The Saga of Miles Forrest

There was a foot of snow on the ground, but the air was clear, cold and crisp. Grizz accompanied me up to check on the horses. As we entered the barn I could hear sounds of someone pitching hay.
“Lucas! What are you doin’ here today? You need to be in school!” I exclaimed.
“Senor, I very much dislike the school,” he replied meekly, yet emphatically.
“You need to get your book-learnin’. I heard Marta tellin’ you that you had to go to school; that you needed to make your mother proud.”
“I think, I can make my mother proud doin’ other things beside school. I make money to help Marta pay for the house and buy food,” he said proudly.
Letting out a large sigh, I began, “Lucas, did you ever stop to think that the good Lord had a reason for you not to die durin’ the epidemic? Pitchin’ hay will not make a livin’ for you.
“How about you, Senor Miles? I can be a marshal like you.”
“I went to school. And sooner or later crooks will get more sophisticated in their operations,” I said.
“What is this, sopheestikated oprations?” he asked.
“That’s why you need to go to school!” I replied emphatically.
Since Grizz was with me, Lucas pointed at him and said, “I’ll be a hunter like Senor Grizz.”
“Senor Grizz can read and write.”
Grizz decided that he better speak up. He rubbed his fingers through his heavy beard a couple of times then said. “Orginally, I was from New York. Youngsters your age were required to go to school.” Then he looked at me. “I’m goin’ to go up to the trees for a bit. I’ll be back.”
Well, that was just fine. Leave me here to debate.
“Listen, you must go to school. You’ve a strike against you already bein’ half-Mex and half-Indian. Folks out there don’t cotton to people like that so you need an education to overcome. The day is not far off when people won’t want folk like Grizz around, there’ll be no need for hunters.”
Lucas just stared at me, then dropped his head.
“Lucas, here’s what’s goin’ to happen. If you don’t go to school, you’ll no longer be able to work for me or for Molly at the Diner,” then I paused. “Perhaps you could get a job muckin’ stalls at the livery, or maybe cleanin’ spittoons in the back alleys somewhere.”
“Senor Miles,” he said, now almost weeping. “Would you really not let me work for you?”
“Try me,” I said as firmly yet calmly as possible.
He shuffled his feet some in the hay that was laying there, then spoke up. “Okay, I go to school.” Walking down toward the hill, he yelled over his shoulder, “I’ll finish the work after school, Senor.”
Lucas had just walked out of sight down the hill, when Grizz was coming from the tree line. I watched as he walked through the unblemished snow, with only the tracks he made showing. “Miles, you have a problem.”
Looking at me he continued. “Found a torn up doe a few yards back in the timber. Skull, some bones, and fur all that were left–wolves, a pack of them.”
“Wolves!” That brought to mind the other night. As I was laying in the cabin I thought I heard the howl of wolves. “This close to town? The weather hasn’t been that bad to drive them down. Reckon maybe that blizzard a week ago did it.”
“Your horses’ll be next,” said Grizz in an agitated voice.
I was staring up toward the timber thinking of a few winters ago when I faced the wolves. It was a harsh, cold winter and the wolves were at the door constantly that winter I helped Juanita and her mother.
“Miles! Miles! Hey!” His raised voice brought me back to focus on the present.
“Grizz, you want a job through the spring? Help keep the Diner supplied with game and make sure these wolves don’t get my horses or anyone else’s.”
He smiled…