Sarah Henderson's Testimony by Susan

The widow Sarah Henderson and her brother, a man called Jim Stokley, hurried up the main street toward the building where all of the excitement seemed to be located. The two had worried that they would be too late. Mrs. Henderson had received word that Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones needed her help. She made plans to travel to Wyoming to testify on their behalf even after she discovered that the two men were really Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. Hard to believe, she had marveled, that the thoughtful and kind man who had worked so hard to bring her back to her late husband’s side was the infamous outlaw Hannibal Heyes.

It had taken some time to make the trip because she had telegraphed her brother to ask him to travel with her. Jim would not be testifying because he had a bit of a tarnished past himself and might not help them. She was happy to do her part though because not only had Mr. Smith helped return her to her husband before his murder, he and his friend had helped to clear her brother of the murder charge. She owed these two men and meant to do her best to help them.

Entering the crowded space, the newcomers fought their way to the front of the room where Mr. Stokley hung back while his sister held her hand up to get the moderator’s attention. She looked at the array of people who sat upon chairs on the dais and felt in good company. All of the people seemed a good sort, and she even saw more than one member of the clergy. The lovely blonde woman amidst the crowd of reporters was immediately assisted up to the front by a tall sheriff who introduced himself as Lom Trevors. She recognized the name from the telegraph he had sent her, and she was grateful to have arrived in time to fulfill his request.

“Gentlemen,” Sheriff Trevors presented Mrs. Henderson to the journalists who seemed to become more excited with each new Heyes and Curry supporter. “This is Mrs. Sarah Henderson, and she would like to tell you of her experience with Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”

“Thank you, Sheriff,” the soft spoken woman looked around nervously. Her brown eyes held a quiet sadness that even the men in the back of the room could sense. “I am grateful to have this opportunity to talk about the assistance that Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry gave my late husband and me, as well as the wonderful service they performed when they helped my brother clear himself of murder charges.”

“Who was he accused of killing, ma’am?” a cigar-chomping man in the front row asked.

“He was accused of killing my late husband,” she answered him directly. “It was only through the assistance and persistence of Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry that the real murderer, my husband’s attorney Robert Foster, was ‘brought to justice’ and my brother cleared. You see, before my husband’s death, he and I had had a disagreement as happens between married people. My brother helped me to get away to consider matters. My husband, meanwhile, asked Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry to facilitate my return to him. Mr. Heyes was kind when I needed kindness; he was gentle when I was afraid of trusting my own feelings. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word, and I will be forever grateful that he took me back to my husband before his untimely death. Our reconciliation has made my widowhood somewhat more bearable than it would have been otherwise.”

She thought of the words she’s just used…disagreement, to consider matters…my, what euphemisms. How could she tell the whole world their personal business? She remembered telling Mr. Heyes that Henry drank and when he drank he became hateful. That was true enough, but certainly not the entire story. She thought that if he had not died so suddenly he might have been able to put the bottle aside forever. He certainly seemed contrite and sober upon her return to their home.

That last night they spent together would forever stay in her memory. He had been kind and loving, confident that their troubles were behind them. He apologized for all of the words he’d thrown at her before she’d left. The hurtful accusations he’d flung at her like a fist. He had accused her of not wanting to carry his child, of smiling too readily at the ranch hands, of infidelity for heaven’s sake! She had longed to carry his child, but it seemed no matter how they’d tried, she would not conceive. Perhaps that was his shame; perhaps he blamed himself for her barren state, and it led to his drinking and the hurtful words. How ironic that on their last night together they would accomplish what they had not so many times before. Little three-year old Henry was home with his nurse and looking forward to a visit from his Uncle Jim when they returned home after this important mission. If only Henry had lived to see his son and namesake, if only…

“Did you know they were Heyes and Curry from the start?” a man in the back of the room shouted pulling her from her reverie.

“Uh…no, I knew them as Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones, as I understand many of these others gathered here did, but whatever they have done and whatever they call themselves, I will be forever in their debt for the reunion they made possible for my husband and me as well as their dedication to my brother and the pursuit of justice for him. That is what this is all about, after all, justice for two men who showed me that a man can desire to change and that desire to change may lead to positive effects for them and those around them.”

Jim Stokley smiled with pride at his sister’s willingness to step forward to help the two men who had helped him. He had genuinely liked the two though he had fought to keep them away from Sarah when he thought they meant her harm. Finding out that he had lost the fast draw contest to the famed Kid Curry made him feel somewhat better about the losing of it. He watched as Lom Trevors took Sarah’s arm to turn her toward the others seated behind her.

“Thank you, Mrs. Henderson,” the sheriff offered her a seat next to a handsome silver haired gentleman who stood as she was seated. Turning back to the audience of reporters, the sheriff nodded to Mr. Griffith to step forward once more.

“Yes, thank you, Mrs. Henderson,” Griffith came to stand in the middle of the dais to address the press. “Gentlemen, as you can see the caliber of people my clients may count as their allies is substantial, and the list continues to grow. The governor may no longer ignore the calls for justice on behalf of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry. All we are asking for is a promise to be kept; my clients have kept theirs, the governor must keep his.”

Bridget Jordan's Testimony