The Writer's Corner
A Bring Milly Back Production
By Michelle Palmer
Chapter 13: Final Preparations
Milly woke up the next morning at the sound of a hard knock on the door.
“You think she’s in there?” She heard Sally ask. “Maybe she climbed
out the window in the middle of the night to run far, far away!”
“Oh, what do you know about it, Sally! You just wait until you get
marred!” Jenny declared.
“I’m beginning to wonder if…”
“You can stop talking about me! I’m awake!” Milly called as she groaned
and climbed out of bed. Last night had been so exciting that she could
hardly get to sleep. She had finally fallen to sleep in the wee hours
of the morning. She got up and dressed. Then she opened the door.
“Good morning.” She held out her hand. “Come on in!”
Several women walked in. Milly crossed her arms as she looked at them.
“Well! I see you’ve assembled the troops!”
“We’ve sent the men on their way!” Lou nodded in assurance. “They are
all on their way to the ranch to keep your fiancé preoccupied while we
get you and your wedding preparations all done!”
Milly smiled as she thought on it. “Ohhhhhhh, Lou! I’m going to be
Mrs. Lucas McCain in about 30 hours! Can you believe it?”
“Yes!” Lou answered. “And we’ve still got a lot of work to do! Now, I
have the cook wrestling up a big breakfast for us all. After breakfast,
we’re going to work at cleaning from the party last night. Then one
team of women will work on the hotel with me while the other works on
the barn with Jenny and Sally. Ann’s already declared kitchen duty for
the day which is good, because we have a lot of baking to do! Those men
Ann laughed. “Men?”
“That’s right!” Lou declared with a firm nod. “And Milly, all the
children have gone to Lucille Bennet’s house. She and some of the other
girls have been assigned babysitting duty, and all the children of North
Fork are working on a surprise for the reception!”
Milly smiled. “Oh, I’m so excited!” She gasped and turned to Jenny.
“Oh Mother, I’ve been looking at the wedding dress and it’s beautiful,
“There’s a clasp missing from the top. Yes, I know,” Jenny stated.
“Well?” Milly pleaded.
Jenny and Lou looked at each other. Milly’s mother walked up to her
daughter and put her hands on her shoulder hoping to keep her calm.
“Now Darling, I don’t want you to panic. Seems there’s been a lot of
dressmaking lately. The General Store is a little low on certain
“Yes, seems there’s some big occasion coming up in North Fork…I wonder
what that could be!” Sally smiled as she put a hand to her chin.
“Stop teasing your aunt, Sally! You just remember she may get even with
you someday!” Jenny scolded her niece.
Milly held up her hand. “So…exactly what are you saying, mother?”
“I’m saying that when you put this dress on tomorrow, you’ll have to
fasten the top with a…” Jenny cleared her throat. “…pin.”
“A what?” Milly gasped. “Mother, no! It’s supposed to be perfect! Of
all the things to be imperfect, I want it to be PERFECT!”
“Honey, Lucas will never know! Your hair will cover it and….” Jenny
“Oh, but he may find out afterwards, back at the ranch!” Ann declared
with a mischievous smile.
“But by that point…” Lou said with a wink. “…he may NOT notice!”
“Or, more simply put…” Ann winked at Lou. “he may NOT care!”
Milly blushed. “Alright ladies, you just remember we are LADIES! We
don’t talk about such intimate details!” Jenny declared as she put a
protective arm around her daughter. “Honey, it will be okay. Besides,
Ann’s right. By that point of the evening, he won’t care if he DOES
“Oh Mother!” Milly shook her head as they made their way down to
“I’m sure the men are talking about the same thing!” Lou declared.
“Pa, they’re coming! They’re coming!” Mark declared as she washed the
last of the dishes. “A whole troop of them, Pa!”
Lucas hurried to his new bedroom and closed the door. “Don’t allow
anyone in this new part, you hear boy? I have it almost all ready for
Milly and don’t want any trouble!” Mark nodded as he threw down his
Abraham jumped off his horse. “Well Luke, you’ve done pretty good with
yourself! Micah showed us where your land goes on the way over here.
You’ve got yourself quite a spread.” Abraham smiled. He was mighty
proud of his baby brother. If someone had told him twenty years ago
he’d be doing so well, he would have never believed it. Lucas was quite
the wild one among the brothers, and it was good to see he had a good
head on his shoulders after all.
Lucas shook Abraham’s hand and nodded. “Mark and I are pretty proud of
“You’ve come a long way.” Jeremiah and Peter came to stand beside
Abraham. “You know…we watched you leave Enid, we all three stood there
together. We saw a boy who was so lost. You wouldn’t let us inside you
no matter how much we tried. You held a powerful grief.”
“I know,” Lucas nodded as he remembered back to the last time he saw his
brothers. “I couldn’t think of anything else at the time. I loved
“I’ve never seen two people more in love.” Jeremiah squeezed his little
brother’s shoulder. “Of course…you two endured a lot of hardship before
you got married. You had to lean on each other a lot.”
Lucas nodded. “I know.” He frowned as he remembered back to those hard
Peter broke into his thoughts. “But we’ve spent quite a bit of time
with Milly. She’s wonderful, Lucas. She really loves you.”
“When she went back to Kansas City…it almost broke my heart. I felt
like I was losing my heart all over again.” Lucas sighed as he smiled at
his brothers. “But…I moved on.” Lucas sat down on the porch. His
brothers surrounded him.
“Moved on?” Abraham asked. “If you moved on, then I say it didn’t take
much for you to move back and wait for Milly to return.”
“You know Lucas, the family still gets together at Christmas – the
McCain’s and the Gibbs – and it’s just not the same there without you
and Margaret. Save Johnny’s wonderings, everyone else is there,” Peter
said with a hint of regret in his voice. “Your absence leaves a big gap
in the Holiday. Margaret always made it so special.”
“She loved Christmas,” Lucas nodded. “And Thanksgiving.”
“But maybe the Lord led you from Oklahoma…even though your leaving was a
bit sudden…You seemed to have been doing good here.” Jeremiah again
slapped a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Lucas, you have a wonderful
“Yes!” Peter declared. “He reminds me a lot of…”
“Margaret.” Johnny came to sit down beside Lucas. “I must say that
Milly was a surprise to me when I met her.”
“Oh?” Lucas raised an eyebrow. “How so?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Luke. I…” Johnny laughed. “I guess I got to
picturing you and my sister so much that I almost expected somebody like
“She is like her,” Lucas declared.
“A little. But she’s different in a lot of ways too. She is wonderful,
Lucas.” Johnny smiled. “Like I said, Margaret would be so proud!”
Lucas stood up. “Enough of this heart-to-heart stuff!” Lucas demanded.
Let’s go out on the range. I’ll show you the spread.”
After breakfast, Milly sat with her mother and Sally as the other ladies
helped Lou clean up the dishes. “I’m surprised your mother didn’t
come,” Jenny said softly as she looked at Sally.
Sally looked up at Milly. The two locked eyes. Milly slowly shook her
head. “Well…” Milly smiled. “You know, she’s really busy, Mother…What
with all the projects she has going on and…”
“Stop it!” Sally shouted in a whisper. She lowered her head and placed
a hand to her forehead. “Just stop it.”
“Sally, what’s wrong?” Jenny asked, surprised at Sally’s tone. “Is
something wrong with Beth?”
“No!” Milly jumped in. “I think Sally’s just tired from the trip!”
Sally lifted her head. She shook her head at Milly. “Aunt Milly, I’ve
been covering for Mother for a long time. You and I both know the
truth. Mother has done a lot of low things in her life, and I’ve stood
by her trying to put on the happy face, telling you that she’s wonderful
and sends her love; but I can’t do it anymore. I won’t!”
“Sally, this isn’t the time or the place to…”
“Grandma has the right to know!” Sally declared. “I don’t want to ruin
your wedding, Milly. You must be strong not to allow my Mother’s words
to hurt you.”
Jenny sat back in her chair and studied her granddaughter and daughter.
“What is going on here?”
“Mother, I don’t want to…” Milly started.
“I saw the letter Mother mailed to you. I tried to keep it from being
mailed, but…Mother was very insistent.” Sally shook her head. “I told
her I would no longer stay silent.”
“Sally…” Milly warned again.
“So, my suspicions are true…Aren’t they?” Jenny asked.
“What are you talking about, Mother?” Milly stared at her Mother.
“Oh now Milly…” Jenny sighed as she shook her head. “Your sister left
to marry when she was 16. She did not have your father’s blessing. She
did it behind our backs and just to spite us. She was angry at
us…jealous of the relationship your father shared with you and your
brother. But what she didn’t understand is that all three of you were
special to us in your own way. We treated all three of you differently,
and tried to raise you with values. She never understood the fact that
money couldn’t bring happiness.”
“Mother’s not happy, Grandma. She’s miserable, but she makes herself
that way. Father is miserable, and so are my brothers. Mother is
obsessed with money. She wants the best of everything and no matter how
much we try to love her, she pulls away.” Sally turned to Milly. “But
the things she said to you were just…just horrible!”
“Let me guess…” Jenny sighed. “Your sister told you that you were
marrying a poor dirt farmer who wanted you for cooking, cleaning, and
raising children. Not only that, but you will be living in some shack
with ten kids at your heels and no love.” Jenny shook her head. “Your
sister told me she didn’t approve of your relationship with Lucas. I
didn’t agree with her and she left.”
“I had no idea you knew all this, Mother!” Milly exclaimed. “I was
trying to…to protect you from all this.”
“The will being contested broke my heart. Your father loved your
sister, don’t get me wrong. I love your sister; but we don’t approve of
what she’s doing. I’m sorry to say that I’ve left her completely out of
my will. Your inheritance is safe, honey. She has gotten everything
she will ever get from us.”
“How do you know, Mother?” Milly asked. “How do you know that she won’t
fight your will like she did Father’s?” Milly closed her eyes. “I don’t
care! I don’t want any of those material things!”
“It’s your legacy, Daughter. Your father so wanted your brother to have
the house and land; but since he passed on, he wanted you to have it.
He NEVER wanted your sister to have it.”
Milly bit her lip. “What about Sally? What about the other
Sally smiled. “I’ve got plenty, Milly. I want you to have it all. My
Mother…I love her, but she doesn’t deserve anything more. Father and I
fought her not to pursue contesting the will. I was sad when you gave
in, but I understood. Father and I thought it was very big of you. I
have a lot of respect for you, Aunt Milly.”
“While we’re being honest…” Milly looked up at her mother. “Are you
also aware that…Beth has disowned me because I’m marrying Lucas?”
“No.” Jenny closed her eyes. “I’m sorry, honey. I hate what this must
be doing to you.”
Milly smiled. “It did upset me at first, but Lucas was there. He
showed me that she was jealous of me, and that the only one she was
hurting was herself.” Milly bit her lip. “I hope that someday Beth
finds the love she needs. I hope someone can break through that hard
shell of hers.”
The women sat at the table in silence. Finally, they stood and went to
get started on their busy day.
The morning passed quickly for the women in town as they quickly cleaned
the hotel and began getting it ready for the wedding. For the last
three weeks, Lou and Milly had been planning how they wanted the hotel
to look. Lou wrapped ivy around the staircase all the way up and down.
All over North Fork, bouquets of flowers were cut and put together to
hang all around the lobby. Toomey had constructed an arch for the
husband and wife to stand under when they said I Do. In the dining
room, rows and rows of tables were put together to hold the wedding
cake, punch, and banquet of food for the reception. By mid-afternoon,
the ladies were admiring their handy work.
As the women stood silently and looked around the room, they heard
sniffing from behind them. Lou turned and hurried to Milly who was
crying. “Honey, it’s all okay! See, it’s all done!” Lou declared as
she hugged her best friend.
“It’s too perfect!” Milly declared as she cried. “Something’s going to
go wrong, I just know it!”
“I think you need to go upstairs and lay down for awhile!” Jenny
declared as she took her daughter by the hand. “You won’t get a wink of
sleep tonight. Trust me, I know! So I’m going to take you on upstairs
and sit with you until you fall asleep.”
The ladies watched Milly and her mother disappear up the stairs. “Hm…”
Lou turned and looked at the other ladies. “Do women really cry that
much before they get married?”
“YES!” the married ladies declared.
Lucas watched as a wagon slowly rode over the bridge. “What’s Sweeny
doing here?” he mumbled.
“Oh, he has the beer!” Johnny Gibbs declared excitedly as he hurried
Lucas held up a hand. “Now wait right there, little brother!” He
cleared his throat. “I’ve a wedding to attend tomorrow, and if I miss
that wedding, Milly will hang me by my toes from the tallest tree she
can find and allow the vultures to peck at me! I also have a rehearsal
dinner to attend tonight with you men, if you remember right!”
“Milly’s keeping the rehearsal dinner strictly for family and close
friends!” Abraham reminded him. “Lucas, a few beers ain’t gonna hurt
nothing! Peter wanted whiskey and we told him no.”
“Good thinking!” Lucas declared. “Peter, there’s a bar in town. You
can go there and get as drunk as you want…but only as long as you are
sobered up by one o’clock tomorrow!” Lucas shook a finger at his
brother. “And remember…I can always write a letter to your wife!”
Peter groaned. “I know, I know!”
“Hey men, I’ve got the beer!” Sweeny announced as everyone hurried
Lucas went to stand beside Micah as the men acted in total chaos. “Well
Micah, I reckon you’ve come to the right place. North Fork is safe with
all those ladies there, but I’m not so sure about the McCain Ranch.”
“Well Lucas Boy, it’s like I always say…if you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em!”
Micah declared as he started forward.
Lucas accepted the mug of beer one of his brothers gave him as he
watched a lone rider gallop toward the ranch, a cloud of dust behind
him. He stepped forward as the rider got down from the horse and stood
between them. His legs spread apart as he stood in front of Lucas. His
arms crossed across his chest. “I saw the article in the paper. I came
to see if what I read was really true – that the Rifleman himself was
really getting married.”
Lucas turned and looked at the other men who only stared as they
wondered what the gunfighter wanted in North Fork.
T'was the Night Before the Wedding
This is a story based on the TV series “The Rifleman”
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
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around The McCain Ranch