Dan was watching the fight and when he saw Cole as clear as day jump up and take a shot and a hand come up yanking him down and a split second later the trail of a bullet going right where the young man had been he swore softly. “Damn…I’m goin’ to kill that boy myself!”
Jack said, “Later Dan…we need to get these bandits first.”
Dan sighed and nodded, knowing Jack spoke the truth, but it didn’t make things any better. He had been scared, now he was mad, but he knew none of it would do much good right now, so he calmed himself and prayed this would be over soon.
Fingers glanced over at Falcon and took careful aim and shot…he smiled as he heard a yelp. “Got one.” He said, “That one’s for you Boss.”
Falcon nodded. “Good.”
Jim Duncan had joined Hugo O’Brian leaving Blake and Jack to protect Dawn and Dan. He had just let off a shot when he felt a bullet graze his side. He yelped with the pain.
Hugo stopped his firing to help Jim.
Jalen glanced over to where he knew Hugo was and saw Jim clutching his side. He frowned. He didn’t like his men getting wounded. He realized they would have to take the house soon or someone would end up getting killed. He had to wait for his opening though.
After Jim got wounded Brett saw a shadow at a window where he thought he’d seen a muzzle flash. Taking careful aim and getting a shot off, he nodded in satisfaction as he heard a strangled cry of pain and then the shadow disappeared.
Slouch was about ready to take a shot where he thought he had seen a flash from a gun and let out a cry as a bullet went straight through his heart and he lay on the floor dead.
Falcon looked over and swore…now he only had Stony, Smokey and Fingers to fight, His arm was useless and they were still outnumbered.
Jalen hearing another death cry called, “Come on out Falcon…give yourself up…you’re outnumbered!”
Smokey shot in the direction of the voice, but Jalen had already ducked down behind the old wagon he was using as a barrier.
The Sheriff gave the silent signal for the men to move out and into the house. All those who weren’t wounded, including Jack and Blake rushed the house.
Blake said, “Dawn…you stay here and keep Dan with you…we’re needed now.”
Dawn put a hand on Dan’s arm as he made a move to follow the other men. “Let them take care of things Dan.”
Dan turned to her…”I have no choice, but I hope they’ll all be okay.”
“Trust Jalen and the others…they’ll be all right.” Dawn reassured.
Dan sighed and knew he wasn’t in any shape to help so stayed with Dawn.
Jalen, Brett, Cole, Gabe, Jack, Blake, Hugo, Ezra, Hal and Hiram all rushed the house at the same time, keeping low and bursting in from the rear door surprising the outlaws.
As Stony turned to fire, Brett shot the gun right out of his hand. Jalen in the mean time trained his pistol on Falcon, Jack had his on Fingers and Hugo got his rifle on Smokey.
Jalen said, “Drop your weapons and kick them over here…its over.”
Falcon looked at the others and when Smokey went to bring up his pistol Hugo said, ”Don’t be a hero sonny.” and cocked his rifle.
Smokey lowered his pistol and let it drop from his hand and kicked it over. The other two did the same. Falcon had already been disarmed. With the others covering him Jalen handcuffed Falcon first, and then taking the extra handcuffs he had brought preceded to handcuff Fingers, Stony and Smokey. Once the men were secured the other men marched them outside. Jalen sighed looking at the four dead men. “Blake…would you mind doing a positive identification on these men?”
Blake shook his head. “No, I don’t mind. I’ll take care of it.”
Jalen turned to the three townsmen. “If you don’t mind I’ll leave these men with you and if you can take care of the burials?”
Hiram, Ezra and Hal all looked at each other, and then nodded. “Yes, we can do that.”
Jalen carried the recovered money and possessions outside a bit at a time, piling it all in one place. He then called Jim Duncan and Max Anderson over. “Are you two well enough to keep guard over all this?”
The two posse members nodded. “Yes Sheriff…we can do guard duty. We’re not so crippled up we can’t do that.” Max told the Sheriff.
Jalen nodded and said, “Thank you…we’ll be campin’ out for the night, but we’ll take care of all the wounded as soon as we can get settled.”
The men said, “All right Sheriff. We’re okay for now.”
Jalen replied, “All right.” He went on to check on the outlaws. Brett, Jack and Hugo were watching them and he saw Morris, despite his wound had joined them, each keeping a firearm trained on an outlaw.
He nodded in satisfaction. “Thank you all for takin’ care of things,” he acknowledged his men.
Brett smiled. “It’s what we need to do Sheriff.”
Jalen said, “I’m goin’ over to talk to Dan and Dawn, then I’m goin’ to try to find mounts for everyone so we can move out. We need to get settled for the night and then head on into Diamond Springs in the mornin’.”
Brett replied, “Okay Jalen…we’ll watch these guys until you say otherwise.”
Jalen said, “Good…I’ll be back in a bit.”
Brett and the others nodded in acknowledgement.
Jalen looked around and saw Cole with Dan and Dawn. He walked over to them. “You two look the worst for wear…but I’m glad you’re alive and that no one has been seriously hurt.”
Dan nodded his aching head gingerly. “We’re okay for the most part. Mostly just bruises.”
Jalen replied, “I can see that…when we camp out for the night I’ll get Max Anderson to tend to everyone’s wounds. Right now I’d like to get us out of here.”
Dan said, “Sounds very good to me.”
Dawn added, “It’s good to see everyone and I’m very glad you and Brett along with the others were able to come and get us.”
Jalen smiled. “I am too. We’ll rest for tonight as it’s too late to make it back to Diamond Springs before dark. We’ll camp out for the night and head into town in the mornin’.”
Dawn nodded. “All right Sheriff, whatever you think best.”
Jalen smiled as Cole offered to stay with Dan and saw Gabe come up to join them. “I’ll stay with Dawn and help Cole with Dan unless you need me for somethin’ else Sheriff.” Gabe told Jalen.
The Sheriff shook his head and said to Gabe; I don’t need you for anythin’ right now…I’ll let you know if that changes though.”
Gabe nodded. “All right.”
The Sheriff walked on to the small barn and found eight horses there. He proceeded to tack them up and when he was finished, led one outside and to where the gang members were. “Which one of you belongs to this horse?” He asked.
Falcon glared at Jalen. “It’s none of your business.” He growled.
Jalen shrugged. “I just thought you’d like to ride your own personal mount, but it really doesn’t matter to me which horse we toss you on…we’re goin’ to get you all up on one and then head out.”
Falcon looked at the other men and growled, “All right…that one belongs to one of the dead men.”
Jalen nodded. “All right…I’ll have him carry one of my people then.” He led the animal over to Cole and Gabe. “Help Dawn up onto this beast as its owner is no longer in need of him.”
Gabe glanced at Jalen and then Dawn and nodded. “I’ll help her.”
Jalen said, “Thank you.” He went back into the barn and one by one led out a horse and those the outlaws identified as belonging to them were helped up onto their mounts by the men guarding them and the other men loaded up the extra horses with the recovered stolen goods and money. Dan was helped up onto a very nice gelding and he was glad to be riding upright on the horse instead of draped over it.
Blake Sheridan laid the four dead men out on the floor in the house. He made notes on a piece of paper he had found and wrote down descriptions and all he would need to positively identify each of the dead men. He said to the three townsmen, “They’ll be fine here for the night, but I suggest they be buried as soon as it’s possible.”
Hiram nodded. “Don’t worry Mr. Sheridan…we’ll see to it.”
Blake nodded. “All right. If there are any questions you can telegraph me at Diamond Springs.”
Ezra said, “Thank you…we have a telegraph and will be able to do that if we have any difficulty.”
Blake nodded. “It was a pleasure workin’ with all of you.” He shook each man’s hand.
Hal said, “Thank you for all you and the Sheriff and the others have done for us. We don’t know how to thank you.”
Blake smiled. “No thanks necessary…we were happy to do it. The rest of the gang will be brought to Diamond Springs and placed in jail and the circuit court judge will see that justice is carried out.”
The three men nodded. “Thanks again.” Hiram said.
Blake replied, “You’re welcome.” He stepped out of the house and joined Jalen and the posse, helping where he was needed.
As everything was organized and it looked like everyone was ready to move out, Jalen taking the reins of Falcon’s horse began to walk, leading the beast with the man on it down the road to where they had tethered their own mounts.
As they arrived at the grove, everyone mounted up onto their horses and Brett, Blake and Jack each led an outlaw along the road.
When Jalen got to the edge of town he found a good camping spot. “We’ll set up camp here for the night, and then go on into Diamond Springs in the mornin’.” He told everyone.
The men who weren’t wounded helped get the bandits off their horses and settled on the ground under guard. Others tethered the horses and Jalen started a fire and set the cooking pot Jim had brought along over it to boil some water. Max Anderson wanted to tend to everyone’s wounds first.
The barber went to each of the injured men of the posse, taking care of their wounds and then went to Falcon and said, “Let me see your arm. I need to tend to your injury.” Max had already had Blake Sheridan wash and disinfect and bind his own wound. It was just a graze and although it hurt it didn’t prevent him from being able to tend to the others. He had worried about the wound Jim Duncan had sustained. It was a graze across some of his ribs on his side and he had cleaned and bound it to the best of his ability. He would be glad when they got back that Doc Mac would be able to check everyone out and make sure everyone’s injuries were properly taken care of.
Falcon pushed Max away. “Leave me be.” He growled.
Max said quietly, “Your wound needs to be tended…if you don’t let me I’ll have to get the Sheriff to help.” He told the outlaw.
Falcon shook his head. “What’s he gonna do? Shoot me again?”
Max looked the bandit in the eye. “No, he’s not like that, but he will hold you for me while I tend to your injury…it’ll be much easier if you cooperate.”
Falcon studied the other man for a time, and then nodded. “Okay.” He said grudgingly.
Max then proceeded to clean and bind Falcon’s wound for him.
Jalen came over to where Max was tending to Falcon. “How’s it going Max?”
Max said, “Most everyone has been cooperative so far.”
Jalen nodded “Good. If anyone gives you any problems about fixin’ them up, let me know and I’ll help you in whatever way is necessary.”
Max nodded. “All right Sheriff…I’ll do that.”
Falcon glanced up at the young Sheriff, but stayed quiet while Max finished up with him.
Cole came over to Dan with a cold compress. “Max said to put this on your eye first, then we’ll get the swellin’ down in your lip.”
Dan protested, “I’m fine…I really don’t need that, I’ll be all right.”
Gabe gave his older brother a look. “Dan…don’t be stubborn…do as you’re told.”
Dan looked at his brother a little surprised and then sighed and nodded. “All right.” He took the cold compress and placed it on his swollen eye with a wince.
Cole stayed with Dan and when the swelling seemed better on his eye, gave him another cold compress for his split lip and the bruises on his face, trying to care for his partner as best he could.
The older man allowed his young partner to tend to him, knowing he needed to be able to do this.
Gabe looked on and tried to help Dawn as best he could, being a man. He made sure she was comfortable and wrapped a blanket he’d taken from one of Jim’s bed rolls around her shoulders to keep her warm.
Dawn smiled at Gabe and said, “I knew you were a sweet man Gabe Fairmont.”
Gabe blushed and said, “I always take care of the people I care about.”
Brett after the water was heated for the treating of wounds added more and began to cut up the dried venison Jim Duncan had packed and started a hearty stew. He added salt and some pepper and carefully peeled and then sliced up some vegetables he had found packed and dumped them into the water to cook. In a while the smell of cooking food permeated the camp. Cole sniffed appreciatively. “Smells good Dan…I’m goin’ to go see when the food will be ready and I’ll bring you some.”
Dan nodded gingerly. Cole had insisted he take a headache powder and so he was feeling a bit drowsy. It had lessened the other aches and pains he was experiencing as well.
Gabe had laid out bedrolls near the fire for Dawn and Dan later to keep them warm. The outlaws had also been given bedrolls as Jim had packed extras. The members of the posse had each packed their own and were rolling them out either near the bandits as they guarded them or near the others in their party.
Brett stirred the pot and Cole came up to him. “Mmm...Somethin’ smells real good.”
Brett grinned. “It’s venison stew.”
Cole looked at his friend. “I didn’t know you knew how to cook.”
Brett grinned. “It’s somethin’ I had to learn if I wanted to survive on my own. I had to eat.”
Cole nodded. “Did you cook for the gang when you were with them?” He asked curiously.
Brett shrugged. “When it was my turn. We all took turns cooking. Some of us were better at it than others, but most of the time it was edible.”
Cole nodded. “Well from the smell of what you’re cookin’ it should be good.”
Brett grinned. “It will be.”
Cole grinned. “As long as you don’t let Dan near the cookin’ pot.”
Brett laughed. “Give him a chance…he might get better.”
Cole grinned. “Well…we’ll see. There’s always a chance.”
Brett stirred the pot once more and then tasted it. “I’d say this was ready to serve. Would you mind getting’ the plates from Mr. Duncan?”
Cole said, “No, I don’t mind.”
He went over to Jim Duncan and asked for the plates and Jim directed him to where to find them. Once he found them he brought them to Brett who began to dish up hearty portions. Cole took each plate and distributed them among the men, serving Dawn and Dan first.
Falcon watched as things went on around the camp. He saw the young Deputy throwing something into a pot and after a while his stomach growled as the scent of the cooking food drifted his way. He wondered why they were treating him and his remaining men so well, treating his wound and seeing to their basic needs and even though they were still handcuffed making sure they were as comfortable as they could be. He wasn’t used to such treatment. The Sheriff even spoke to him in a respectful manner. He just couldn’t understand it. He was surprised when a plateful of savory stew was brought to him. Blake Sheridan put the plate down carefully, then asked, “Falcon…are you left or right handed and can you manage to eat with your wounded shoulder?”
Falcon first thought of saying no, but he had been given something for his pain when his wound was being treated and he nodded. “I’m right handed and yes…I can manage.”
Blake said, “I’m going to release your right hand and handcuff you to me…When you’re finished with your meal I’ll be handcuffin’ you again. If you give me any trouble I’ll handcuff you again and feed you instead.” He warned.
Falcon said, “I understand.”
Blake uncuffed the man, watching him carefully and then snapped the cuff to his own wrist and then carefully handed the plate to Falcon so he could eat. Others from the posse had done the same with the three remaining outlaws.
Max Anderson came around with cups and the coffee pot pouring for everyone, including the outlaws with his good arm.
When everyone had eaten and drank their fill Brett collected the plates and Jalen joined him down by the stream to wash everything up and clean up.
Brett looked up as Jalen joined him and grinned. “Come to help?”
Jalen smiled. “Yes. I want to tell you how proud of you I am my young outlaw.” Jalen said with affection.
Brett smiled at Jalen. “Thanks. That means a lot.”
Jalen grinned in return and when they finished cleaning up everything he pulled Brett into his arms and cuddled him for a few minutes. “We need to get back…I need to make sure things are guarded and taken care of. I trust the posse, but it’s our job to take care of our prisoners.”
Brett cuddled close and then nodded. “All right Jalen. I’ll set up the coffee for the mornin’. We can ride into Diamond Springs and get breakfast there.”
Jalen replied, “Yes, We need to get the wounded to Doc and get the prisoners locked up as soon as we can.”
Brett agreed and each taking a pile of plates, cups, utensils and the cooking pot, made their way back to camp.
The next morning the aroma of coffee drifted through the air and everyone appreciated the hot drink and had some. Once they were finished, Jalen gave the order to mount up.
Cole helped Dan into the saddle of the borrowed horse while Gabe helped Dawn. Dan’s head still ached bad, and he still had a hard time seeing through his bad eye, but Cole just smiled at him. “We’ll be back home soon and Doc Mac can check you over and fix you up.”
Dan wrinkled his nose. “That won’t be needed.”
Gabe gave his brother a look. “It is and you’ll see the doc.”
Dan looked at Gabe oddly for a moment and then tried to smile, but it turned into a grimace as it hurt his face. “All right little brother…just for you.” He told Gabe.
Gabe smiled. “Thank you Dan…you know I worry about you.”
Dan nodded gingerly, “I know.”
Cole said, “I do too…we both love you very much Dan.”
Dan looked down with affection at the two. “I know, and I love you both too.” He said softly.
Everyone else mounted up and the group headed for Diamond Springs.
When the posse arrived with the prisoners the town was abuzz with the fact they had returned. Jalen brought Falcon over to the Doc while Brett and Jack Hillyard locked up the remaining prisoners. Brett turned to Jack. “Thanks Mr. Hillyard. I can handle things from here.” He told him.
Jack smiled. “All right Deputy, but if you need me don’t hesitate to come get me.”
Brett smiled. “Don’t worry I won’t.”
Jack returned to the livery and Brett began to care for the prisoners.
He brought them a pail of warm water, wash cloths, soap and towels so they could clean up some. He also brought a pail for their basic needs as well as one of cold water and four drinking cups made of tin so they’d have drinking water. He brought blankets for the cots and pillows and pushed them through the bars as Jalen had taught him so he didn’t have to open the cell and chance an escape. The robbers grumbled a bit, but were grateful, even if they didn’t express it to Brett. They didn’t really expect to be well treated. Brett told them, “As soon as we’re able we’ll bring you somethin’ to eat.”
The bandits nodded and settled in, washing and making up the cots they would be sleeping on.
Jalen brought Falcon over to Doc Mac. He also made sure Max, Jim and Morris also saw the doc for their wounds.
Doc Mac cleaned them and rebandaged them and complimented Max on the good job he had done.
Dan protested that all he needed to do was to go home, but Cole and Gabe both insisted he see the doctor.
Dawn too was examined as well.
When Ruby and Lily heard Dawn was back they went down to the doctor’s office to be with her. Once she was released they took her over to the Diamond Café for breakfast and to talk. The items she had bought in Denver had been brought over to the saloon from the train and they had put them on her bed. They were dying to see what she had brought back from Denver , but had waited until Dawn returned to be able to see the items.