Matt

Mrs. Taylor got a bottle of whiskey from her husband's stash. A stash he thought she didn't know about. She poured some into a glass, which she handed to Matt. He downed it gratefully. She handed the bottle over to the Sheriff so he could clean the wound. She looked over at her husband who just smiled and said, "I should have known. You knew about the whiskey stash but saw no reason to say anything until now." Mrs. Taylor just nodded with the slightest of smiles on her face, and returned her attention to Matt to help apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.

A half hour later, Matt's wound was clean and wrapped. He was glad for a second glass of whiskey to take the edge off of the pain.

Claire Taylor, was clearly a resourceful and capable woman. She quickly made coffee and put together a meal of eggs and bread for everyone.

Matt didn't feel like eating, but forced down the food knowing he had to build some strength after losing so much blood.

Sheriff Paul Mason sat down next to Matt. "Where do we go from here? You probably should rest for a few days."

Matt shook his head. "Not a few days. Tonight will do it."

He turned to Mrs. Taylor, "Maam, it would be appreciated if we could spend the night here. Of course we'll keep a guard on Ford the whole night even though he's tied up, so you don't have to worry."

Mrs. Taylor walked over to Matt and spoke in a voice that clearly said no arguments would be tolerated, "Marshal, of course on one condition. My husband and Sheriff Mason will guard Ford. With that wound you've got there, you need to sleep."

Matt smiled to himself, he couldn't help but think of the tough, insistent woman in his life that he was in love with.

"All right, Mrs. Taylor. It's a deal."

Matt turned back to Paul. "The closest town is Dodge City. We'll start out tomorrow before dawn and should be there by nightfall. We can lock Ford up there, and notify the federal authorities that he's back in custody."

Paul Mason looked skeptical as he considered the Marshal's condition, "Matt, that means riding for 12 hours or more."

"Yep, that's why I'm going to get a good night's sleep tonight."

Matt and Paul were up way before dawn. Matt was pale but said he was ready to go. Mrs. Taylor had anticipated their early departure and had a breakfast of biscuits, ham and coffee ready.

After breakfast, as they were leaving in the predawn light, Matt turned to Claire Taylor, "Thank you for your help. I wish you the best of luck."

She smiled, "Thank you Marshal. You saved us." She moved a little closer and whispered, "I'm expecting a baby. You saved more than you realized. Max and I have decided that if it's a boy we're naming him Matthew."

Matt looked at her. She was a woman of strength, goodness and wisdom, "That is a great honor, Mrs. Taylor. Thank you."

Matt and Paul headed off to Dodge. Ford's hands were tied and the Sheriff lead his horse. Matt wanted to get the man locked up in jail as soon as possible. Even though Ford had managed it before, escape from jail was harder than escape from the trail.

After 4 hours of riding, Paul could see that Matt was struggling to stay upright in the saddle. A closer look told him that the shoulder was bleeding some, "Matt, lets stop and get that arm tended to."

Matt just nodded. They rode over to a grove of trees and got off their horses. Paul got Ford down from his horse and tied him to a tree.

"How's it feel Matt?"

"Don't ask. Let's just get this bleeding stopped and bandage it up again."

Paul managed to do that, "Matt now that we've stopped, let's eat something before we go on."

Matt agreed and they had some biscuits that Mrs. Taylor had given them and water.

They mounted and rode on. They had to stop again twice to re-bandage the shoulder and give Matt a chance to rest.

Through it all Matt was single minded in his goal that they get Ford to Dodge City and locked up before the day was over.

Sheriff Paul Mason's admiration for Dillon grew bigger by the second.

After 14 long hours Matt and Sheriff Mason, with Ford in tow, stopped in front of Matt's office. Festus and Newley were standing outside. Festus saw Matt's condition and moved to help him as he got off his horse.

"Matthew, I can see you've got yourself some wound. Lemme give a hand."

"No Festus, you and Newley help Sheriff Mason here lock Ford up and guard him."

"Matthew you ain't in no shape to be on your own."

Matt was leaning on his saddle, one hand across the saddle, the other holding his shoulder, "Festus, just do what I ask. I'll head up to Doc's office,"

Sam happened to be standing outside of the Long Branch watching. He hurried over to help. Festus nodded at Sam and went into the office with Newley and Sheriff Mason to lock Ford up in a cell. Matt leaned on Sam and they went up to Doc's.

St. Louis

Will Stambridge was over at Halley's Livery Stable early in the morning to get a horse and buggy for himself and Kitty.

Will walked in with a smile on his face, "Mr. Halley, I understand that you rent out horse and buggy rigs and also cabins."

Mr. Halley walked forward and shook Will's outstretched hand, "Yes, Mister I do."

Will looked around the stable, "Well then, I'm here to do business. First thing that I want is a horse and buggy. I want a good horse and a comfortable buggy, your best. I'll pay whatever you ask."

Mr. Halley was now enjoying the conversation, "I can provide a rig. How long do you want it for?"

"Well from 5:00 this evening until tomorrow night or maybe even the next night, provided I can also rent a cabin from you. I'll tell you what, I'll pay you for both nights even if we come back tomorrow. I'll pay in advance. I'd like a cabin that is comfortable and secluded. I am taking my wife away for a special occasion."

Mr. Halley nodded, "I have just the thing, and I will give you a deal since you want the best of everything. I'll have the rig, the directions to the cabin and the key to the cabin ready for you by 4:30 this afternoon."

Will smiled again, "Thank you. Oh and since this is a special occasion, I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone about the cabin rental, I mean if anyone should happen to ask. We don't want to take a chance on being disturbed."

Mr. Halley winked, "You've got it."