The Saga of Miles Forrest

I leaned back against several bags of pintos that were being shipped up to Silverton.  It was fairly comfortable plus it gave some warmth as there was not a stove in this baggage car.  Even though it was the end of summer, it was quite cool riding up the canyon, especially when the train moved into the shadows.
    My mind was a blur of activity, if that’s possible.  I always thought of leaving Molly behind.  She was quite capable of taking care of herself, but with that last robbery and her kidnapping I was bothered, plus there was still the situation with Marta.  She said she was alright, but I still wondered.  Then I thought of Clevenger.  He must be incompetent; not knowing how much money was taken and hiding in his office during the holdup.  
    Where would be places that a holdup could occur?  There were a few places along the trip that made for a feasible spot.  The problem the robbers would have would be to find an escape route.  Ore and bullion being sent out from the mines were normally left alone for this reason.  Wagons would be needed to haul it away, but payrolls were another issue.  Some of the mines paid off with gold from the mine itself, but the larger ones paid in cash.  The banks in Silverton normally didn’t keep that much money around.
    The attack could come at Rockwood, just before entering the Animas Canyon; that would make it about sixteen miles from Durango.  There were several places where the train could be boarded on the way up, but it would either have to happen at the lower portion or just before arriving in Silverton.  If an attack came I reckoned it would happen just a few miles south of Silverton.  That would give them the option of traveling to different areas:  to the northeast toward Lake City or northwest over the pass to Telluride.
    “Lord, give me wisdom,” I prayed silently. 
    There were two baggagemen in the car with me plus two other guards.  We would be met in Silverton by guards from the mines.  I didn’t think there would be a problem after the payroll reached Silverton.  No, if there was to be an attack it would happen on the way.
    The train continued chugging up alongside the river up through the canyon, stopping every so often for water on the way.  It saved time, as it would take an extra day to ride over the passes, but I sure missed riding the wild country and through the mountains.  I needed to get Hawk out and ride up here again sometime.
    With no windows in the car I had no idea exactly where we were.  I figured we must be moving out of the canyon into the valley where Silverton was located.  I was just getting ready to stand and stretch my legs when I noticed the slowing down of the train.  “Here it comes,” I thought.  I checked the Greener, my pistol.
    “Get ready,” I ordered the guards.  “I think we’ll soon be having company.”
    The train had come to a complete stop, but nothing happened.
    “Maybe it’s just some kinda mechanical problem,” suggested a guard named Baxter.
    Fifteen minutes went by, nothing.  Then…the hammering on the door.  “Don’t shoot unless I do,” I ordered the two guards.
    I nodded to the two baggage men to open the door.  “Then stand out of the way.”
    As the door opened the sight that greeted my eyes were two women dressed in their finery.  Upon it being opened completely I counted six women held at gunpoint.  Four masked men held them hostage.  They wore only bandanas across their face, so I scrutinized everything I could about their eyes and hair color.
    One man seemed a bit startled to see me there.  “Marshal, we meet again.  I don’t suppose you have your dear lady hidden there with the baggage.”
    It was the same man in the diner who kidnapped Molly.  From my posters I didn’t think this was Fooy.  “Always hide behind women?” I asked with scorn.
    The man snorted.  “Well, it helps keep the shooting down to a minimum with no one being hurt.  Now, if you don’t mind open the vault.”
    “I don’t have the combination.  That will be those at Silverton,” I informed him.
    There was a sigh from another man as he climbed up in the car.  Reaching inside his jacket he removed a stick of dynamite placing it next to the hinges of the large safe.
    “Won’t that blow the money to smithereens?” I inquired.
    Ignoring me, he lit the fuse then jumped off the car.  Those of us in the car tried to jump out before the explosion took place.  I had no time, I fell behind the several hundred pounds of beans I had been laying on and hunkered down.  The man must have know what he was doing for when the explosion took place there was little damage done except to the safe, and the floor beneath and around it.
    The man jumped back into the car, prying open the door.  Another outlaw joined him and they began to pulled out bags of payroll money.  I could hear the sound of a wagon approaching and the men began pitching the bags into the back of the wagon while the other two men kept guard over us.  My eyes kept going back to the man who had kidnapped Molly.  
    The sound startled all of us.  Some of the women screamed, we all jumped as a shrill whistle emerged from the engine followed by a gunshot.  I started to lift the shotgun when the man hollered, “Don’t!” putting his pistol to the back of the head of a young woman who was quaking and crying in his grasp.
    There was a quickening of activity among the outlaws.  Three women were chosen to keep the men company as they left.  “Marshal, we still have a date with destiny,” assured the man.