Festus (Ken Curtis) and Ruth from Gunsmoke, inspiration for Mr. Boney and Sal
When I ask a group of Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek fans about their favorite secondary characters in the series, Boney Hughes is always in the top two listed. I think we find Boney so likeable because he’s not only a sidekick character throughout the series, but also serves as an atypical mentor and a charming guardian angel.
A few snapshots of Mr. Boney in action:
Two Brides Too Many
His heart still racing, Morgan jumped out of the buggy and retrieved the wayward wheel. What was he thinking, leaving the comforts of Boston to head to parts unknown? Now what? Fixing this mess was a two-man job, and that was after he found the nut that had come off the hub.
“That was one wild ride there, Mister.”
Morgan looked up into a face as roughhewn as the peaks behind him.
“This here’s one time I’m thankful for Sal’s sluggish nature. Any faster, and I could’ve been in the middle of your mess.”
By the looks of things, Morgan didn’t suppose the jenny could’ve gotten riled if she’d wanted to. Picks, shovels, and whatnot hung from every inch of the rigging that weighed her down.
“I’m Boney Hughes.”
A fitting moniker for the rail-thin man who slid off the mule.
Two Brides Too Many
“Hello, little lady.”
Kat startled, and spun around. She saw the mule first, then a wiry man in grubby overalls on the other side of the animal.
“Boney’s the name. Boney Hughes.”
“Kat . . . Katherine Sinclair.”
“Well, Miss Sinclair, you look about as out of place here as udders on a bull.”
Too Rich for a Bride
Shivering from the cold water, Ida Sinclair lifted her head to wipe her face with her sleeve. A snort startled her, and she looked up into the large snout of a drooling mule.
“That’s Sal, ma’am. And we’d be right pleased to help you.”
Ida looked past the mule at a wiry man with unruly gray hair.
“Name’s Boney Hughes.” He reached out his hand, giving her a chance to grasp it. The miner gently lifted Ida out of the muddy mess then pulled a canteen from Sal’s side and removed the cork.
The Bride Wore Blue
”Don’t forget . . . Miss Vivian does have a passel of sisters.” Boney drained his coffee mug. “She could’ve met up with any one of ‘em and stopped somewhere to jaw.”
Miss Hattie stiffened and narrowed her eyes at the miner.
“Now don’t go gettin’ your feathers ruffled, Hattie,” Boney said. “Didn’t mean any disrespect. Just sayin’ that those young women could out talk a gaggle.”
Carter snickered, earning a scowl from the widow.
“Don’t encourage the old coot,” she said.
Twice a Bride
Hattie covered her mouth, but the giggle escaped anyway. Boney Hughes lay under her kitchen sink, his upper body concealed by the cupboard. His legs sprawled over her linoleum flooring.
Boney scooted out from under the sink and peered up at her. “You think me rappin’ my old knuckles on these leaky pipes is funny?”
Unable to stifle her amusement, Hattie nodded. “You look like a…” She fanned herself, trying to regain her composure while he stood. “Like a fish out of water.”
Boney’s winter-white eyebrows arched. “A big old river catfish?”
Giggling, she studied him from his wiry beard to his worn boots. “A smaller fish perhaps, but surely one with a big heart.”
Sidekick characters and mentors add compelling layers to our favorite stories.
A sidekick interacts with the main character, allowing the reader to get to know him or her and provides contrast and variety. A mentor usually serves the main character as the voice of reason, provides wisdom, plays the devil’s advocate, and provides information that will help the main character make decisions. A mentor may be an unlikely character for such a role.
Think about your favorite stories. Chances are good that sidekicks and mentors come to mind. I created Boney Hughes in the tradition of the stories I’ve loved. And I’m thrilled to say that Mr. Boney has even more “page time” in Twice a Bride.
Who are your favorite sidekick characters?