The Saga of Miles Forrest

This trip seemed to take forever.  There was a foot of snow on the road, and a little more in the higher elevations.  The horses had to work harder pulling through the snow so that slowed the trip.  There were no clouds, and the sun reflected brightly off the snow.  Both the driver, Spud Carson, and I did our best to cover our eyes; snow blindness was irritating and painful.  With the sun shining so brightly one would think it would be warm, but I’m sure the temperature hovered around zero.
I was so bundled up, if we were attacked by outlaws I’m not sure I could even get the shotgun into position to fire.  Spud had a couple of buffalo robes and we threw one around our shoulders and the other over our legs and feet.  It must have helped, but my toes were still like icicles.  I didn’t figure on an attack.  Outlaws may be dumb, but they’d be downright stupid to be out in this cold, plus the fact that we weren’t carrying much.  There was one passenger in the back who was on his way to the Mormon town up on Salt Lake.
We were halfway through the fifth day when we returned to Durango.  It took almost a day longer than the usual trip.  Maybe it was my imagination, but I think it was warming up a bit; perhaps it was ten degrees now.
“Hurry up and unload that strongbox, Forrest.  I want to get rid of these horses and this stage and head for a hot bath.  I think my blood is starting to freeze.”
I grabbed the box and pulled it down.  As I was hurrying into the office Spud took off.  I turned it over to the clerks and had them sign for it.  There was only a couple of hundred dollars in it, but that would add to the money in the safe.  I thought about going for a bath, but figured I should go check in with Molly first. 
It would be warm in the eatery, so I ran and slipped on over there.  It made me pity the horses some, for it was hard work in that snow where there weren’t any paths.  As soon as I entered the eatery I sighed.  Ahhh, it was warm and my table was open and I knew there would be coffee on the stove.
“Miles,” came the sound that I longed to hear.  Nothing better than that when I came home off a job.  “Sit down, I’ll bring some elk stew out to you.”
Taking off my coat I threw it in the chair and grabbed a cup for coffee.  We were breaking in a new pot as the other received a bullet hole meant for me.   I drank that cup fast and was pouring another when Molly came out with the stew.
I was sitting facing the stove hoping my toes might come back to life.  Molly came on around.  “Let me get those boots off you,” and she started tugging them off.  I don’t know what felt better, the warmth of the stove on my frozen feet or the heat of the coffee going down my gullet.
Molly reached to the table and handed me my stew.  “Eat this and get warmed up.”  She started rubbing my neck and shoulders.  Now there was a new feeling added to the coffee and stove.  You call it what you want, spoiled or blessed, I was taking it either way.
“Miles, did you have any trouble?” she asked.
“No, just the cold.” 
She stopped her rubbing.  “There’s been several asking questions of you.”
I turned around and put the empty bowl on the table.  As I was taking a sip there were shots.  I started up, when Molly’s hands pushed me down.  “We have a marshal for that.”
Then Ben Gates, from the livery burst through the door.  “There’s been a robbery at the office!” he paused for breath.  “Jim and Tom’s been shot, and some stranger.”