“Pa?” I called as I rode into the yard and dismounted my horse. There was no answer. “Pa!” I called louder. Pa’s horse was tied to the hitching post, but he was no where in sight. Suddenly, Pa opened the door and came out whistling. I took my books from the saddle horn, swung them over my shoulder, and walked towards Pa. “Uh…Pa?” He was acting strange. “Did they mislabel the bottles down at the General Store or something?”
Pa turned and raised an eyebrow at me, but he kept whistling. “Well, I mean have you been…that is…”
Pa laughed as he threw feed to the chickens. “I haven’t been drinking if that’s what your getting at,” Pa informed me happily.
I looked him up and down. Boy, if I didn’t know better, I’d say Pa wasn’t here! I went inside and sat my books on the table then I walked back out. Pa continued throwing the feed to the chickens. I scooted my hat way back on my head, folded my arms, and started walking around Pa as he continued with the chore. Pa stopped and stared at me. “Something wrong, son?”
“Pa, are you feeling alright?” I asked as I started studying him a lot closer.
“Yes, I’m fine.”
“Well, you’re doing my chores and you seem really happy. I’m just…” I scratched my head. “Confused.”
Pa chuckled as he handed me the pan. “Well, if you insist, son, I’ll go inside and finish packing.”
I nodded and went about my chore. But then his words settled in and I gasped. I put down the bowl and ran inside. Pa was sure enough putting stuff in his saddle bags. “What-“ I started.
Pa grinned. “We’re going on a trip for a few days,” Pa answered.
“Where?” I asked.
“Well, there’s some cattle waiting for me. They’re a ways away and I have to go there in person to settle the business deal,” Pa answered with a smile.
“Cattle?” I asked. “Gee Pa, how many?”
Pa smiled. “Oh, I’m thinking on buying about 15 head.”
“Fif-“ I stared at him. “Fifteen head?” Pa nodded as he finished up his packing. “Can we afford it?”
Pa lifted his head and stared at me. “Now, would I be buying them if I can’t afford it? Of course we can! There’s a cattle drive coming through North Fork in a few weeks and the cattle will be with them. I just have to close the deal in person.”
“Am I going?” I asked.
Pa laughed. “After the missing I did when I went to Wyoming, there’s no way I’d leave you behind!”
“Guess that means I won’t have to do homework for awhile then.” But as always, Pa had already covered that. He’d spoken to my teacher earlier in the day and made the arrangements with him. I groaned.
“There’s…um…something else we’re doing on this trip,” Pa announced.
“Well, Bill Cody’s circus will be going through High Butte in a few days, so I figured you’d want to see his show.”
I gasped. “Well now, that’s all right!” I hurried out to feed the horses. When I got outside, I threw my hat up in the air. “Yahoo!” I turned and looked toward the house where Pa stood shaking his head. “Gee wiz!” I laughed excitedly.
I was so excited as we rode through town. Pa said we’d leave from there in the morning – we’d stay at the hotel tonight to get an early start. I was so excited that night that I could hardly sleep! All through breakfast me, Pa, and Micah sat and talked. “Well, all set?”
“My horse is done packed and ready to go,” Micah announced.
I sat down my milk with a plop and stared at Micah. Then I turned and looked at Pa. “You mean-“ I pointed my finger at Micah. “You mean that Micah’s coming?”
“I mean that Micah’s coming,” Pa answered. “I’ll need help keeping you in line on this trip!”
“Oh now Lucas, Mark is never any trouble!” Micah declared.
“Oh no?” Pa asked. “Well, I remember the last circus I took him to. There was one of those…things…with one wheel. What are they called?”
I rolled my eyes, knowing just where this conversation was going. “A unicycle,” I answered.
“Oh yes, a unicycle.” Pa took a sip of his coffee. “You’ve heard of bicycles?” Micah nodded. “Well, a unicycle only has one wheel. A clown was riding one and Mark was so excited that he wanted to try it out. Well, after the show I went to talk to someone and told Mark to stay put-“
Pa did get that part wrong. I held up my finger. “Actually, Pa, you just told me to stay in the tent until you got back. You said nothing about staying put.”
Pa shook his head. “You see?” He pointed at me. “Anyways, Mark tried to ride this…thing…and he crashed right into the monkey cage.” Pa turned his head back towards me and raised an eyebrow. “Remember that, son?”
“Yes sir, I sure do!” I shook my head and closed my eyes as I thought on that one.
“Well,” Pa said as he finished off his coffee and stood up. “Needless to say, the monkeys got out – all three of them. They started running around the tent. They tore up the net and upset the elephants. Mark started chasing the monkeys. When I came back, it was like a…well, like a zoo in there.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I had to miss the rest of the show they were putting on the next day. Pa grounded me to the hotel room.”
“Mmm.” Pa shook his head.
“Well, I’m older now, Pa.”
Pa had one foot in the stirrup and turned to look at me. “Let’s hope so, son.” He mounted his horse then shook his head. That had happened a whole year ago, and he was still miffed about it!
I was so excited! We rode into High Butte just in time for the show. I heard elephants down the street and stood beside Pa as the parade passed. There were Indians and Wagon Trains. They even did a mock stagecoach hold up! But my favorite things were the elephants! There were three big elephants. They walked in a straight line with the trunk attached to the tail in front. A lady who didn’t have very many clothes on stood on the elephants as they paraded down the street. Pa shook his head. “That girl there needs a man to tell her how to dress!” He put hand to my head and turned my head away.
“Oh Pa!” I moaned.
“Show’s in fifteen minutes at the end of town, folks! Just follow us!” I couldn’t wait to get there! I was jumping up and down with excitement. We bought our tickets and went inside the tent to sit down. I looked at the paper they handed me. “Pa, look! They’re gonna have trick shootin’, elephant tricks, flying trapeze, and…oh Pa! Look – Annie Oakley’s gonna be here!” Micah and Pa looked at each other. “You know who Annie Oakley is! Why, she can shoot with a rifle 90 feet away! She can shoot a playing card five…six times before it hits the ground. Why, she could-“
Pa held up his hand and shook his head. “Alright, son. Alright. Can we just watch the show?” I smiled.
But then I saw something strange. I swore I saw a-
I stood up and excused myself. “Where you going?” Pa demanded to know.
“Uh…I just hafta…I’m just going down there,” I pointed to the other side of the tent.
“Why?” Pa asked, raising his eyebrow.
“Well I uh…they’re selling popcorn and I thought I’d get some.”
Pa nodded his approval and I hurried across the tent. I walked outside and looked around. I could have sworn I saw an elephant walk out here. I walked around the corner. Nothing was there. “We have two baby elephants and one of them is missing,” I heard a man claim. “We need to find him. I’ll give $100 to the person that brings that elephant back safe and unharmed.”
One hundered dollars! I looked around but saw no sign of him. I know it was selfish of me, but I hoped no one would catch that elephant tonight. I planned to look for that elephant tomorrow!
I walked back in, almost forgetting the popcorn. Boy oh boy, how would I ever explain that one to Pa? I quickly hurried back and gave the man my nickel for the popcorn.
The show was everything I expected! Annie Oakley was amazing! I wanted to meet her after the performance but Pa stated that we had to go get to the hotel. I groaned. “Pa, it’ll just take a minute!” I begged.
“No, Mark. I’m sorry.” There was a large crowd gathered around her and Bill Cody. “Besides, it’ll be a solid hour before you get even close to those two!”
When we got to the hotel, Pa made a cot for me on the floor. He and Micah would get the two beds in there. “I’ll be out with the cattle deal all day, son. I want you to stay here and get some studying done.”
That’s the way it was. Pa said that I could go out if I wanted, but I couldn’t stray off too far. The next morning, I started off toward the tent to find out if the elephant was back yet. No one had seen him. I smiled, knowing I’d seen what direction he’d taken off in. As I walked into the woods, I heard shooting. I hurried up and saw a woman – looked like Annie Oakley. I walked up and stood behind her. She held up the hand gun and shot four holes into the same lump on the tree. “You always stand there spying on folks?” She asked without turning around as she emptied her used cartridges onto the ground and reloaded her gun.
“Oh…well, uh…no ma’am,” I stammered. “I…I was just watchin’.” I walked towards her. “I thought you used a rifle.”
“Oh, I do,” Annie stated. “But I use a six-shooter too.”
“I’ve never met a…a…girl…who could shoot like that!”
“Something wrong with it?” She asked.
“Oh, well…I…I guess that depend on who you ask.” She turned and stared at me with her hands on her hips. “Well…I…I mean, if you ask my Pa, he’ll say that guns are no concern of women – they should be tending the home and such.”
“Oh,” she shrugged as she shot another round off. Every bullet met it’s target – dead center.
“You wanta try it?” she asked.
Oh, to shoot Annie Oakley’s gun! I gasped, but shook my head. “I can’t. I ain’t allowed to use guns. Pa said I’m too young.”
She smiled. “Well, that’s probably for the best, boy. There’s way too many six shooters who try to use their guns wrong. You tell your Pa I think he’s pretty smart making you wait.”
“Yes ma’am,” I answered. I looked around. “Any word on the elephant?”
She was aiming her gun at the tree, but suddenly turned to stare at me. “That why you’re out here?” I nodded. “Oh, well sorry,” she shrugged. “Can’t help you much. You came closer then lots of others though.”
“What do you mean?”
She waved me to follow her. We walked about a hundred feet away to some brush. “She slept here last night. See?”
It was obvious something had been there. I took her word for it that it was an elephant. “She hasn’t been gone too long. Tracks lead off that way.”
I noticed that right off. I started forward, thanking her. But then I stopped. “Well Miss Oakley, I-“
“Oh!” she groaned. “Call me Annie!” She smiled at me. “My friends do.”
I smiled. I was her friend! “Well, thank you, ma’am,” I said, tipping my hat to her. “But how come you ain’t looking? You don’t want the reward?”
She shrugged. “Long as he’s gone, Bill Cody stays here. We stay here.”
She walked towards me. “On our way to a big city. I don’t like big cities. They ain’t too keen about my target practicing. You see?”
“Yeah,” I answered. “Well, I-I’ll see ya!”
I followed the tracks a ways. Suddenly, I heard a noise. Turning toward the sound, I saw something gray walking through the bushes. “Hello?” I called. I cautiously started forward. “I won’t hurt you,” I started talking really softly. “I…It’ll be okay.” I walked forward as softly as I could. The elephant began making it’s noise – mooing or whatever they do.
It was the elephant! I was in luck! I looked around for something. “Mark!” I suddenly heard Pa calling.
What was he doing here? I thought the meeting would take him all day! I looked towards the elephant. She started to run away. “Mark, answer me!”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m over here, Pa!” I yelled.
Pa and Micah appeared. Pa crossed his arms and gave me a hard stare. I turned and looked behind me. The elephant had run away. “Well?” Pa said in that I’m-in-big-trouble voice.
“Pa! She was right there and-“ I started.
Pa grabbed my arm. “Who was, Mark?”
“The baby elephant, Pa! I-“
Pa looked at Micah. “You mean to tell me you came looking for that wild animal?”
“Well, yeah!” I answered. “Pa, it’s just a baby! I-“
“It’s a wild animal, son. It’s an elephant!”
“Pa, there’s a hundred dollar award to catch her!”
“A hundred dollars huh?” I nodded. Pa sighed and crossed his arms. “Let me ask you something, son. How much homework have you done today?”
“Well, I…I thought I’d do it this afternoon.”
“I see,” Pa nodded. “Well then, how were you expecting to catch this…uh…” Pa looked at Micah, then back at me. “This gentle, tamed animal?”
“Oh, well I-“ I stopped and looked around. “I didn’t think on that.”
“Mm hm,” Pa said. Pa looked over his shoulder. “Stay right here, Mark.”
Pa hurried back towards town. Micah and I stayed there waiting. Pa soon returned with his lasso rope and his rifle. “What’s that for?” I asked.
“You know me and my rifle.”
“Well, I…You can’t shoot it, Pa!” I declared.
“Calm down, son. I’m not gonna shoot it!” Pa started forward. “You stay right here!”
“Elephant’s probably long gone by now, Micah!” I stated. “He’ll never-“ But before I could get the words out, Pa hurried back with the elephant. A rope was tied around her neck. “Swell, Pa! Now I get that hundred dollars!”
“You caught him?” Pa raised his eyebrows at me.
“I found her.”
“Annie Oakley found her from what I hear,” Pa declared. I rolled my eyes.
We led the elephant back to the tent. Bill Cody himself came out to thank us for finding the elephant. “Well, you did us quite a service, young lad!” He dug the money from his pocket. I smiled and held out my hand as he counted a hundred dollars. Then he waved and walked away.
I closed my hands over the coins, smiling as I watched him walk away. Pa held out his hand for the money. “Oh, but Pa-“ I started.
Pa wiggled his fingers. “Come on, son.”
Micah smiled as I gave Pa the money. I shrugged. “Easy come, easy go they say.”
“Yes they do, son,” Micah gave me a sympathetic pat on the back.
“It’s going in the bank when we get back to North Fork son. I…uh…hope that’s what you were planning on doing.”
I stared at the money in his hand. Well, actually- “Yes,” I answered. “Of-of course it was.” We started walking toward the hotel. “What about the business deal?”
“He’ll be here tomorrow,” Pa answered. “There was a delay or something.”
Well, now you know what happened before we ever got to the Canyon Town. I tell you that this is more adventure then I’d ever had! I thought the adventure was over. But when Micah suddenly suggested we take a detour through a ghost town, I suddenly got excited again! “A real ghost town?” I asked. “I’ve never been to a real ghost town!”
Pa laughed and shook his head. “Well then, by all means Micah, lead the way!” Pa swooshed his arm out for good measure and we turned our horses and headed toward the town.
I soon discovered why Micah wanted to go there. It’s where he grew up. As we rode through there, it was hard to imagine anyone ever really living there. The wind was blowing something fierce. The dirt flying around in my face and the tumble weeds blowing around made me kinda jittery, though I wasn’t sure exactly why. Then when I saw that door at the old general store close – all by itself, I really got jittery!
I was quick to point it out to Pa. After all, Pa was my protector, and he’d make sure no ghost or monsters got me! Why, there wasn’t much his Winchester couldn’t protect me from! Pa suggested we go take a look. I think he was just humoring me. You know, like when you were little and you told you ma and pa there was really indeed a ghost under your bed? They had to get down on their hands and knees with you and show you there was no ghost before you believed them? Well, I reckon that’s what my Pa was doing now.
At any rate, we went in there. And I felt pretty safe so long as my Pa was right there beside me. Then after we went inside and Pa showed me there was no one there, I felt pretty safe. Why, I even stayed there while Pa and Micah went out back. An old newspaper had caught my attention and I picked it up to look at it.
I’m guessing you already know what happened next. I started forward when suddenly I bumped into something solid – I mean really solid – and really big! I slowly lifted my head and stared into a stone-cold face of a giant man! He looked like he could squeeze me to death with one hand.
And I would have screamed, excepting that I reckon I lost my voice. Anyhow, I started getting all shaky inside and started backing up until I hit the counter. Then that glass lantern fell off and crashed to the floor. Which, I guess was good because then Pa and Micah came hurrying in.
Come to find out, that man was an old family friend of Micah’s. He was harmless, so Micah said. But I didn’t much care what Micah said – he was still sort of scary! Then this little old man walked in and invited us to his house for supper and I sure was happy about that!
When we were leaving, I told Pa that the Newman’s had come in another way so no one had used the door I saw shut. I just couldn’t explain it! I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were being watched! Pa was sure enjoying my fright, though. He smiled at me and asked me if doors were still closing on me. I’m glad he was getting some enjoyment out of this!
When we got to the house, it looked all dark and dreary on the outside. Micah and Mr. Newman went on inside, but I just stood there and stared at the house. It looked haunted. It definitely fit in this ghost town. But there was something…oh, I don’t know…kinda wicked about it. I stood by the hitching post, not wanting to go inside. Pa was halfway to the front porch when he realized I was just standing there. He walked back to me and put a hand on my shoulder. “What’s wrong, Mark?”
I swallowed as I stared up at the house. “I don’t know,” I answered, “I-I just got this feeling that…” I stopped.
Pa folded his arms. “Mark, you’re almost thirteen years old! Aren’t you getting a bit too old for these childhood fears?”
I gave him an annoyed look. “You’re telling me you ain’t scared of nothing, Pa?”
“Well, certainly not of a regular house in an abandoned town,” Pa answered matter-of-factly. He patted my back. “Come on.”
I obeyed him because I had to, but I still had a bad feeling about this! I just felt in my very being that somewhere – somehow – something was gonna try to get me tonight!
I slowly walked to the door and peaked in. “Make yourself at home, Mr. McCain.” I stayed behind Pa. “What’s…uh…wrong with the boy? Looks mighty jittery!”
Pa reached behind himself and grabbed me by the collar. He pulled me in front of him. “Don’t tell me your scared of this old place, sonny.”
Pa tapped me firmly on the shoulder. That meant I had to answer. “Oh, uh…no sir,” I answered as Pa whipped my hat off my head.
As we ate supper, Mr. Newman told us all about the old mine and how his two other sons died. I listened with interest, but anxiously kept one eye on the window. The wind was blowing something awful and I kept hearing strange noises like moaning and swooshing sounds. I tried to stay in the conversation, but I really only heard bits and pieces of the conversation. But you know the story cause my Pa done told you all about it!
Well, then when I went back in that dark, dingy room to get the lanterns, I felt okay. But then as I was leaving, I…I don’t know…I felt something – like someone’s eyes were boring into my back. Pa kept telling me it was all my imagination, so I bravely went over to the curtain and peaked inside. I sighed, relieved. It had been my imagination! There was no one there.
So you’d think that would be the end of it. And it may have been if I wasn’t the mischievous boy that I was. After we walked outside, I suddenly realized it was dark. I knew it before, but inside was light enough that I didn’t much care. But now it was just the three of us out here – all alone. I stepped off the porch then turned and looked behind me. The light coming from the house was the only light tonight. Everything else was pitch black! There was no moon tonight and there was a chill in the wind.
Pa cleared his throat as he turned and looked at me. “Mark, what is wrong with you tonight, boy? I’ve never seen you so fearful of the dark!”
“Well, I…I don’t know, Pa. It’s not the dark – it’s this town. There’s something…something not right. I’m telling you, Pa!” I knew it, but I couldn’t get anyone to believe me.
We continued walking as Micah led us toward his homestead. I stayed right close to my Pa, not wanting to stray too far from him. Suddenly, I heard something. “What was that?” I stopped. Pa and Micah turned and looked at me, not saying a word “Well, did ya hear it?”
We saw raccoons run in front of us. I sighed as I closed my eyes in relief. Pa shook his head and put his arm around my shoulders. “Now,” he said. “Will you relax.”
“Yeah.” I laughed. “I guess it was all my imagination and those raccoons.”
Then we approached the opening to a cave where Micah said he used to cut through. Then he’d pop out and surprise his Pa up ahead. I suddenly got an idea. It would be fun to do that to my Pa. Granted, if he discovered me gone and had to go looking for me, he’d probably have a few choice words for me; but I figured if Micah could do it so could I. So I stood back as Micah and Pa left, then I scurried on into the cave.
It was fun at first as I thought on the joke I was playing on my Pa and Micah; but the fun of it went away really fast. You see, I soon suddenly got that really uncomfortable feeling inside me. I felt like someone was behind me. But since I’d had that feeling all day, I didn’t let it bother me. I figured if I just kept going I’d find my way out and everything would go through.
But then when the sniveling and moaning started, I knew I wasn’t alone. I could hear someone quickly approaching me from behind and I found myself running. I ran as fast as I could until I came to a wall. I had run for quite awhile – must have taken a wrong turn or something.
Whoever was following me was still behind me. I was afraid. I was more then afraid – I was terrified! I had yelled out for my Pa several times but he didn’t answer. I wished I hadn’t broken Pa’s rules about pulling dumb pranks like this. I could be murdered!
I suddenly found an opening and climbed through it. I fell into the hole and stood up to look around. But that’s when I saw “it!”
I slowly walked over and shone my light on it. It was a skeleton! I KNEW there was something wrong! I suddenly felt I was in a lot of danger. But just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, I heard a noise.
I turned. Someone was breaking through the wall to get to me. I held the lantern up to see who it was. When a big rock was pushed away, Pa’s face shone through. “Pa!” I yelled. Boy, was I ever glad to see him! Now I could take a small breath of relief.
I said a small breath. Because now Pa would yell at me. "Mark! What are you doin' in there?" I could tell by the tone of his voice that I was in trouble. I couldn’t speak. All I could think about was what was behind me. "Mark.....there's nothing smart about you cutting thru these tunnels." Pa climbed down to me.
I found my voice. I better say something or Pa may just decide to give me a whipping even if he never had before! I was only trying to play a trick on ya' but I found-“ I started to tell him, but he stopped me. He wasn’t done yelling at me yet.
"Do you realize how far underground you are?" I started to answer, but he wouldn’t let me get a word in edge wise. You know how Pa is – when he gets mad, he starts asking these questions and expects answers, but he doesn’t stop long enough for the answer. Then when he’s done, he starts yelling about my not answering him! This was one of those times. Why did you come down this far?"
I was able to get a little bit in before his next interruption. "I didn't know where to go...there was somebody behind me-"
But Pa interrupted that too. "I was behind you son. Didn't you hear me calling?"
I had something important to tell him. How much longer was he going to keep yelling at me before I could tell him? "No I didn't.” I looked over my shoulder toward the skeleton. I was about to try and tell Pa again when he really started up.
He did the finger wagging thing, and when he did that, it usually meant extra chores or some other type of lesson teaching punishment. “Mark if you ever pull a trick like this-“ he started. But then he looked behind me. He saw the skeleton.
Pa told you his explanation – that it was one of the brothers who was murdered with the knife and then an explosion happened. I knew there was something going on in this ghost town! Pa suggested we leave, and that was fine with me! But I still didn’t feel like we were out of danger! I mentioned to Pa that I didn’t think it was him behind me. The strange noises were moaning.
Suddenly there was an ugly dude standing behind my Pa with a pick ax raised. He was about to kill him! I warned Pa, then watched anxiously as they fought. Suddenly, the man started tearing the shafts down, causing a cave in. We had to get out of there lickety split! Micah finally got out to safety. I sat down on the ground, gasping for breath as Pa and Micah talked. Don’t ask me what they talked about because I was trying to get my stomach back down where it belonged! Whew but did I see my life flash before my eyes!
“See Pa, I told you!” I finally declared as we started walking back towards the house. I felt safe now. That was the man who’d been watching us all day!
“Yes, you did,” Pa answered. “Now, about what you did. None of this would have happened if you hadn’t disobeyed my rules and you know that!”
“Oh Pa, weren’t you ever a boy who played a trick on your Pa?” Pa turned and gave me one of those hard looks. “I’m sorry,” I said sheepishly as we started back into the house.
When we got inside, we learned that Mr. Newman was still asleep. Pa told Herbert that they needed to talk to him. He turned to me. “I think Mark decided he’d love to do the dishes for our hosts.” Pa raised his eyebrows at me. “Didn’t you, son?”
No matter how far away from home we were, Pa could always find a way to punish me by making me wash the dishes. If only we’d decided to camp tonight – there’d be no dishes to do! “Yes sir,” I answered as I walked into the kitchen. I looked around and groaned even louder. It seemed to me that every single dish in the house was dirty! Pa always taught me that when you do dishes, you clean the whole kitchen. Boy…what a punishment!
It took me a whole hour – at least – to get that job done. I came back into the dining room and announced I was done. “Good. Why don’t you wait outside for me, son.”
I turned and saw the stern look on his face. I don’t know why he put the word “why” in front of it. It certainly wasn’t a question!
But as I walked outside, I remembered something. I’d seen all that gold in the mine and when I saw it, I suddenly thought I’d discovered some hidden mine of gold! I was sure we were rich! I was thinking on that when Pa came out. He sat down to enjoy the night air and asked me what I was thinking on. For a moment there.....I really thought we were rich,” I announced as I sat down beside him.
Pa looked at me. “Well, we are. We're very rich. You'll realize it more and more the older you get.”
"What do you mean, we don't have any gold?"
Pa suddenly got that look in his eye. There was a moral to what he was telling me. "No...but...do you remember the old oak tree back at the ranch that you use to climb when you were knee high? That's gold to me, Mark. Real gold. And then the fields in back of the barn, the way they look in the morning green with dew. And at night after a hard day's work sitting around the house with the fireplace going. That's a kind of gold, isn't it?" I heard the richness flowing from Pa’s lips.
I thought on that for a minute. The more I thought, the more sense he made. I suppose that kind of rich was a lot better!
"Your right, Pa. You know something, we really are rich,” I declared. Pa put his arms around my shoulders and smiled proudly at me.
Pretty soon he took out a cigar a lit it. “We going home tomorrow?” Pa nodded as he slowly breathed out the smoke.
He studied his cigar. “Did you…enjoy doing those dishes?”
I flashed him an annoyed look. “No!” I declared.
“Well, did you learn a lesson through all this?”
“Well, I think so,” I answered honestly.
I looked at him sideways, then looked down at the ground. “Well, I…I learned that sometimes punishment of disobedience is sometimes necessary, even though the disobedience was necessary too.”
“Mark-“ Pa warned me.
I held up my hand. “Now, hear me out, Pa. Hear me out. You see, if I’d never tricked you, the mystery of Canyon Town and the Newman gold would have never been solved.” Pa stayed silent. I suddenly gasped as a realization hit me. “Golly, Pa! Why, I’ve solved two mysteries on this trip! I solved the mystery of Canyon Town and the mystery of the missing elephant!”
Pa sighed. “Mark?” I turned and looked at Pa. “Goodnight.”
*A special thanks goes out to Michelle Palmer for her insight on how Mark had seen these episodes.
Dark Day at North Fork
Mark's Memories ― Table of Contents
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's Story
Closer than a Brother
around The McCain Ranch