The Saga of Miles Forrest

Daughter?” I thought to myself.  It was hard for me to imagine that Billington had a daughter.  I knew he had been married, but didn’t know what happened to his wife.  I figured he was a widower.  It made me wonder why she was trying to find him.  I had never seen her in Durango before.
    I went and got a room for the night, then grabbed a bite to eat at the eatery across from the hotel.  The train didn’t leave until 9:00 in the morning.  The men, and Billington, had to be traveling on the room with a wagon.  It would take them at least two days to get there, actually closer to three.  I would be there waiting for them.  But now, the daughter, that was another angle.
    The next morning I was up and at the eatery.  The little place had on the menu, huevos rancheros, and that made me smile.  There was a young senorita waiting on the table and she brought me a cup of coffee and took my order.  While I was sitting there, sipping my coffee, in walked Billington’s daughter.  She looked around for a table, and I stood up and asked, “Join me?”
    She looked around the room again, and then walked to my table.  “Thank you, sir,” she said.  “I recognize you from the train.”
    “Yes, my business here fell through, so I’m headin’ back to Durango.  How ’bout you?”
    “I was told that my father was in a hospital in Santa Fe.  Upon my arrival I found that he decided to check out and was traveling back home,” she paused when the waitress brought her some coffee and took her order.  “Since he is not here, I’ll travel back home to see him.”
    Taking a sip of my coffee, I wondered why she said he had “checked out.”  Maybe the doctor didn’t tell her the full story.
    “Where is home?” I questioned.
    She hesitated before answering.  “Well, actually I’m from Salt Lake City, my father lives in Durango.  I came to surprise him with a visit.”
    There was no more conversation as the waitress brought my breakfast.  It had eggs, piled with some red sauce on top and the rest of the plate was filled with frijoles.  There were plenty of tortillas on the side.  For a quick instance, my mind went back to a trail pard of mine from years ago–Hidalgo.  He would make tortillas in camp.  
    “I’m sorry, I’ve been so rude,” her voice brought me back to reality.  “My name is Lillian.”
    “Glad to make your acquaintance.  Miles Forrest is my name,” I took another bite, swallowed and washed it down with some coffee.  “May I ask, if your father lives in Durango, why are you here in Santa Fe?”
    She coughed, and it seemed as if she didn’t know how to answer.  “I didn’t find out until I arrived in Durango, that he was traveling.  I had hoped to catch up with him, and spend some time traveling with him.”
    “Well, I hope you catch up with him,” I said.  
    Giving a little smile she ate the last of her boiled egg, and started to rise.  I stood up to help her out of her chair.  “Thank you, for allowing me to sit here,” she looked around again.  “I’m not used to this,” she paused, “this kind of culture.”
    I sat back down as she walked away and started drinking my coffee and pondering what she said, or rather what she hadn’t said.  She knew her father was in the hospital as I had seen her there.  
    It was time for me to leave.  It was a fifteen minute walk to the train station and I wanted to be there in plenty of time.  Hopefully it wouldn’t be crowded.
    Within the hour we were pulling out.  I didn’t see Lillian on the car, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t on the train.  There was another passenger car and also one with private rooms.  I’d take me a walk later to see if I could spot her.
    A few hours later I was in Taos.  I went first to the telegraph office to send a wire to Molly, telling her I would be home, most likely tomorrow, then on down to the Wells Fargo office.  The clerks looked surprised to see me back so soon.  I filled them in on what I knew.  Then the thought struck me…