The Saga of Miles Forrest

  I had decided to pick up the money and get back on the train.  That way I would be home sometime the next morning.  I still hadn’t seen Lillian; I wondered if she was still in Santa Fe.  I didn’t think that Billington and the ruffians that took him would be in Taos until afternoon, unless Billington died along the way.  They would have to stop and spend one night on the trail.  It was a couple of days ride and with him in that condition I didn’t think they could make it in less time than that.
    Yes, Durango would be a more fitting place to make my greeting, and I would have Charlie Gold there with me.  I know that the Lord frowns on us being anxious, but I will have to admit I was a wee bit anxious over Molly and how she was doing.
    The pieces were slowly falling into place.  Billington and these men were associates of sorts.  It seems as if he was trying to take off with money that they thought should be theirs.  Now, where did Lillian fit into the picture?  It could be a coincidence that she just happened to be in Durango, but I don’t believe much in coincidences.
    It was a restless night.  I reckon I dozed off a time or two, but really couldn’t call it sleep, especially knowing that I had a valise of $25,000 at my feet that belonged to the bank in Durango.
    We arrived on time and I headed straight for the bank.  As I walked in one of the clerks waved at me.
    “I need to see Mr. Douster,” I said.
    The clerk went to Billington’s office and knocked on the door.  Douster was already taking a step in to banking management.  The clerk came back out followed by Douster.
    Holding out his hand, he walked straight up to me.  “Good to see you Marshal Forrester.”
    “It’s Forrest,” I corrected.  For a man who wants to be a banker he needs to learn his clientele’s names.
    He looked down and smiled, “Ahhh, you found the missing money.  Did you get to talk with Mr. Billington?”
    “Nope, but I figure he’ll be along any day now,” and as I spoke his countenance for a brief instance quickened, but then went back to his normal businesslike manner.
    Reaching out he tried to take the valise from me.  As he touched it, he looked into my eyes and he removed his hand.  “What’s that clerk’s name, Ooverholm, isn’t it?” I asked.  “Get him into the office with us.”
    “That would leave only one clerk to wait on customers,” Douster remarked.
    Looking around I saw that there was no one else in the bank.  “I think that one man can handle this crowd.  Mister Ooverholm, come with us.”
    Walking into what was once Billington’s office I sat the valise down on the desk.  Looking at Ooverholm I order, “Start countin’ and place them in stacks of a thousand,” I paused and looked at Douster.  “Count out loud and slowly.  We will want to see each bill laid down on the table.”
    It took several minutes, but the total came up to $22,800.  I had guessed $25,000.  “You can go now, Ooverholm,” suggested Douster.
    “Hold on!  You need to sign a receipt, both of you and then Mr. Ooverholm, I want to watch you place the money in the safe.”  He complied readily, but there was something about this that disgruntled Douster.
    After watching the money safely put away I started to walk out the bank when I stopped and turned back to Douster.  “Did you know that Billington had a daughter?”
    He needed to clear his throat then muttered, “No, I didn’t know that.”
    “Hmmm, how long have you worked here with him?”
    Douster replied, “Three years.”
    “Strange that he never mentioned one to you working with him for three years.”
    “Well, we really weren’t that close, and we didn’t talk about our personal lives at work.”
    “Smart,” I said, walked out and headed down to the Diner.
    The breakfast rush was just finishing; Molly was waiting on tables with Marta.  She didn’t see me come in so I moseyed on back to my normal table.  I had just poured my coffee and sat down when she looked my direction.  Rushing over to me she flung herself at me.
    “Miles, oh Miles, I was worried,” she sighed.
    I was holding on to her tight, when wouldn’t you know it.  In through the door came…