You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's Story
written by Michelle Palmer
Home Ranch — Episode 2
We were finally moving into our house. I hadn’t slept at all the night before, and neither had Pa. My Pa had been dreaming about this day ever since I could remember. But as we started unloading the wagon, something happened that rocked my world!
Two men came riding up. I saw them first and called Pa’s attention to them. I stayed up on the wagon and watched them ride up. Sam and Billy were their names. I remember Billy was nicer because he said hi to me.
My Pa told you about them already, so I won’t go into a lot of detail, but I’ll just say that Pa stayed strong through the whole thing. That’s just another of the many things I admire about my Pa – he’s tough as nails! You don’t want to make him mad, and you can’t chase him away – no matter what!
You see, these two men were trying to tell my Pa that this wasn’t our land – it belonged to a man named Oat Jackford. But my Pa and I knew the truth – it was our land. It scared me when they fired a shot at my Pa to get his attention. I reckon they thought that would scare him off. Pa simply looked over at me – I knew he wanted to get me out of the way. That’s why when he lifted me down, I automatically moved away. Then Pa tried to go for his rifle. They threw a rope around him.
But I was there to help him! I tried to throw the rifle to him, but they were too fast. As I bent down to grab it, Billy laid a hand on his gun and told me to leave it alone. I was scared for my Pa. They were hurting him, and we didn’t even do anything wrong! They finally brought my Pa back. I guess they thought dragging him around a bit would chase my Pa off, but they were wrong. He came over to me, put his arm around me, and announced that we were staying.
I was proud of my Pa!
But then they burned down the house. I stared as the flames leapt from the house. Thoughts went through my head, but I couldn’t voice them. The two men finally left, taking my father’s rifle with them. Pa told them he understood what they wanted. He acted like he was going to get off the land, but I knew better! We stood there in silence as the whole house burned to the ground.
Sometime during the ordeal, Pa had picked me up and carried me over to the wagon so I would sit down. I watched him walk through the houses ruins. He was angry. So was I. I couldn’t keep the sever anger from my voice. “We ride half way across the country looking for the right place. And when we finally got it, look what happens!” My heart was broken. My Spirit was crushed. I was angry. Angry at those men who did this to us, and angry at God. “It looks like God is dead set against us having our own place!” I suddenly screamed.
But like I said, my Pa is tough as nails. And he’s tough in more then one way. He teaches me hard lessons, rather I want them or not. This was one of the times I didn’t want it. Pa told me he wanted to tell me a story. I knew that meant he thought my thinking was wrong and needed straightened out, but I didn’t want to hear his story, so when he told me to help him saddle up while he told me the story, I didn’t move at first.
“Come on,” he ordered then. I knew I had no choice. I listened to his story. It was about a man named Job in the Bible who was rich with worldly possessions. God wanted to prove to the Devil that Job was a strong and righteous man. Anyways, he got everything taken from him including his kids, but he had everything restored when he proved he was worthy! Well, my Pa told the story much better…you can read all about it in his story.
The Book of Job
His plan worked. By the end of the story, my faith had been restored, and I was in a happier mood. I knew we would keep our ranch and rebuild our house. But I knew that my Pa had to go after those men first. Pa told me to go wait in town. But I wasn’t a baby! I begged him to let me stay and bed down by the stream. I wanted to show him I was a man and I was big enough to do man things! He let me.
I was afraid for him riding off alone after those men with guns, but I knew my Pa, and I knew he had to do it.
My first task after setting up camp was to unhitch the team. It was a hard, sweaty job. I had helped my Pa do it several times, but the harnesses were heavy! And it took a lot longer then I thought it would. I got it done tough, and I was so proud!
After that, I realized it was getting dark. So I lit a match to set a campfire. I just stood there looking at the sun sinking onto the other side of the mountain. This was the first time I had ever been alone at night, and I was a little nervous as to how it would go. The darkness was so lonely. And I had to admit to myself, that it was scary too. But I would be brave. I would make my Pa proud!
I didn’t sleep very well. I tried to sleep, but kept hearing and seeing things. I heard a coyote, but when I looked up, it wasn’t there. Then I thought I heard and saw a wild cat in the tree. As I lifted up and grabbed the ax that was right beside me, it disappeared. Then I laid back down and saw a great big rattle snake coiled up right beside me. I hit it with my ax a few times, but it disappeared. There was just a rope in its place.
After that, I gave up on sleep. I laid there with my eyes wide open and waited for daylight to come.
When the first rays rose over the mountain the next morning, I got up drove the wagon back to the ranch. I got the coffee ready just in case Pa came back early. I couldn’t wait to see him! And I had already made it up in my mind that Pa would never find out how scared I was. But I knew that it would be a long time before I asked Pa to let me stay by myself all night again.
Pa did come back as I was covering up the supplies in the wagon. I was so happy to see him. I could tell he was relieved I was okay too. Shortly after he arrived, Billy and Sam rode up with another man. They had a wagon full of lumber. I told you my Pa was tough as nails! He even got them to help us rebuild!
Pa and I sat around the camp fire for a while that morning. He told me of his adventure as the men worked at cleaning up the mess they had made of our house. He told me he was proud of me, but that it would be a long time before he would let me spend the night by myself again. “You see, son. I was so worried about you. It’s not your fault; it’s just a father’s love for his son. So if it’s all the same to you, I’ll think I’ll hold off on you becoming a man for awhile.”
I was relieved to hear that, because I was honestly not in any hurry to become one. One restless night was enough for me! I never did tell my Pa how my night really went, but I think he knew.
It took them all day, but Jackford’s men had all the burn cleaned out. They had to bed down around a campfire with Pa and me that night. The next morning, Pa fixed us all a hearty helping of flapjacks. They were delicious! Then we helped them rebuild the house.
It was funny as I watched Pa work on the house. He seemed to know exactly how he wanted it. He knew exactly how he wanted the barn.
It didn’t take us long to get the house built. I think Billy and Sam had really changed by the end of it. I remember the day we moved in. It was about 10:00 in the morning. The day before, Pa had sent me into town to learn about the price of supplies. He told me not to come back until he sent for me. I had plenty of time to explore while waiting. Then Billy Lehigh finally came in for me. He lifted me up onto my horse as we started for home. I asked him what they had been working on, but he wouldn’t tell me. That afternoon, Billy took me fishing. He told me funny stories about when he was a kid and how his Pa was a lot like my Pa.
I was certainly happy Billy and Sam were different now. Of course, anyone who hangs around Pa and me for too long will get straightened out – that’s my Pa’s way! In fact, Billy and Sam even insisted to fix supper that night – they sure could fry up a mess of catfish over a campfire!
So, moving in time happened at 10:00 the next morning. Billy came and picked me up as Pa opened the door to our house. I ducked as Billy carried me inside. I looked around. There was a new table with chairs, my Ma’s rocker, my Pa’s leather chair, and a brand new cook stove! We wouldn’t have to cook over the fire anymore.
Billy sat me down. Pa came over and bent down next to me. He put an arm around my shoulders and said, “Well, what do you think, Mark?”
“There’s only one thing missing, Pa,” I stated as I smiled at him.
Pa raised an eyebrow at me. “Ma’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign.”
Pa pointed to the trunk and grinned. When I found it, I stared at it as a single tear slipped from my eye. It had been at rest in the trunk ever since we left Oklahoma. Pa came over and wiped the lonely tear from my cheek. He put a hand under my chin and lifted it up. No words had to be said. His eyes and smile said it all. We were home, and Ma was very much here with us.
Pa lifted me up as I hung that sign on our living room wall. Billy and Sam stood by the door as they watched me and Pa put the finishing touch on the wall.
Then Billy cleared his throat and pointed outside. Pa smiled and picked me up as we walked outside. He took me to the side of the house and sat me down on the ground. Then my mouth opened wide as I stared at the words on the foundation of our house:
“This house rebuilt by Lucas McCain and his son Mark — Aug. 1881 ― May God bless our home"
*A special thanks goes out to Michelle Palmer for her insight on how Mark had seen these episodes.
End of a Young Gun
Mark's Memories ― Table of Contents
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's Story
around The McCain Ranch