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 May 2020 Grace

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Posts : 753
Join date : 2012-04-22
Age : 56
Location : Birmingham

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PostSubject: May 2020 Grace   May 2020  Grace Icon_minitimeFri May 01, 2020 8:13 am

Hello to one and all …

Here we all are. Still pacing our isolation huts and getting excited about our daily state sanctioned walk. wheel wheel wheel
Perfect situation for a little ex-outlaw fantasy.

The topic for this month's challenge was suggested by one of you lovely ladies …

Sharpen your pencils, and release your lateral thinking as you ponder

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Nebraska Wildfire

Nebraska Wildfire

Posts : 125
Join date : 2016-10-31
Location : The Sonoran Desert

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PostSubject: Grace   May 2020  Grace Icon_minitimeSun May 24, 2020 11:55 am

It was on the train to Buena Agua that he first noticed her.  She was already seated in the car when they boarded at Black Rock.  He glanced around as usual when they entered, exchanging glances with his partner, but they saw no immediate threats.  

She certainly didn’t appear to be any concern, in her dark travel suit, with her severely pulled back hair, fastened tightly in a bun, and thick spectacles on her nose.  Teacher, he assumed, and gave her no more notice.  The Kid gave her even less, as she wasn’t overtly pretty.

It was warm on the train and they had dressed in their best suits, just purchased in Denver.  They were not as comfortable as their usual trail outfits, but it was necessary to look businesslike, for their trip to case the bank to work.

As the temperatures rose, Heyes looked around.  Many of the businessmen were taking off their jackets, sitting in just shirtsleeves and vests, some with their ties loosened.  The Kid, noticing the same thing, gave him a look, and Heyes nodded, finally capitulating.  Fitting in was the purpose of this trip.  

Curry’s jacket was shrugged off, neatly folded and set on the overhead rack before his partner even stood.  He smiled and held his hand out to take the other coat, laying it on top of his as Heyes scowled.

“Oh, come on, Elijah.”  He paused as he emphasized the fact that he remembered the aliases they were sporting this time, Elijah Rembacker and Horace Miles.  He wasn’t very happy about the Horace, but was happier with the Miles than the Rembacker.  “It’s warm enough that few folks are keeping on their jackets.”

“Please excuse my partner, ma’am.”  Heyes noticed the woman grimace as Curry spoke.  Proper as she was, she still had her jacket tightly buttoned to her neck, even while keeping her ornate fan in constant motion. He nodded towards a couple of older women towards the end of the car, who had just removed their jackets too.  “But he might be right.”

She didn’t reply, but did smile back, first at him, then at Curry.  She also kept her fan moving, but didn’t remove her jacket.

Heyes shrugged and letting the wind from the open windows dry some of the sweat from his face, pulled out a book to read.  After a few pleasant minutes, the Kid stood.

“I’m going to get something cool to drink.”  He glanced down at his partner.  “You want anything?”

“Hm?”  Heyes came up from his reading.  “No, thanks, Horace.”  He smiled broadly as the Kid scowled.  “I’m fine without.”

As his partner walked away down the car, he glanced over at the teacher.  She had unbuttoned a few of the top buttons on her jacket, but still looked flushed.

“Do you need something cool to drink?”  He smiled at her and she timidly returned the smile, but shook her head.

“If you want to take off your jacket, I don’t think anyone will notice.”  He laughed.  “We’re all warm too.”

“Well.”  She looked around and decided she stood out because she hadn’t removed it yet.  “I suppose it would be cooler.”  

Heyes gave her a last smile and dropped his gaze to his book, so she wouldn’t be so self-conscious.  

She had just stood and stretched on tip toe to place her jacket on the overhead rack when the train lurched.  Heyes jumped up to steady her, hands going firmly around her corseted waist.

“Oh!”  She didn’t pull away, as the carriage was still swaying.  After a moment the track straightened again.  She took a deep breath and looked up into his dark eyes.  “I think you can let go of me now.”

“Oh.”  Heyes looked as surprised as she did that he still had ahold of her.  He backed away a step, but then smiled down at her, holding out his hand.  “Would you like me to set your jacket up on the rack?”

“Yes, please.”  She handed it to him.  He reached around her to neatly place it.  “Thank you.”  She sat back down, a bit flushed, but in control again.  “Mister?”

Heyes started to sit down, but stood back up as he answered.  “Rembacker.  Mr. Elijah Rembacker.  Miss?”  He smiled at her and a dimple come out.

“Miss Grace Morris.”

“Pleased to meet you, Miss Morris.”

She smiled back, but then blushed, so he sat back down and was soon again absorbed in his book, until the Kid returned, looking refreshed after his cooling drink.

“Doing fine?”  Heyes asked their coded query to see if his partner had noticed any lawmen on the train.

“Just fine.”  The Kid smiled broadly and his partner returned it with a wry grin, before he put his nose back into his book.

The Kid was sleeping, with his hat over his eyes, slouched in his seat, while Heyes continued his reading.  After finishing a chapter, he took a break, putting his finger in the book, as he looked out at the passing landscape.  After a moment he turned back to start on the next page, but his gaze continued on to the young woman sitting across from them.

She too had pulled out something to read.  The book was on her lap, ignored for the moment, as she rested her head against the back of the chair.  The hot wind made wisps of hair dance around her perspiring forehead.  She had taken off her thick spectacles, dangling them in her hand, as she rested, her eyes closed, long lashes resting against her rosy cheeks.  Heyes realized she was actually pretty, out from behind her glasses and with her severe hair loosing in the breeze.  Feeling his gaze upon her, she opened her eyes.  Admiration was still on his face, so she flushed a bit more if that was possible.  She dropped her eyes for a moment, but then returned his look.  Before it became uncomfortable, he smiled at her.

“What book are you reading?”

“Jane Eyre.”

“I’ve not read that.”
“No, I imagine not.”  She looked off wistfully, but then turned back returning his smile.  “What are you reading?”

He held it up.  “Life on the Mississippi.  I kind of like this author.”

“He does have a wisdom that cannot be denied.”  She settled her spectacles back on her nose and tucked her flyaway hair back into its bun.  “Have you been to the Mississippi?”

He nodded.  “A couple of times.”

“I just came across the river at one of the new railroad bridges.”  She flushed a bit again and even behind her glasses he could see her eyes sparkling.  “It was a bit frightening, but still thrilling.”

“That sounds interesting.”  His smile contained a dimple.  “Tell me about it.”

It was an hour later when the conductor announced their arrival at Buena Agua.  Heyes looked at his partner.  

“Hey.”  He nudged Curry, who lifted his hat with one finger, giving his partner a glare, before sitting up straight.  

“I heard.”  The Kid stretched, then stood to retrieve their jackets from the rack.  As he handed Heyes’ coat to him, he turned as Grace stood and stretched, trying to pull hers down too.  He reached easily around her and smiled as he handed it to her.

“Thank you.”

He also lifted down her carpet bag, smiling.  “My pleasure, miss.”  He then turned away from her, meeting Heyes’ look, ready for the work ahead.

After they settled into the hotel, they casually made their way down the street, looking like proper business men, considering the prosperity around them.

“Bank is in the next block.”  Curry murmured to his partner.

“Sheriff is back that way a block.”  Heyes nodded and touched his hat to a couple of passing matrons.

“Far enough?”  Curry glanced over.

“If we don’t make more noise than we should.”

“Gonna keep Kyle back at the Hole?”

“No, just gonna make certain he doesn’t bring any of the ‘good stuff.’”

“Good luck on that.  Last time he had a couple of sticks in his hat.”

A grimace crossed Heyes’ face, but was quickly replaced by a broad dimpled smile, as they approached the bank.  He winked at Curry as he turned the knob of the door and entered, in full confidence mode.  He boldly approached a teller, as the Kid followed closely, observing security measures from the corner of his gaze, while smiling broadly as they approached the wrought iron grates.

“Would the bank manager be available?”  He asked the young man behind the counter.

“What would this pertain to?”  It was evident that while the two men were obviously strangers to the teller, he was impressed by their dress and manner.

“We are looking to open a business here in Buena Agua and would like to see the security measures at the bank, to insure our deposits would be safe.”  Heyes stood up straight and tall.

“Right this way.”  Heyes noticed that while the young man closed his money drawer, he did not lock it.  He gave the Kid a significant glance.  There might be hope here, even in this modern bank.

After a productive visit, the boys were more than ready for a good meal.

“This place looks good.”  The Kid nodded after glancing in the windows of a busy cafe.  “And what’s more important, it smells good.”

“Gotta learn to think with more than your stomach, Kid.”  Heyes shook his head, but led the way in to find a table.

“Not if it makes certain I get fed.”  He smiled at his partner.  “One of us has to remember that, even when we are planning our business ventures.”

They looked around as they entered the bustling cafe.  Heyes noticed the woman from the train sitting at a table with another woman, a lovely young blonde.

“Sorry, gentlemen, we don’t have an empty table right now.”  A pretty waitress hurried by, her arms full of plates.  “Hopefully we can get you a table soon, but its chicken pot pie day and we’re always busy.”

“Heyes, there’s your friend.”  The Kid’s eyes lit up.  “And it looks like she has a friend for me.  Maybe we can sit with them?”

“We can try.”  Heyes shrugged, but started toward their table, putting on his dimpled smile.  “Miss Morris?”  He touched his hat brim, removing it.  “How nice to see you again.”

“Mr. Rembacker.  Mr. Miles.”  She smiled up at both of them, but Curry’s attention was clearly on her pretty companion.  “May I introduce my friend, Miss Lily Green?”

The Kid swept his hat off and gave her with a brilliant smile.  “Glad to meet you, Miss Green.”

“You know these gentlemen, Miss Green?” The harried waitress hurried over to their table, depositing two generous portions of chicken and dumplings.  “We’re full up today.   You willing to share your spot with them?”  She glared over at a table of older men.  “I was hoping some of these folks would be leaving soon, but all they seem to want is more coffee.”

“Well, it appears we do know them now, but...”  She glanced over towards a stuffy looking gentleman sitting with what was obviously his wife.

“We will be very happy to have these gentlemen join us for lunch.”  Miss Green smiled and indicated the free chairs at their table.

“Pot pie and coffee for you two?”  The waitress asked the boys.

“Sounds great!”  The Kid smiled gratefully at her as she hurried off.

“Are you certain we won’t be bothering you?”  Heyes glanced over at the school board president, who luckily was engrossed in the local newspaper.  “I take it you are a teacher too, like Miss Morris here?”

“Yes, and I can handle Mr. Grant on my own.”  She aimed a glance across the room, but then smiled up at first Heyes, then more coyly at the Kid.  “Now, I may need some help from Betty with Mrs. Grant, but yes, please sit before she brings back your lunch.”

The waitress came sailing by with a couple of cups and a coffee pot.

“Thank you, Miss Betty.”  Heyes smiled up at her, causing her to pause for a moment and flush, but then she dashed off to wait on another customer.

“You ladies are both school teachers?”  The Kid smiled brilliantly at the women.

“Yes, we went to teacher’s college together.”  Grace smiled at her friend.  “Lily was able to get a position in this prosperous town and I am working on the reservation. We’re taking advantage of the summer break to visit.”

“I thought you were meeting your brother here?”

Grace nodded, but Heyes noticed that Lily blushed.  The Kid only noticed the food coming.

After a pleasant lunch, the boys took their leave, spending the afternoon visiting other local businesses.  They were polite and courteous, seemed like they’d be a good addition to the business owners in Buena Agua, but after their visit, no one could remember what business they said they were starting.

“It sounds like everyone in town will be closed Saturday afternoon for the festival.”  Heyes glanced around, but no one was near them, as they crossed the street to the hotel and dinner.  “Do you think we’ll be able to hang around town for another day without attracting attention?”

“I’d be more worried about Wheat, Kyle and the boys not showing up early when they hear there will be food and fireworks.  Especially Kyle.”

“I’ll have Wheat tell him he can bring some of the good stuff, just a few, as a backup plan.”

“How are you going to put that in a telegraph?”

“I will tell our business partner, Snidley Bottoms, that prospects look excellent here and he should bring all needed employees and supplies, including some of the ‘high grade cylinders’.”

“You honestly think Wheat can figure that out?”

Heyes shrugged.  “If not, we probably liberate a couple of the bigger fire crackers, as another backup.”

“Will that be enough?”

“Definitely.”  He nodded decisively.  “You saw that safe.  If I can’t get it open in ten minutes, it won’t take much to blow it.  We want to keep as low key as possible, fireworks display or not.”

“So what do we do until then?”

“I would have said invite the friendly teachers for a buggy ride and picnic, but I think Miss Morris’ brother just arrived.”  He nodded towards Grace, walking from the train station in the company of a man who looked slightly older than she did, but shared enough of her dark coloring that his assumption was likely to be proven true.

“Good day, Miss Morris.”  He tipped his hat as they approached, smiling broadly, his dimple appearing.

“Mr. Rembacker, Mr. Miles, how nice to see you both.”  She returned Heyes’ smile.  “May I introduce my brother, Mr. Arvind Morris.”

Heyes held his hand out to forestall the question that appeared to be forming on her brother’s lips.  “Pleased to meet you, sir.”  The Kid followed suit, but the older man was not totally distracted.

“We were lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Miss Morris and Miss Green and were waiting to meet you when you arrived. I’d be very pleased if you would all be our guests at the hotel dining room tonight, say 7:00?”

Dinner went well enough and Arvind seemed impressed enough by the businessmen that he agreed to the picnic the next day.  By that next evening his face was covered by more thoughtful gazes than concerned ones.  Perhaps his plain sister might make a match after all.

He didn’t however seem pleased by the attention Mr. Miles was paying to Miss Grace.

“Will you be able to attend the festival on Saturday?” Lily batted her eyes at the Kid, which annoyed Arvind even more.

“No, I’m afraid we have to be heading out in the morning to meet some of our business associates.”  Heyes kept a smile on his face.  He could tell that the ladies were disappointed, but Arvind’s face sported a smile.

“That is unfortunate.”  He patted his sister’s hand, trying to catch Lily’s gaze, but she deliberately turned away.

“It sounds like it would be a great time.”  The Kid smiled at Lily, trying to let her down easy.  She returned his smile wistfully, but then turned to listen to Arvind.

“Will you be back soon?”  Grace’s voice had a bit of wistfulness in its tone.

He started to say something, paused, but then continued.  “No.”  His silver tongue had failed him.

The heist went flawlessly.  As Heyes had predicted, it took him mere minutes to open the safe.  Kyle was disappointed that his dynamite skills were not called upon, but everyone else was happy to have the money, even if they were missing the party at the other end of town.

The gang silently rode their horses out into the dark of the night, as Chinese rockets lit the sky.  This was the easiest getaway Heyes ever planned.  He let the Kid carefully lead the boys, while he brought up the rear.  He stopped at the edge of town and turned around to make certain there was no one following them.  The street was deserted as another rocket lit the sky, silhouetting his face in the multicolored blast.

Suddenly, he noticed a figure standing in the shadows playing on the porch of the hotel.  He was about to signal the Kid to stop, when she stepped into the light of the fireworks.  They both were still for a moment, Heyes’ horse settled for once, and she, not daring to come closer.    Finally, he held up his gloved hand, in the only farewell he could give.  Then he turned to follow the Kid and the rest of the gang into the ebony night away from the light of the town.

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Posts : 217
Join date : 2012-04-22

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PostSubject: Re: May 2020 Grace   May 2020  Grace Icon_minitimeThu May 28, 2020 12:45 am

After I googled 'grace' and didn't have a bunny hop with anything even remotely motivating, I decided to see how many variations of the definition I could fit into this story challenge just for fun. I highlighted them (except for the obvious one of grace itself). I'll add a link at the end so you can see how the different words came into play.


Kid Curry's blue eyes had glazed over and his backside was completely numb by the time Reverend Charming finished blessing the meal by saying the most long-winded grace the ex-outlaw had ever been forced to sit through. “I swear I can hear someone sawin' logs somewhere behind me!” he muttered under his breath.

When the elderly woman sitting beside him pinned him with a glare, placed a finger to her lips and whispered, “Shush!” he feigned a not-so-discrete cough and tried his best to look apologetic. What a man has to put up with jus' for a free meal! When the benediction finally came to a conclusion, the Kid tucked into his food like a man on the brink of starvation.

Feeling the piercing eyes of his neighbor boring into him, knowing her wrinkled lips would be puckered into a frown of disapproval once again, the Kid breathed a silent sigh of resignation and put his fork down. Swallowing what was in his mouth, he turned the full strength of his Curry charm on her as he twisted in his seat to face her; their eyes met.

“Young man, it is as plain as the nose on my face that you neither possess any of the social graces necessary to conduct yourself in a gathering such as this, nor do you seem capable of exhibiting even the most rudimentary eating skills displayed by those of a man of good breeding, as you indulge yourself without any consideration or decorum for your fellow diners. Your lack of manners is simply appalling.”

Curry's train of thought tried to follow the woman's words; unfortunately, it derailed halfway through her verbose speech. His eyes glazed over for the second time that day and lost some of their warmth and charm at her stream of words. Wonder if everybody in this town talks like that all the time?

“Now jus' a minute, ma'am -” Upon hearing Heyes' voice in his ear, warning him to keep his temper – 'Remember the amnesty, Kid, don't forget, we're waiting on Lom – we need that job!' Kid bit back the rest of his retort and took a deep breath.

"You should at least have the grace to admit your debt to me!" she snapped.

“My debt?” Curry echoed; puzzlement etched his face.

“Why, for pointing out your faults, of course. How would you ever be able to improve your manners unless you were made aware of them?”

Curry mentally began to count to ten. When he reached five, he rose to his feet. “Thank you, ma'am, for all your help. Hope you don't mind none, but that's 'bout as much grace as I can muster at the moment. Be thankful that you're a woman.”

“Well, I never!”

“I bet you haven't!” the Kid retorted and strode away before he finished counting to ten. Reaching the boardwalk, he took a deep, calming breath and glanced across the street to the saloon. He put a booted foot down on the first step.

“Oh, Mr. Jones,” a voice trilled from afar.

“Not far 'nough for me to make my escape,” Curry groaned. “I jus' can't win today!” He blew out a breath of resignation, forced a smile to his face, and obediently turned to face the caller as he stepped back up onto the boardwalk.

Said caller was at that very moment bearing down on him with great haste, another woman following in her wake.

Kid hastily removed his hat, prepared to have his observations of the social graces tested to the limit once more. It would require all the tactfulness and diplomacy he possessed to survive this encounter. He glanced heavenward. Maybe the Powers-That-Be jus' might give me an extra helpin' of it while Heyes an' me wait? Pushing those thoughts aside, he straightened and prepared to meet his adversary. “Good afternoon, Mrs. Manners.

"Good afternoon to you, too, Mr. Jones. I'm thrilled that I caught you before you disappeared. You seem to have a habit of that you know – something you're very good at, I might add.” She treated him to a pointed look before she continued. “I'd like to introduce you to Mrs. Grace Goodwill who, much like her name, has graced the front pages of many a town's newspaper with proclamations of her musical abilities. She is quite a distinguished singer and we are extremely honored that she has decided to bestow her esteemed presence on us by performing here in our little town of Finesse."

Curry smiled at the matronly woman. “Nice to meet you, ma'am,” he nodded politely.

"Mr. Jones, would you and Mr. Smith also consent to grace us with your presence this evening?"

“Uh, well, I'd havta ask my partner before I commit us to anything,” Curry prevaricated, his mind dismissing an entire evening spent sitting in a suit listening to a woman singing, and replacing it with the more pleasant one of going to the saloon, poker games and spending quality time with the lovely ladies who worked there. “You know, it's really hard to say, ma'am, he might've made plans for us tonight...” as his words drifted away, he sent a look of mute appeal her way. A look he soon realized was wasted on the woman when she opened her mouth and began to speak.

“Oh, but of course, I do understand, Mr. Jones. However,” she wagged a plump finger at him, “I have already granted you both a two-day grace period; you cannot wiggle your way out of it this time. Tell Mr. Smith that I shall expect both of you to dignify us with your presence promptly at seven this evening in the town hall - no excuses. If he gives you any trouble, just remind him that I will be sending that telegram to our mutual friend, Sheriff Trevors, in the morning. As you may recall, once you delivered those papers to me a few days ago, I said that I would keep an eye on you two and that I'd let him know how helpful you were while you were waiting on your next job.” After favoring the young man with a pointed look and an arched brow until he gave a reluctant nod, she turned, took the arm of her companion, and left him standing on the boardwalk.

“Oh, I'll be sure to tell Mr. Smith, don't you worry none, ma'am,” he muttered as he watched them walk away. “An' I'm sure he'll be sure to tell me exactly what he thinks of it!” Curry plopped his hat on his head and started across the street. “I'm sure Heyes'll find some way to make this my fault!” he groused and turned back to the street. “Yep, definitely the saloon and a drink. Maybe two.”

He glanced up to see two young women walking towards him. He smiled at them, his blue eyes expressing his appreciation at their visually pleasing charms and gracefulness. When their paths crossed, his grin widened. He tipped his hat and nodded at the pair. Bits of their conversation drifted his way.

"Why, that Mister Smith walked through the town with effortless grace this morning; I declare, it was almost as if he was walking on air – his movements were so refined!"

“More like he was a knife slicing through soft butter,” the other commented, adding a very audible heartfelt sigh. “When I turned to watch him walk away... oh, my, pure poetry in motion. I was afraid I might swoon.”

Both women giggled.

“Sheesh!” Curry rolled his eyes heavenward, altered his course and headed towards the hotel instead. “I'd bet anybody in this town ten dollars that I could tell 'em what Heyes is doin right now, 'cept that'd mean I'd havta talk to someone an' I know I don't have that much patience left! There's no way I wanna do that again anytime soon!” he shuddered. “I bet he's upstairs with his nose stuck in some book.”

Kid rapped out their special knock. After unlocking the door to their room, he entered then pushed it shut behind him with a kick of his foot. Just as he had suspected, Heyes was flat out on his back, reading. “More like poetry at rest,” he huffed. “Easiest ten dollars I could've made.”

“What's that?” His attention still focused on the book, Heyes didn't look up.

“Nothin',” Curry responded glumly. “Sure hope Lom sends us news 'bout a new job soon - I don't know how much more of this town I can take! It's not safe for a fella to even walk down the street!”

“Cheer up, Kid,” Heyes grinned, still reading. “It can't be much longer. Besides, what else do we have to do? We're just killing time waiting; it's too early to head over to the saloon. The really bad players won't be in 'til it gets dark.”

“Uh, that reminds me, I'm s'posed to deliver a message to you.”

Heyes glanced up, his brow furrowed. “Me? Only me? Not you, too?”

“Nope, only you. I already know what the message is. Mrs. Manners says she expects to see you in the town hall promptly at 7 tonight. Or else.” He cast his cousin a wicked grin.

Heyes favored his friend with a glare in return as the book fell onto his chest. “You just had to go out to eat, didn't you? I told you there'd be trouble if you did – and I was right! Now we have to go tonight!”

“I'm sorry, you're right,” Curry held up his hands as he paced. “I should've listened to you, but I was hungry an' –”

Heyes gave him a glaring look of suspicion. “You don't sound sorry – and when aren't you hungry? Well, it's too late now to argue about it; what's done is done. We'll just have to put off poker until another night and suffer through – ” He paused, his brow furrowed. “What is it that we're gonna suffer through?”

“Only havin' to listen to Mrs. Grace Goodwill singin' for a couple hours, thanks to the kindness of our benefactor, Mrs. Manners. An' probably another really long blessing by Reverend Charming.”

“Is that all?” Heyes answered drolly. “Why don't you sit down and relax; clean your gun or read a book for awhile? The time'll pass more quickly.” He picked his book up, found his place, and began to read again.

“Not quick enough for me! I already cleaned my gun. An' if I wanted a book, I'd havta go back outside again – no thank you – you couldn't pay me enough to do that!” He glanced at his partner. Tilting his head to the side, he tried to make out the title, but quickly gave up. The writing was too faded. “Where'd you find that one?"

"Mrs. Manners loaned it to me. Said it was very educational,” Heyes continued. “At least from the first few chapters she had read. She wants my opinion of it when I'm finished. She's gonna finish reading it when I'm done."

“Educational, huh?” Kid tossed his hat on the dresser and began to unbuckle his gunbelt. "What's this one about?"

"Greek mythology."

"You can read Greek?"

Heyes glanced up, a tolerant grin on his face. "The book isn't written in Greek, it's about what the Greeks thought; you know, what they believed in."

Kid hung his holster on the bedpost and sat down next to his partner, then leaned back against the headboard, his hands crossed behind his head. "They believe in anything interestin'?"

"Sure did," Heyes answered absently, his eyes still glued to the text.

Curry waited a few beats, but when nothing more was forthcoming, he nudged his friend's leg with his foot. “Hey!”

Heyes took his eyes off the page and turned to give the Kid an annoyed look. “What?”

Curry grinned. "I figured you'd at least tell me a little bit more. After all, it was your idea for me to find something to read."

“I meant that you should find yourself a book to read, not that I read to you. Besides, I don't think you'd be very interested in this one.” He turned back to stare at the page.

“Try me.”

Heyes' expression relaxed. "You really interested, or are you just trying to get me to stop reading and pay attention to you?"

Kid's eyes twinkled. "Both."

"Well, at least you're honest 'bout it." Heyes shrugged and turned back to his book. "I was just getting to a really interesting chapter. It says here that there were these three graces –"

"Hey, we know a Grace – Grace Turner!"

Accompanied by an eyeroll and a shake of his head, Heyes sent his cousin the look. "Not that kind of grace, Kid. These graces are special; more like what you'd call goddesses of nature."

"Nature, huh? Were they real?"

"The Greeks believed they lived up in the clouds in a place called Mount Olympus."

"So not real?"

"Well, they were real to the Greeks," Heyes gave a one shoulder shrug. "Anyway, like I was saying, there were these three graces. Each one personified something special."

It was Kid's turn to give Heyes the look. "Can't you jus' say what you mean 'stead of usin' those big words? It'd take you a lot less time havin' to explain things, you know."

"Sure would," Heyes nodded, then continued. "Each of the three graces looked, and acted, like the name they were given. It says here they were 'generally considered as companions to' –” Heyes' brow furrowed as he thoughtfully sounded out the strange new words, “'A-phro-di-te – also known as Venus, the goddess of Love and Beauty. The names of the Three Graces were Eu-phros-y-ne, Tha-li-a, and A-gla-ia. They were eternally young and lovely.'"

Heyes glanced over at Kid before the man could open his mouth. "Means they lived forever and stayed young and beautiful looking – they never aged." Going back to his book, Heyes continued. "'Euphrosyne represented mirth and laughter, then there's youth and beauty – that was Thalia, and Aglaia was charm and elegance.'" Heyes turned the page and silence filled the room.

"Anything else?" Curry yawned.

"Hmm?" Heyes murmured as he glanced at the page on the other side. The corners of his mouth turned up before he continued. "Naw, not much; it just says that most of the time the women ran around naked –"

"Nekkid?" Kid interrupted. Eyes wide open, all signs of sleep gone from his expression, he turned his head to look at his partner with a raised brow. "There any pictures in that book?"

"Nope," Heyes answered and snapped the book shut. "Not one picture in that whole book, would you believe it?” He sat up and swung his legs to the floor, his back to Curry. The devilish glint in his brown eyes and the dimpled smile that graced his face were totally at war with the words he had just spoken. “I can't wait to tell Mrs. Manners all about it."

"That's too bad." With a resigned sigh Kid closed his eyes. "After all that readin' you'd think a fella'd at least get a few pictures – sheesh!"


In case you're interested in viewing the painting that Heyes hints at above, depicting The Three Graces by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, which is displayed in the Musée du Louvre, you can go to the link below. There is also a tad of additional info to read as well.

Definitions of grace used in my challenge can be found at:

writing "My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel -- it is, before all, to make you see..." ~~ Joseph Conrad ~~ study
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PostSubject: Re: May 2020 Grace   May 2020  Grace Icon_minitimeSat May 30, 2020 9:44 am

(Just a little something ... offered with a good Grace - Ha!)

Summer 1860 – Larson’s Creek

Ama-azing Graaaaace,” warbled Jed Curry cheerily, “How swee-eet  the sowund…”

Tha-at saved a-uh wretch li-yuk meeeee,” mumbled Hannibal Heyes, much less cheerily.    

Hannibal glanced over at Mrs Godfrey as she enthusiastically conducted the youthful voices.    She was setting a good example by standing real tall, shoulders back, opening her mouth till you could see her back teeth, and exaggerating her ‘gs’ and ‘ts’ to drive home the constant nagging on the subject of starting and finishing words properly.

Grudgingly, Hannibal straightened up a tad.  

Throo-wuw maaa-ny dangers, toys an’ hares…” mis-interpreted Jed.

“’Twas Grace tha’ brawww tus safe thus faaaar…

“’A-And Grace wi-ill lead us home!”  soared Mrs Godfrey’s clear soprano.

A pair of brown eyes rolled.  

To be fair, Hannibal did not have a real problem with Mrs. Godfrey. She combined being sappy with uncomfortable bouts of surprising strictness, but hey, you could say that about lots of ladies.    He did not even have a big problem with the weeks he had to go sit with Mrs. Godfrey in the church hall hearing bible stories, instead of being in proper church listening to Reverend Thomas. Both were things to be got through before being allowed to get on with whatever he and Jed had planned for the day.   But, sheesh… His eyes strayed to the window, or more exactly, to the sunshine outside.  Glorious fishing weather.   If only she would get on with it.

The song ended.  At a gesture, the children sat, cross-legged, on the floor.

“Now, children,” beamed Mrs. Godfrey, retaking her own seat, “who can tell me anything about the lovely hymn we’ve just sung?”

Jed’s hand shot into the air.   Fingers stretching to the ceiling, he bounced on his bottom.  

Hannibal stared at his young friend in utter disbelief.  Did Jed not realise that encouraging the woman only prolonged things?

“Yes, Jed?” said Mrs Godfrey.

“It’s my Ma’s favourite hymn,” contributed Jed.  “She always says.”

Esther Curry nodded in confirmation.

“And, why does your mother like this lovely hymn so much, Jed?”

Jed blinked.  He had not been pre-warned there would be follow up questions.  He wriggled.  “Er…”

“It’s because it tells us how much God loves us, isn’t it?” prompted Mrs Godfrey.

“Er…” hesitated Jed, not wanting to be drawn into such tricky theological waters.

“It’s ‘cos she remembers singin’ it as a girl – before she came over to America,” put in Esther Curry.  “An’ ‘cos she an’ Pa had it at their wedding.”

“It’s a lovely hymn, isn’t it children?  What does it tell us about… (Millard! Don’t do that, dear.  That’s not nice, is it?)  What does this lovely hymn tell us about the grace of God?”

Silence.  Shuffling.

“That it’s amazing?” hazarded George Myers.  Hey, it seemed a safe enough guess.  It was right there in the title.

“Well, yes…” Fanny Godfrey’s smile became just a little strained.  “But, what makes it amazing, George?”

George stared down at his hymnbook. Ever helpful, he did his best.  “It saves wretches?” he tried.

Mrs. Godfrey gave the Socratic Method a rest and returned to old-fashioned instruction.   “God loves us all so much that no matter how many naughty things we do – he will still forgive us – (Millard, stop it!  I won’t tell you again.) – and still save us.”


“Isn’t that wonderful, children?”  She scanned the youthful faces.  She nodded vigorously as a clue to the right answer.  Nothing.  Still she soldiered on.  “Yes, it IS wonderful.  Nothing is so bad that it can’t be forgiven.”

Hannibal looked up, dark brows drew together.  “Nothing?” he checked.

“Nothing,” came the confident confirmation.  

The brown eyes became interested.  “An’ we hafta forgive others too, don’t we ma’am?  That’s what you told us before.”

“Absolutely, Hannibal, we have to forgive each other’s trespasses…”

“No matter, how bad they are?”


“So, if hypothetically, someone had done some’n bad, say after school on Friday, and had been told by their Pa they hadta…”

Fanny Godfrey was not the cleverest of women, but she had wit enough to see where this was going.  

“You’ll still be whitewashing my fence just as your father told you, Hannibal,” she snapped.  “And, if you were my son, I’d have tanned your hide!  He’s too soft with you.”

“But, you said, Grace is so amazin’…”

“Hannibal, it is very possible you already have divine forgiveness.  I am only human.  You’ll get mine AFTER you’ve been punished, young man. IF you are lucky.  And, that will be quite amazing enough in my opinion.”  

Hannibal sighed.  Still, it had been worth a try.  

Mrs. Godfrey regathered her Sunday School manner.   “Now, children, can anyone tell me who wrote that lovely hymn we’ve just sung?”

“John Newton, ma’am” said Ike Williams.

“Well done, Ike.  Good boy.”

“It’s written right there at the top,” scorned Esther Curry.

Mrs. Godfrey glanced down at her own hymnbook.  So it was.   “Now children, John Newton had done lots of bad and naughty things in his life before he wrote this hymn.  Can anyone guess what kind… (Millard!  Go and stand in the corner!  And put your hands on your head until you learn to keep your fingers out of your nose!)…”  Fanny Godfrey breathed hard and resumed the smile.    “I’m sure no one will be able to guess just how bad some of the things were John Newton did?”   She gave a dramatic pause.  Then, as she opened her mouth to enlighten her audience…

“He was a slave trader,” said Esther Curry.  “For years.”

“He cussed,” contributed Hannibal.  “At sea he cussed his Captain – and he did it so bad, he made up new words even sailors hadn’t heard afore… An’ sailors cuss worse than anyone.”

“What words?” asked Ike.  This was getting interesting.

Hannibal drew a deep breathe, opened his mouth, and…

“We don’t need to hear them, Hannibal!” jumped in Mrs Godfrey.

“His whole career was marked with – with…” Esther searched her memory.  “Headstrong disobedience.”

“He renounced all hopes an’ comforts of the Gospel,” quoted Hannibal.  “That means, all this stuff you keep tellin’ us, ma’am – he said none of it’s so…”

“He deserted from the navy…” remembered Esther.

“It’s all in one of my Pa’s books,” explained Hannibal.  “Mrs Godfrey – what’s…” a deep breath, and a visible effort of memory, “Debauchery.”

“Never you mind, Hannibal Heyes!  Something tells me you’ll find out soon enough.”

“When you ask Mister Heyes, he always says it’s a distant mem’ry,” chipped in Jed.

“That’s just his way of not sayin’,” scorned his sister.  “It isn’t what it means.”

Mrs. Godfrey eyed her two cleverest pupils.  “Has anyone ever told you two, you both read too much?”

Two nods.  

“Lots of folk,” said Esther.”

“Includin’ you,” added Hannibal.

Fanny Godfrey once again scrambled back to her theme.  “And, children, despite the bad life he had lived, John Newton found the love of God.  And, he wrote about it in this lovely hymn.”

“But…” interrupted Hannibal.
“But…” interrupted Esther.

Mrs. Godfrey was having none of it.  Her voice rose forcefully, “And THAT, Jed, is why so many people – just like your mother – say Amazing Grace is their favourite hymn.  Because, it tells us that – so long as we are truly sorry…,” At this point, a sharp look was thrown at Hannibal.  “So long as we are truly sorry – nothing is so bad, it can’t be forgiven.”

“Even cussin’?” checked Jed.

She nodded.

“What about stealin’ other folks stuff?” he asked.

“So long as we are sorry – and really mean not to do it again.”

“What about some’n real bad … Like…” He searched.  “Like a murderer or some’n?  Could they still get forgiven?”

“Well, that would be very bad – but, yes.”

“And they’d get to heaven.”

A nod.

Blue eyes scanned the clouds outside the window.  “Is it safe up there, ma’am?”


Summer 1871 – Eleven years later

Blue eyes stared at the – the object – sprawled, ten feet away, in the beer sodden sawdust.

Until a moment ago, Jed had been riding high, buoyed up by the youthful arrogance of eighteen, his desire to impress the men around him and a skinful of cheap liquor. Not now.  Now he was stone cold sober.

“Well, Kid,” grunted Bill Olney, “You may have a baby-face, but I guess everything Heyes told us was true.  I ain’t never seen no-one that fast.”

“Luke started it,” said Heyes.  “He was shooting his mouth off.  He was the one called on Jed.  You saw.”

“We all saw,” agreed the older man. “No-one’s sayin’ it wasn’t a fair fight.”

“Luke was saying stuff about Jed’s Ma.”

“Did he even know Jed’s Ma?  Did he know anythin’ ‘bout either of you?”

“No,” admitted Heyes.

“I guess he was just tryin’ to rile him then.”  Bill Olney looked over at the – the object – still seeping blood onto the dusty floor.  “I guess he succeeded.” A pause.  “We were puttin’ up with Jed for your sake, Heyes – you bein’ so smart with locks, but now…” Cold grey eyes looked over to where Jed stood, still motionless.  “I guess now you’re in the gang on your own merits, Kid.”

Jed looked up at that.   “He drew first…”

“Yup.  We all saw.” A smoke ring was blown.   “‘Course – any gunman worth his salt knows it’s a scientific fact reacting is quicker’n reaching first.” Bill Olney met Jed’s eyes, almost admiringly. “…AND, folk think you’re playing fair.”

Jed flushed.  Bill was right.  He’d thought he was such a big man boasting to Heyes when Jake Black had let him in on that trick of the trade.

Heyes moved close to his friend.  Very quietly, “Let’s step outside, Jed.  Get some air.”

Together they walk past the – the object.

A minute ago, it had been a man. Not a particularly good man. Had him a mean streak when drinking. Too ready to shoot his mouth off.  Certainly too ready to play fast and loose with the truth – and other folks’ property. But still, a living, breathing human being. He had a mother who loved him; an old mongrel dog who adored him. A man with hopes and fears and, maybe, a chance to change. After all, Luke Walker wasn’t much past twenty.

A minute ago Jed Curry was already a liar and a thief.  Now he was a killer too.

In the cool of the evening, the two friends walked through the tents and hastily erected clapboard of the mining settlement – hardly worthy of being called a town.  From one building – a little larger than most of the dwellings – drifted the sound of singing.   Thin but tuneful.   The young men could not make out all the words.  No matter.  They knew them well enough.  

Jed stopped.  “Hear that, Heyes.  D’you remember?”  

“Your Ma’s favourite hymn.  Sure I do.”

A pause.  Listening.   And, yes… How sweet the sound.

“D’you believe it Heyes?  Y’know.  Any of it?”

“Believe what?  Oh – the wretch like me – part.  I dunno.  Nah.  Not really.”  Heyes looked into his friend’s bleak face.  “Don’t mean I’m right, Jed.  Do you believe it?”

“I dunno.  Maybe.” Jed gazed up at the darkening sky.  “It’d sure be amazin’, but – maybe.”

Jed Curry, a liar, a thief and a killer.  A man with hopes and fears, and - unlike Luke Walker – maybe, a chance to change.  Maybe.

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PostSubject: Re: May 2020 Grace   May 2020  Grace Icon_minitimeSat May 30, 2020 10:20 pm

May Challenge – Grace

“Oakland… Last stop is Oakland, California!” announced the train conductor in the passenger car.

“Finally!”  Kid Curry stood and stretched, reaching into the baggage area above their heads for his saddlebags and a carpet bag.

“Not quite,” Hannibal Heyes reminded him.  “Still have to take the ferry across to San Francisco and then a cable car up to Nob Hill.”

Curry shook his head.  “Whatever Silky wanted, it better be important.”

“It’s the least we can do considering that fiasco in Montana with Grandma Curry.”

“Better not bring that name up!”  Curry handed Heyes his baggage and hat.  “Ready?”


The two former outlaws disembarked from the train onto the Oakland Long Pier.  Crowds of people everywhere bustled around to get on the train or a ferry, greet passengers, or escort people to their destinations.  

“Ferries for the city of San Francisco are over here.”  Heyes motioned with his head, his hands being full.

They made their way to a ticket booth.  “Two tickets – that’ll be thirty cents.”

Heyes pulled a few coins out of his vest pockets and gave them to the man.

“Just missed one, but they run every thirty minutes, so you don’t have long to wait.  Next!”

Heyes made his way over to where the Kid and their gear were.  “Boat leaves in about thirty minutes.”  He pulled his coat out and put it on.  “It always seems chilly here.”

“It does!” Curry agreed.  “I put my coat on while you were getting the tickets.”

Before they knew it, they were boarding the ferry for the short trip across the bay to San Francisco.  From the ferry building, they walked two blocks on Market Street and hopped on a cable car at California Street to take them up to Nob Hill.  At the top, they disembarked.

“Sure glad we didn’t have to walk up that hill.  The five cents fare is so worth it when going uphill.”  Heyes put his saddlebags across his shoulders.  “This way… Silky’s place is a few blocks over here”

“There are some beautiful mansions up here!”

“I’d say.  Hopkins, Stanford, Huntington, and Crocker all live up here since the building of the transcontinental railroad.”

A few blocks that took them about fifteen minutes, the former outlaws turned on a street and walked up to a smaller, but lovely mansion.  Heyes knocked on the door and it opened a moment later.

“May I help you?”

“Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones to see Silky O'Sullivan.”

“Come in.  Mr. O’Sullivan has been expecting you.”  The butler pointed to a bench.  “You may deposit your belongings here, including your coats and hats.  Mr. O’Sullivan will greet you in the den.”  Two dark wood panel doors were opened nearby into a comfortable yet elegant room.

An older man sat by a fire reading the newspaper while drinking a brandy from a snuff glass.

“Sir, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones have arrived.”

“Well, it’s about time!”  Silky put the glass and paper on the table and stood.  “What took you two so long?”

Heyes and Curry walked into the den, both inconspicuously shaking their heads.

“We left as soon as your telegram arrived.”  Kid Curry shook Silky’s hand.

“Train takes about 35 hours from Denver to San Francisco and that doesn’t include the time to get to Denver or across the bay to your house.  I think we made really good time.”  Heyes also shook the man’s hand and noticed the paper and brandy.  “We wouldn’t say no if you offered us a drink, too.”

Silky turned to a buffet and poured two brandies from a crystal decanter.  “Here you go.”

Heyes and the Kid smiled as they took the proffered drink, clinked glasses, and sipped the brandy.

“Don’t get to have something this smooth very often,” Curry commented.

“Well I should say not!  A bottle costs me around $8,” Silky groused as he took his seat again.  “Just don’t stand there, sit!”

The two guests sat down together on a couch near the fire.

“So, why did you need us to come to San Francisco?” Heyes asked.

“I have a wager with a… a colleague and need your assistance.”

“Nothin’ illegal, right?  You know we got outta that business,” Curry reminded him.

Silky thought a moment.  “No, I don’t think it has to be illegal, especially if Heyes comes up with one of his plans.”

“So, tell us about this wager.”  Heyes sipped his brandy.

“Well, there is a painting I was bidding for in what was to be a silent bid.  My colleague, Edgar Whiting, was also bidding for it, however, he finagled his way to find out the bids and he out bid me by a dollar!”

Both former outlaws winced.

“That had to be tough!” Heyes said sympathetically.

Silky stood and went to pour himself more brandy.

“Heyes, this is kinda sounding like that darn Caesar bust,” the Kid whispered.

Heyes nodded.  “What about the picture, Silky?  We’re not going to steal it.”

“Well, stealing it is kind of the wager.”  He sat down again.  “You see, Edgar knows I still want the painting, but he’s donating it to a new art museum.”

“And?”  Curry began to get impatient.  “What’s the wager?”

“Edgar and the museum curator…”

The Kid glanced at Heyes, who shrugged his shoulders.  “Curator?”

“The museum’s manager, Jeffery Fowler.  They said the painting is unstealable.  Can you believe that?  Something unstealable?”

“So your wager is that it can be stolen,” Heyes concluded.

“Sounds illegal to me.”  Curry put his empty glass down on a table.

“Does to me, too.”  Heyes joined his partner in standing up.

“Now wait a minute, you two.  You owe me!  I dressed like a woman, had a sheriff flirt with me, and got arrested.  The least you can do is listen to the rest of it.”  Silky shook in anger.

Heyes touched his partner’s arm.  “He does have a point.  We can listen to the rest of it.”

Both guests sat down and crossed their right legs.

“Continue.”  Curry waved his hand.

“Well, Edgar and I are on speaking terms now and…”

A quick knock on the den door, interrupted Silky.

“What is it, Albert,” Silky barked.

“Sir, the madame has arrived.”

“Oh, you can show her in – just give us a minute.”

Heyes furrowed a brow.  “A madame?”

“Who is she, Silky?” Curry demanded.

“Someone who was helping me with the wager.  Gentlemen, may I introduce…”

Heyes and Kid Curry stood and turned towards the door as it opened.  Brown and blue eyes widened and their jaws dropped.  They exclaimed in unison, “Grace Turner!”

Author’s Notes – The transcontinental railroad’s western terminal was at Oakland’s Long Pier.  The train trip from Denver to Oakland was about 35 hours in 1880s.  Ferries ran every 30 minutes and the fare was fifteen cents.  The cable car did go up California Street to Nob Hill.  If you came to the 2014 ASJ get-together, that is the cable car route we took to get to the Fairmont Hotel.  The fare back then was only 5 cents.  A very nice bottle of brandy could cost over $5, depending on where you bought it.  This story will be continued as a 50th anniversary Virtual Season episode.

"Do you ever get the feeling that nothing right is ever going to happen to us again?" - Kid Curry
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