The Saga of Miles Forrest

I was up early to get up to the mill for some of Mr. Burleski’s coffee. I reined Hawk at his office and went in. The clerk held up his hand for me to stop and he went to the office door and knocked, then opened it.
“Mister Forrest is here,” he announced.
Walking into the office I saw Burleski looking out the window. “I came early for some of your coffee.”
Turning, he sort of grunted, then walked to a table next to the stove and grabbed a couple of cups. He filled both cups full of the hot, black fluid. “Here,” and he thrust the cup at me. “Can you drink and walk?” Then he took off and stood on the platform, drinking his coffee and watching the men start to gather.
There were five wagons already in position with teamsters holding the teams. Two guards, armed with sawed-off shotguns stood at the top of the ramp. There were two more armed the same way at the bottom. A man walked out and looked our direction. Burleski pointed and the man waved back. Men now began to lug the gold down to the wagons. I saw two more guards just inside and then noticed another two on the side of the platform looking back giving them a different view of the loading from the other guards.
As soon as one wagon was loaded the teamster drove it out a few feet from the platform. He stayed on the wagon, not looking around while the same procedure was taking place with the second wagon. The loading was smooth, and went relatively fast.
A man stumbled and fell with the loading of the fourth wagon. Immediately one of the guards jumped down, the other guards stopped the loading of the gold. For a big man Jakub Burleski was fast for he was down and moving toward the man laying on the ground; I followed.
“Miland, get up!” ordered the guard.
The man struggled to get up. “Sorry, I’m jist plumb tuckered out; need a break.”
By that time, Burleski was on the scene. “Havin’ trouble, Mr. Miland?” he questioned.
“Just worn out, that’s all, Mr. Burleski, thanks for askin’,” replied the downed man who finally was standing.
“Might be easier if you didn’t have that brick in your bib,” the man’s eyes went wide in fright as he heard the words from Burleski. “Take it out!” Miners often wore overalls with a bib pocket in front where they would carry their lunch.
There was real fear in Miland’s eyes now. He started to run, but the guard behind him was too quick and slapped him upside the head with the shotgun, dropping him to the ground. Burleski walked over, lifted him up with one hand by grasping the front of his shirt, then reached and pulled out a brick of gold that had been hidden in the bib.
“Tie him up!” ordered Burleski and get back to work.
The work was not started again until Burleski and I was back up on the platform by his office. “This happen often?” I asked.
“No,” came the gruff answer. “I’m surprised it was Miland. He’s a good worker, has a family in the camps,” he looked down toward Silverton. “Now, I have to turn him in to the marshal.”
I could sense that he didn’t care much for the local law enforcement. “Turn him over to me. I’m here on behalf of the federal government. I’ll take him to Silverton; see if I can find out why he did it.”
Within the next hour the wagons were down the hill from the mill and now the loading was taking place on the train, now with Wells Fargo guards as well. Miland sat tied next to the gold, sullen and not wanting to speak.
Since this was the first shipment of the year there was a major load. So large, that the Wells Fargo office in Durango wasn’t large enough to hold all the gold so part of it would have to be held in the bank–Billington’s bank.
Just before we left I sent a telegram to Charlie Gold, requesting that he meet the train when we arrived. In talking with the conductor this train would not be making the morning trip back up the line in the morning. I decided that we would not unload the car until it was time to load the car that would be heading for Denver.
A few hours later the train arrived in Durango and Charlie was there waiting. “Charlie, would you tell Molly that I’ll be staying with the train tonight and for her to pack my gear for the trip to Denver. I reckon she will already have her grips packed,” he started to leave. “By the way, you’re stayin’ the night here as well.”
He wasn’t gone ten minutes when Billington came puffing up to the train, and lo and behold, Billy Denton was with him. “What do you think you’re doing, Forrest?” he demanded.
“The gold will be stayin’ on the train for the night. There’s too much of it to move to different locations.”
“You can’t do that!” he exclaimed. “That gold is to be kept secure in the safe of the bank.”
“Oh, but I can,” and I pulled out my badge–Secret Service. “I’m in charge of the gold until it gets to the mint in Denver.”
Billington turned to Denton. “Do something, you’re the guard at the bank. Take that gold to the safe!”
I smiled at Billy, lifted the Greener just slightly. “Yes, Billy, do something…”