The Saga of Miles Forrest

There was a little soreness where the bullet had grazed my neck, but other than that the week was back to normal; whatever that is. The weather had turned nice again, warm days, but frosty nights. Snow in Durango was gone, but there was still plenty in the high country.
Billington and the Council still had not replaced the marshal. I talked to each of them, telling them that Charlie Gold was available, but the election on Tuesday changed that. He was now the newly elected sheriff of the county. His office was a little nicer than the marshal’s office as it was in the newly built county courthouse. He had two deputies to help him; one stayed mainly at the courthouse and acted as bailiff.
I had my reckonings and I reckoned that Billington was looking for “his man” to be placed in the marshal’s office. Molly told me to let it go, but I was concerned for the people of Durango. Having Charlie as sheriff would help, but he also would have to be out of Durango on county business.
It was time for the bullion to be shipped down from Silverton. I had sent a telegraph to the U.S. Marshal’s office and the Secret Service office in Denver letting them know that I would be going up to meet the shipment, follow it back to Durango, and then ride the rails with it to Denver.
The railroad sure changed how things were shipped and made the trip much faster. In fact, five years ago or so, the shipment could not be made for another month as the passes were still closed. Instead of two days it took four hours. I still missed the ride through the high country though; something about that fresh mountain air and the cold water rushing from the snow made a man feel different–alive might be a good word.
I took Hawk with me, but I wouldn’t have to ride him much. He was such a good mountain horse; I would keep Star for the trip to Denver. He needed to be let out so he could run. Not as good in the mountains as Hawk, but he could flat out run him on the prairie.
The trip up was uneventful. Being Secret Service I was offered a compartment to sit in all decorated with finery, a nice table, comfortable cushioned seat and service with a silver set. I declined, but now sitting on the hard bench I longed for the days when there was a stove at one end of the car with a coffee pot on top.
After unloading I walked Hawk to the Wells Fargo office. They would oversee the guarding of the gold. I wanted to say howdy to the boys working there, also to let them know that I would be on the train. They told me they had heard of the Secret Service, so I reckon it wasn’t so secret.
Mounting Hawk, I rode up to the mill which was about a half mile out of town. There were several wagons ready to be loaded. That would be done in the morning and taken directly to the train. I dismounted at the office, went inside telling the clerk at the front desk who I was. He asked to see my credentials; that was a good sign. Then he went to the door of the supervisor, knocked, opened the door and motioned for me to enter.
Looking out the window was a man about my height, but would make twice of me in the shoulders.
“Excuse me,” said the clerk. “Mister Burleski, this is Miles Forrest to see you.” Then he turned, walked out shutting the door.
The man turned, glanced at me then in a gruff voice said, “Forrest, hmmm, heard of you.” Then he held out his hand. “Want a drink, cigar?”
“No, thank you,” then I took his hand, a firm grip, and he wasn’t trying to impress me with it. “Take a seat. Call me, Jakub, second generation from the old country.”
“My job is to follow the gold from your mill to the mint in Denver. There have been some discrepancies…”
He interrupted me, “Someone is stealing the gold. Don’t play niceties with me, Forrest, I know the allure that gold brings.”
I nodded, then continued. “It doesn’t happen all the time, but enough that someone is putting a sizeable amount in his pants.”
“We have to check every man when he leaves work. After the gold is removed from the ore there is that temptation to put a bit in their bib.”
“What time do I need to be here in the mornin’?” I asked.
He turned back to the window and looked up at the sky. “We will have to wait until daylight so the guards can watch properly. The earliest we can start is 7:30. It will take us most of the morning to load the wagons, get it over to the train station to unload the wagons and load up the rail car.”
I stood up to leave, offering my hand to him. “Come early, I’ll have the coffee on,” he said taking my hand.
Burleski followed me outside to the platform…