The Saga of Miles Forrest

It was late evening when the train pulled into the Durango station.  There was a problem with one of the cars and it had to be detached.  The problem was that there were few places along the way where the car could be taken off and left.  I didn’t figure there would be anyone at the station waiting for me since it hadn’t arrived on time.  
    I was wrong.  As I stepped off the train I saw Lucas sitting on a bench.  Upon seeing me he hopped up, waved at me, and ran off.  The diner would still be open, and that was the direction he was headed.  
    I was ready to leave the station platform when I noticed Mrs. Blackstone with her son, Connor, standing there amidst their luggage.  They were looking around as if they expected someone to be there to meet them so I went over to see if I could help.
    Doffing my hat I approached them, “Were you to be met?”
    Receiving a small smile, she replied, “Yes, my husband was supposed to meet us here.  I don’t see him anywhere.”
    Her voice carried with it some worry so I tried to console her.  “Well, the train was quite late comin’ in.  He’s probably around somewhere and will show up.”
    Since I had met her I had been racking my brain trying to recall a Blackstone.  I was almost sure there wasn’t one in Durango.  Perhaps he was in Silverton, Telluride, or one of the smaller camps.  Looking at their attire I didn’t think he’d be one of those poor down-and-out miners.  He was supposed to be a rancher, but perhaps he took to mining and fell down on his luck.
    By the time I was ready to head off, Molly had come up with Lucas.  She gave me a big hug.  “What took you so long?”
    After giving her a kiss I pointed to the engine, “Trouble with one of the cars.”
    “When the train didn’t show up on time, I started praying,” she said then hesitated pointing. “Who is the woman and boy?” she asked as she had seen me talking with her.
    Taking her by the arm we moved toward Mrs. Blackstone.  “Excuse me, ma’am.  I’d like for you to meet my wife.  Molly, this is Mrs. Blackstone and her son Connor.”
    Molly reached out her hand, “Glad to meet you,” then she pulled Lucas to her.  “And this is Lucas.”
    I saw the eyebrows of Mrs. Blackstone raise, “Is Lucas your son?”
    That brought a chuckle from Molly.  “Oh no, he’s the brother of my partner in the restaurant business.”  Then she pulled him close for a hug.  “But I’d sure claim him in a minute!”
    “Oh, uh, call me Jessie,” blurted Mrs. Blackstone, gaining her composure.  “My husband was supposed to meet me here, but I suppose since the train’s late that he’s off somewhere.”
    Molly gave me a questioning look, then turned her attention back to the woman.  “I imagine you’re starved.  Why don’t you come down to the diner and we’ll fix you up with a good meal.”  She looked over at Connor.  “Do you like pie?  Chocolate pie?”
    His eyes lit up and he turned his face to his mother.
    “Sure, come on.  Why, your husband might even be in the diner,” I said taking Molly by the hand and leading her away.  “Your luggage will be safe.”
    As we were walking toward the diner, I asked, “How’s Mateo?”
    “He’s doing all right,” she replied but without conviction.
    Stopping, I looked at her.  “Lucas, why don’t you take Connor and his mother on down to the diner?  We’ll be along shortly.”
    Looking Molly straight in the eye I asked again.  “How’s Mateo?”
    Tears filled her eyes.  “He was shot in the knee.  Doc had to do surgery to remove several bone chips.  He’ll be laid up for a while and will always have a limp.”
    “How’s Luciana and the boys takin’ it?”
    “They were scared, still are,” she paused, hesitating.
    “What?” I questioned.
    “The city council fired him!” she replied emphatically.  “They won’t pay for Doc’s services, nor pay Mateo while he is convalescing.  I’ll let Doc tell you more about it, but he was shot by that bounty hunter, Shaw.”
    Taking her hand, I didn’t say anything as we started walking again.  Just before stepping on the boardwalk in front of the diner I stopped her.  “Do you recall anyone by the name of Blackstone?”
    She looked at me, pursed her lips, shaking her head…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Drop the gun then take off the gunbelt,” I ordered.
    There was hesitation on his part.  I didn’t have time to argue with him, I had to get to the baggage car to see what happened.  The solution:  I thumped in alongside the head with the Greener and not did his gun drop but his whole body fell to the floor.  
    I hurried to remove his gunbelt then his uniform belt which I used to tie his hands together behind his back.  Pulling off his uniform blouse I put it on him backwards keeping his arms out of the sleeves and tied the sleeves to the seat.  Then I rushed to see if Linton was alive.  From six feet away I doubt that the lieutenant missed.  The bullet caught him in the chest on the lower left side; most likely destroying a lung for Linton was for sure dead.
    Cautiously I went to the baggage car.  I didn’t know what to expect.  There were four shots fired.  That either meant that the bad guys took control quickly or that Sergeant Quincy had been ready.  They were probably thinking the same thing about what was happening in the passenger car.  Only one shot, did that mean that the Lieutenant had everything under control?
    I decided to climb up on the top of the car and move back to where I had talked with Gibbons.  I didn’t know if they could hear me on the roof of the car or not, I was hoping that the sound of the train on the tracks would hide my steps.  Lying down I tried to peer over the side.  The door was still open.  As I moved slowly down the steps I saw why; the guard was laying halfway in the doorway propping it open.
    “Gibbons,” I loudly whispered.  Seeing that did not good, I yelled out, “Gibbons!”
    “Sure hope that’s you, Marshal, ’cause if it ain’t you’re going to be received with several rounds of lead.”
    It was the voice of the Sergeant.  “Sergeant, I’m comin’ in.”  
    Stepping over the dead guard I made my entrance into the car.  The first thing I noticed what the gun of Sergeant Quincy pointing at me.  “I sure hope you’re one of the good guys,” I stated.  Then I saw Gibbons laying there with a soldier working on him.  “Hurt bad?” I asked the Sergeant.
    “Hard to tell, he needs a doctor.  Private McCaskill is trying to stop the bleeding.  He took a bullet at almost point blank range from the guard.”
    Looking from Gibbons to the others in the car I saw that other guards had been herded to one end with their guns confiscated.  On the floor, not far from the Sergeant lay the shifty-eyed man with a bullet hole in his forehead.
    “I have the Lieutenant tied up in the passenger car.  He shot and killed Mr. Linton,” I said then reached out to place my hand on the shoulder of the sergeant.  “I don’t know exactly where we are or where the next town is, but I will go up to tell the engineer about the situation back here.  Have you seen the conductor?”
    A strange look appeared on the sergeant’s face.  “Come to think of it he went through the baggage car just before those soldiers came back from eating.”
    “Well, he never came into the passenger car.”
    Shaking his head, the sergeant said, “Think they threw him off the train?”
    “That would be my guess,” I said then went to see Gibbons who was unconscious.  “How is he soldier?”
    “The bullet hit right at the shoulder joint.  Since it was fired so close it went on through, but I think the bone might be broken.  I finally stopped the bleeding, but maybe it was ’cause he don’t have much blood left.”
    Leaning down I spoke, “I don’t know if you can hear me Josh, but the bullion is safe.  You and the real soldiers did their job.”
    “Watch him, son,” I said as I stood then hurried out to make my way to the engine.”
    The engineer listened intently as I told him of the situation and informed me that I could get a telegraph out when we arrived where the train would take on water, but it would be close to an hour before we arrived in Las Animas where there would be a doctor available from Fort Lyons.
    As the train took on water I went to send the telegram to the marshal’s office in Kansas City.  “Gibbons shot–STOP–bullion safe–STOP–prisoners–STOP–send telegram to Las Animas advising.  Marshal Forrest”
    Upon entering the passenger car I saw a soldier guarding the lieutenant.  He was still tied and laying down, but was now conscious.  Linton had been taken from the passenger car.  I glanced at the passengers who had all moved together at one end of the car and nodded at them.  “To ease your mind, I’m Deputy U.S. Marshal Miles Forrest.  There was an attempted holdup led by the lieutenant that has been put down.  Injuries have occurred but the situation is under control.”
    The engineer must have poured on the coal for we arrived under an hour in Las Animas.  The town marshal was there along with a detachment from Fort Lyons to take the prisoners.  The soldiers who were to relieve the detachment on the train was there as well.  I asked the sergeant if he and his men would also remain.  I now trusted them and these men were new to me.  The officer in charge had no problem and would inform the commander at Fort Lyons of the situation.
    Gibbons was taken from the train to the hospital at Fort Lyons.  He had not regained consciousness.  I hated to leave him, but I had to continue on to Kansas City.
    Just before the train was ready to pull out, a man came running to me.  “Are you Marshal Forrest?”
    When I informed him that I was, he handed me two telegrams.  The first from the Kansas City office.  “Continue on–STOP–marshal will relieve you in Abilene.”  That left me puzzled until I read the other telegram, “Mateo shot, hurry back”…

The Saga of Miles Forrest

So far it was a long, boring, uneventful ride.  We had a short layover in Pueblo so passengers could get off.  There were a few on the train going all the way to Kansas City, but no new passengers boarded.  I was located in the passenger car along with Troy Linton.  Maxwell, the tall, skinny guy was with the soldiers in the baggage car with Josh Gibbons moving from car to car, but staying mainly in the caboose.
    The grand Lt. Evanston spent his time sleeping in the passenger car or going to the dining car to eat.  I was a mite surprised that he didn’t go check on his men.  I would think he would want to see that the guards were alert.  Most likely he presumed that his sergeant would take care of it.
    In fact, the lieutenant had just left for the dining car when three of his troops came through the car.  I knew all ten didn’t have to be on guard all the time, but for this many to leave made me wonder.  
    “I’m goin’ to take a walk,” I informed Linton then I headed to the dining car.  I stopped just outside the entry noticing that the three soldiers were at a table with the lieutenant.  That was not so unusual on a short, semi-relaxed trip as this, but they were hunched over seemingly listening to something the lieutenant was saying.
    Instead of entering I went back the other way, nodded at Linton and then entered the baggage car.  The soldier standing guard at the entrance didn’t say anything just let me go on in.  I looked for Gibbons; he must be out at the caboose.  There was a buck sergeant by the bullion along with four other soldiers, another was the guard at the far door.
    Going over to the sergeant I started a conversation.  “Excitin’ trip, ain’t it, Sergeant?”
    Looking me over carefully, he relaxed some.  “It’s not like fighting Indians, that’s for sure.”  He moved away some from the bullion.  “Heard you talking some with the special agent.  You served with Custer?”
    “Rode with him in the Shenandoah Valley, I served directly under Captain Kidd,” I informed him.
    “Saw him once at Appomattox.  I had just enlisted, didn’t see much action only a few days before the War ended.”
    I didn’t think the sergeant looked as old as me.  He had been in since the end of the war, had earned his stripes over the years, and since the war they came slow.
    “Shame what happened to him and the 7th at Little Big Horn,” he stated.  “I had just transferred from the 7th to the 4th regiment at Fort Fetterman.  Just missed the Battle of the Rosebud.”
    “Sounds like the good Lord was takin’ care of you,” I responded.  “Listen, you didn’t miss much but blood and gore in that big war.  Plus you missed the Rosebud and Little Big Horn,” I paused to look him over.  “But Sergeant, if I don’t miss my guess, you’ve seen your share of action.”
    He gave a slight nod.  Then I questioned, “How long have you served with these men?”  
    “Not well, a couple was with me under General MacKenzie when Fort Crawford was opened.  I was with Captain Dodge at Milk Creek.  That was not a pretty sight,” he recalled.
    “Heard of MacKenzie.  Quite a fighter,” I assented then brought him back to the present.  “How about the Lieutenant?  How long you served under him?”
    He gave a small, quick grimace.  “You know, sir, that I can’t be talking against my officers.”
    Raising my hand, I gestured, “No offense, Sergeant, I understand.  But just between you and me, stay extra alert, somethin’ ain’t quite right.”
    I continued on through the car when out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the soldiers trying not to stare at me.  When I looked his direction, he quickly adverted his gaze.  Nodding at the guard at the exit I went out finding Gibbons standing outside the caboose.
    “Miles, what are you doing back here?” he inquired.  
    “I needed to take a walk.  Josh, there’s somethin’ that just don’t feel right.”
    “Are you sure you’re not imagining things, Miles?”
    “Could be, hope so,” I replied.  “That’s a lot of gold to be temptin’ somebody.”  I proceeded to explain my reasoning.
    “Kind of stretching things aren’t you?” came his reply.  “But to make you feel better, I have the same feeling.  Go on back, but be ready.”
    I went back through the baggage car nodding at the sergeant as I passed and into the passenger car.  The soldiers and lieutenant were coming back as I entered.  I waited for them to pass and for the lieutenant to sit then I went up a couple seats from him.  That way he would be between Linton and myself.
    We were an hour out of Pueblo when it happened.  There were two shots, then the sound of a rifle being fired then another smaller caliber shot.  Lieutenant Evanston came out of his seat stepping into the aisle and I did the same.  He had his revolver out pointing it at Linton who attempted to pull his gun.  The Lieutenant fired and right after he did I jammed the Greener as hard as I could into the area just below his ribs.  He groaned.
    “When I pull the trigger it will literally cut you in half.”
    Groaning he replied, “Too late…”
    “Yes, too late for you for you’ll not see a bar of that shinin’ gold…”