Lucas’ eyes fought to
stay open as he pushed Razor to go a few more miles. In the
last several days he’d been to San Miguel and was now pushing
southwest, trying to catch up with the army. He was hoping to
find Mark was with them or at least hear some news about his
son. The outlaws had hit a few more ranches near the border and
had killed yet again. Now the army’s orders were to pursue,
capture and/or kill these men at all costs. Lucas could only
pray that his son wouldn’t be caught in the middle.
Lucas stopped to set up camp. Sleep had been hard to come by
recently. Night was the most difficult time for him. During
the day, Lucas was compelled by his journey to find Mark. When
the sun was up he could imagine each step his horse took
bringing him closer and closer to his son. Once darkness fell
and Lucas found himself sitting alone by the fire, thoughts and
memories would flood his mind and his heart would literally
ache. He didn’t even try to stop the tears that would fall in
his nightly solitude. He would eventually lie down and close
his eyes, but his eyelids did little to shut out the constant
fear he felt. He missed his son so much. During these long and
lonely nights, Lucas would look up at the stars and concentrate
very, very hard. He would think about Mark and try his best to
let him know he was all right. That he was going to find him
and bring him home no matter what it took. Maybe it was his
imagination, but Lucas always felt that Mark got these messages
and it gave him hope. And hope is a powerful thing.
getting too old for this.” Micah thought as he shifted his
weight in the saddle. It didn’t help that he was still in a
fair amount of pain from being shot, but that was nothing
compared to how he felt when he’d returned to Northfork and
heard the news. Lucas and Mark were his family and to find them
both in such danger was devastating. Everyone had tried to
convince him not to go but that was as futile as Lou’s attempt
to stop Mark had been. In no more time than it took to deputize
someone to take his place, he was gone, trailing after Lucas who
was trailing after Mark. He knew Lucas all too well and because
of this, he also knew the kind of pain he was feeling. Nothing
else came close to the place that Mark held in his father’s life
and he would stop at nothing to protect him. Micah pondered
these things as he tried to catch up with his best friend. He
prayed he would get there in time.
Micah finally caught
up with Lucas in Las Cruces. Lucas had stopped for some
supplies and he was surprised but quite relieved to see his best
friend. If there was anyone who could understand and help, it
“Micah…I’m glad to see you’re feeling better.
It means a lot to me, you coming out here like this.”
“Don’t tell me you weren’t expecting me, Lucas boy.” Micah
replied. Lucas smiled for the first time in weeks.
“You’re a good friend, Micah. The best.”
“You’re not so
bad yourself. Now what’s our next move.”
The town of Columbus, New Mexico was a typical border town.
The line between Old Mexico and New Mexico was much less
distinct than it was further north. Lucas and Micah rode in and
immediately began looking for a lawman. They finally found
Marshal O’Keefe in the saloon. Lucas shot Micah a look. Both
wondered if this guy would be any help at all. They approached
“Excuse me, Marshal, but we need to talk to you.”
Marshal O’Keefe turned around slowly to look at his visitors
and then turned back to his drink.
Lucas and Micah settled themselves at the bar. “Marshal, we’re
from Northfork. We’ve been trailing a group of outlaws that
have been attacking ranches throughout the territory. Have you
had any trouble down here?”
Marshal O’Keefe sneered.
“You don’t know what trouble is til you’ve spent a few days in
Lucas waited impatiently. “Well…what kind of
trouble have you had?”
“The killing kind. What other
kind is there?” The Marshal motioned to the bartender for
another drink. Lucas tried again.
“Look Marshal, we just
need some information. My son and a friend of his may have been
taken by these men.”
Finally, the marshal looked up from
his drink. Something Lucas had said caught his attention.
“Your son? And his friend?” The marshal asked.
“I think you better come with me.”
Micah followed the marshal to a boarding house down the street.
Neither of them knew what this was about but it was obvious
that the marshal had some information. Lucas didn’t dare hope
that he was leading him to his son. They entered the house and
the marshal spoke to someone quietly for a few moments. He then
turned back to Lucas and Micah and began to speak.
days ago a young woman was found on the south road out of town.
She had been beaten and was in pretty bad shape. A local
couple found her and brought her to town. She had been in the
company of the men you are looking for but had managed to
escape.” The marshal saw Lucas’ eyes light up. “She says she
was only able to get away with the help of two other prisoners.
Lucas couldn’t believe it. “I must speak
Lucas raced up the
stairs but paused outside the closed door. He reminded himself
that this girl had been through an ordeal and needed gentleness,
not a mad man demanding answers. He knocked and a middle aged
woman let him in. He was not prepared for what he saw. The
young girl in the bed had been beaten so badly her entire face
was black and blue. Her eyes were still very swollen and she
looked quite fragile propped up on the pillows. When she saw
Lucas, her face lit up.
“Are you Mr. McCain? You must
be. You look just as I pictured you.” Her voice sounded small
“Yes, I’m Lucas McCain. Did you know I was
“Oh yes. I mean, I didn’t know you were
coming here but I knew as soon as I saw you that you were Mark’s
father. You are just as he described……tall and strong with kind
eyes…just like him.”
Lucas winced at the sound of his
son’s name. He sat down on the bed. “Please, tell me everything
you can about my son. How is he? Have they hurt him?” Lucas
waited, afraid to hear the answer, but desperately needing to.
“Mr. McCain, I won’t lie to you. Those men…they’re…they’re
very evil men. They did things, horrible things…” Her eyes
welled with tears. “I was taken from my home 2 weeks ago. I
was all alone and terribly afraid. Mark and Grid were there
when they brought me to camp. They had them tied up along with
a few others. They had not been treated well, but they were
alive. I was tied up next to Mark. It was obvious he had been
beaten badly, but he did his best to calm me. When we were able
to speak he told me about you, about the ranch. How he had left
to find you.” She paused and a slight smile came to her face.
“Mostly he talked about you. He kept me calm by talking as
often as he could.” Her face darkened again. “The men…they
would often taunt him about you. They had your rifle and they
told him they had killed you. That they’d left your.....” She
stopped. “They….they were so….” She bent her head as the tears
fell. Lucas took her hand. She continued. “They were so
cruel.” She looked into Lucas’ eyes and the tears that fell
silently down his cheeks. She took his hand and leaned forward
as best she could. “But he didn’t believe them, Mr. McCain, not
really. He told me that he knew you were alive…that he could
feel it. He said he woud know it if you weren’t.He said he knew
that you were looking for him. He had a plan to get away.
But…he…he wouldn’t leave the others behind.”
was quiet for a few moments as Lucas tried to find the courage
to ask a question.
“Do the men know that he helped you
She looked down at her hands. “Yes sir.” There
was a pause and she looked back into his eyes. “But don’t give
up, Mr. McCain.”
Lucas winced as he heard these words.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“My name is Molly.”
Lucas stood up and gently brushed her hair back from her
“Don’t worry, Molly. I’ll never give up on
The hot summer sun beat down
on a group of Arizona Pine trees as well as the men who were
camped beneath them. There was no shade in the heat of midday.
They were sprawled out, waiting for something it seemed. Or
perhaps they were just bored. Either way, they were an ominous
looking bunch. A man who appeared to be in charge sat on a
large rock cleaning a rifle that he considered to be his.
Actually he had taken from a man he killed. A smile crossed
his face as he thought back to that day. Most everything he had
was taken from someone he killed, but he was especially proud of
this rifle. Not only because it had been modified with a screw
pin so that it could rapid-fire, but because of the man he had
taken it from. A man they called the Rifleman. True, it had
not been nearly as thrilling to kill him the way he did. It was
practically suicide the way he and that marshal had ridden into
camp to get those women. Either way, though, the feeling of
accomplishment he got from killing wasn’t subdued by the
circumstances. He didn’t really care how he killed someone, the
feeling was the same. It was power. It was a rush of absolute
domination that made him feel indestructible. It didn’t matter
who his victim was. Man, woman, child….like those boys who had
tracked them into the Dona Ana mountains a few weeks ago. One
of them had been the Rifleman’s son. What fun he had had with
that one. It was laughable to think that those boys had thought
they could take he and his men with a sidearm and that dinky
.22. He’d kept them around for a while after finding out they
had been following him. At first it had made him angry that two
little punks like that were able to find them, much less be on
their tail like that. His anger had turned into amusement,
however when he realized who his young prisoners were. He
remembered the look on the kid’s face when showed him the rifle
and then described in detail how he had killed his Pa. His face
went from hot anger to utter despair in mere moments. Something
had broken in the boy after that. He no longer resisted or
fought against his constraints. He’d had to watch that other
one, though. He knew how to use that gun and never let his
guard down. He wasn’t sure exactly why he kept them alive as
long as he did. It had been a mistake. Anger built up in him
as he thought about what had happened after he brought that girl
back to camp. The McCain kid seemed to come back to life after
that. Those kids had then helped one of the girls escape. That
had been it. He’d made sure that those boys would never
interfere with his plans again. No, they would never interfere
with anything again after that day. Another smile crossed his
face….another amusing memory.
Suddenly the camp was
filled with commotion. Javier had returned from his supply run
and was extremely excited about something. He dismounted and
ran over to the man on the rock.
“Carlo! Carlo, you’re
never going to believe this.” Javier spit out between gulps of
“Believe what?” Carlo said coolly.
alive. He’s still alive! They both are.” This got Carlo’s
“No! His father, that
“What?!” This wasn’t possible. No, this
couldn’t be possible. “How?”
“I don’t know how, but I
saw them. They were getting supplies in Columbus.”
froze. “Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure! Do you know
what this means? Do you know what he’ll do when he finds-“
Carlo interrupted him. “He has to catch us first. Come on.
Break camp, now! We have to get moving!”
believe this. He just couldn’t believe it. Hot anger boiled
inside of him. All this time he’d been relishing the thought
that he’d killed the Rifleman he’d been a few days ride away.
Had he found his son? Or what was left of him, anyway? If so,
he knew he was in grave danger. Lucas McCain with nothing to
lose was very dangerous indeed.
Carlo mounted his horse
and kept the rifle in his hand. Riding furiously he realized
that he was letting this man get to him. He took a few slow,
calm breaths. The wicked smile played on his lips once more.
So what if he was still alive? That was a temporary situation.
He would enjoy this. It wasn’t often he got to kill a man
Lucas stopped his horse and
dismounted. He looked around him…trees, a rock…it was obvious
to his keen tracking sense that a group of people had camped
here not very long ago, despite their half-effort to cover their
“Micah! I think they were here less than an
hour ago.” Lucas’ voice quavered with anticipation. “We’re
getting close. Too close for them. Looks like they left here
in a hurry. They must know we’re trailing them.” Lucas scoured
the ground for evidence of his son, but saw nothing. His heart
pounded. He hadn’t slept in days. He felt dizzy.
okay, Lucasboy?” Micah asked. He knew it was an absurd
question. Of course he wasn’t okay. He may never be okay
again. But all Lucas said was…
“I’m fine, Micah. Let’s
It was a silent ride. Lucas wasn’t talking
and Micah knew better than to draw him out. The look on his
face told him all he needed to know. He knew what thoughts were
plaguing his friend and he knew there was nothing he could say
or do that would help. Frankly, Micah was worried what Lucas
would do when they did catch up to these men if Mark wasn’t with
them. For that matter, he wasn’t so sure he could restrain
himself. Suddenly, familiar rifle shots shattered the silence.
“Take cover!” Micah yelled. Lucas jumped off his horse and
turned around and fired in the direction of the shots. Micah
grabbed him by the arm.
“Lucas! Take cover!”
“No!” Lucas pulled away. He’d waited long enough. He couldn’t
wait any longer. He kept firing. He even began running in the
direction of the shots fired from his own rifle. Then he caught
a glimpse of him…the man who had shot him, left him for dead.
The man who had done something with his son. Lucas didn’t care
any more if he lived or died. He just kept running. He could
hear Micah shooting it out behind him with the other two men.
Carlo saw Lucas running towards him. He saw the look of fury
on his face. He didn’t even have time to fire another shot. In
no time at all, Lucas was there in front of him, sailing over
the rocks that had shielded him, tackling him to the ground.
The men rolled to the ground and Lucas came up fighting. Four
weeks of fear and desperation came out as he pounded this man
into the ground. Carlo was at a loss. He had underestimated
this man. No matter how he tried, he couldn’t get the upper
hand. Finally Lucas found himself with his hands around Carlo’s
throat. He squeezed as hard as he could. Then Micah was there.
“Lucas! Stop it! Let go!” Lucas ignored him,
concentrating on Carlo’s purple face below him. He would choke
the life right out of him.
“He’s the only one who can
lead us to Mark!” Micah shouted. Lucas halted. He knew Micah
was right. He let go of Carlo’s throat and grabbed his
“Where is my son? Where is my son,
you piece of filth?” Lucas shook Carlo violently as he held him
pinned to the ground. “So help me, I’ll kill you!” Carlo
gasped for breath. He didn’t dare answer. This was getting
them nowhere. Micah reached for Lucas’ arm.
“Lucas…settle down. Now we have to use our heads. Let me put
the irons on him and then we’ll get him to talk.” Lucas
reluctantly released Carlo. He stood up and began looking
around him. Mark could be here. He could be right here.
“Mark! Mark! Are you here?” He searched frantically.
There was no sign of him. Carlo chuckled.
Lucas went for him again but Micah stopped him.
“Lucas, not now. He’ll get what he deserves, but right now we
need to find Mark.”
Lucas looked down at the shackled man
on the ground. He saw his rifle lying in the dirt beside him.
The rifle that had protected his son so many times. He picked
it up and pointed it toward Carlo.
“Okay, start talking.
Just know that if my son isn’t alive and well, you don’t have
long to live.”
Carlo remained silent. Lucas cocked the
rifle. Carlo could see he was moments from pulling the trigger.
Reason meant nothing to Lucas now.
“Okay, okay…we left
your boy and the other kid about 50 miles back, near Mesilla.”
“What does that mean? Left him how? When?”
ago.” Carlo sneered. “He was a stupid boy, following us like
that. Then letting that girl go..” He was interrupted by a
hard backhand across the mouth from an enraged Lucas.
“Shut up! Did you leave him alive or dead?” No answer. Lucas
hit him again.
“Alive or dead?” Lucas shouted.
“What do you think?”
Lucas dropped the rifle and pulled
him up by his neck. He slammed him against the tree. An anger
like he’d never felt before consumed him.
“What did you
do to him, you scum? What did you do?” But Carlo was done
talking. He just smiled.
“Why don’t you just ride back
toward Mesilla and find out for yourself.”
Lucas reached for the rifle again. He desperately wanted to
kill this man. Every fiber of his being longed to pull the
trigger, but Micah grabbed his arm.
“Get out of my way,
“Lucas, you can’t kill him. Not like this. Your
life is over if you do.”
“My life is over anyway, Micah.
You know that.” Lucas’ voice broke as he spoke these words.
“No Lucas…not while Mark is still out there, even if
he’s…..” Micah closed his eyes. “Nothing’s over until we bring
him home, no matter what.”
With these words, Lucas
lowered the rifle and turned away. He was sick down to his very
soul. Mark was dead. He had been fooling himself to ever think
otherwise. Lucas fell to his knees and began to cry bitterly.
With his own tears falling, Micah put his hand on Lucas’
“I’ve lost him, Micah. Oh God, I’ve lost him!”
Lucas cried. “How could I let this happen?”
of this is your fault.”
“It doesn’t matter. Nothing
matters now.” Lucas said between sobs. “Without my son,
“He’s still out there, Lucas. We just
have to find him.”
Lucas knew Micah was right, but he
wasn’t sure he had the strength to go on with all hope lost of
Mark being alive. Then he remembered something. The words he
and Molly had spoken echoed in his mind.
believe them, Mr. McCain. He told me that he knew you were
alive…that he could feel it….Don’t give up……I’ll never give up
on my son.”
Lucas knew what he had to do. He got control
of himself and stood up.
“Let’s go, Micah. Let’s go
get my son.”
Benjamin picked up his
Bible and sat down for the first time in hours. The digging
he’d done a few days before had taken it’s toll on his 70 year
old body. His head was swimming from lack of sleep and food
and the constant grief that ate at his soul. He could’ve found
something to eat, he supposed, but what he’d seen in the last
few days had taken his appetite. Sleep had eluded him as well.
He looked up at the framed picture that sat next to his chair
and for the millionth time that day, tears filled his eyes. It
was an old tintype of a young man in a uniform. The eyes that
looked back at him were innocent and hopeful....the way the eyes
of the young should be. This was how wanted to remember his
son. Not the way he was when he came back, disillusioned and
broken. He sighed. This was by far the most difficult week of
Ben sat up suddenly. What was that? He
must’ve dozed off in his chair. He listened again. Was it him?
But no, it was someone at the door. Ben stumbled around to
find the lamp. It had gotten dark since he first fell asleep.
Who in the world would be visiting him way out here at this
hour? More strangers, he supposed. As he opened the door, he
realized there was a storm brewing. There were two men at his
“Can I help you?”
“Sorry to bother you,
sir.” The older one said, “But we are on the trail to Mesilla
and got caught in this weather. We were wondering if we could
take shelter in your barn for the night.”
Ben looked at
his visitors. The tall one looked as devastated as he felt.
“Do you usually travel this time of night?” Ben asked.
“Well, no…but we’re on important business. We can handle
the dark, but our horses don’t like the storm.”
you are welcome to stay in the barn. I’d let you in the house,
but I’ve got a sick boy in here and he doesn’t need to be
“That’s fine. The barn will be just fine.”
Micah and Lucas headed over. Lucas hadn’t said much since
they’d left Columbus where they’d left Carlo with Marshal
O’Keefe. Now he was just waiting…waiting to know if he had
anything to live for. He leaned back against the barn wall and
tried to find some reason to believe that Mark was still alive.
Was it possible? Lucas had always been strong… had endured
things that would kill lesser men, but he’d always known that
losing Mark was the one thing he couldn’t survive. He’d once
said that Mark was his strength and his weakness. That was
never more true than this moment. Lucas’ thoughts were
interrupted by Ben. He had brought them some blankets and hot
coffee. Micah thanked him. Lucas wanted to say something, but
couldn’t find the words.
“Sorry I’m not more
hospitable.” Ben offered. “I’ve had a rough week.”
felt bad about bothering the man. “Something going around here?
I’m sorry about your son.”
Ben looked up “What do you
mean? How do you know about my son?”
“You said you had a
“Oh…that’s not my son.” Ben looked down.
“That’s a boy I am caring for that I found out past my back
pasture. I buried a boy a week ago. He was..” Ben paused
when he saw the tall stranger suddenly stand up.
did you say?” Ben had not heard the other man speak until now.
He had a wild look in his eye.
“I said I’m taking care
of a boy I found a few days ago. This is wild country. I’ve
come across a lot of bad things, but this one was…”
need to see him!” Lucas choked out.
Ben was confused.
“Why would you want to see him? Are you a doctor?”
I…” Lucas didn’t have time to explain.
“Wait! What are
you doing?” But Lucas was already running through the door to
the house. Ben and Micah weren’t far behind. Lucas ran into
the bedroom and stopped suddenly when he saw a dark-haired young
man lying in the bed. Could it really be?
Lucas cried as he walked over and looked down….. into the face
of Gridley Maul, Jr. He stopped suddenly and remembered the old
“That’s a boy I am caring for that I found
out past my back pasture….I buried a boy a week ago.”
Lucas’ heart seized as the meaning of what he was seeing gripped
him. The room began to spin. He covered his face with his
hands and fell to his knees. God help me…Mark! Mark… my son…my
little boy!” This was more pain than he could bear. Ben and
Micah were frozen by the devastation of the scene that was
unfolding. The quiet room was filled with the sound of Lucas’
heart breaking sobs. No one even heard the door open or the
footsteps across the kitchen floor. All of a sudden, a loud
thudding sound filled the room. Lucas stopped and looked up.
It wasn’t the loud noise that gave him pause, it was something
much more quiet. He was hearing things. Yes, he must be
hearing things. But then he heard it again….the most precious
sound he’d ever heard.
Lucas whirled around
and there, standing before him with a pile of firewood at his
feet, was Mark. Lucas froze, afraid that if he moved this
apparition would disappear.
“Pa…is it….is it really you?”
Mark’s voice was rife with emotion. The sound of his
son’s words mobilized Lucas and in one swift motion he had
crossed the room, grabbed Mark in his arms and buried his face
in his shoulder. It was really him….not some figment of his
imagination. Father and son clung to each other, both sobbing.
Lucas pulled back to look at his son’s face. He gently placed
his hands on his bruised cheeks and brushed away his sons tears
with his thumb. “Mark…I thought…I thought I’d lost you
forever.” His voice cracked and he just pulled Mark into his
arms again. He didn’t think he’d ever let go.
so sorry.” His father’s arms felt so good. Mark felt safe for
the first time in weeks.
“No, son. Don’t be sorry.”
Lucas held him tighter. “Just be alright. That’s all I
want…just be alright.”
Mark swayed a bit and Lucas
realized he needed to sit down. He led him over to a couch.
Mark winced as he sat down.
“What did they do to you
son? Are you hurt?”
“I’ll be okay, Pa. They…they kept
us around for a while but we helped a young girl escape and…
“Yes, I met Molly.” Mark’s eyes widened.
Is she alright?”
Lucas nodded. “She will be.” Mark
“Well, after the men saw us helping her
onto one of their horses, they got very angry. They..” Mark
stopped and looked at the floor.
“It’s okay, son. You
don’t have to..” Lucas took Mark’s hand in his and squeezed it.
“No, I want to.” He took a deep breath. “They shot us both
over a ravine. The bullet hit me in the shoulder. The last
thing I remember is falling. The next thing I knew I woke up
here in Mr. Clayton’s house. Grid took a bullet to chest and
hit his head on a rock. He’s…well, he’s still out.” Mark
glanced towards the bedroom where his friend was fighting for
Lucas looked up at Ben. How could ever thank
this man for what he’d done? “Mr. Clayton, I…” Words were
Ben’s eyes filled with tears. “You don’t
have to to say anything. I’m just….” He turned before they
could see his tears. “Excuse me.” He walked out on the porch.
Micah walked over to Mark and gave him a hug.
I’m mighty glad to see you, too, boy.”
“Thanks, Micah. I’m glad you’re alright, too.”
leaned his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. Lucas
reached out to touch a nasty bump on Mark’s head. For several
moments he just looked at his son who had drifted off to sleep.
In the lamplight, he looked like the little boy he no longer
was, in spite of all the bruises. Lucas was overcome with
tenderness and he felt the tears coming again. He knew Mark
needed rest, but also he knew he wasn’t leaving his side. He
gently pulled his hand away, but Mark’s hand grabbed his tightly
and wouldn’t let go. Lucas brushed the hair back from his son’s
“You need sleep, son.” He whispered. Mark’s
eyes were still closed but he nodded. He still didn’t move.
Lucas understood. He didn’t want to be far away from him
“Come on, son. I’ll put you to bed.” Lucas
helped Mark up and led him to the empty cot in the bedroom. He
gently helped him into his nightclothes and helped him lay down.
As Lucas pulled the covers up over his son, a sob caught in his
throat as he remembered how many times he had done this before
and how thankful he was he was getting to do it now. Micah
brought a chair in.
“I think you’ll need this.”
Lucas smiled. “Thanks Micah…for everything.”
smiled back. No words were needed. Lucas sat down in the chair
where he would watch his son sleep all night. When Mark would
wake up, Lucas would take his hand and he’d fall back to sleep.
At one point when Lucas was sure Mark was deep in slumber he
kissed his forehead and whispered “I love you so much, son.”
Moments later he was sure he heard Mark say quietly “I love
you, too, Pa.” After many nights without sleep, Lucas was
exhausted, but he never closed his eyes that night. No, this
was one sleepless night he would count as a blessing….the
blessing of a father from his Father in Heaven. “Thank you,
God, for my son.” It was a prayer he would repeat throughout
Lucas was packing a wagon
to take Mark and Grid home….home to Northfork where hopefully
Doc Burrage could help Grid. He’d made progress but was still
not talking. Lucas was afraid his injury was permanent but he
hid this fear from Mark. He’d been through enough. As he
packed, he saw that Ben was standing several feet away looking
down at a fresh mound of dirt. Lucas knew all too well that it
would stay that way for a long time. He walked over and stood
next to him.
“Losing my son is the hardest thing I’ve
ever done, Luke. I’m sorry I confused you when I said I’d
buried another boy. I guess I’m about the only one who would
consider my 45 year old son a boy.”
“No need to
apologize, Ben. I’m the one who’s sorry. So sorry that all
“Davie had never been right…not since the
war. He’d come back broken and in a lot of pain, but I loved
him anyway. I guess I should’ve known he was going to do what
he did someday, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I wish I
could’ve given him something to live for. I wish I could’ve
taken his pain for him.” Ben wiped his eyes on his sleeve.
“I know, Ben. I feel the same way.” But he knew he didn’t
feel exactly the same way because he still had his son with him
and Ben’s was gone…gone by his own hand.
“I think maybe
Davie was the reason I found the boys. Did I tell you that?”
Lucas shook his head.
“I was out riding the day after I
buried him. We used to hunt together over in that ravine when
he was a boy. I felt close to him there. That’s when I found
them. I like to think that my son led me there…trying to help
those boys the way he wasn’t. Or that’s what I tell myself
“Ben, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. I think
God uses people for His purpose in mysterious ways sometimes.”
He put his hand on Ben’s shoulder. He would be remembering Ben
Clayton in his prayers for a long time.
and Mark had plenty of time to talk between Mesilla and
Northfork. Both felt responsible for what had happened and both
decided to just be thankful that God had brought them back
together. Lucas made sure Mark understood that he was wrong to
have come after him. Mark smiled.
“So then it was wrong
for you to come after me.”
“No, I didn’t say that.”
“Course you didn’t” Mark kept smiling.
“I know what
you’re thinking, but that’s different. I’m your father. I’m
supposed to protect you.”
“That’s right, you’re my father
and I’m my father’s son. I would do the same thing over again
if I had to.”
Lucas looked sharply at Mark. “Haven’t
you learned anything?”
“Sure I have.” Mark took out
the letter from Denver College that Lucas had given him a few
“I’ve learned that I don’t have to leave the
territory to get an education.” He tore the letter in half.
“…and I’ve learned that I don’t want to.”
“Are you sure
about that, son? Because if you want to…”
“Yes, Pa, I’m
sure. I’m sure that nothing is more important to me than my
family and my friends. I’m sure that whatever my future holds,
it’s not more than a short horse ride away from our ranch…not
some stuffy college.”
Lucas looked sideways at Mark. He
could see that what he said came from deep inside him and that
he had not made his decision out of obligation but out of the
true desires of his heart.
“You know I want you to do
whatever makes you happy.” Lucas had to be sure of Mark’s
“Yes, Pa, I know that. Gee, I’m starting to
think you want me to go away. Maybe I should reconsider.” Mark
started putting the pieces of the letter back together. Lucas
“I think you know better than that after
what we’ve been through in the last few months.”
“Yeah…how did you you say it that time when the pony had
anthrax? We make a good team.”
Lucas smiled. “That’s
right. We do. Now what do you say we stop for the night? I
sure have missed your cooking. I’m really looking forward to
that stew you’re making tonight.”
“Really?” Mark was
“Yeah…I haven’t had a sleepless night in,
oh…about a week. I’m due.”
“Very funny, Pa.”
thought so.” Lucas clapped Mark on the back and started to make
It was to be an evening like so many others, full
of laughter and coffee and talking late into the night, yet
precious because it was like the others….because this had not
been lost amidst the pain and grief that had followed them over
the last few months. Because this had survived, like they had,
it had come full circle…the way life had way of doing.
Be sure & read the prequel —
A New Day written by Deanne Bertram