The Saga of Miles Forrest

I had been riding hard for twenty minutes; I had to slow down or the horse wouldn’t be any good.  It seems like the outlaw didn’t drop Molly off at the edge of town.  I knew this road well, and these men were smart for it was a well-traveled road and their tracks were mix in with those of others.  However, a group of men, one of them holding a woman, would rise the attention of any travelers, so they had to do something soon.  
    Slowing down I began to look for places where they might venture off the road.  This area was covered mostly with sage, few trees, and was covered with boulder formations.  I was getting close to being halfway to Hesperus when on the horizon I saw a figure walking down the road toward me.
    Giving the horse a kick I had him running again.  The gap between me and the person began to close and soon I could see that it was Molly.  I slowed him down to a trot and when I was a few yards from her I stopped, almost fell off and ran to her.  She fell into my arms and we held each other tightly, neither of us saying anything.
    Finally she muttered, “Thirsty.”
    I hadn’t thought about water.  I went to the horse hoping that the owner had a canteen and that it was full.  That was the habit of most anyone riding in this area.
    Molly had found a rock just off the side of the road to sit on.  Thankfully there was a canteen and I rushed it over to her.  “Here,” I said excitedly, “just drink it slow.”
    The sky was clear except for two clouds that looked like cottonballs hanging above us.  In that high country the sun just seems to beat down on a person and it being so dry, well, a person can easily dry up.
    Taking off my bandana, I reached for the canteen.  She looked at me as I began to pour some of the water on the bandana.  “Unt uh,” she muttered.  “Is that bandana clean?”
    “Clean enough,” I answered, then completely soaked it.  I wiped her face with it, then wrung it out her hand and arms.  She reached for the canteen to take another drink as I placed the wet bandana on her head.  
    I watched her take a couple of deep swallows.  Then capping the canteen she handed it back to me.  “We need to get back,” she informed me.  “I’m worried about Marta.”
    That was Molly.  Always worried more about someone else than she was about taking care of herself.  I helped her up and we walked back to the horse.  I mounted and looked at her.
    “In my lap, or astraddle behind me?” I asked, now smiling.
    “Behind,” she stated, “but you’ll let me down when we come to town.”  I removed my foot from the stirrup and she put hers in.  I reached back to grab her and between the two of us she swung up behind me.  The horse started balking and I had to hold on.  It must not have been used to riding double.
    I started walking the horse back toward Durango.  Molly put her arms around me and settled her head against my back.  Neither of us said anything, but I could hear her quietly humming some tune.
    Feeling her pull her head away from me, she said, “Miles, that man scared me.”
    “How so?” I asked.
    “He was different than most of those that have come after you.  Most of them are scum, braggarts, but he, he seemed to be under control.  Am I silly for thinking that?” she asked.
    I didn’t answer right off.  “He was a logical man.  Now, he has armed robbery behind his name.  If he had shot someone then he would be runnin’ for his life.”
    “Miles,” she said tightening her grip around me.  “I really thought he was going to shoot you.”
    “So did I, and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it,” I replied.  “The Lord must have sent an angel to stand between us.”
    She nestled her head back against me and we continued on down the road without any more talk.  When we were about a quarter mile from the town I stopped.  
    “Want to walk from here?” I asked.
    I felt a sigh against me, but she began to slide off to the side.  I dismounted as well, and handed her the canteen as she took the bandana from her head.  Handing it back to me she then took the canteen and drank several deep swallows.  As we started walking she started brushing back her hair with her fingers.  I looked at her and smiled.
    “What?” she exclaimed.
    I wasn’t about to reply.
    We could see people begin to form where the town proper began.  Molly was holding on to my arm and I gave her a little nudge.  “Look at the welcomin’ committee.”
    Martin Olson, new councilman, with Wilson Foster standing behind him some were in front, along with the new bank president.  I didn’t know his name; I had hoped that the job would be handed over to Ooverholm, but the powers that be brought in somebody from Kansas City.
    I saw Olson elbow the bank president and as we approached he stepped out from the crowd and began to jabber.  “Aren’t you going after them?”
    “Nope,” I simply replied.
    “But you’re the marshal, that’s your job.  I pay taxes and I expect you to do your job,” he was speaking so fast I thought he might pass out.
    “Not a federal case,” I said as I helped Molly up on the boardwalk.
    Then Olson piped in, “I think Miles is afraid of the outlaw.”
    Stopping, I turned to glare at the man.  “You call me Forrest, or Marshal,” I hesitated then looked him up and down.  “I’ll never be Miles to you.”  Then I pushed Molly on through the crowd on down to the diner.