Janelle and Dawn Belden arrived at the train station by cab. The driver set Dawn’s bags in the loading area to be placed on the train. Janelle hugged her sister. “I’m so glad you came Dawn. It’s been fun and Madam Willow really liked you. She said you can come back for a visit and do escort anytime.” She smiled. “I’m also glad you found not only the dress you were interested in, but a couple of other ones too.”
Dawn smiled. “Me too and I’m bringing back some scented soap and perfume for Ruby and Lily too.”
Janelle smiled. “That was very nice. The gentlemen, Mr. Tucker and Mr. Fairmont were very kind to hook up with you to escort you back home.”
Dawn smiled. “Yes, Dan and Cole are very nice men.”
Janelle smiled and nodded as she noticed the Burlington pulling into the station. “Here comes their train now.”
Dawn smiled as she watched the passengers disembarking, looking for her companions. As soon as she saw them she waved to them. “Cole! Dan!”
As the Burlington pulled into the Station Dan and Cole gathered their belongings and stepped off the train. Dan heard and saw Dawn and her sister and smiled. “There’s Dawn and her sister Janelle.” He pointed out to Cole.
Cole smiled at the sisters and waved back and said, “Yes, I see them…I want to check to make sure Boots gets off this train and onto the train headed home…can I do that Dan?” He asked anxiously.
Dan nodded. “Go ahead, but don’t get in the way of the stock handlers.” He warned.
Cole nodded. I won’t I promise.” He told Dan and headed for the stock car.
Dan went over to the sisters and smiled. “Cole got a horse while we were in St. Louis and he wants to make sure he makes the transfer of trains okay.”
Dawn and Janelle smiled at each other and Dawn said, “I’m sure he’s thrilled.”
Dan nodded. “Yes, he wanted to ride in the stock car with him and I told him no.”
Dawn laughed. “I could see him wantin’ to do that.”
Slouch watched and saw a wagon with men on it he could tell were guards although they tried to look inconspicuous. He surreptitiously watched and could tell it was the payroll that was being unloaded although it was disguised in what looked like wooden crates. The men moving them were staggering under the weight of the coins.
Slouch shrugged as a small worry about how they were going to transport the heavy money came over him. He remembered the boss had said it would be split among them so it wouldn’t be so heavy to carry all at once. He watched as they carried it into the freight car just in front of the caboose and once he saw it was loaded went to seek out Smokey.
Smokey was watching everything and when he saw Dawn his face darkened, and then an evil light came into his eyes. He knew exactly who was going to be their hostage. ‘The wench.’ He thought to himself. She deserved to be captured and then give him the pleasure he wanted and she had refused and had caused him to be kicked out of Madam Willow’s so ignominiously, being dumped into the horse trough by that gorilla of a man.
Slouch approached Smokey and told him what he had learned about the payroll and Smokey indicated the girl. “Look who’s goin’ to be on the train.”
Slouch looked and grinned evilly. “Goin’ to get what you wanted hmm?”
Smokey nodded. “Yeah…just deserts.”
Slouch leered. “Dessert is right.”
Dawn caught a glimpse of Smokey and moved closer to Dan.
Dan noticed the movement and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Dawn said, “That man over there tried to force himself on me at Madam Willow’s and got kicked out…apparently he’s goin’ to be on the train with us.”
Dan said, “Don’t worry about him. Cole and I will make sure no one bothers you Dawn.”
Dawn smiled at Dan. “Thank you Dan.”
Dan said, “You’re welcome and put a protective arm around her shoulders. “We’ll be boardin’ soon.”
Cole watched the stock handlers and smiled as he saw Boots led down the ramp and onto the stock car of the Denver and Rio Grande train heading for Diamond Springs. By late afternoon they’d be home barring any delays or anything else that could happen to the train.
Once he was satisfied that Boots was all right he went back to Dan and Dawn. “Boots is on the Denver and Rio Grande now.” He told Dan.
Dan smiled. “Good we hopefully will be home by supper time barring any unavoidable delays.”
Cole grinned. “Yes we will.”
Dawn smiled and said, “I’m glad you got a horse Cole.”
Cole ducked his head slightly embarrassed at the young woman’s attention and said, “Thank you Miss Dawn.”
Janelle smiled at the young man. “Well, I need to go now. I’ll leave Dawn in the capable hands of you two.”
Dan smiled and nodded. “Yes, don’t worry about anything.”
Janelle smiled and nodded, then turned and gave her sister a hug. “You keep in touch little sister hear?”
Dawn smiled and returned the hug. “Yes and I will Janelle I promise.”
Janelle smiled. “All right.” She disengaged from her little sister and turning, climbed into the taxi and waved at them. “Take care and I’ll be hearin’ from you soon!”
Dawn called, “Good-bye Janelle! I love you!”
Janelle called back, “I love you too!” As the cab pulled away to take her back to Madam Willow’s.
Shortly the whistle blew and Dan escorted Dawn into the train with Cole at their heels.
The other passengers boarded as well, including the outlaws as the conductor called “All aboard!”
Dan helped Dawn to a comfortable seat and he sat next to her with Cole across from them. He kept an eye out for the man Dawn had indicated had caused problems for her. He noticed him enter a different car with some other men and decided that at the moment there was no threat of him accosting Dawn.
Smokey had seen Dawn with the two young rather handsome young men and had frowned, but the thoughts of selecting her as a hostage was what kept him from just grabbing her and dragging her to the baggage car and having his way with her.
Smokey and the other men wandered through the cars casually, noting who was there and where the conductor and brakeman were located, where the dining car and the Pullman car were so they could disable the men there and how far up the train the fireman and the engineer were located.
As the train pulled out of the station in Denver , the telegraph operator notified the next stop that the train had left. It was common practice so the next stop when they arrived could inform the engineer as to what was coming in the opposite direction and where he needed to pull off into a side track to allow a train to pass in the other direction.
The train continued on its way making its stops right on schedule. They were a little delayed on their way to Glenwood Springs waiting for another train to pass in the opposite direction and then made their way into the town.
Dan smiled. “Next stop is ours Dawn, Cole.”
The three had kept themselves entertained talking about their adventures in Denver and St. Louis to pass the time away. When the train pulled out of Glenwood Springs the telegraph operator wired Diamond Springs.
Kelcy Johnson, the telegraph operator in Diamond Springs grinned as he received the telegram that the train was leaving Glenwood Springs and walked over to the saloon to inform Gabe Fairmont. “Gabe…I just received a wire that the train has just left Glenwood Springs and should be on time.”
Gabe smiled. “Thank you Kelcy, I appreciate you tellin’ me. I’ll let Jalen and Brett know so we can meet the train. They should be comin’ around soon on their usual rounds.”
Kelcy returned the smile. “Okay Gabe. I’m glad their all on their way home.”
Gabe grinned. “Me too I miss them all.”
Kelcy nodded. “If I hear of any delays I’ll let you know.”
Gabe said, “All right…thank you.”
Friday morning, in Mountain Grove, Falcon, having met with his gang as usual at the saloon nodded to Red, Chewy and Stony. “Stony, take us to the spot you and Chewy selected to stop the train so we can build the barrier. We’ll take the boy’s horses with us so we can all ride. Smokey can take the girl up on his horse with him.” The Boss told the men.
Stony nodded and each man, including the head of the gang made their way to the area where the robbery would take place, leading a fully saddled horse with them.
Once at the site they tethered the extra horses out of sight and began to pull the large fallen trees onto the track. Falcon gave an evil smile and said, “That should stop the train.”
The other three men nodded. “Yes Boss.”
Falcon said, “Let’s cover our tracks and stay in the tree line out of sight.”
The men got busy and did just that, watching down the tracks for the tell tale smoke of the engine and the train approaching their position.
Whiskers and Slouch made their way to the Pullman and dining cars respectively pulling their guns on the cook, waiter and porter, then tying and gagging them and shoving them into storage cupboards in the Pullman car and the small kitchen in the dining car closing the doors and propping chairs in front of them. “There…Slouch said, “That should hold ’em for a while.”
Whiskers nodded. “Sure should. We should take care of the conductor now and then I’ll help Smokey with the Engineer and fireman and you can take care of the brakeman once he stops the train. Smokey said Fingers would head to the baggage car in the back where the safe is being held and work on getting’ it open.”
Slouch nodded. “Okay…that sounds about right.”
The two men reported to Smokey, “The cook, waiter and porter are all taken care of Smokey.” Slouch told him in a quiet voice.
Smokey gave a slight nod of acknowledgement. He glanced into the other car where Dawn was, making note of which car it was in relation to the Engine so he’d locate it fairly quickly and would be able to keep an eye on her for her capture. “Tell Fingers to make his way to the baggage car…Whiskers, you come with me to the engine. Slouch, you know what to do.”
Slouch gave a slight nod. “Uh huh.”
Slouch located Fingers in the rear passenger car and gave him a slight nod, without acknowledging him, the signal they agreed on.
Fingers after Slouch had left the car made his way to the rear of the car and then climbed up and over the cars on the moving train until he reached the last baggage car, climbing down and slipping inside. He grinned as he located the safe and went to work on opening it.
Smokey and Whiskers sauntered unhurriedly toward the front of the train. They’d wait until the train began to slow indicating they were coming up on the barrier that had been erected by the Boss and the other men. Then they’d make their move.
Slouch located the brakeman and stayed out of sight, slouching against the door between the trains as he had done throughout the trip so it didn’t look suspicious to anyone, having seen the man slouching in the doorway of cars as the trip had progressed so no one paid much attention to him.
As the engineer drove the train along the track and the fireman kept shoveling coal into the furnace the engineer saw what looked like a pile of logs on the track. “What the hell?” He said aloud. He signaled the brakeman to apply the brakes with the whistle.
The fireman looked up at the engineer’s exclamation and his eyes widened as he saw the barrier they were barreling toward. He stopped shoveling coal, not adding fuel so the boiler would cool, but he could see it was too late for that.
The brakeman, hearing the whistle give the emergency stop signal, began to quickly turn the wheel that would apply the brakes. Unbeknownst to him Slouch was right behind him, not being able to hear anything much over the noise of the train, the screeching of the brakes and the wind whipping in his ears was surprised as just as the train rocked to a halt he was grabbed from behind and he felt a pain on his temple and then all turned black as he crumpled.
Slouch laid the now unconscious man on the floor between the cars. He quickly gagged him and tied his hands and feet behind him and rolled him on his back so he’d have a hard time getting loose.
As the train ground to a halt, rocking and with the screeching of brakes, just short of the barrier across the tracks, the engineer and fireman had to hold on at the sudden stop. The two men quickly found themselves grabbed from behind and guns being held to their heads. Smokey had the engineer and Whiskers had the Fireman. “You don’t move and do as you’re told, you won’t get hurt.” Smokey growled into the engineer’s ear.
Whiskers growled a similar message into the fireman’s ear as well. The man had dropped his shovel to hold on when the train had screeched to a halt.
The bandits had all tied bandanas around their faces so only their eyes showed so they would be less recognizable.
The engineer, surprised at being grabbed from behind began to struggle and fight, but when he felt the cold steel of a gun barrel pressed to the side of his head ceased, not wanting to be killed. He knew it was a robbery, but was helpless to do anything about it. “You won’t get away with this.” He growled back at the outlaw.
Smokey growled, “Shut up.” He ground the barrel of the gun harder into the side of the man’s head and the engineer quieted.
The fireman attempted to throw Whiskers off him, trying to turn to get a punch in, but Whiskers, being a fairly hefty man himself didn’t allow the maneuver and pressed his gun barrel to the man’s head a little harder and said, “If you want to live to see another day you’ll stand quiet and stop fightin’’.”
The fireman tried once more to free himself and Whiskers cocked his gun. The fireman immediately ceased, hearing the gun cock. “Good.” Whiskers growled and uncocked the gun.
Falcon and the rest of the men saw the plume of smoke indicating the train was on its way coming down the track. Seeing the train screech to a halt, on Falcon’s signal the outlaws on the ground, immediately boarded. Red took over the engineer and Chewy took over the Fireman, continuing to hold them at gunpoint, while Whiskers and Smokey tied and gagged them.
With the engineer and fireman secured, Falcon and Smokey along with Whiskers began to clear the passenger cars, making them all get out.
Slouch had made his way to the baggage car to check on Finger’s progress. “How’s it comin’?” He asked.
“It’s comin’. A few more clicks and I think I got it.”
Slouch nodded. “All right…I’m going to make my way up front.”
Fingers nodded. “Okay.”
Slouch began to work his way up to the front of the train, making passengers get out of the cars as he went along.
Whiskers had hopped off the engine and had made his way back toward the end of the train and met up with Slouch. “How’s Finger’s doin’?” He asked as he climbed up into the car.
“He’s almost got the safe open.” Slouch told him as he continued to clear the passenger cars.
In the stock car the stock handler noticed Boots was getting restless and he fed him some apples and carrots to keep him quiet and calm him down. He didn’t want the horse to get nervous and start to buck in the confined area and hurt himself. He talked softly to the nervous horse. Boots hadn’t liked the sudden stop and had begun to snort, paw at the straw and his nostrils had flared and his eyes were rolling with fear at the unaccustomed event. The stock handler talked softly to the animal and continued to keep him calm. Whatever the trouble was it would soon be taken care of and they would be on their way once again. He thought to himself.
Dan and Cole, hearing the passengers from the cars in front and behind them exclaiming and making outraged comments knew something was up. They had pulled their guns, but hadn’t expected the growl from behind them in the form of Slouch and Whiskers “Gentlemen…drop your guns.”
Cole tried to turn, but was grabbed by Whiskers and he said, “No you don’t sonny…just do as you’re told.”
Cole glanced at Dan who was being held by Slouch and saw his slight nod and dropped his gun.
Smokey and Stony came in about then and in the meantime Falcon was outside with the other passengers along with Red and Chewy who had left the engineer and fireman who had been tied up and gagged. They were going among the passenger’s already outside and collecting money and jewelry from them.
Smokey grabbed hold of Dawn and dragged her outside.
Dan jumped after Smokey, startling Slouch who hadn’t expected Dan to do that and lost his grip on the man. “Unhand her you lout!” Dan cried, trying to get hold of Dawn.
Cole watched in horror as Stony took his pistol and with the butt of the gun cracked Dan across the temple. Dan crumpled to the floor and Stony, went through Dan’s pockets taking any money and jewelry he could find, then tossed him up over his shoulder and carried him off.
Dawn was screaming and trying to bite and kick Smokey and he slapped her and she stopped. Cole made a move to help, but Whiskers ground his pistol into the side of Cole’s head. “Better not sonny. I won’t hesitate to shoot you.”
Cole bit his lip, but didn’t move although every fiber of him was screaming to follow Dan who was being carried away, blood dripping from his head by the other bandit.
Cole’s heart pounded and he could feel sweat trickling down his back, but he knew that if he wanted to help staying still and quiet was the only way he could help right now, as he watched Slouch herd the other passengers out of the rail car.
Fingers finally got the safe opened and began dragging the bags of coins out of the car. He piled them along side the track and Falcon, seeing him, made his way to Fingers and helped load the bags of coins on four of the horses, His, Fingers, Red and Whiskers.
Hearing screaming and a commotion he turned and saw Smokey with the girl. He ran to help. He frowned slightly when he saw Smokey slap her, but didn’t interfere once she stopped struggling. Then he raised an eyebrow when Stony emerged with a man slumped over his shoulder, dripping blood from his head. “Someone tried to be a hero?” Falcon asked.
Stony nodded. “Yeah…I think we should take him with us. He might be the girl’s boyfriend. It might make her more cooperative. Smokey says they were traveling’ together, he saw them at the station with his arm around her.”
Falcon nodded. “You take him then.” He ordered.
Stony said, “Yeah Boss.” He tossed Dan face down across the front of his saddle and climbed up after him.
Now that they had the money and had taken all the passengers had on them Falcon gave the signal to mount up and ride. Fingers mounted up and once Red and Whiskers joined Falcon they rode, but dragged branches behind them to eliminate their trail the best they could.
Slouch who had finished herding the passengers from the cars and helped collect their valuables handed his loot over to Red and went for his horse. Whiskers hearing the whistle from his Boss shoved Cole who he had been holding in the train to the floor and jumped out and ran for his horse. Stony and Smokey with their human burdens headed for the trail they had already decided to take back to Mountain Grove. Slouch and Chewy following behind had taken branches and swept behind them so they would be very hard to follow as they went along.