Dan, once he heard Cole’s sobs change a bit carefully lifted him and settled him upright, being certain the very sore, tender bottom touched nothing and cuddled him close. He stroked his hair and murmured nonsense things to him until his hard sobs had finally become soft crying. He took a handkerchief and wiped Cole’s eyes and once the crying turned into sniffling handed him a clean handkerchief, tossing the other one aside and Cole blew his nose and handed the cloth back to Dan who also put it aside and continued to cuddle Cole.
“It hurts.” Cole said softly, sniffling a bit.
Dan said quietly, “I know my wild one, but it will only hurt for a while.”
Cole couldn’t help saying with a little pout, “It’s easy for you to say that. It’s not your bottom that’s on fire.”
Dan chuckled and said, “True, but I know you know from past times that it will get better.”
Cole sighed. “Yes…I do.” He snuggled closer, putting his head on Dan’s shoulder.
Dan stroked Cole’s hair and said softly, “All’s forgiven now…do you feel better inside?”
Cole thought about this for a moment and then smiled. “Yes, but I still can’t figure out how a very sore backside that hurts like the dickens on the outside, can make me feel better in the inside.”
Dan said softly, stroking Cole’s hair, “Odd how that works isn’t it? I always wondered the same thing after going over my Papa’s lap.”
Cole smiled. “Yes…you’ve told me about some of those times.”
Dan smiled a rueful smile. “Yes, well…I had never claimed to be an angel.”
Cole grinned now and hugged Dan tight. “I wouldn’t have you any other way Dan.”
Dan hugged Cole tightly back. “I wouldn’t have you any other way either.”
The two men cuddled and snuggled for a time, then Dan said, “I’m really getting’ a bit tired my wild one…how about we go to the bedroom and stretch out and rest for a while?”
Cole nodded eagerly. “I’d like that very much Dan.”
Dan carefully scooped up his young man into his arms and walked with him to the bedroom. He laid him on the bed, then went over and closed the door.
Cole, being laid on the bed watched his partner in a bit of concern. He hoped he hadn’t overdone things just for his sake. He allowed Dan to take off his boots, socks, britches and underpants and then settle him in the bed and laid the covers over him carefully and then watched with pride as his man disrobed and joined him.
Once Dan climbed into the bed Cole carefully turned on his side and backed up until his hot tender bottom snuggled up to Dan’s groin and was chuckling to himself to feel the older man’s almost immediate response.
Dan placed a hand on the younger man’s hip, then yawned widely and snuggling close, promptly fell asleep, more exhausted from his efforts than he cared to admit.
Cole didn’t mind and soon followed Dan’s lead into dreamland.
Jalen and Brett were getting heartily sick of the prisoners. They were always baiting them, saying snide comments and trying to get a rise out of one or the other. Jalen had given Brett many warning looks and several times the young man left the office to take a walk around town to get away from them telling the Sheriff he was going to do the rounds. They took turns while the prisoners were there as there had to be someone there at all times and one or the other would bring the meals back for themselves and the prisoners. They didn’t even have any privacy as they had to sleep with the door to their back room open in order to hear the prisoners if something was going on during the night. It seemed that one or the other of the jailed men always had some need in the middle of the night to disturb their sleep and Brett was getting a bit snappy. Once Jalen had taken him outside in the back and given him a stern talking too accompanied with a few well placed hard swats.
When the telegram finally came about a month later that Judge Albert Graham, Circuit Court Judge was going to arrive next week both the Sheriff and Deputy were relieved. Kelcy Johnson had delivered the wire and Jalen smiled. “This is good news for us indeed.” He told Kelcy. “Judge Graham will be here a week from Tuesday. Would you be so kind to let Gabe and Roland Harrison know as well so Gabe can set up the courtroom and Roland can notify the attorney that will be representin’ the prisoners that the judge will be here?”
Kelcy smiled. “Sure thing Sheriff.” He received the tip from Jalen and went on his way to notify both Roland and Gabe.
Jalen turned to the prisoners. “The Circuit Court Judge will be here next Tuesday; I wanted you to know so you could be prepared.” He told Falcon.
Falcon sneered. “Well it’s about time…I doubt you and your boy of a deputy will be able to hold us in here much longer anyway.” The bandit taunted.
Jalen bit back a retort and turned his back on the prisoners. He had learned long ago you couldn’t argue with people like Falcon and his men and he was trying to teach Brett the same thing.
George Wright stepped off the train and Roland Harrison smiled as he met him and the two men shook hands. “Welcome to Diamond Springs once again George…I’m glad you decided to take these prisoners on and to defend them as best you can.”
George smiled back. “Well, it seems I’m getting the bad guys and you get the good ones.” He teased.
Roland chuckled. “That’s because I get first choice, but you do know if you need me to do the same I’d return the favor?”
George nodded. “Yes, I do. You were a big help last time when I needed someone and I appreciated it. No one would take the case because the man was too well known in Denver and it helped to have someone who didn’t know him or the people involved.”
Roland nodded. “Yes, it was an interesting case.”
The town attorney walked George over to the hotel and once he had checked in and gotten settled the lawyer brought George over to his office and handed over the files he had prepared. Once they had gone through the case and George had reviewed the files he went over to the Sheriff’s office and met with each prisoner, reviewing everything and making notes. He shook his head at the outlaw’s not wanting to own up to their wrong doing, denying everything, when the evidence was staring them in the face with multiple witnesses. Once he was through he thanked the men courteously and left just as Jalen and Brett were returning from their rounds.
“All set Mr. Wright?” Jalen asked, with a smile.
“Yes, thank you Sheriff. I’ll be back several times between now and the trial to meet with my clients.”
Jalen nodded and Brett watched. “Certainly Mr. Wright, any time you need to will be fine. I’ll make sure they don’t need anythin’ before you meet with them so they’ll not need to ask you for anythin’.” Jalen told George.
George, understanding the Sheriff nodded. “Thank you, I’d appreciate that.”
Jalen replied, “Anytime.”
The attorney then left the jail to head back to the hotel and work on his defense of the outlaws.
Falcon scowled as the Sheriff filled the new lawyer in on what he’d already done for the prisoners so there would be no need to either approach the cell or open it for any reason. He was annoyed that the young Sheriff was so shrewd. He wondered where he’d gotten it from. He glanced at the young Deputy and knew he could probably get him to say something at least. “Hey…kid…you need the Sheriff to hold your hand? You can’t do anythin’ by yourself?”
Brett scowled, but didn’t respond, especially when Jalen shot him a look.
After a few more comments the outlaws quit harassing Brett and Jalen sent the young man to get their dinner.
When Judge Graham came to town he went to the hotel to check in as he always did and then visited Gabe at the saloon to make sure all would be in readiness for the next morning.
“Yes Sir Judge Graham, all is in readiness as always. Bertram Fisher will be actin’ as bailiff this time.” He told the Judge. He arched an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything.
Gabe told him, “We have four prisoners in the jail who were involved in a train robbery.” Gabe knew better than to give the Judge more details than that because it could jeopardize the case.
Albert nodded. “All right. I’m certain everyone will be prepared to bring the cases up. Are there any other issues?”
Gabe shook his head. “No Sir, only this.”
Albert said, “Thank you Mr. Fairmont.”
The next morning Judge Graham sat on his bench and both Roland Harrison and George Wright approached the judge. Roland said, “Your Honor, I will be representing Sheriff Jalen Brooks, Deputy Brett Montgomery, the posse members, Blake Sheridan, James Duncan, Morris Hennings, Cole Tucker, Jack Hillyard, Hugo O’Brian, Max Henderson and Gabe Fairmont.” He gave the judge the folder he had prepared and then stepped back.
George Wright stepped up and said, “I will be defending the accused. The lawyer read off the outlaws given names.
Allister Edgar Jenkins, known as Falcon and the leader of the group, Layton Brant Young, known as Stony, Reginald Winston Rhodes, known as Fingers, and Colby Bertram Wilson, known as Smokey.”
Judge Graham nodded. “Thank you Mr. Wright.”
Bertram Fisher, when all was in readiness and at a signal from Judge Graham brought the court to order. The trial proceeded with each side presenting their arguments, witnesses from the train and the evidence in regard to the robbery, until the trial came to its conclusion.
Albert Graham watched as the jury, who were, Spike Harriman, The rail yard manager, Jonathan Draper, the railroad clerk, Reverend Thornton, Kelcy Johnson, the telegraph operator, Herman Garret, the blacksmith apprentice and Jebidiah Anderson, the land office clerk, came back into the courtroom. He asked what their verdict was and the jury foreman, Reverend Thorton told him they had brought in the verdict of guilty as charged to all counts.
Falcon had been charged with robbery and intent to murder a law officer, Fingers, was charged with the same, Stony had an additional charge of assault in regard to Dan and Smokey also had an additional charge of assault toward Dawn as well. The posse was exonerated of any wrongful death in the killing of the four dead outlaws, Sylvester Reid Cooper, age twenty-six, known as Slouch, Virgil Brennen Wheeler, age twenty-seven, known as Chewy, Humphrey Dean Patterson, age thirty, known as Whiskers and Alan Ezra Hayes, age twenty-eight, known as Red.
Judge Albert Graham ordered, “The accused will approach the bench for sentencing.”
As the four men shuffled to the area in front of the judge with Jalen, Brett, Bertram and now the other men from the posse, Jack Hillyard one of them surrounded the four and prodded them until they all stood before the judge.
Judge Graham looked sternly at the four men. “You all have been found guilty of serious crimes gentlemen. You are fortunate that there were no deaths involved in either this crime or in any of your former ones or you’d be hanging.” He told them.
The men shuffled their feet and waited. None of them could meet the piercing brown eyes now.
I will now pronounce sentencing… Allister Edgar Jenkins you are hereby sentenced too thirty years hard labor with no parole. You are a menace to society. You held the folk of Mountain Grove virtually hostage and orchestrated this robbery. You need to pay for your despicable deeds.”
Falcon’s brown eyes widened at the sentence. He was about to protest, but one look from Judge Graham silenced him.
Albert went on…” Layton Brant Young, You also are sentenced to thirty years hard labor with an opportunity for parole after serving fifteen years. You will learn that human beings are to be respected, not treated in the manner you treated Mr. Daniel Fairmont.”
Stony hung his head and said nothing.
The judge went on. “Colby Bertram Wilson, you too are sentenced to thirty years hard labor with an opportunity for parole after serving fifteen years. Perhaps this will teach you to not disrespect women as you did Miss Dawn Belding. It doesn’t matter what a woman’s profession may be, even if they happen to be a saloon girl, they’re to be treated with respect, not roughly treated and intimidated.” He told the man.
Smokey bit his lip. He’d never realized just how much trouble he’d be in because of his attitudes and behavior.
Albert said, “Lastly, Reginald Winston Rhodes, you are hereby sentenced to twenty-five years hard labor with opportunity for parole in fifteen years. I hope you will learn that theft does not pay. Taking things that don’t belong to you is against the laws of society as well as the laws of God and I do hope you’ll remember that and think about your soul while you are performing the labor you will be required to do.” He told the young man.
Fingers hung his head as well.
Judge Graham said, “Bailiff, take them away, return them to the jail until the U.S. Marshall comes for them. He and his Deputy should arrive to escort them to the Colorado State prison within the week.”
The prisoners were taken away.
Judge Graham then said, “Sheriff Jalen Christopher Brooks and Deputy Brett Ashton Montgomery approach the bench please.”
Brett shared a look with Jalen, but they stepped up before the judge.
Albert pinned the two young lawmen with his sharp brown eyes and began, “The last time you two were before me, it was for lapses in judgment and other violations. I told you when next I came I would let you know if you were to remain in your offices or to be removed.” He paused and continued to look sternly at the two young men before him.
Jalen and Brett both squirmed inwardly, but stood quietly and respectfully, making eye contact with the Judge.
Albert continued. “I want you to know I’m very pleased with the way the two of you handled this robbery. You were both professional and used good judgment. You worked hard to limit death and damage and I want to commend you both for your excellence in performing your duty toward this town. Gentlemen, you will both retain your offices and the people of Diamond Springs are fortunate to have you.”
Jalen grinned at Brett then and the whole courtroom burst into applause.
Albert Graham banged his gavel and shouted over the uproar, “Court dismissed!”
The people poured out of the Saloon and Dan and Cole congratulated Jalen and Brett as did many of the other town folk.
Roland shook hands with George Wright. “Thanks again for helping out George.”
George smiled. “Any time Roland even if I have to be the losing attorney.”
Roland chuckled. “Well when I help you out, then I’m the one who’s the losing attorney.” He teased.
George laughed and the two men went their separate ways, George to go back to the hotel and to catch the train home to Denver and Roland to return to his office.
Jalen had given the forms to claim the rewards on the outlaws to Judge Graham who had signed off on them and Bertram Fisher, the banker had assisted in getting the payments deposited to an account they had set up for the people of Mountain Grove.
The U.S. Marshall and his Deputy came in three days to pick up the prisoners for which Jalen and Brett were very grateful.
Dan and Brett grinned as they rode along with Dawn, Cole and Jalen to mountain Grove. They had wired Ezra Jacobson, the Saloon keeper and sort of head of the town of Mountain Grove that they were coming. As they approached the small town they were surprised to see it busy with people going to and fro from shop to shop and smiling. They rode up to the Silver Stein and dismounting went inside.
Ezra smiled when he saw who his guests were. “Welcome to Mountain Grove Sheriff Brooks.” He greeted. “These people you have with you sure look a heap better than the last time I saw them.”
Jalen grinned. “Yes and let me introduce them to you.” He indicated Brett. “You already know my Deputy, Deputy Montgomery and this is my good friend, Dawn Belding, my other good friends, Daniel Fairmont and you probably also remember his partner Cole Tucker, who was in the posse with me.”
Ezra smiled at all of them. “”Yes, I do remember your Deputy and the young man Cole, It’s good to know your other friends now too. Come on in…sit down. Can I get beer? What would you like Miss Belding?” He asked.
Dawn said, “Some tea if you please.”
Ezra smiled “That can be arranged. The rest of the men said beer and Ezra gave each one a cold mug.
The saloon keeper went into a back room and a bit later came out with a small pot of tea with a tea cup and placed them in front of Dawn. “There you go Miss.” He also placed a plate of cookies on the table. Hiram O’Donnell’s wife insisted I take them and serve them when you came today.”
Jalen smiled. “You’ll need to thank her for us. Where are Hiram and Hal?”
Ezra smiled. “They should be here any minute.”
No sooner had he said that when the two familiar farmers arrived. “Hello Sheriff Brooks, Deputy Montgomery and friends!” Hiram greeted.
Hal grinned. “All of who are lookin’ a heap site better too.”
Dan and Dawn grinned at each other. “Thank you.” They said to the men.
The group visited with each other, sharing what had happened to the outlaws, the trial and everything. Then Jalen pulled out a bank draft and handed it to Ezra. The people of Diamond Springs want to give the people of Mountain Grove a bit of somethin’ to help them recover from the tyranny of those outlaws and to help all of you prosper.” There’s the money from the rewards each of the outlaws had on their heads as well as a bit more that our citizens who could donated as well when they heard about what happened here.” Jalen said dropping his eyes modestly.
Ezra peeked at the bank draft and gasped. “Man oh man…this can’t be right!”
Jalen said quietly, “It is.”
Ezra showed the draft to Hal and Hiram and their eyes widened as well. “That’s more money than I’ve ever seen in my life, not to say in our town treasury.”
Ezra smiled. “You’re right, but we will set it aside for our town and use it wisely…thank you Sheriff Brooks , Deputy Montgomery, Mr. Fairmont, Miss Belding and Mr. Tucker. Please send the thanks of the people of Mountain Grove to the citizens of Diamond Springs and tell them we offer them sistership and would like to become a sister town to Diamond Springs.”
Jalen smiled as did the others. “Thank you and I’ll be sure to let them know.”
They all shook hands and The Sheriff of Diamond Springs, his Deputy and friends departed to return to the town they all loved so much.