From New York Times bestselling author, William W. Johnstone, comes not one, but TWO unforgettable epics of the American West. Featuring the Western legend Smoke Jensen, and available at a combined low price.
A man of the mountains, Smoke Jensen forged his steely brand of justice in the untamed, unforgiving wilderness of the American West. Bad Days for Bad Men presents two legendary adventures of the original Mountain Man by national bestselling authors William W. and J.A. Johnstone.
BETRAYAL OF THE MT MAN
Smoke is determined to stay on the right side of the law—until he's jumped by six low-life robbers who steal his shirt and his identity. Tried for robbery and murder, Smoke’s sentenced to hang in the morning. But come sunup, he’s already after the desperados who've set him up. Smoke's going to hunt them down one by one. Because nobody frames the Mountain Man. Nobody who plans on staying alive, that is . . .
RAMPAGE OF THE MT MAN
Smoke takes a contract to deliver three thousand head of cattle, but a renegade Cheyenne warrior uses an early winter blizzard to attack Smoke and his outgunned cowboys. Too bad it's only the first step in a journey built to test Smoke's mettle, because some people are hunting a payday of their own—for killing Smoke Jensen. Soon the streets of Laramie will run with blood . . .
Release date: November 29, 2022
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
Print pages: 320
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Bad Days for Bad Men: Smoke Jensen's American Justice
William W. Johnstone
Smoke snaked his Winchester from the saddle sheath, then jacked a round into the chamber. He hooked his leg across the saddle horn, rested his elbow on his knee, then raised the rifle to his shoulder and sighted on the lead wolf. He was about 150 yards away from the two wolves, and he was looking down on them so it would be a difficult shot. But he figured that even if he didn’t kill them, he might at least be able to drive them away from the calf.
Smoke squeezed the trigger. The rifle kicked back against his shoulder as smoke bellowed from the end of the barrel. When the smoke rolled away, he saw the lead wolf lying on its side, a spreading pool of red staining the snow.
The other wolf turned and ran quickly toward the trees, kicking up little puffs of snow as it did so. Smoke jacked another round into the chamber and aimed at the second wolf. His finger tightened on the trigger; then he eased the pressure, and lowered his rifle.
“Don’t reckon I should shoot you for doing what your instinct tells you to do,” Smoke said quietly. “I just don’t want you doin’ it to my cows. Specially not this year.”
Smoke rode down to the wolf he had killed, then dismounted. His bullet had hit the animal just behind his left foreleg, penetrated the heart, and killed it instantly. The wolf’s eyes were still open, his tongue still hanging out of his mouth. Strangely, Smoke felt a sense of sadness.
“I’m sorry I had to do this, fella, but you didn’t leave me any choice,” Smoke said. “At least it was quick for you.”
Smoke remounted, then rode on toward the calf. He looped his rope around the calf, then half-led and half-dragged it back to the herd. There, he removed the rope and watched as the calf hurried to join his mother.
What had once been a large herd was now pitifully small, having come through what they were calling the “Great Winter Kill.” Hundreds of thousands of cattle had died out throughout the West this winter, and Smoke’s Sugarloaf Ranch was no exception. He had started the winter with fifteen thousand head; he was now down to less than two thousand.
Smoke’s only hope to save what remained of his herd was to push them into a box canyon and hope that it would shield them from any further winter blasts. He, Cal, and Pearlie were doing that very thing when he came across the wolves.
Looking up, Smoke saw Cal approaching him from the north end of the canyon opening, while at the same time Pearlie was approaching from the south. Even if he had not been able to see them, he would know they were coming toward him, because each of them was leaving a long, black trail in the snow.
Cal reached him first.
“What was the shootin’?”
“Wolves,” Smoke answered.
“Yeah,” Cal said. “Well, you can’t much blame ’em, I guess. They’re probably havin’ as hard a winter as we are. Same with all the other creatures, which is why they’re goin’ after cattle, rather than deer.”
“Wolves?” Pearlie asked, arriving then.
“Yes, they were after a calf,” Smoke said.
“Too bad you didn’t see them a little earlier.”
“What do you mean?”
Pearlie twisted in his saddle and pointed back down the black smear that marked his path through the snow. “Three calves back there, or what’s left of ’em. Killed by wolves.”
“Maybe we ought to put out some poisoned meat,” Cal suggested.
Smoke shook his head. “I don’t care to do that. Besides, there are enough animals around, frozen to death, that they probably wouldn’t take the bait.”
“You’d think they’d go after the dead ones, and leave the live ones alone,” Pearlie said.
“The dead ones are frozen hard as a rock. They want something alive because it’s warmer, and easier to eat,” Smoke said.
“Speaking of something warm and easy to eat, you think maybe Miss Sally fixed us up any bear claws?” Pearlie asked.
“Does the sun come up in the east?” Cal asked. Smoke chuckled. “I expect she did,” he said. He stood in his stirrups and looked down toward the small herd. “We’ve got them in the canyon now; that’s about all we can do for them. Let’s head for the house.”
The three started back toward the house, which was some five miles distant. A ride that, in good weather, would take no more than thirty minutes stretched into an hour because of the heavy fall of snow. The horses labored to cut through the drifts, which were sometimes chest high, and their heavy breathing formed clouds of vapor that drifted away into the fading light.
The three riders said nothing, lost in their own thoughts as they rode back toward the main house.
The oldest of the three, and the ranch owner, was Kirby “Smoke” Jensen. Smoke stood just over six feet tall, and had shoulders as wide as an ax handle and biceps as thick as most men’s thighs. He had never really known his mother, and when he was barely in his teens, he went with his father into the mountains to follow the fur trade. The father and son teamed up with a legendary mountain man called Preacher. For some reason, unknown even to Preacher, the mountain man took to the boy and began to teach him the ways of the mountains: how to live when others would die, how to be a man of your word, and how to fear no other living creature. On the first day they met, Preacher, whose real name was Art, gave Kirby a new name. That name, Smoke, would one day become a legend in the West, and after a while, even Kirby thought of himself as Smoke Jensen.
Smoke was in his thirties, a happily married landowner whose ranch, Sugarloaf, had the potential to be one of the finest ranches in the state. For the last three or four years, Sugarloaf had lived up to its potential, so much so that Smoke had borrowed money to expand the ranch. He bought more land, built a new barn and bunkhouse, added onto the big house, and bought more cattle.
Then the winter hit. Blizzard followed blizzard as the temperature plummeted to record lows. All across the West cattle died in record numbers. Tens of thousands of cattle froze to death, thousands more died of starvation because they couldn’t get to the food, while nearly as many died of thirst because the streams and creeks were frozen solid under several feet of snow.
Ironically, the smaller ranchers were better able to ride it out than the bigger ranchers, who had more land, more cattle, and much more to lose. In one terrible winter, Smoke Jensen had gone from being one of the wealthiest ranchers in Colorado to a man who was struggling to hang onto his ranch.
“Smoke, if you want, I’ll take the lead . . . let my horse break trail for a while,” Pearlie called up to him. The three men were riding in single file, the two behind the leader taking advantage of the lead horse breaking a trail through the snow.
“Sure, come on up,” Smoke invited, moving to one side of the trail to let Pearlie pass.
A few years earlier, Pearlie had been a gunman, hired by a man who wanted to run Smoke off the land so he could ride roughshod over those who were left. But Pearlie didn’t take to killing and looting from innocent people, so he quit his job. He had stopped by to tell Smoke that he was leaving when Smoke offered to hire him.
Since that time Pearlie had worked for Smoke and Sally. He stood just a shade less than six feet tall, was lean as a willow branch, had a face tanned the color of an old saddle, and a head of wild, unruly black hair. His eyes were mischievous and he was quick to smile and joke, but underneath his friendly demeanor was a man that was as hard as iron and as loyal to his friends as they come.
“I’ll ride second,” Cal said, passing with Pearlie. “That way I can take the lead in a few minutes.”
Not too long after Pearlie had joined the ranch, a starving and destitute Cal, who was barely in his teens at the time, made the mistake of trying to rob Sally. Instead of turning him over to the sheriff, Sally brought him home and made him one of the family, along with Pearlie. Now Calvin Woods was Pearlie’s young friend and protégé in the cowboy life.
The three men rode on in silence for the next fifteen minutes, frequently changing the lead so that one horse wouldn’t be tired out. Finally they crested a hill, then started down a long slope. There, half a mile in front of them, the ranch compound spread out over three acres, consisting of the main house, bunkhouse, barn, corral, and toolshed.
In the setting sun the snow took on a golden glow, and the scene could have been a Currier and Ives painting come to life.
The main house, or “big” house as the cowboys called it, was a rather large, two-story Victorian edifice, white, with red shutters and a gray-painted porch that ran across the front and wrapped around to one side. The bunkhouse, which was also white with red shutters, sat halfway between the big house and the barn. The barn was red.
A wisp of smoke curled up from the kitchen chimney, and as the three approached, they could smell the aroma of baking.
“Yep! She made some,” Pearlie said happily. “I tell you the truth, if Miss Sally don’t make the best bear claws in Colorado, then I’ll eat my hat.”
“Hell, that ain’t no big promise, Pearlie,” Cal said. “The kind of appetite you got, you eat anything that gets in your way. I wouldn’t be that surprised if you hadn’t already et your hat a time or two.”
“That ain’t no ways funny,” Pearlie complained. “I ain’t never et none of my hats.”
“But there ain’t no danger of you eatin’ your hat anyhow ’cause you’re right,” Cal said. “Miss Sally does make the best bear claws in Colorado.”
Sally was a schoolteacher when Smoke met her, but she was far from the demure schoolmarm one most often thought of when picturing a schoolteacher. Sally could ride, rope, and shoot better than just about any man, and yet none of that detracted from her feminine charms. She was exceptionally pretty and her kitchen skills matched any woman and surpassed most.
The bear claws that Pearlie was referring to were sweet, sugar-coated doughnuts. They were famous throughout the county, and some men had been known to ride ten miles out of their way to drop by the Sugarloaf just on the off chance she’d have a platter of them made up and cooling on the windowsill.
The three men rode straight to the barn, where they unsaddled their horses, then turned them into warm stalls with hay and water. They took off their coats, hats, and boots on the enclosed back porch, dumping the snow and cleaning their boots before they went inside.
The house was warm and cozy, and it smelled of coffee, roast beef, fresh-baked bread, bear claws, and wood burning in the fireplace. Sally greeted Smoke with a kiss and the other two with affectionate hugs.
Around the dinner table the four talked, joked, and laughed over the meal. And yet, as Sally studied her husband’s face, she knew that, just beneath his laughing demeanor, he was a worried man. It wasn’t so much what he said, as what was left unsaid. Smoke had always been a man filled with optimism and plans for the future. It had been a long time since she had heard him mention any of his plans for improving and expanding the ranch.
Sally had no idea what time it was when she rolled over in bed, still in that warm and comfortable state of half-sleep. She reached out to touch Smoke, but when she didn’t feel him in bed with her, the remaining vestige of sleep abandoned her and she woke up, wondering where he was.
Outside, the snow glistened under the bright full moon so that, even though it was the middle of the night, the bedroom was well lit in varying degrees of silver and black. A nearby aspen tree waved in a gentle night breeze and as it did so, it projected its restless shadow onto the softly glowing wall. Smoke’s shadow was there as well, for he was standing at that very window, looking out into the yard.
“Smoke?” Sally called out in a soft, concerned voice.
“I’m sorry, darlin’,” Smoke replied. “Did I wake you?”
Sally sat up, then brushed a fall of blond hair back from her face. “Are you all right?” she asked.
“You’re worried, aren’t you?”
Smoke paused for a long moment before he answered. Then, with a sigh, he nodded.
“I won’t lie to you, Sally,” he said. “We may lose everything.”
Sally got out of bed and padded across the room. Then, wrapping her arms around him, she leaned into him.
“No,” she said. “As long as we have each other, we won’t lose everything.”
The banker leaned back in his chair and put his hands together, making a steeple of his fingers. He listened intently as Smoke made his case.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one coming to you with problems,” Smoke said. “I reckon this winter has affected just about everyone.”
Joel Matthews nodded. “It has indeed,” he said. “Right now our bank has over one hundred fifty thousand dollars in bad debt. I’ll tell you the truth, Smoke. We are in danger of going under ourselves.”
Smoke sighed. “Then it could be that I’m just wasting my time talking to you.”
Matthews drummed his fingers on the desk for a moment, then looked down at Smoke’s account.
“You have a two-thousand-dollar note due in thirty days,” he said.
“What, exactly, are you asking?”
“I’m asking for a sixty-day extension of that note.”
The banker turned at his desk and looked at the calendar on the wall behind him. The picture was an idealized night scene in the mountains. Below a full moon a train was crossing a trestle, its headlight beam stretching forward and every car window glowing unrealistically.
“Your note is due on April 30th,” he said. “A sixty-day extension would take you to June 30th. Do you really think you can come up with the two thousand dollars by then?”
“I know that I cannot by April 30th, and I’ll be honest with you, Joel. I don’t know if I will have the money by June 30th either. But if any of my cattle survive the rest of this winter, I will at least have a chance.”
“Smoke, can you make a two-hundred-dollar payment on your note? That would be ten percent.”
Smoke shook his head. “Maybe a hundred,” he said.
“That’s about the best I can do right now.”
Matthews sighed. “I’ll never be able to convince the board to go along with it, unless you can at least pay ten percent on the loan.”
Smoke nodded. “I understand,” he said. He started to stand, but Matthews held out his hand.
“Wait a minute,” he said.
“I know how you can come up with a hundred fifty dollars, if you are willing to do a job for me.”
“A job for you?”
“Well, for the bank, actually,” Matthews said. “It will take you about three days.”
“Three days work for a hundred fifty dollars? I’ll do it,” Smoke said.
“Don’t you even want to know what it is?”
“Is it honest work?”
“Oh, yes, it’s honest all right. It might also be dangerous.”
“I’ll do it,” Smoke said.
“Yes, I didn’t think you would be a person who would be deterred by the possibility of danger. But just so that you know what you are letting yourself in for, we have a rather substantial money shipment coming by stagecoach from Sulphur Springs. If you would ride as a special guard during the time of the shipment, I will pay you one hundred fifty dollars.”
Smoke gasped. “One hundred fifty dollars just to ride shotgun? It’s not that I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, Joel, but shotgun guards make about twenty dollars a month, don’t they?”
“So why would you be willing to pay me so much?”
“We are bringing in over twenty thousand dollars,” Matthews said. He sighed, then opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out a newspaper. “And the damn fool editor over at Sulphur Springs has seen fit to run a front page story about it.”
Matthews turned the paper around so Smoke could see the headlines of the lead story.
“Why in the world would he publish something like this?” Smoke asked.
“Well, if you asked the editor, I’m sure he would tell us that he is merely exercising his freedom of the press,” Matthews said. “But I would call it idiocy. Anyway, the cat is out of the bag, and no doubt every outlaw in three states knows about the shipment now. Do you know Frank Simmons?”
“No, I don’t think I do.”
“Frank Simmons is the normal shotgun guard on this run. He’s sixty-six years old and blind as a bat. Ordinarily it’s not a problem. About the only thing the stage ever carries is a mailbag with letters from grandparents, a few seed catalogues, and the like. But this? Well, Frank just isn’t up for the job.”
“I see what you mean,” Smoke said. “When do I go?”
“You can take the stage over Monday morning,” Matthews said. “The money will arrive by train Tuesday night. Marshal Goodwin and a couple of his deputies will meet the train with the banker just to make sure it gets in the bank all right. Then, Wednesday, you’ll take personal charge of it until you get it back here.”
“Sounds easy enough,” Smoke said.
Matthews laughed out loud. “For someone like you, I imagine it is,” he said. “But I’ll be honest with you, Smoke. If I had to guard that shipment, knowing that every saddle bum and ne’er-do-well from Missouri to California is after it, why, I’d be peeing in my pants.”
Smoke laughed as well. “I’ll have the money here Wednesday evening,” he said. “And I’ll be wearing dry pants.”
“You want me to go with you?” Pearlie asked over the supper table that night.
“No, why should you?”
“Well, if it’s like Mr. Matthews says, you’re liable to run into some trouble between here and Sulphur Springs.”
“No. I thank you for the offer, Pearlie. But I want you and Cal to stay here and look after what few cattle we have left. You’ll have to take hay out to them, since they won’t be able to forage. And you’ll have to watch out for the wolves, and any other creatures that might have a yen for beef. The only chance we have of saving Sugarloaf is to keep enough cows alive that I can sell to raise the two thousand.”
“All right, if you say so,” Pearlie said as he reached for the last of the bear claws.
“That’s four,” Cal said.
“That’s four of them things you’n has had.”
“Cal,” Sally said sharply.
“What? You think I’m lyin’, Miss Sally? I been a’countin’ them.”
“I’m not concerned about that. I’m talking about your grammar.”
“That’s four of those things you have had,” Pearlie said, correcting Cal’s grammar. “Not them things you’n has had.”
“Have you had four of them, Pearlie?” Sally asked.
“Well, yes, ma’am, but I believe these are somewhat smaller than the ones you usually make,” Pearlie replied.
Sally laughed, then got up from the table and, walking over to the pie saver, opened the door and pulled out an apple pie.
“Then you won’t be wanting any of this, will you?” she asked, bringing the pie to the table.
“I sure do!” Cal said, licking his lips in anticipation as Sally cut a large slice for him.
“Maybe just a little piece,” Pearlie said, eyeing the pie she was cutting. “With, maybe, a slice of cheese on top.”
That night, Sally cuddled against Smoke as they lay in bed.
“You take care of yourself, Smoke,” she said.
Smoke squeezed her. “I’ve spent a lifetime taking care of myself,” he said. “I’m not likely to fall down on the job now.”
“It was nice of Mr. Matthews to offer you the job,” Sally said. “He did say we would get the extension?”
“Yes.” Smoke sighed. “For all the good it will do.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve got thirty days until the loan is due, with the extension ninety days. Then what? We are still going to have to come up with the money.”
“You don’t think we’ll have enough cattle to sell?”
“What if we do?” Smoke said. “Then what? At best, we’ll just be buying time. A cattle ranch without cattle isn’t much of a ranch.”
They lay in the quiet darkness for a long moment before Sally spoke again.
“I know a way we might be able to come up with it,” she said.
“Oh, no,” Smoke said.
“Oh, no, what?”
“I’m not going to let you go on the line for me. I mean, I appreciate the offer, but I just wouldn’t feel right, you becoming a soiled dove.”
“What?” Sally shouted, sitting up in bed quickly and staring down at him.
Smoke laughed out loud. “I mean, I have given that very idea some thought too, but I wasn’t sure you would do it. Then I figured, well, maybe you would, but I just wouldn’t feel right about it.”
“Kirby Jensen!” Sally said, laughing at him as she realized he was teasing. She grabbed the pillow, then began hitting him with it.
“I give up, I give up!” Smoke said, folding his arms across his face as she continued to pound him with the pillow. Finally, winded, she put the pillow down.
“Truce?” Smoke asked.
“Truce,” Sally replied. Then, she smiled wickedly at him. “How much do you think I would make?”
“Sally!” Smoke gasped.
This time it was Sally’s turn to laugh. “Well, you are the one who brought it up,” she said between giggles.
Sally lay back down beside him and, again, they were quiet for a moment.
“How?” Smoke asked.
“You said you may have a way to raise the money. How would we do it?”
“Light the lamp,” Sally said as she got out of bed, “and I’ll show you.”
Sally walked over to the dresser and opened the top drawer. Removing a newspaper, she returned to the bed just as a bubble of golden light filled the room.
“Read this advertisement,” she said, pointing to a boxed item in the paper.
Smoke read aloud. “New York Company desires ranch land to lease. Will pay one dollar per acre for one-year lease.”
“If we leased our entire ranch to them, we could make twelve thousand dollars,” Sally said.
Smoke shook his head. “No,” he said.
“Sally, you know why not. If we lease this ranch to some outfit like this”—he flicked his fingers across the page—“they’ll send their own man in to run things. We’ll be tenants on our own land. Only the land won’t even be ours, at least not for a year.”
“Smoke, you said yourself we are in danger of losing everything,” Sally said. “At least, this way, we could hang onto the ranch. All right, we won’t make any money this year because everything we get will have to go toward the notes. But next year, we could start fresh.”
“Start fresh with no money,” Smoke said.
“And no debt,” Sally added.
Smoke stared at the advertisement for a long moment. Then he lay back on the bed and folded his arm across his eyes.
Smoke didn’t answer.
“Smoke, you know I’m right,” Sally said.
After another long period of silence, Smoke let out a loud sigh.
“Yeah,” he said. “I know you’re right.”
“Then you’ll do it?”
“Is this what you want to do, Sally?”
“No, it isn’t what I want to do,” Sally admitted. “But I don’t see any other way out of this. At least think about it.”
“All right,” Smoke agreed. “I’ll think about it.”
The man standing at the end of the bar had a long, pockmarked face and a drooping eyelid. He picked up his beer, and blew the foam off before taking a drink. His name was Ebenezer Dooley, and he had escaped prison six months ago. He was here to meet some people, and though he had never seen them, he knew who the three men were as soon as they came in. He could tell by the way they stood just inside the door, pausing for a moment to look around the main room of the Mad Dog Saloon, that they were here to meet someone.
The room was dimly lit by a makeshift chandelier that consisted of a wagon wheel and several flickering candles. It was also filled with smoke from dozens of cigars and pipes so that it took some effort for the three men to look everyone over. Dooley had told them that he would be wearing a high-crowned black hat, with a red feather sticking out of a silver hatband. He stepped away from the bar so they could see him; then one of them made eye contact and nodded. Once contact was made, Dooley walked toward an empty table at the back of the saloon. The three men picked their way through the crowd, then joined him.
One of the bar girls came over to smile prettily at the men as they sat down. She winced somewhat as she got a closer look at them, because they were some of the ugliest men she had ever seen.
Dooley had been in town for a few days, so she had already met him. He was tall and gangly, with a thin face and a hawklike nose. He was not handsome by any standard, but compared to the other three, he was Prince Charming.
“Girlie, bring us a bottle and four glasses,” Dooley said.
The bar girl left to get the order, returned, picked up the money, then walked away. None of the men seemed particularly interested in having her stay around, and she was not at all interested in trying to change their minds.
“You would be Cletus, I take it?” Dooley said to the oldest of the three men. Cletus had white hair and a beard and, as far as Dooley could tell, only one tooth.
“A friend of mine named McNabb told me you would be a good man to work with,” Dooley said. “And that you could get a couple more.”
“These here are my nephews,” Cletus said. “This is Morgan.” Morgan had a terrible scar that started just above his left eye, then passed down through it. He had only half an eyelid, and the eye itself was opaque. Morgan stared hard at Dooley with his one good eye.
“And this here’n is Toomey,” Cletus continued. “Neither one of ’em’s too quick in the mind, but they’re good boys who’ll do whatever I tell them to do. Ain’t that right, boys?”
“Whatever you tell us, Uncle Cletus,” Toomey said. “Mama said to do whatever you tell us to do.”
“His mama is my sister,” Cletus said. “She ain’t none too bright neither, which is why I figure she birthed a couple of idiots.”
Neither Morgan nor Toomey reacted to his unflattering comment about them.
“Can I count on them to do the job I got planned?” Dooley asked.
“I told you,” Cletus said. “They’ll do whatever I ask them to do.”
“You said this would be a big job?”
“Twenty thousand dollars big,” Dooley said.
Cletus let out a low whistle. “That is big,” he said.
“The split is fifty-fifty,” Dooley said.
“Wait a minute, what do you mean, the split is fifty-fifty? They’s four of us.”
“I set up the deal, I’m in charge,” Dooley replied. “I take half, you take half. How you divide your half with your nephews is up to you.”
Cletus looked at his two nephews for a moment; then he nodded.
“All right,” he said. “That sounds good enough to me. Where is this job, and when do we do it?”
“Huh-uh,” Dooley replied.
Cletus looked surprised. “What do you men, huh-uh? How are we goin’ to do the job iffen we don’t know what it is we’re a’supposed to be doin’?”
Dooley shook his head. “I’ll tell you what you need to know when the time comes. I wouldn’t like to think of you gettin’ greedy on me.”
“Whatever you say,” Cletus replied.
Even though Smoke had nothing to do with the money yet, he was in the Sulphur Springs Railroad Depot when the eleven o’clock train arrived.
The depot was crowded with people who were waiting for the train. Some were travelers who were holding tickets, and some were here to meet arriving passengers, but many were here for no other purpose than the excitement of watching the arrival of the train.
They heard the train before anyone saw it, the sound of the whistle. Then, as the train swept around a distant curve, the few people on the platform saw the headlamp, a gas flame that projected a long beam before it.
The train whistled again, and this time everyone could hear the puffing of the steam engine as it labored hard to pull the train though the night. Inside the depot, Smoke stepped over to one of the windows, but because it was very cold outside, and warm inside, the window was fogged over. He wiped away the condensation, then looked through the circle he had made to watch the train approach, listening to the puffs of steam as it escaped from the pistons. He could see bright sparks embedded in the heavy, black smoke that poured from the flared smokestack. Then, as the train swept into the station, he saw sparks falling from the firebox and leaving a carpet of orange-glowing embers lying between the rails and trailing out behind the train. They glimmered for a moment or two in the darkness before finally going dark themselves.
The train began squeaking and clanging as the engineer applied the brakes. It got slower, and slower still, until finally the engineer brought his train to a stop in exactly the right place.
Much of the crowd inside went outside then, to stand on the platform alongside the train as the arriving passengers disembarked and the departing passenger
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