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The Wedding
A Bring Milly Back Production
b
y Michelle Palmer

Chapter 11:  The Last Days

Mark watched his Pa as he made final preparations for church.  “Just think, Pa,” Mark declared.  “Next Sunday we’ll be going to church as a family.”

“Not next Sunday, son,” Lucas answered as he whistled.

“Why not, Pa?”

“Because, you will be staying in town at Lou’s.”  Lucas looked at Mark in the mirror.  “Milly and I want our wedding night all to ourselves.”

“Oh…” Mark grinned as he looked at his Pa.  “I get it.”

“You’re sure gonna get it if you don’t get that that wagon hitched up, boy!” Lucas declared.  

As Mark went to do his father’s bidding, he began to wonder if staying at Lou’s was such a good idea.  With all the trouble he had caused yesterday, Mark couldn’t help but wonder if he would get his just punishment from Lou.  Though she was willing to help him yesterday, Mark suspected it was more to save his life then because she was nice.  If he didn’t miss the look on her face, he knew she had already planned out his just punishment.

Meanwhile, Milly hummed happily as she got ready for her last Sunday as an unmarried woman.  As she sat down at the kitchen table, she put her chin in her hand and studied Lou.  “You’re awfully tired, Lou.  You weren’t here when I got back from the hotel and…” Milly narrowed her eyes at her friend.  “I suspect that the ladies were ‘asked’ to invite me over for tea.  Is there any special reason?”

Lou smiled into her cup.  “Oh, I had a small crisis to take care of.”  She studied Milly.  “Speaking of which, how did your day go?” Lou grinned.

“Well, the wedding’s still on, but I made Lucas do a lot of groveling.”

“And I’m sure he loved every minute of it!” Lou declared with a nod.  Then she frowned.  “I’m sorry I got you into so much trouble.  As your helper, I should have noticed the mistake right away.”

“Oh, no matter,” Milly brushed it off.  “It’s like my mother always says:  ‘All’s well that ends well.”  The women giggled.

Lucas and Mark were soon on their way to church.  As Lucas drove his wagon down the road, he couldn’t help but smile.  More than likely, there would be no church for two of the McCain’s next Sunday.  After all, they shouldn’t be expected to be there after being married just the night before!

‘The McCain’s.’  Lucas smiled as he thought on that.  Today, ‘The McCain’s’ consisted of two members.  Next week there would be three in the family.  Mark wouldn’t be sitting beside him the next time he drove to church.  Instead, a raven-haired beauty would sit beside him while his son sat in the back of the wagon.  Lucas gave Mark a side-ways glance and smiled.  Then he patted Mark on the shoulder.

Mark looked over at his Pa.  He could tell he was excited about something.  Mark figured that his father was thinking on the next time they rode to church.  He reckoned that a lot of boys his age would be jealous thinking that a woman would take his place on the seat beside his Pa.  But Mark had been looking forward to this day for so long.  There was a yearning for a mother deep down inside him, regardless of the fact that he was 15 years old.  Mark still needed that.

He grinned as he imagined the next Sunday they rode to church.  Milly would be sitting beside his father.  Perhaps his Pa would hold her hand or put an arm around her.  They would exchange one of those ‘looks’ every now and then.  He’d have to sit in the back of the wagon.  But he didn’t care.  He loved seeing his father in love again.  Milly gave him a joy that he hadn’t seen in his father before…Well, maybe it had been there a long time ago, but Mark was too young to really notice those looks.

Today was a special day indeed.  After church, the church was putting on a picnic to celebrate the engagement of Lucas McCain and Milly Scott.  Lou Mallory, of course, was in charge of preparing the feast; and she was no doubt already slaving away.  Sure enough, when Lucas and Mark got to the church, Lou was nowhere in sight.

Milly smiled when she saw the McCain’s walk in.  She half stood from her seat and waved at them.  Lucas took Mark’s arm and led him up toward the front.  He said hello to Milly’s mother as he sat down.  Then he bent over and whispered, “I thought I told you to wait outside.  I was going to walk in with you.”

“I was waiting, but it got so late I thought you weren’t going to make it.  We decided to come in,” Milly answered.

“And risk the wrath of Milly Scott for the second day in a row?  No ma’am!” Lucas declared with a chuckle as he took her hand in his.  “By the way, do you get a feeling something was amiss yesterday while we were gone?”

Milly nodded.  “Lou said there was a ‘crisis’ she had to deal with.”

“Yes.”  Lucas nodded.  He looked into Milly’s eyes and smiled.  “She was at my house yesterday afternoon.”

“Oh?” Milly raised an eyebrow.

“Mark said she brought out the new curtains but…I’ve a feeling there’s more to the story than that.  I doubt Lou rode all the way out there to deliver curtains.”  Milly giggled.  “The house was spotless…too spotless…”  Lucas bent down closer to her ear.  “But what really worries me is the fact that my son was spotless.  He just had a bath.”

“A bath?” Milly lifted her eyebrows.  “Mark?  Without being told?”  Lucas nodded.  She lifted her head to look at Mark sitting so innocently beside them.  He was pretending not to listen in to their conversation.  “Honey, do you think we WANT to know what happened?”

“It must have been really bad.”  Lucas touched her nose as the Reverend came in.  “Perhaps we’re better off NOT knowing.”  Milly nodded in agreement, then turned as Reverend Gathers welcomed his congregation.

Before church was dismissed, Reverend Gathers asked the engaged couple to stand up.  “I have the pleasure of marrying these two fine North Fork citizens next Saturday at one o’clock.”  Reverend Gathers smiled.  “Micah has asked me to make an announcement that he needs all able bodied men to meet him at his office for a few minutes following the service.  He has a few tasks that need taken care of in preparation for the big wedding.  I’m sure I’ll see every one of you there.”

As they walked out of the church, Lucas and Milly held hands.  They looked into each other’s eyes as they stopped at the wagon.  He put a hand to her cheek.  “Well, Miss Scott, how did you enjoy your last service as a single lady?  Were there any bachelors that caught your eye in there?”

“There was one, but I don’t think he’ll be available for long.”  She smiled up at him.  “I’m going to marry him come Saturday.”

“Ohhh, please!” Mark groaned as he walked up to the couple.  “Are you at it again?”

Lucas smiled into his fiancée’s eyes once more, then he turned and gave his son a raised eyebrow.  “Get used to it, boy!”  

They loaded on the wagon.  Lucas and Milly had to sit really close together so they could squeeze her mother up on the seat with them.  The closeness didn’t seem to bother the happy couple any though.  As Lucas started the horses toward the field where the socials were always held, he got into line with the other wagons and horses headed that way.  There was merry singing coming from the other wagons and the McCain wagon joined in.

When they arrived, they saw Lou hard at work.  She was pointing as she shouted orders.  Several ladies brought their covered dishes and Lou told them exactly where to set them.  Milly watched with a shake of her head.  “Just look at her!  She’d make a good warden in a prison.  I bet she’d have every one of those men afraid of her!”  Lucas and Milly chuckled as they started forward.  “Oh Lucas, I should go help her, I…” Milly started.

Lucas held tight to her arm.  “No honey.  This social is in honor of us.  You just relax today!”  

The engaged couple had plenty to keep them busy.  Every one of the church members gathered around them at some point and gave them best wishes for a happy future.  The men engaged in a competitive game of horseshoes while the ladies watched.  Milly couldn’t help laughing as Lucas sat back down beside her on the blanket and groaned that he wasn’t the best at horseshoes. Why, his own son was better than he was!

Milly bent over and kissed him, trying to mend his wounded pride.  “Is that better?” she asked.

“Maybe,” Lucas said.

“Oh, it’s good for you to lose once in a while.  It shows you that you aren’t perfect!” Milly laughed as Lucas looked at her through narrowed eyes.

After lunch, the adults watched while the older boys and girls taught the younger boys and girls how to make kites.  Even the adults got in on the fun activity.  It became a family affair as the parents helped their children get the kites ready.  

Then Micah lined all the kids in the contest up into a straight line and said, “You will have fifteen minutes to soar your kites.  We have a nice, windy day for the event so this should be fun.  If your kite crashes, you will be disqualified.  If you are caught pushing or shoving another, you will be disqualified.  The person with the highest kite will win this silver dollar donated by Lou Mallory.  We will then allow those who have the ability to do tricks with their kites to compete.  The one able to do the most loops will get a silver dollar.  And the one who is able to do the fanciest loops will get a silver dollar.  Only one silver dollar per person.”  Micah took his gun and held it up in the air.  “On your mark…Get set…”  Then he shot his gun.

The adults cheered as they watched their children race down the field.  Soon there were many kites soaring in the air.  The children raced away from each other to keep their kites from getting tangled.  Lucas jumped up and ran to help a little boy who was having trouble.  He stayed beside the little boy the whole fifteen minutes and taught him how to keep his kite in the air.  Everyone was amazed at how high the kites went.  After 15 minutes, the winner of the highest Kite was announced:  Jeff Connors.

Then the older boys started looping.  Lucas sat with his little boy, Matthew, and helped him loop the kite.  Lucas managed to get three loops in and Matthew jumped up and down and clapped.  Freddie Toomey won that race.

The final contest was won by Billy Davis.  Mark flew his kite for a little while longer then brought it down.  As he sat down beside his father, he groaned.  “Well, it doesn’t look like a good day for the McCain’s to win any contests!” Milly declared.

“I should have gone over to Freddy’s and practiced yesterday instead of us staying at the ranch and…” Mark shot a hand to his mouth.  His eyes grew wide.  “Say, isn’t it about time for ice cream?”  

Lucas shook his head and raised an eyebrow at his son.  He turned and looked at Milly.  “If Freddie and Mark were both involved, I don’t want to know!” Lucas declared.

Milly laughed.  “Well, at least they didn’t blow up the house!” she said.  “Whatever it was, I’m sure Lou set them straight on it.”

After ice cream, people started packing up and going home.  Long after many went home, The McCain’s and Scott’s sat around talking and getting to know each other.  Lucas and Milly looked at each other and smiled several times as they thought on their upcoming wedding in only six days.

***

“Five days???”  Milly jumped out of bed and hurriedly dressed.  She took the stairs two at a time as she hurried to Lou who was checking in guests who had just arrived on the train.  “Lou, the wedding is in five days!” Milly screeched.

Lou smiled apologetically to her new guests and took Milly by the arm.  “Ye need some good, strong coffee!” she declared.  “Come with me!”  She took Milly into the kitchen.  “Now ye just sit here and…”

“Lou, I don’t have time to sit and drink coffee!  The wedding dress isn’t done yet…We have a hotel to decorate and I’ve got to get to the General Store…Oh, and I must teach in the afternoons and I…” Milly’s voice became more and more panicked as she spoke rapidly.

Suddenly, Lucas hurried inside.  “I thought I heard a damsel in distress back here,” Lucas declared.  “In fact, I could hear Milly’s panicked voice all the way out in the lobby!”   Milly opened her mouth to question his reason for being in town.  “I came to pick up a few items.  Toomey said he’d have them ready for me this morning.”  Lucas smiled.  “I thought I’d have breakfast with my gal, and I see I came just in time.”

“Lucas…” Milly grabbed his forearms and looked into his eyes.  “Lucas…I have exactly five days to get everything ready!  I am still working on my dress and we have to decorate and…Oh Lucas, how am I ever going to get it all done?” Her eyes were wide with excitement and panic.

Lucas took her hands and led her toward the table.  “Well first of all, you are going to sit down.”  Milly started to protest, but Lucas gave her a stern look.  After he had her seated at the table, he said, “Now then, you are going to eat this breakfast.”  Lucas thanked Lou for his own breakfast as he started eating.

Jenny Scott walked into Lou’s private kitchen as they ate.  “Morning.  How is everyone?”

Milly half stood up before Lucas grabbed her arm and motioned for her to stay seated.  “Oh mother…” Milly swallowed as she stared at Jenny.  “Mother…there is just so much to do!  Do you know everything we have left?  Mother, my dress isn’t even done yet!”

“There, there, sweetheart!” Jenny sat down and took a sip of her coffee.  She patted her daughters hand and motioned for her to keep eating.  “Lou and I have everything on paper – to the smallest detail.  Everything is under control!  You just leave it to us.”

“I don’t know, Mother…” Milly closed her eyes as she calmly took a bite of her eggs.  She opened them wide as she stared at her mother.  “I just…KNOW that something terrible is going to go wrong!  I can just feel it!”

Jenny laughed softly.  “Daughter, every woman feels that way when she’s getting married.  I just KNEW something was going to go wrong, and once your father and I resolved our little…” Jenny cleared her throat.  “…well, maybe not so little…tiff, our wedding went off without a hitch!”

Milly stared at Lucas.  Lucas winked at her mischievously.  He cleared his throat.  “Uh…Mother Scott, ‘hitch’ may have been a poor choice of words.”  She studied him.  “A slang way of saying you’re getting married is to say you’re getting ‘hitched.’”  Lou and Jenny laughed.

Milly banged her coffee cup down on the table and glared at the others.  “Well, I don’t see anything funny about this!  SOMETHING is going to go wrong!  I still have my dress to finish, Mother!  And I have to teach in the afternoon’s and…”

Lucas cleared his throat.  “About that, Milly.  I think you should take off after tomorrow.”  He raised his eyebrows at her to let her know it wasn’t a suggestion.

“Oh, but they’re already going to miss a whole week next week, Lucas!  I…” Milly sighed and closed her eyes when she saw the warning in his eyes.  “Of course you’re right…”

After Lucas was finished eating, Lou chased him out so the ladies could get started on planning out their week.  Though Lou and Jenny spoke calmly about their plans, Milly just shook her head.  “I’ve been around North Fork long enough to know that nothing goes as planned!  SOMETHING is going to go wrong!”

Lou and Jenny helped Milly on the wedding dress for two hours that morning.  Then Jenny took her daughter into the dining room to eat lunch before she had to leave for work.  That afternoon, while Milly was teaching the students, Lou and Jenny worked on the special wedding gift with the other North Fork ladies.  It would soon be done and Lou would take it with the other things to the McCain house so they could get the home ready for the new bride.

That evening, Milly hurried to hotel; where she was immediately whisked into the dining room.  It seemed like these days Jenny and Lou had to remind Milly to eat and sleep.  After she finished eating, they sent her up to her room to grade papers.  

The next day, the ladies worked on the wedding dress some more.  It was really coming together, and Milly tried it on and looked in the mirror.  Lou and Jenny jerked and pulled and prodded as they tried to figure out where they needed to take in and take out.  Milly showed them where she wanted the ivy laced in her dress and smiled when Lou gave her approval.  Jenny announced she’d work on the hairpiece the next day.  

“I don’t want a veil,” Milly declared.  Then she shot a hand to her mouth.  “The truth is…it’s Lucas who doesn’t want the veil.  He said I was so beautiful and he didn’t want me covering my face.  I want to put my hair up and have a hair piece that wraps around it in the back.”  Milly turned around and looked at her mother.  “Can you do that?”

“I think that’s wonderful, Daughter.”  Jenny placed her hands on Milly’s cheeks.  “You are much too beautiful to hide this face.  I think Lucas is right.  You SHOULD show it off.”

But regardless of all the help Jenny and Lou were offering Milly, by Tuesday afternoon, Milly felt as if she was almost to panic mode again.  Lou and Jenny kept her at bay as best they could, but they knew she wouldn’t rest until the wedding was over.  Milly finished up her last day of teaching until after she became Milly McCain.  It was really starting now!  Final preparations were under way.  

She turned and smiled at her students.  “Now, remember children that you will have the rest of this week and all of next week off.”

“How come?” Roger asked as he straightened in his chair.

“Miss Scott is gonna get married, dummy!” Susan declared as she rolled her eyes.

“Oh yeah.”  Matt raised his hand.  “Miss Scott?”

Milly smiled.  “Yes Matt?”

“My Pa said it only takes a few minutes to get married.”

“Well…” Milly nodded.  “That’s true, but ours will take a bit longer.”

“Then why do you need a whole week off?” Matt asked.

Milly opened her mouth to answer.  “That’s so they can spend time alone together, dummy!” Susan rolled her eyes.

Matt frowned.  “Why do they want to spend time alone if they just got married?”

Milly giggled.  “Alright, children.  I hope to see you all at the wedding on Saturday.”  Susan raised her hand.  “Yes Susan?”

“What will we call you when you get married? Mrs. Rifleman?”

“That’s stupid!” Roger exclaimed.  “His name is Mr. McCain!”

“My Pa always calls him Rifleman!”

“That’s just cause…”

Milly stopped their arguing again.  “My name will be Mrs. McCain.”  She wrote it on the board.  She smiled as she studied it.  “This name will be on the board to remind you when you return to school a week from Monday.”  She looked around at her students.  “Okay.  Class dismissed.”

Milly smiled as she watched the children scurry out the door.  She looked up to see Matthew still sitting at his desk.  He hung his head and had big tears in his eyes.  Milly walked over to him and bent down in front of him.  “Matthew?”  Matthew raised his head.  He wiped a tear from his cheek.  “What’s wrong?” she asked as she laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“I really like you, Miss Scott.  I don’t want you to go away!” Matthew cried.

Milly gave him a concerned look.  She shook her head.  “I’m not going anywhere, Matt.  I’ll be at my new home next week…at the McCain Ranch.”

“But you won’t teach me anymore!” Matt protested.  “Pa said you’ll be too busy cookin’ an’ cleanin’ and such.  He said Mr. McCain won’t let ya teach…that a wife can’t teach!”

Milly smiled as she looked Matt in the eyes.  “I WILL be here come a week from Monday.  You better be here on time or I’ll mark you tardy.”

“Yes ma’am.”  Matthew hung his head.  “Miss Scott?”

“Yes Matt?” Milly smiled.

“Supposin’…” Matt hung his head.  “Supposin’ I ferget everythin’?  Will you be mad at me?”

Milly shook her head.  “You just keep reading next week.  I bet you’ll have some new words for me to…” Milly stopped and closed her eyes.  She remembered Matthew’s words from earlier.  “You won’t forget anything, Matthew.  And if you do forget, then we’ll start over again.  You’ll do fine.”

Matthew stood up.  “Miss Scott?” Milly raised her eyebrows.  Matthew started to say more, but he suddenly threw his arms around her and cried.  “Thank you for learnin’ me!”

Then he turned and ran out.  Milly turned toward the desk and burst into tears.  She slammed a fist on her desk in frustration and wondered if the day would ever come when parents took the education of their children seriously.  She wondered how she could convince these parents that education was indeed important.  Then she wiped her eyes.  She’d have to put that problem on the shelf for a later date.  Right now she had a wedding to think about.

Milly hurried back to the hotel.  She had a dress to finish.  Lou was in the lobby shouting out orders as several men, including Lucas, rearranged furniture to get ready for the wedding.  “Don’t ye break that now!” she demanded to one man.  “Just set it over there!”  Milly chuckled as she saw Lucas roll his eyes.

“Lucas!” She called from the stairs.  “When you’re done here, the church needs rearranging!”

“Ha ha!” Lucas retorted as she dashed up the stairs.  

She came down an hour later and hurried to the General Store.  There she saw Mark.  He held a small package in his hand and suddenly put it behind his back.  “More surprises?” she asked.

“Uh..yeah.  Something like that,” Mark answered.

“Mark, I wanted to talk to you about tomorrow.  Now, I spoke with Mr. Griswald today and he said it’s okay if you miss school tomorrow.”

“If Pa finds out, Milly, he’ll skin me!” Mark declared.

“He’ll understand once he knows why, Mark.”  Milly looked at the clock.  “Shouldn’t we be getting over to the train station?  I think your father’s surprise is arriving.”  Milly smiled excitedly.

“About that…” Mark stuck a piece of liquorish in his mouth.  “There’s a slight problem.”

“A problem?”  Milly’s eyes grew wide.  “Mark, now is no time for problems!  I can’t have any problems right now!  What?  What’s the problem?” Milly asked, suddenly panicked.

“Well…Pa’s still at the hotel.”

Milly threw a hand to her mouth.  “Oh, that’s right!  I can’t believe he…” She stopped as Lucas walked in.  “Shouldn’t you be at the ranch?” She snapped at him without even thinking about it.

“Should I be?” Lucas asked as he looked from Mark to Milly with raised eyebrows.

“Yes, Pa!  We still have things to do before the big day!  We should be getting…” Mark started.

“There’s no rush, son.  I thought we’d stay in town and have dinner with Milly,”  Lucas announced as he smiled at her.

“Oh no!” Milly declared.  Lucas raised his eyebrows at her again in surprise.  “Oh…uh…no!  I uh…I…I…” She looked toward Mark for help.

“Pa, Milly is so busy!  She probably wants to have dinner with her mother.”  Mark turned.  “Don’t you, Milly?”  Milly shrugged.   She was never too good at hiding secrets, and now was no exception.  She had hoped Mark would have been a bit more help.

“Oh.”  Lucas nodded, suddenly understanding.  “I get it.  Okay, well let’s go, Mark.”

“Oh, well I have a few more preparations to do here first, Pa.  I…” Mark stopped, unable to think of a good excuse.

Fortunately, Lucas was of the understanding type.  He merely grinned at Milly and his son. “So many surprises!” He shook his head as he took the small box from Mark’s hand.  “Very well.  See you at home, son.  Remember, it’s a school night.”  Lucas shook his finger at Mark sternly.

“Oh, uh…ye…yes sir!” Mark nodded.

As soon as Lucas was out of sight, Milly and Mark dashed toward the train station.  They made it just as the train was getting in.  Milly and Mark were happy to greet their guests who had just arrived.  Some other guests came in for the wedding as well.  Milly smiled that so many were showing up for the event.  Mark and Milly assisted them to the hotel and sternly reminded them that they were to stay out of sight until 5 o’clock tomorrow night.  The townspeople were supposed to keep a keen eye open for Lucas, and at first sight of the rancher, they were to warn the town immediately.

As a safety precaution, Toomey told Lucas he would deliver the rest of his finished products to the ranch the following day.

Meanwhile, at the ranch Lucas was still working on getting the house ready for his wife.  Mark had the buggy ready and in the barn.  Milly’s new colt was in his stall waiting for his master to meet him.  Everything was falling nicely into place.

Then on Thursday morning, Lou rushed down the stairs.  She had baked chicken to prepare, as well as a slew of other things.  Milly and Jenny worked at putting the finishing touches on Milly’s wedding dress.  That afternoon, they joined Lou in the kitchen as they flew around trying to get everything ready.  Various pies and cakes were cooking on the table.  Some men set up long tables for all the food.  Milly shook her head as she thought of all the money Lou was spending on food.  She refused to take a penny for all her cooking, stating she enjoyed doing it.  But between the surprise supper for Lucas that night, the wedding rehearsal supper the following night, and the wedding reception, Milly knew she was spending a lot of money.

At three o’clock, Mark came in, announcing the last of the guests had finally arrived.  The guests helped set everything up before Mark went to fetch his father.  Milly’s heart began beating faster at the anticipation of seeing the look on her fiancé’s face when he saw his surprise.  Finally, Lou and Milly looked around the room.  They nodded in satisfaction.  Now all they were missing was the guest of honor.

The Wedding — Lucas's Surprise

This is a story based on the TV series “The Rifleman”

Here are some other great stories.  Enjoy!
 

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