The Passing of Black Eagle (Henry)

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The Passing of Black Eagle
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «Roads of Destiny»
Microsummary: A notorious bandit leader was replaced by a seemingly fearsome newcomer, who ultimately abandoned the gang during a train robbery attempt, revealing his true cowardly nature.

A notorious bandit known as Black Eagle terrorized the Texas border along the Rio Grande for several months. One day, he suddenly disappeared, leaving his followers and the local ranches in fear of his return.

He was never heard of again. His own band never even guessed the mystery of his disappearance.

Meanwhile, a hobo named Chicken Ruggles found himself stranded in the middle of the desert, where he stumbled upon a horse and a small ranch. After stealing some clothes, food, and alcohol, Chicken transformed himself into a fearsome-looking bandit and joined a group of outlaws led by Bud King.

Chicken Ruggles (Black Eagle) — hobo turned bandit leader; fearsome appearance, boastful, lazy, and cowardly.
Bud King — original bandit leader; experienced, cautious, and practical.

The outlaws, impressed by Chicken's bold appearance and tales of his exploits, began to consider him as a potential leader. Bud King, sensing the dissatisfaction among his men, agreed to step down and let Chicken, now known as Black Eagle, lead the gang. The outlaws decided to rob a train, and Black Eagle devised a plan for the heist.

I’d stick up a train. I’d blow de express car and make hard dollars where you guys get wind.

On the night of the robbery, the outlaws hid in the bushes near the train tracks, waiting for Black Eagle's signal to attack. However, when the train arrived, Black Eagle discovered a boxcar filled with excelsior and the familiar smell of his hobo days. Overcome with nostalgia, he abandoned his role as the bandit leader, climbed into the boxcar, and left his life of crime behind.

Cactus Taylor — Bud's trusted lieutenant; loyal and supportive.

Black Eagle was moulting. The train started with a rattling jerk. The ex-Terror of the Border scrambled into the box car and closed the door.

As the train pulled away, the outlaws remained hidden, still waiting for a signal that would never come. The express messenger, unaware of the danger he had just escaped, casually remarked on what a perfect place it would have been for a hold-up.