The Saga of Miles Forrest

The tracks were open to Silverton and I found out from Charlie Gold that his new deputy, Mateo Ramirez, was heading up to get a feel of the place.  He was waiting on the platform when I approached.
    “Mind some company?” I asked slapping him on the shoulder.
    “Not at all,” came his reply.  “Come on, let’s board.”
    We moved down the aisle to find a place to sit down.  From outside the voice of the conductor could be heard giving the last warning to board.  I could see him standing on the steps of the train ready to wave to the engineer to let her roll when a man come running to catch the train; it was Parson Chapman.
    He jumped on board and the train lurched to begin its journey up the canyon.  He was panting as he entered the passenger car where Mateo and I were sitting.  I had never seen him quite so unkempt.  He began to tuck in his shirt, straightened his tie and jacket, and took his hat off to dust it and then place it straight on his head.
    Walking to where we were sitting he smiled reaching out to shake Mateo’s hand first, then mine.  “Heard you fellows were headed up to Silverton and thought I’d join you,” he said as he sat down in an adjoining seat.  “Join me in a prayer:  Heavenly Father, keep Your hand upon us.  Make this trip profitable for Your servants.  Amen.”
    It was a treat to have the preacher pray as we began.  My mind flittered through the times I had ventured out with only my prayers.  Always nice to have company in one’s prayers.  I’m not sure if Mateo knew what was happening, but he bowed his head then made the sign of the cross after the parson said “Amen.”  
    Mateo began to chuckle.  “The Sheriff, he does not miss a trick.  Sends one compadre to guard my body, and then the padre to guard my soul.”
    I laughed with him.  “Not exactly true, Mateo.  I did hear that you were going up to Silverton and thought I’d ride with you.  I can introduce you to the town and some of the inhabitants.  Last time I was there Asa Stokes was the marshal,” I then pulled on my moustache, “but Silverton has been known to have marshals change every few months or so.”
    “And you Rev. Chapman?  What is your excuse?”
    “Molly told me that Miles was going to Silverton.  I like his company, plus I have some unfinished business there,” he replied then focused on Mateo, “and perhaps some new business along the way.”
    Much of the snow had melted in Durango, but it was not far up into the canyon that all one could see was snow.  There was ice on the edge of the river, but it was flowing.  The mountains glistened with snow when the sun fell upon them, but most of the time we were in the shadows of the cliffs.
    “Preacher, where’s your coat?” I inquired.  “It’s goin’ to be cold in Silverton.”
    His eyes widened, almost in a panic, he blurted, “I didn’t even think of one.”
    “You know the train isn’t returning until tomorrow?  Only one trip every other day through the winter unless the mines have a big shipment,” I informed him.  
    He sighed.  “Guess I’ll just have to walk fast,” he put his hand on his upper lip then began to push his lips together from the sides.  “I didn’t know I would have to spend the night.”
    “Don’t be a-frettin’, Parson.  Things will work out.  You can stay the night in my room, and I’ll treat you to supper and breakfast.”
    “Not so fast, my friend,” spoke up Mateo.  “I will get the breakfast, por favor.”
    It was a nice trip, seemingly short as we talked about family, friends, and Preacher Chapman couldn’t help expounding on the goodness of the Lord and gave Mateo a short salvation sermon to which Mateo replied, “I will think on this.”
    The temperature was at least twenty degrees cooler than it had been in Durango.  I sent Mateo off to get our rooms squared while I took the Parson to buy a coat.  He gave me a sheepish look, then told me that he didn’t have the money for a coat.
    “It’ll do me good to help out the man of faith.  The coat is my gift to you,” I stated then got to the point.  “You’re here to see Frank Black.”
    “Yes, I want to check on him.  I want to pray over his soul, but also encourage him to let his wife know that he is alive.  He doesn’t need to be in hiding, but needs to come forth with the truth,” responded Rev. Chapman.
    “I’ll let you go on your way.  Be at the hotel dining room at 6:00,” I said, then headed back to meet with Mateo at the hotel.
    When I got there he was standing outside.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.
    There was a flash of anger on his face.  “Clerk inside said that Mexicans cannot stay here.”
    Now there are certain things that jerk my jaws and that’s one of them.  I brushed past Mateo before he could stop me striding up to the desk clerk.  I slammed the Greener down on the counter to get his attention.  “What’s this I hear about you not giving a room to an officer of the law?”
    “I don’t know what you mean, Sir,” came the meek reply from a man about the thickness of a toothpick.
    “The deputy sheriff came in for our rooms and he was told he couldn’t stay here!  I want an answer!”
    He squirmed and stuttered, “Uh, uh, that’s our policy.”
    “Your policy just changed as of tonight!  Why you’ve got Polish, Welsh, Italians, and the lot working in these mines, along with plenty of Mexicans!” I barked.  
    “I just can’t go and change the policy,” he stammered.
    “You didn’t!” I exclaimed.  “Tell them Deputy U.S. Marshal, Miles Forrest changed the policy.  Now give us two rooms!  Put one of them under the name of Deputy Sheriff Mateo Ramirez.”
    We got the key then took our bags to our rooms.  After they were deposited, I told Mateo that I wanted to take him to the Wells Fargo office then we’d look for the marshal.  I had told him some of the times I had been in Silverton on the train up here and as I stepped out on the boardwalk from up the street came…