An eager young reporter in the first row jumped to his feet. "Miss Considine, forgive me if this seems out of line, but as I understand it you spent considerable time alone with Kid Curry...was there any romantic, that is to say...was he a gentleman?"
With a toss of her head to indicate her displeasure with the question, Annabelle exclaimed, "The very idea! You, sir, are no gentleman to even suggest such a thing. You embarrass our profession with such a line of questioning. However, I will assume you are new to the profession and I will excuse you this time."
Red-faced, the reporter sat down as the reporters beside him jostled him and the audience guffawed. Undaunted, a second reporter stood and offered his question: "Senor Armendariz, you say that Heyes and Curry were instrumental in the marriage of your sister to Patrick McCreedy. The fact that you came so far to speak on their behalf suggests that the marriage is a success. How well do you now get along with your brother-in-law?"
“As well as one would expect brothers-in-law to get along." Armendariz replied with an enigmatic smile. (He later confirmed to Heyes and Curry what they already suspected. He and McCreedy did still have their disputes, oh yes, but they got along for the most part. Most of their current disagreements concerned the future of Armendariz’s nephews, Mac’s sons. But, he added with one of his smiles, it was his sister who always had the final word on the matter.)
The reporter waved his pencil. "A follow-up, please. Senor Armendariz, I know that you said the outlaws were men of integrity for only stealing what they were hired to steal from your safe...but don't you find that a bit contradictory? Why would you let two known and wanted fugitives from the law get away?"
“I did not know they were who they are at that time.” Armendariz replied calmly. “I only found out that they were Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry when the telegram arrived informing us of their current situation. Had I known at the time?” Looking at Lom, he said, “I would have turned them over to the proper authorities.”
The tone of his response made clear the veracity of this statement. A small murmur could be heard in the crowd in reaction to this.
“However,” Armendariz continued, “the men ‘Smith and Jones’ did not act as would-be thieves should have acted. Therefore, the authorities were not required.
“I believe, young man, that you have helped me re-emphasize the point of my testimony. I was quite surprised to learn that the two men whom my brother-in-law hired were Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, and let me make this clear; he also did not know. Do you not think that the Heyes and Curry you purport to know would have had any reason not to take all that was in the safe, and then just disappear into the night? No? As I stated previously, what was in that safe would have tempted any man. That they did not yield, is only but one example of how these two men are not the same as the dishonest outlaws they are reported to be.”
The second reporter nodded and sat down. "Thank you, sir."
A third reporter stood. "Reverend Spencer, as a man of the cloth, surely you can't really tell us that you approve allowing fugitives get away with their crimes against society? What about what they owe to the banks and railroads they stole from?"
The reverend returned to the podium. "I do feel that people must be held accountable for their crimes. And those that manage to avoid that on this earth, they will be held accountable when they stand before the Father in Heaven. But I also feel that God has some very mysterious ways of handling situations. And I believe he placed Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry in this situation of being outlaws because he knew the ultimate good they would do.
"I have already told you my story, how they changed my life and led me back to God and my beliefs. Thru my teachings of God's word, many people have come to believe and have professed Jesus as their Saviour. If they hadn't been there for me, I would not have been able to be there for others, and where would those lost souls be today.
"You have heard testimony after testimony from people who have had their lives changed forever by knowing these fine gentlemen. And everyone one of them has stated that their lives would have turned out much worse had they not entered their lives. And the impact these people have had on other people, well we will never be able to comprehend those vast numbers. Good touches others and spirals out, touching more. Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry are that good touch. Yes, I believe that God placed Mr. Heyes and Mr. Curry exactly where He wanted them to be...to be able to do good for so many others.
"And as for the money? How can you compare a few dollars to number of changed lives people have had solely based on their contact with these two gentlemen. What is the cost of a soul? What is the cost of a human life? Surely a whole lot more than a few dollars taken. You can count your money here on Earth. The Heavenly Father is counting souls in Heaven, and I believe he keeps a much better record than anyone here on Earth ever will."
The room fell silent for some moments as each listener contemplated what the Reverend had said. Then another reporter raised his hand. "Mr. Philpotts, how did meeting the two outlaws change your ideas of law and lawbreakers?"
Emboldened by the power of the Reverend's words, Fred rose and gave his answer: "Well, I've always been on the side of law and order, don't get me wrong. It's just that, since the first time somebody noticed that I might resemble Kid Curry, at least according to how the Wanted posters described him, I started to think of myself as Kid Curry. I mean, you all have read the newspaper accounts. Anybody'd want to be famous like that. Then, the first time somebody suspected I was really him, all the hoopla that surrounded that incident really blowed my head up. Of course, I knew I'd be set free when some sheriff who knew Mr. Curry showed up to identify me, so I wasn't in any danger. But, that last time, when I got so close to hangin' well, I was pretty scared, but it was so darned exhilaratin', too. You know what I mean?
"Now I know that that was wrong. And I know the things Mr. Curry and Mr. Heyes done were wrong too. But, as you can see, they changed their ways and so have I. So, I think the law is rigid for a reason, but lawbreakers are only human. They don't have to be so rigid and they can change."
Fred's face was the picture of relief as he sat down again. A third reporter raised his hand. "Sister Grace, you spoke of these outlaws as if they were kind-hearted, decent citizens . . . In fact all of you did . . . How do you reconcile that with the fact that these are two hardened criminals? How do you reconcile that?"
Sister Grace confidently rose and turned to face the crowd, her quiet eyes filled with a the soft glow of love and compassion.
"Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry are criminals," she said in a gentle voice. "They are thieves who have stolen what doesn't belong to them. This is the truth. I know this. So how can I come here before you and ask that they be given amnesty for their crimes? Why do I ask that the full measure of their freedom be given back to them?"
"Are you a Christian, Sir?" Sister Grace asked the reporter who was questioning her.
"I am," the man responded quickly in a voice that was almost indignant.
"Then you are well acquainted with the story of the 'Penitent Thief' told in Luke's gospel Chapter 23 verses 39 through 43," she replied gently.
The reporter nodded silently and the room went quiet as Sister Grace continued, "Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry are also thieves. They are penitent thieves. They regret what they have done and have tried to change their lives. I know this because I have both seen and experienced their honesty and compassion first hand. I know they have changed. I reconcile my request for full amnesty for these men by using as my model our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who as he hung on the cross restored to the penitent thief . . . Everything! . . . All of heaven! . . . All of paradise! . . . ."
"This is my reconciliation . . . and my model," Sister Grace said gently. "It is the reason I ask that Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry also have have restored to them . . . Everything."
"Thank you, Sister Grace," Lom Trevors said as she returned to her seat.
The audience had fallen into a thoughful silence during the Sister's response. After a quiet moment, Griffith returned to the podium and in a softer voice suggested, "Gentlemen of the press, I believe your questions have been more than sufficiently answered. And now--"