The marshals from Washington arrived three days later, not before several marshals were sent from San Francisco to take over from the deputies. Watson was also guarded by two marshals. The sheriff had never seen a prisoner so closely guarded.
Heath continued to recover, but was unable to lose the fever completely. Victoria worried that Heath would suddenly take a downward turn, knowing the fever hadn't left him for a reason. Audra read to him and fussed over him continuously. He enjoyed the rapport he was developing with his sister.
It was mid morning and the atmosphere in the house had changed dramatically. No one seemed to be able to produce a genuine smile and Heath could feel that they were all hiding something from him. He asked everyone what was wrong but received the same answer of 'Nothing, everything's fine, just rest." Heath felt uneasy.
The bedroom door opened and suddenly his small bedroom, compared to everyone else's bedroom was crowded. Jarrod quickly closed the distance between him and Heath's bed when he saw the alarmed look on his brother's face.
"Heath….This is US Federal Marshal William Masters. He's here to take a statement from you and to witness you make a positive identification of Sam Watson." Jarrod stepped back and allowed the marshal to approach Heath's bed.
"Billy! It's been a long time." Heath held out his hand to shake with the marshal. Jarrod looked at Victoria and Nick with surprise.
"That it has Heath my boy….Still popping those eyeballs?"
"Only on stags when I get a chance to do some serious hunting."
The marshal smiled and then took on a serious façade. "I know this will be hard for you and dredge up some unpleasant memories but I need a full statement from you about Caterson and Watson. When they compare this statement with the one taken shortly after your release there will be no doubts about your identity and what you witnessed."
Heath nodded and swallowed hard. He didn't know that he would have to talk about his time in Caterson but knew that it had to be done to make Watson accountable. He concentrated on his old regiment Sergeant's face as he began his statement. As Heath spoke Jarrod, Victoria and to a lesser degree, Nick listened shocked that these proud men had been subjected to such terrible conditions and that not only had to worry about the Confederate guards but also their own union soldiers within the walls of the prison.
When Heath finished his statement Sam Watson was brought into his room and Heath officially identified him. Watson was gagged so that he couldn't make any remarks to Heath but Heath could see the hatred in the prisoner's eyes. When Watson was taken away the marshal explained what was going to happen next, to Heath.
"Sam Watson wasn't a union soldier, he was a confederate soldier. We believe that he was secretly sent into the prison in a union uniform to rob prisoners of what little valuables they may have and to stop them from receiving any medicine or as in your case clean water that had been bribed from a guard. That's why he escaped being caught. He would leave the prison when other soldiers got too close to catching him. He was also sent in to murder certain prisoners. It was done all so elaborately so that no one person could be held accountable."
"So he'll be tried for Banter's murder?" Heath asked.
"Oh yes. General Sherman will make sure of that. Banter was his nephew and he has been searching for answers on his nephew's murder since the end of the war. He wants to meet you Heath and personally thank you."
"He doesn't need to thank me. I'm just doing what any friend would do." Heath felt uncomfortable. He didn't want to be made out to be some sort of hero, he just wanted to get on with life on the ranch and put Caterson finally to rest. Unlocking the prison walls within his mind and allowing the memories to escape was taking its toll on Heath. Jarrod was the first one to notice that Heath was becoming extremely tired. He also saw beads of sweat starting to form on his face.
"Gentlemen I think Heath needs to take a break." Jarrod nodded towards the door and led the marshals out of Heath's room. "Mother, Heath's temperature is up again."
The family struggled with Heath's temperature for the rest of the day. In his delirium Heath battled with the escaped memories and at times fought Nick and Jarrod as he relived Caterson. The doctor tried various medicines and when his temperature spiked to an alarming height Heath was immersed into a tepid bath. Around two in the morning his fever finally broke and after being cleaned and bed linen changed Heath finally fell into a deep restful sleep.
Jarrod felt guilty for allowing the Federal Marshal to take a statement from Heath before he was completely well. Victoria pointed out to him that it was inevitable that this fever would get worse and if Heath had died then Sam Watson would have got away with his crimes and Heath wouldn't have wanted that. Jarrod agreed. He looked at his mother with a sadness she had not seen since he returned from the war. "What is it Jarrod?"
"Oh mother that boy has suffered so much. How do we make it up to him to make his life happier and more fulfilling?"
"That's simple son. We love him. We can't take away those memories but we can give him new memories of love, a family, caring….show him just how much we need him to be here with us. Nick has taken those first steps and it's up to all of us to show Heath and make him realise that he is an important part of this family."
Jarrod kissed his mother's forehead. "As always lovely lady you are right."
Sam Watson was safely delivered to Washington and it wasn't long before several government officials were arrested. He had sung a long list of names hoping to avoid the death penalty. He hadn't counted on General Sherman's influence over the panel of judge's final sentence.
Heath met General Sherman along with his family in a secluded room in the parliament house of Sacramento. The general was instantly taken with the quiet young man who spoke of his nephew's friendship with a sixteen year old who was sick and dying. Sherman could see why his nephew had become friends with Heath, they were very much alike. Heath was awarded a medal which had personally been approved by President Grant. Heath asked for the medal to honoured in the name of Sherman's nephew because if it wasn't for him Heath surely would have died in that prison. Sherman accepted it on behalf of his nephew.
Two months later as Heath, Nick and Jarrod watched the sun rise over the valley, from the balcony of their lodge, on the other side of the country, Sam Watson along with four other prominent government officials were hanged. The three men saluted lost comrades and Heath quietly whispered, "Rest in peace Banter."