relieved Kit O’Brady of a cool twenty thousand. I had to leave, because I had a train to catch, but I hear he went on to win it back twice over from the players that were left.”

“Not bad,” she said. “The only thing I’m wondering is how someone so . . . don’t take this the wrong way . . . but, someone so *young* as yourself can afford to get into this kind of game. You don’t strike me as the type to play with daddy’s money, and I could see you doing big things, but I’d guess you haven’t done them yet.”

“Well, that’s where you’re wrong, Miss Amanda. Me and my partner here,” he gestured over at the Kid, “we were doing some prospecting a couple of years back, and we got lucky. We’ve got a silver mine back in Nevada -- not a giant one, but it does okay for us. I got somethin’ in the low six figures burnin’ a hole in my pocket. Now, it ain’t gonna stay there for long. Either I play poker, or I invest in real estate. And I got a better nose for poker than I do for real estate.”

“Well, we may be able to help you out, Mister -- I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name?”

“Harrison. Henry Harrison.”

Amanda smiled predatorily. "We have a game that would suit your tastes, Mr. Harrison, although the buy‑in is high."

"How high?" inquired Heyes, as he lost himself for a moment in those sparkling eyes, finally getting a close enough look at his prey.

"Ten thousand. Cash." Amanda smiled, cool and reserved.

Heyes reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out a wallet, filled with the stake of his rich friend. *God help me, this is a lot to lose,* Heyes prayed to no one in general as he pulled a bundle of neat, tidy $100 and $500 bills. "This enough?" he asked with his lopsided grin, intently gazing at Amanda to see her reaction.

For just a fraction of a second, Amanda's cool, reserved face was overtaken by a look of shock, and her eyes sparkled with that unmistakable tinge of greed Heyes had seen so many times before. Her recovery was quick, however, very quick and she flashed him a mischievous smile. *Damn, she's good* Heyes thought, feeling a strange tug in his chest, knowing that most folks would not have detected the crack in her facade. *This is not going to be easy.*

"Of course. The game is at 10 o'clock, inside that room," she said, pointing to a set or ornate double doors beyond the bar.

"House rules?" Heyes asked.

"The game is draw, $100 ante, $100 minimum opening, raises in multiples of 100. Jacks or better to open, pass and back in. We play table stakes, ordinarily. However, as the owner of this place, I reserve the right to keep my options open, if you know what I mean," Amanda said with one of the warmest smiles yet Heyes had seen on that lovely face.

"Of course. I'll see you at 10." Heyes gave Amanda a slight bow as she walked away, her attention distracted by a disruption at another gaming table. Trap set, bait taken.

At ten o'clock sharp, Heyes and Curry approached the double doors behind which one of the most intense poker games in Heyes' career was about to take place.

The large mahogany table was surrounded by an assortment of well‑dressed men. In the midst was the dazzling Amanda. Curry looked at Heyes, his eyes speaking volumes as usual. Heyes had become used to the unspoken communication between the two of them, but it still amazed him how much each could convey to the other with a glance. But tonight the most important thing was to concentrate on his mission. He gave Curry a frown, and the Kid merely raised his eyebrows and cocked his head slightly to one side as if to say *I hope you know what you're doing.*

"I hope you don't mind my bringing my friend, Mr. Carlyle," Heyes said as a way of introduction.

"Not at all, Mr. Harrison. That brings the number of players to seven, and I rather like the number seven," Amanda nodded her head and beckoned them with her hand. "Please, do sit down. Would you gentlemen care to freshen your drinks?" Upon Amanda's signal, the waiter standing the corner of the room came with new glasses filled with most excellent brandy.

Heyes and Curry nodded their thanks to the server and their acknowledgements to the other players. Each player laid their money on the table, and the game began.

The first hour of the game went uneventfully. Heyes liked to size up his competition, to see how the others played before he let the full extent of his skill become apparent. In saloons throughout the West, he would watch the players from the bar until he got a feel for their style, idiosyncrasies and level of skill. It situations like this, when he had no chance to observe, he played it quiet and cool until he could get a handle on who he was up against. So he won a little, lost a little, bluffed a little, and even let some potential killer hands slide to see how the others were going to play theirs.

At the table was Count Ostrovski, an Eastern European nobleman with the usual air of mystery, accentuated by a dueling scar on his face and a diamond ring of unusual size, which he wore on the third finger of his right hand. He was a cautious player, playing when he knew he'd win and rarely calling a bluff.

Ulysses M. Patterson, a San Francisco shipping magnate, was friendly and chatty. This man couldn't bluff his way out of a wet paper bag -- his open manner made his feelings immediately apparent. His poker was mediocre: he played two pair too much, and he didn't seem to realize that drawing one card to improve two pair to a full house was as much of a long‑shot as drawing to an inside straight.

J. Herbert Henderson, was the scion of a well‑to‑do East Coast family, sent to San Francisco to oversee their west coast interests, particularly in the China trade. He was obviously well‑bred, schooled at New England's finest prep schools and universities, but he was rumored to spend more time at the gaming tables than in his well-appointed offices. Henderson knew the mechanics of the game and when to call a bluff, and he played his cards with some finesse. He was a worthy opponent for Heyes.

Fred Morris was a regular at the casino who liked his brandy all too much. He started playing a good game of poker, but as the evening wore on and his sobriety wore off, his playing became sloppy.

And there was Amanda, stone‑faced and beautiful. She played well, and she played smart. *It's no wonder she won this place* Heyes thought, regarding her out of the corner of his eye.

Two hours into the game Heyes had quietly doubled his stake. He felt better, knowing now he could pull out the stops without losing the money that Silky had staked him to. Even the Kid had done well and made money on his stake. It was agreed earlier that the Kid would play along while Heyes got his feel for the other players, hopefully not losing too much of Silky's generous stake, then bow out, leaving Heyes to build up for the ultimate prize. Curry planned on cutting out by midnight, since he’d made a late dinner date with one of the pretty ladies decorating the roulette table.

The Kid picked up his final hand. Two aces, a seven, a four and a deuce. He opened for $200, and all the others called. When it came his time to draw, he discarded and asked for three cards. Two eights and a king. Two aces, two eights and a king. He sat staring at his hand while the others drew their cards. With a dozen eyes watching him, anticipating his bet, all color drained from his face. He swallowed hard, laid the cards face down on the table. "I'm out," he said, shaking his head. Heyes looked hard at his partner and friend. *What the hell is the matter with him?* He had never seen the Kid lose his composure at the poker table before.

The Kid stood up, bowing slightly to the other players. "If you all don't mind, I'll take my leave. I have a lady waiting for me in the dining room," Curry said as he managed an engaging smile. He collected his winnings as the others nodded *Good night* to him. Heyes patted the Kid's arm, giving him a smile, but still perplexed about what had spooked his friend so badly.

The rest of the hand seemed anti‑climatic, Patterson won with his two pair, queens and twos. As the cards were being gathered for the next deal, Patterson grabbed the folded hand the Kid held. He looked at the other players, *Do you mind if we take a peek?" The others nodded their consent, and upon turning the hand over.

"Good lord, the man would have beat me if he’d stayed," Patterson said, a note of incredulity in his voice.

Heyes caught his breath.

"No wonder," said Morris, giving Heyes a knowing look.

"Dead man's hand," said Heyes.

The others looked quizzically at him.

"It's called the dead man's hand," Morris explained, "because it's the hand Bill Hitchcock held when he was gunned down in Deadwood."

Heyes did a quick count of the money piled in front of him. Sixty thousand dollars. Why don’t I just stick with the cards, he wondered, for nothing like the first time. Fifty thousand dollar profit is a nice haul for a day's work. Beats cracking safes and running from posses.

"Mr. Harrison . . . Mr. Harrison, it's your bet," Amanda shook Heyes from his reverie.

Heyes raised his eyebrows high, shaking himself from his thoughts.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I'll call." He threw a thousand dollars into the jackpot. Another hand won.

"This evening is getting terribly long," Amanda said. "But this game hasn't even begun to get exciting. Why don't we spice things up by making the jackpot progressive? Any objections?"

"No," said the Count.

"Fine by me," said Patterson.

Henderson and Morris also agreed.

"A progressive pot it is," Heyes said.

"Good. We'll start with jacks or better, then queens or better, then kings, then aces. That should liven things up a bit. I'm afraid Mr. Harrison is getting a little bored," Amanda said as she winked at Heyes.

*Good,* thought Heyes. Big pots seem to loosen the purse strings of poker players even more. And Heyes needed the pot to get big.

The next hour went by quickly. The brandy was still free‑flowing and excellent. Mr. Morris was getting more soused as the minutes flew by, although he manifested it mainly in his increasingly sloppy style of play. Heyes found himself wishing Kyle was around to help entertain him. With the exception of Morris and Amanda he found these rich folks terribly boring.

"Aces or better to open this time around," Henderson said as he dealt five cards to each players. "Mr. Morris, your open."

"Check," Morris said, in a drink-thickened voice.

"I'll open with five," Amanda gracefully laid five $100 bills on the jackpot that was already up to twenty‑four hundred dollars.

Ostrovski called, and Patterson followed suit.

Heyes picked up his hand, and his mood likewise picked up. *Here we go!* In his hand were the two, three, four and five of hearts, and the ten of clubs. He had a good chance of drawing either a straight or a flush. The pot could be big enough to warrant the chance. Plus the large pile of money sitting before him, the evening's easy‑come profit, silently screaming at him that this was the time to make his move.

Heyes called, then raised another five. A plausible bluff was shaping up if the right cards eluded him during the draw. Henderson called with one thousand.

Morris unloads one thousand from his dwindling pile. Amanda, Ostrovski and Patterson all called the five hundred raise. Jackpot at eight thousand four hundred.

"Cards?" Henderson quipped to Morris.

"Three."

"Miss Amanda?"

"Two."

"Count?"

"Stand pat."

"Mr. Patterson?"

"One."

"Mr. Harrison?"

"One."

"And dealer takes two."

"Mr. Morris, your bet."

Morris looked at his miserable hand. He looked at his miserable money pile. Could he pull off the bluff? Could he manage to stay sitting in his chair?

"I fold. Get me another drink," he hollered to the always-ready waiter. Amanda frowned and sends an unspoken signal to the waiter. Time to cut Mr. Morris off. He'd had more than his share of her two-hundred-dollar-a-bottle brandy. Well, all right, Kit O’Brady had laid it in. But it was hers now, and she hated to see it wasted on someone who was going to guzzle it, and not savor it. Duncan MacLeod, now, he knew the virtues of savoring and moderation in fine things. She shook herself. Thinking of the Highlander wasn’t going to do her any good now. She had a big card game to win.

"Ok, I'll open with five thousand," Amanda said as she peeled off ten $500 bills from the bottom of her pile. Audible whistles echoed through the room.

Heyes looked intently at this beautiful woman. He knew she was either holding four aces or a full house to come out that strong. She certainly had two aces at the start, but she asked for two cards. Could she be that lucky, too? He contemplated his own hand, and carefully watched the other players.

Count Ostrovski saw the five thousand and raised another five thousand. That's ten thousand to Mr. Patterson. The Count stood pat, which meant he either had a flush or straight. Probably flush with the aggressive raise. Heyes secretly smiled to himself. This *might* be it. If he could just keep the betting going and aggressive. He looked to Mr. Patterson, who threw in ten thousand dollars to call the bet. Two‑Pair shipping magnate, did he finally get lucky and draw a full house? No, he would have raised the bet. Heyes called the ten thousand, looked in the eyes of his competition and raised another five thousand with that wide grin that flashed sweetly, and told the other players absolutely nothing about his hand. They’d have to consider whether he was bluffing – something he’d done earlier in the game, and won quite handily at it.

Heyes glanced at the dealer to his left, "That's fifteen thousand to you, Mr. Henderson."

Henderson looked at his hand. He was born into wealth, but that didn’t mean he took it for granted. He’d learned to manage money at an early age, and he managed it well, much to the continuing profit of his family. So he knew when to hold the cards, and when to fold them.

"I'll sit this one out," Mr. Henderson said as he laid his three nines face down on the table. He stretched his long, lean body out in his chair, settling in for what he hoped would be a serious slug fest of poker. *Haven't had one of those all night and we're about due,* he thought to himself as he looked to the pot already holding over forty‑eight thousand dollars.

"So, I believe that ten thousand for me to call," Amanda said, laying the money in the pot, "and since I'm feeling so alive tonight, I'll raise you all another ten."

"Fifteen to call," the Count replied and added to the pot.

Patterson called with fifteen.

Heyes looked at the incredible pot before him. *Why couldn't this have happened any earlier?* he wondered to himself. He put ten thousand in to see the bet, quickly scanning the piles of money in front of the remaining players.

"Ok," he said. "Let's see just how much you really have." His eyes sparkled with the challenge. "I raise you thirty."

Both the Count and Patterson blew air from their lips and threw in their cards. Too rich for them. Inside, where no one could see, Heyes felt himself shaking, hoping he hadn't come back too strong.

Amanda shot him a piercing glance. She looked at her hand, and then at the money before her.

"Do you remember our earlier conversation, Mr. Harrison?"

Heyes looked at Amanda with a questioning gaze.

"When we discussed the stakes, which are normally table stakes. I did say that I like to keep my options open, if you’ll recall?"

"Yes, I remember that, Miss Amanda," Heyes said, as his heart beat so hard and loud he swore the Kid could probably hear it over in the gaming room.

"Well, I would love to call your bet, and maybe even raise it. I'm dying to see what's in your hand, as I'm sure you'd like to see mine. The only thing is . . . I'm sure I'll win, but I only have twenty thousand here," Amanda fanned her hands over her place.

Heyes’ face glowed with confidence. "What do you have in mind?"

Amanda's hand went to her throat draped with exquisite jewels. "Between these and others I have in my suite, I could certainly entertain calling your bet."

"Well, Miss Amanda, while those jewels are certainly beautiful, and worth quite a bit, I'm sure, I really have no use for such things. I doubt that I can sell them here in the United States for what they're really worth. I have another forty thousand here in front of me and you had mentioned the possibility of raising the bet. Is there something else you can offer?"

Amanda swallowed, hard. *This can't be happening* she thought to herself. But she looked at her hand, four aces! Four aces and the queen of spades. Her lucky card. How could she lose? A barely audible sigh escaped her throat.

"I won this saloon in a poker game, Mr. Harrison. I'd be glad to offer the deed as a call to your current bet and a raise for everything else you have in front of you."

Trap sprung. Whistles and hoots from the sidelined players brought others in from the other room.

"Everything okay, Miss Amanda?" asked Jason McCord, the head of security, as he came into the room, followed closely by Curry and other patrons.

"Yes, Jason, everything is fine," Amanda said, not breaking her concentration on Heyes' face and eyes. "Well, Mr. Harrison, your answer?"

Heyes caught the inquiring look from Curry, and with the unspoken communication that only years of friendship and shared trials can convey between two men, acknowledged that the showdown had come.

"I accept, Miss Amanda," Heyes said in a clear, unwavering voice. "If you'd be kind enough to allow me to inspect the deed to be sure it's valid and free of any encumbrances."

Amanda drew back, "Why, Mr. Harrison, you don't trust me."

"Oh, it's not about trust, Miss Amanda. "It's about business and poker."

"Of course. Jason, please get the deed from my safe."

McCord froze, looking at Amanda in disbelief.

"It's okay, Jason. Do as I say . . . please."

Minutes later Jason returned with a fat envelope he handed over to Amanda. She took it and pulled out a large, folded document and handed it to Heyes.

Heyes inspected the deed, saw the transfer from Kit to Amanda, refolded and returned it to Amanda.

"I'm satisfied," said Heyes. "I'll accept your bet." Heyes pushed the rest of the money in front of him into the jackpot as Amanda placed the deed on top.

"I believe that makes it my call," Heyes said.

Amanda looked up at Heyes through the top of her eyes. Such an innocent looking beauty, but Heyes knew there was more to her than met the eyes‑-a lot more. She laid her hand out.

"Four aces." Gasps and murmurs filled the room. Neither Heyes nor Amanda had realized that the room had filled with patrons, drawn by the intensity emanating from the principals of the game.

Heyes’ eyebrows rose and his lips widened into a thin smile. He looked over at Curry whose own eyes and mouth were set hard with trepidation.

With a dramatic sweep of his hand, rather out of character for Heyes, he laid out his cards, the two, three, four, five and six of hearts. A straight flush. A loser in only one of sixty‑five thousand hands.

Heyes sat and smiled. He raked the contents of the pot to himself while Curry's face broke out in relief, followed by elation. He managed to squeeze by the crowd and was at his friend's side in moments.

“Well,” Heyes grinned, as he pocketed the deed, “Our old friend Kit O’Brady will sure be glad to see this.”

“O’Brady?” Amanda sputtered, an almost comical look of astonishment spread across her pretty face. “O’Brady put you up to this?”

“He didn’t put us up to anything, strictly speaking,” said Heyes. “He mentioned there was a real pretty lady who played real good poker. He thought I might enjoy spending an evening in your company.”

“Yeah, right,” said Amanda. “He probably planned this out with you. Probably told you all kinds of lies about me, too.” She shook her head in disgust. “And to think I kind of liked you.”

She turned and walked away.

The Kid looked at Heyes and broke into a guffaw. “Well, she sure told you, didn’t she?”

And Heyes grinned in return. “Yeah, she sure told me somethin’ or other. Can’t blame the lady, though. After all, she did just lose her club.”

The Kid’s chivalrous instincts broke in. “You think she’ll be all right?”

 “Kid, you saw those jewels she was wearin’, didn’t you? Those were real. A lady that can dangle baubles like those around her neck is a lady who can afford to lose a little bit of money.”

“A little bit, Heyes?” The Kid grinned.

“Well, okay, twenty grand and a saloon.” And Heyes couldn’t help but let out a whoop of laughter.

Amanda stumbled out the door, waving away her concerned employees. It wasn’t fair. This was her place. She’d fixed it, she’d changed it, it was nothing like it had been when she’d taken it over from that loser, Kit O’Brady.

And now all she had were the jewels around her neck.

At least O’Brady wasn’t likely to turn her out of house and home tonight. But even if she could turn these jewels into cash, she was going to need to earn some money and earn it fast. She needed to come up with a big score, and quickly. No way was she going to give O’Brady the satisfaction of seeing her slink out of town, tail between her legs. If she had to give up the Queen of Spades, she’d at least leave San Francisco in style. And she would not give Duncan MacLeod the satisfaction of saying that he’d told her so.

She wandered for what must have been a hour, and finally sat herself down on a park bench. After a moment, a blond man sat down next to her.

She looked over at him, and almost got up and walked away again. He was one of the oddest-looking men she’d ever seen, in all her nine hundred years.

But she didn’t, and in a moment, he spoke. “Hey, miss,” he said. “Don’t mean to intrude or nothin’, but you look awful sad, and I hate to see such a pretty lady lookin’ so sad.”

“Why, thank you,” she said, coldly, preparing to get up and move away.

“This, uh, wouldn’t have anything to do with a pair of men that were in that casino tonight, would it? Dark-haired, dark-eyed feller with a silver tongue on him, and a blond haired gunslinger?”

“He was a gunslinger?” Amanda asked, and then remembered that the blond man, Mister . . . Carlyle? Indeed, he’d had the sort of reflexes one would attribute to a gunslinger, Amanda had noticed that. Immortals tended to notice a lot, at least the ones who lasted as long as Amanda had. “Mister Henry Harrison and his friend, Mister Carlyle. They said they had a silver mine in Nevada. Say, did you follow me from the club?”

“Now, miss,” said the odd-looking blond man, kindly. “I know those two, and that ain’t who they are. They’re friends of mine, but I’m spyin’ on ‘em now for another friend.”

Some kind of friends, thought Amanda. For that matter, some kind of spy.

“I’m Kyle, by the way,” said the blond. “I’m . . . well, I’m an outlaw, actually.” He puffed a little, obviously proud of his calling.

Amanda widened her eyes in appreciation, all the while speculating that this Kyle didn’t seem bright enough to be particularly successful in that field—nor to possess the kind of brute strength that usually compensated for lack of brains.

“Well,” he said, “they come to town to pull off something behind the backs of the gang. Now, Wheat, that’s my friend, he wants me to find it out, so’s he c’n expose ‘em and take over.” A cunning look crossed his vacant face. “But they’re a lot smarter’n him. I don’t want to see them leave the gang. So, I figure on wrecking whatever they have planned, and makin’ ‘em eager to get back to Devil’s Hole.”

“You’re a lot smarter than you l . . . I mean, that’s a really good plan, Kyle.”

“So, you in, Miss?”

“Oh, certainly. What can I do?”

“Well, the only problem I can see, is that Heyes – him you know as Harrison – he’s about the best safecracker in the whole West. I figure it’s a break-in, and I’ve seen ‘em casing out a partic’lar mansion, so I’m pretty sure I know where. But I’m not sure how we can outfox ‘em.”

“Safecracker, eh?” said Amanda, trying not to gloat too much. “It just so happens the greatest jewel thief on five continents is in San Francisco, right now, and I think she can take on the best safecracker in the whole West without even rumpling her dress.”

“She?” asked Kyle.

But Amanda only smiled.

Mrs. Emmeline Emerson had bragged about her jewels a little too often for the thieves’ community of San Francisco not to know all about them. The problem was more about getting to them. When she wasn’t wearing them, her husband insisted they be locked up in a safe in the private office in his home. Tonight was a big opening at the San Francisco Opera House, and the Emersons would be in their box. It should have been child’s play, except for the guards and the boobytraps that stood between the safe and the one who was going to break into it.

But, Heyes thought smugly, that was why Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry were different from other criminals. Because they had a foolproof Hannibal Heyes plan, and the others . . . didn’t. He was pretty sure it would work. Creating a disturbance to distract the guards was the easy part. An actress friend of Silky’s had owed him a favor. Getting past the boobytraps – that was nothing for Hannibal Heyes, and the one he couldn’t figure out, the Kid had dispatched neatly with a single pistol shot. Now all he had to do was break into the office with the vault, and then . . . at worst it was a Brooker or a Pierce and Hamilton model he’d already figured out. And, just in case, he had the equipment to blow it open.

He turned and grinned at the Kid. “Maybe we don’t even need to head back to Devil’s Hole. How’d you feel about Europe?”

But just then, the door opened from the inside. Amanda stood there, decked in Emmeline Emerson’s finest diamonds. “Actually, Europe is awfully nice this time of year. Paris, in particular.” She gestured vaguely to the jewels she was wearing. “A bit gaudy, don’t you think? Awfully nouveau riche, this Mrs. Emerson.”

“Miss Amanda? What are . . . how did you . . . ?”

She shrugged, disdainfully. “Really, darling, it was child’s play. To someone who’s liberated half the crown jewels of Europe in her time . . .”

Heyes and the Kid looked at each other. “So, we won’t tell on you, you don’t tell on us, and we split things fifty-fifty?” suggested Heyes.

“Mmmm.” She appeared to be considering. “You know, I don’t think so. I’ve got much nicer jewels than these already. And, although a girl can always use the money, I’d really rather have the deed to the Queen of Spades back. Though I suppose you’ve already given it to Kit O’Brady.”

Kid Curry burst out laughing. “We would have, only Heyes kind of misplaced it.”

Hannibal Heyes rolled his dark eyes, and reached into his breast pocket. “Not misplaced,” he said, withdrawing a piece of paper. “Just wasn’t sure O’Brady was gonna be the highest bidder.”

The Kid grinned. “I think we have a new winner. Only, what about Silky? Won’t he be mad at us?”

“He’ll get over it, Kid. He always does.” Heyes turned back to Amanda. “Now, what about those jewels?”

“Well, here are the diamonds, and welcome. Rumor has it Mrs. Emerson is wearing the emeralds tonight. Other than that, the cupboard was pretty bare. I understand Emerson’s had some business losses lately. He probably had to raise some money.” Amanda unclasped the diamond necklace from around her throat, gave it a regretful look, and tossed it to Heyes. “Probably enough to get to Europe on, and live until you figure out the next score. Only, that would make your friend Kyle sad.”

“Kyle?” asked Heyes, wondering how on earth this woman knew about Kyle.

“Peculiar-looking blond gentleman. Tracked you here. Some friend of yours called . . . Barley or Rye or something . . . it was a grain, anyhow . . . he was hoping you might betray the, the Devil’s Hole Gang, I think it was. But Kyle would rather see you all one big happy family, Mister Heyes and Mister Curry. So, I think it would be a good idea if you took your diamonds back to Devil’s Hole and split them with the gang. Because Kyle may be rather peculiar, and perhaps a bit . . . limited . . . but I think he wants the best for everyone.”

“So, if we head on home, you won’t tell anyone we’re Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, is that it?”

Amanda nodded.

“And what about those crown jewels? Why do you think we wouldn’t turn you in?”

“Darling, the most recent was forty years ago. And, though I tell you confidentially that I look wonderful for my age, nobody would ever believe you.”

“So, you get the Queen of Spades back, we get the diamonds, and everything pretty much goes back to the way it was before?”

“That’s about it.” Amanda unfastened a set of earbobs and tossed them over. “Pity. These look rather nice on me. But it wouldn’t do for an inquisitive housemaid to accidentally find them in my things.”

Heyes and the Kid looked at each other, shrugged and agreed. “But,” said Heyes, “if you ever want to team up . . .”

Amanda smiled. “As long as I’ve got the saloon, I’m as honest as the day is long. However, I could get bored at any moment. I know where to find you.” She leaned forward and kissed Curry and then Heyes on the cheek. “Adieu, mes amis,” she said and slipped out of the room.

“Where’s the bracelet?” Heyes suddenly asked.

“I didn’t see a bracelet,” said Curry. “Are you sure there was one?”

“Kid, there’s always a bracelet.” And clear as if he’d actually seen it, Hannibal Heyes pictured the matching diamond bracelet around Amanda’s wrist. “Now that's my kind of woman,” he murmured.

“How we gonna get past the guards?” Curry asked Heyes, but Silky’s friend had done her job well and they returned to the mansion without incident.

Kit O’Brady stood in the doorway to the Queen of Spades, once the Double Eagle, his silver-headed walking stick in his hand and a smug expression on his face. “I understand you have something for me?”

Amanda’s dark eyes grew big, and her expression sad. “Oh, Kit, you hadn’t heard? I’m afraid Mister Heyes, I mean, Harrison, and I matched wits a second time. Only this time, the better woman won.” And suddenly, she didn’t look sad at all.

 “I’m glad Silky thought it was so funny,” said Kid Curry, riding up beside his partner.

“I figured there was no real love lost between him and O’Brady. Still, it did make us look foolish,” said Heyes, looking pensive for a moment. But then he broke into a grin. “On the positive side, of course, we got to keep our kneecaps.”

“And we met a real interesting lady. It’d be nice to have her on our side next time.”

“Maybe we will.”

“What was that about crown jewels and forty years ago, though?”

“You know, Kid, I don’t know. I think she was just playing with us. What I do know, though, is she was the genuine article, as far as talent goes. She broke into that vault, and she opened the safe. Kid, that was a late model Brooker. I ain’t even got one of those open yet, without nitro.”

“Well, now you’ve got motivation to catch up, don’t you, Heyes?” asked the Kid, and spurred his horse ahead, riding ahead into the wide open spaces. In a moment, his partner was after him.

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