Darn it if this whole adventure happened while I was in school! I missed the whole entire event. But I’ll tell you a few things about my adventures that were mentioned in this story.
Let me start by telling you about the day before this story actually happened. You see, school was just getting out when I saw two of my friends, Jeff and Skinny, arguing a ways from the schoolhouse. I didn’t have my horse that day and was going to meet my Pa in town. So, I just walked over to them to see what was going on. “You’re such a liar!” I heard Skinny say.
Then Jeff turned and yelled at Skinny, “There are no fish that big round here!”
I could tell they were about to fight, so I stepped in between the two. “Why don’t you just mind your own business, McCain!” Jeff shouted.
I told Jeff to back off and leave Skinny alone. Jeff pushed me then. “He said he caught a five pound trout in the lake the other day. There ain’t no five pound trout in that lake!”
I looked at Skinny and laughed. “You did? Really? Cool!” Jeff shoved me. I turned around and told him to stop shoving me or he’d be sorry.
Jeff folded his arms and just looked at me. “Oh yeah? Whatcha gonna to do about it?”
“This!” I shouted. Then I reared back to give him a good poke in the side. Skinny grabbed my arm and told me I had come to stop the fight, not to get in the middle. But I shook my arm off and said, “He’s been asking for it all day! I’m tired of you pushing all us kids around, Jeff!” Then I turned to Skinny. “Besides, it was a lot easier to tell you not to fight him then for me to walk away myself!”
“You really believe that looser caught a five pound trout?” Jeff laughed.
I turned and looked at Skinny. “Did you, Skinny? Honest?”
“Sure!” Skinny answered.
I turned back and looked at Jeff and smiled. “I believe it!”
With that, Jeff reared back to punch me. I gave him a hard shove and he landed right on his backside. “Come on, Skinny. Let’s get out of here!” I said.
But Jeff was mad. He stood up and came barreling towards me, knocking me down on the ground. I grabbed him by the ankle and pulled him down, then rolled around so I was on top of him. “You don’t mess with us no more!” I stated as I gave him a hard punch.
Jeff and I rolled around on the ground for awhile. He gave my shirt a good rip and that made me angry, so I started to punch him again. But suddenly, a strong hand grabbed my arm and pulled me off of Jeff. Another strong hand grabbed Jeff by the arm and stood him up. “All right, now stop this!” Pa said.
I swallowed as I looked into Pa’s irritated eyes. “He started it!” I declared.
“Skinny started it! He’s the one that said he caught a five pound fish!” Jeff argued.
“He did!” I shouted back.
Pa grabbed a tighter hold on my arm as a warning. I looked at him and saw that he was getting mad, so I stopped talking. “I think you better get home Jeff and Skinny!” Pa said. They just stood there staring at me. “Now!” Pa shouted.
I flinched, as he was standing very close to me and had yelled near my ear. Pa let go of me after the boys were gone. “Now boy,” Pa stated as he crossed his arms. “I hope you can tell me you have a really good reason for fighting.”
I hung my head.
“Skinny and Jeff were arguing over a…a fish Skinny said he caught in the lake. Skinny said he caught a five pound fish, but Jeff called him a liar.”
Pa folded his arms as he towered over me. “And how did you get in this argument?”
“I-“ I swallowed as I looked down at the dirt again. “Well, I guess I was trying to stop them from fighting.”
Pa grabbed the torn sleeve of my shirt. “I don’t think it was worth bloodying up your nose or tearing your shirt over, do you?”
“No sir,” I answered.
Pa sighed and shook his head at me. “When you weren’t there at 3:15, I came looking for you. Now, I want you to go wait for me in the rig.”
“Can I go to the store and get some candy while I wait?” I asked. Pa folded his arms and looked at me with an expression that needed no words. “Sorry, Pa.”
I sat in the wagon for a while before Pa finally came out and got in the wagon. He didn’t say anything as we started down the lane. “Pa, I couldn’t just stand by and watch them beat up each other!”
“It sounds to me, Mark, like you got involved in something that was none of your business to start with,” Pa answered.
“Are you angry?” I asked.
“Of course not.” Pa smiled. “But I don’t think you should go around looking for fights anymore. Ya hear?”
I nodded my head. “Yes sir,” I stated. “So, does that mean I can go fishing?”
He shook his head. “I didn’t say you were going to get off that easily. You’ll go home and work on your chores. Then you’ll work on your homework while I sew up that shirt.”
When I was starting on my homework, I opened my grammar book and suddenly saw the test Miss Adams had given back today. I had to show it to pa because he had to sign it. “Um Pa, when you were in school, did you have to do grammar?” I asked him.
“Of course,” Pa answered.
“And how did you do in it?”
Pa stood up from where he was sewing on my shirt and walked over to the table. “Let me see it.”
I handed him the test. I watched Pa’s face as a look of disappointment crossed his face. “A ‘D’?” Pa sat down next to me and looked into my eyes. “Did you study for this last night?”
I swallowed and looked down at my grammar book. “I’m sorry.”
Pa cleared his throat. “Well, it appears you aren’t having a very good day, son. Seems to me you went fishing after school yesterday.”
“Yes sir,” I answered.
“And you know my rule about going fishing on a night you have a test to study for?”
“Yes sir.” Then I tapped my grammar book. “But Pa, who cares about nouns and verbs and pronouns and such?”
“I care for one. I want you to learn to talk properly, son. And you never know what you are going to do with your life. You may want to do something someday where grammar and math are important. If I go to the Cattle Association to make a speech about something that I’m trying to pursued them to approve and I use bad English, how likely do you think it’s going to be that I’m going to get what I’m asking for?”
I shook my head as I looked at the grammar book. “Ain’t no telling!” I answered, frustrated.
Pa raised his eyebrow at me . “There isn’t any telling,” Pa corrected me. “And thanks for proving my point.”
“But Pa, I just don’t understand!”
Pa reached for my grammar book and looked at the questions. Then he looked at the test. “This is getting your verbs to agree with your nouns, son.” I listened for the next hour as Pa gave me a grammar lesson. I think both of us were happy when it was time to go to bed that night. “The next time you don’t understand, please ask me for help, son.” Pa said as I started for the bedroom.
The next morning, Pa had to go into town again to finish up his chores. Blue Boy was still at the Blacksmith’s getting re-shod. Pa said that Nels was way behind on his shooing and would get to Blue Boy soon. I had another English Grammar test today, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. The whole class had done poorly on the noun/verb agreement, so she was doing it again. “All ready for the test today?” Pa asked me.
We had studied on it long enough last night. I felt pretty confident that I knew what I was doing now. But I still wasn’t completely sure! “I think so.”
“Well, you’ll do fine. Just sit easy and think straight.” I nodded my head.
Then, as if I hadn’t been lectured enough the night before, Pa said, “Now Mark, You keep out of trouble!” He said sternly.
I was already in enough trouble! Between getting in the fight and bringing home a bad grade, I wouldn’t be going fishing for a solid week! “I’ll try,” I promised. “But sometimes I just can’t help it.”
“I know. But let me give you some advice. Yesterday you butted into an argument between Jeff and Skinny. If you want to keep out of that kind of trouble, you just mind your own business!”
I promised Pa I’d try. I definitely didn’t want to get into anymore trouble for a long time!
I took my grammar test right before lunch. As I sat and looked at the questions, I closed my eyes and pictured my Pa sitting there showing me how to know what to use. I smiled as I thought on this. I guess his tutoring me last night really did help me. Still though, I was a bit nervous as I watched my teacher grade those papers that afternoon while we were having Bible reading time. I looked up from my Bible and watched her. She would simply smile at me. She knew my Pa had helped me, I’m sure.
Right before school let out, she handed us back our papers. She stated she was proud of us all, then announced the two people who had tied with 100%. She then turned to me and announced that I had made an A on my exam and made the third highest mark. I smiled with pride. Rarely did I make that great of a mark on anything! I would make sure to ask my Pa for help when I needed it – and understood why he had the rule about coming straight home from school on evenings I had a test to study for.
I sat outside and waited for Pa to arrive. I couldn’t wait to tell him about my test grade!
I jumped off the steps and ran to the wagon. “Hi Pa!” I said happily as he helped me up into the seat.
I was really happy when the first question he asked me was about the test. “How did you make out on the test?”
"Got the third highest mark in the class and I didn't get into any trouble today. I minded my own business." I already knew what his next question was going to be, so I went ahead and answered it.
“Good boy!” Pa praised me. Then he handed me a bag of candy. I was happy for my reward. He knew I would do my best on the test. And he knew I had learned my lesson about not minding my own business.
“Everything go all right in town today?” I asked as I looked in my candy bag.
Pa suddenly seemed distracted, like he didn’t want to answer my question. “What?”
"Everything go alright in town?” I asked as I looked at him.
"See Mark, sometimes it's easier to give advice then to take it" Pa answered me. I wasn’t sure exactly what happened today, but I thought it was funny he didn’t take his own advice.
I knew then that I could say this and get away with it. "Hmmm, that's what I was trying to tell Skinny when he was trying to stop me from taking a poke at Jeff," I stated.
Pa tried to cover his smile, but I saw it. Then Pa told me all about his adventure in town as we rode for home. By the way, if you want to hear about his adventure, you can read all about it in his story of The Apprentice Sheriff.
*A special thanks goes out to Michelle Palmer for her insight on how Mark had seen these episodes.
The Angry Gun
Mark's Memories ― Table of Contents
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's Story
New Orleans Menace
around The McCain Ranch