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…”