The Writer's Corner
Written by Deanne Bertram
This story was inspired by events that happened during the
Season 1 episode of The Rifleman entitled
The Raid. The Raid involved Chaqua
an Apache warrior, his brother Artek, and several other braves,
who severely injure Lucas McCain with a blow to the head as they
kidnap young Mark McCain. As we learn from U.S. Marshal Sam
Buckhart (who is also an Apache Indian), Mark was kidnapped to
replace Chaqua’s son, who had died several months earlier. The
reason Mark was taken, he was the son of a man who was known to
be a great warrior to the Apache.
The posse from North Fork, led by town Marshal Micah Torrance
and Buckhart, head out leaving Lucas at home with storekeeper
Hattie Denton watching over him. But stubborn as always and not
wanting to be beholden to anyone, Lucas insists in going after
his son, but the blow to his head sets the search back once he
catches up with the posse.
Sam Buckhart continues on, only to be captured and despised as a
‘tame’ Apache by Chaqua and Artek. Back at camp, Lucas wakes
during the night, leaving the posse as he heads out after Sam
and his son. In the episode, Lucas nears the Indian campsite and
is heard when a twig snaps as he crawls over it, rousing those
in camp to attack him. As Lucas fights Chaqua, Mark is able to
cut free the ropes binding Sam Buckhart and both run over to
Lucas who has strangled Chaqua to death, all the while
proclaiming, “You took my boy!” This story begins as Lucas tries
to enter the camp.
A Deadly Guilt
It sounded; the quiet of the night accentuated its volume. With
the snap of the twig, the crickets quieted. Lucas McCain inhaled
sharply upon realizing those in the camp were feigning sleep;
they knew someone other than U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart was
The first yell of attack sounded when one of the Indians jumped
from the ground and pulled his knife. With the pain still in his
head, Lucas changed from a crawling position to a kneeling
position; not waiting to sight in his rifle, Lucas fired from
his hip striking the charging Indian; the others were soon to
their feet. With the pain intensifying, the one thing Lucas
could always count on, failed him; his vision swirled and his
fingers fumbled to fire his rifle. Dropping his rifle, Lucas
blindly charged the Indian directly in front of him.
Chaqua fought with the cunning of the wolf as he straddled over
Lucas’ chest, hands around his neck, squeezing… squeezing. In
one last desperate bid, Lucas kicked Chaqua in the side with his
knee, rolling him sideways and allowing Lucas to gain the upper
hand. Lucas squeezed and squeezed, all the while crying out,
“You took my boy!"
Just as Lucas sensed the last of Chaqua’s fight slip away, the
pain overtook him with his vision exploding into whiteness in
the pitch-black, night. Artek dropped the tree branch and pushed
Lucas from his brother.
From behind, Artek heard the ‘tame’ Indian running towards him.
With a quickness that belied his size, Artek reached for the
rifle upon the ground, turned and fired.
Beside the campfire, ten year old, Mark McCain stood, shrouded
in guilt that he had not been quicker to untie the U.S. Marshal.
Tears streaked his face as he watched the marshal crumple to the
ground. Mark stood frozen as he watched Artek kneel beside
Lucas, knife in hand. He saw Artek’s mouth moving, but could not
hear the words.
Artek bent close to Lucas’ ear upon seeing the tall man’s eyes
start to open, “My brother has offered the child protection, but
know this, if you come again, I will kill him... I don’t care
when or how it happens, if you come, I will slit his throat
before you can pull the trigger of your rifle. Understand the
child's life or death is your decision. But now, he must see you
As Artek thrust the knife into Lucas’ side, a child’s scream,
“NO!” reverberated through the still of the night.
Artek stood and helped his brother to his feet. Side by side,
the Apache brothers approached the child who stood next to the
campfire, hands balled into fists, tears streaking his face.
“Apache do not cry,” Chaqua spoke as he towered over the child.
“He was my PA!” Mark cried out, fists striking Chaqua.
After draping the body of the dead Indian over his horse, those
remaining broke camp, and as the sun began to rise, Artek
stated, “We ride.”
Lucas regained consciousness as he felt the knife pulled from
his side; his eyes opened to see Sam Buckhart, U.S. Marshal
kneeling beside him, blood staining the shoulder of his jacket.
“Rest easy Lucas,” Sam spoke.
“My boy?” pleaded Lucas.
“They have taken the boy with them.”
Lucas McCain’s hatred showed bright through his pain-filled eyes
as he struggled to sit up.
“Lucas, as I said before… Chaqua’s own son died, he wanted to
replace him with the son of another who is known to be brave,”
Sam stated as he wrapped the make-shift bandage around Lucas’
“No, why didn’t they kill me?” Lucas asked, grimacing as Sam
tightened the bandage.
Sam reached for Lucas’ rifle and turned upon hearing others
approaching; he slumped his shoulders after seeing the riders
enter the clearing.
“Lucas! Buckhart!” yelled Micah.
“We have to get Lucas to a doctor!” replied Sam.
“No, I’m going after my son!”
“Lucas, be serious,” Toomey replied.
“I am,” growled Lucas.
Resting a hand to Lucas’ shoulder, Sam said, “Lucas you asked me
why they did not kill you?”
“Because while you live, your strength flows through your son.”
“But Artek said my boy was to see me die.”
“Yes, so he would no longer resist. Lucas, the lifeblood of a
man flows strong through his son. To the Apache, to kill you…
would weaken the child. This is why they did not kill you when
they first took the boy.”
Toomey stood to one side of Lucas and Micah on the other as they
helped him to his feet.
“Know your son lives, with the protection of Chaqua; no harm
will come to the boy. The word of protection an Apache gives to
a child cannot be broken.”
“Artek said he would kill Mark…”
“Not while Chaqua lives,” replied Sam solemnly.
‘If you come again, I will kill him,’ Lucas’ mind replayed
Try as he could to walk on his own, Lucas needed the help of all
his friends to make his way to his horse and get in the saddle.
The original blow to his head and the knife wound to his side
took their toll on the tall rancher.
Too much blood was lost and too many days and nights passed as
they returned to North Fork. His friends carried a pale and limp
Lucas McCain into Doc Burrage’s clinic and placed him upon the
examination table. Toomey ran to fetch the doctor while Micah
pushed the U.S. Marshal to sit down in a chair and wait.
The others entered the camp ahead of Chaqua and Artek, the
brothers stopped on the hill overlooking their village; many
teepees stretched out over the ground below them. The camp was
alive with activity as the women tended to cooking fires,
scraping and hanging hides, or taking care of the many young
children running around the camp. On the outskirts, a band of
horses roamed from the grassland to the river meandering across
the land. Chaqua turned to the boy sitting on the horse between
him and his brother.
“Your new mother awaits you down there,” Chaqua spoke.
“My mother is dead,” replied Mark.
Artek struck the boy across the cheek only to be reprimanded by
his brother, “This boy has my protection, he IS my son.
Regardless that you are my brother, this one is now closer to me
“My apologies; I felt he should not speak of Quayla in such a
manner. Your wife is alive…” Artek quickly answered, hoping to
hide his anger at the words his brother had spoken.
Chaqua turned to the boy, “Your name is now Shoqua.”
The three rode into the camp with the rest of the tribe
gathering around them. As the sun settled behind the hills,
Chaqua lifted Mark from the back of the horse he rode, and
escorted him into the teepee, the flap falling behind them.
The following morning Chaqua led his son from the teepee, the
boy stripped to his waist and wearing moccasins on his feet. As
the boy walked beside Chaqua, his pale white skin contrasted
sharply against the red/brown skin of the man. The chief
introduced his son to children from the camp who would be near
the boy’s age. When several started taunting Shoqua, Chaqua
grabbed them by the arms and strode purposefully to the teepee
of their parents.
Speaking in Apache, “You should teach your children to respect
the son of the chief.” With that, he dropped both boys, turned,
and walked away; ignoring the pleas of the parents.
Hattie sat vigil over the tall man whom she considered a son.
With a bible in her hands she watched as his chest barely rose
and fell. At times, she wiped away the beads of perspiration
that dotted his pale and strained face. Tears slipped from her
eyes as the days passed when she’d overhear him cry, “He’s my
Though he had yet to regain consciousness, his guilt over not
going after his son wore heavy on his soul. He did not hear
Hattie’s voice as she read to him from the bible. He did not
hear Micah tell how others were chipping in to make sure their
ranch was taken care of. He did not hear Sam Buckhart tell he
would send word to the U.S. Marshal Service of the boy. All he
heard was Artek’s voice, ‘I’ll kill him…I’ll kill him’.
When Lucas finally woke, his friends saw a changed man; a man
lost in guilt over losing the one thing that really mattered to
him, a part of him…, his only connection to his late wife…, his
son. As the days during his recovery passed, they pleaded for
Lucas to allow the Army or the Marshals to bring Mark home;
finally, in his continued weakened condition… he agreed.
Weeks had passed and the cool air announcing the appearance of
an early winter in November, when Amos entered the North Fork
Marshal’s Office carrying a wire address to Marshal Micah
Micah took the note and asked, “Buckhart?”
Amos nodded and quickly left.
Marshal Micah Torrance
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
I regret to inform you, tribe moved, trail lost /stop/
Scouts from U.S. Army will keep looking /stop/
Tell Lucas, I am sorry /stop/
U.S. Marshal, Sam Buckhart
Micah refolded the note and left the office, heading in the
direction of the McCain ranch.
“What are you doing here?!” Lucas bitterly demanded as he exited
the barn. As time passed, a deep seeded wound festered within
the tall rancher, the guilt over the loss of his son.
“I brought word from Buckhart…” Micah stated. He looked upon the
rancher and reflected upon how gaunt his friend had become. Dark
circles encompassed his eyes and his cheekbones shone more
prominently beneath them.
“Is Mark?” briefly his eyes lightened as Lucas hoped his son
would quickly be reunited with him.
Seeing the flicker of life in his friend’s eyes, Micah knew the
pain he was about to inflict upon the man, “No Lucas, the tribe
moved, and their trail was lost.”
“Lost!!! How does the U.S. Marshals and the Army lose track of a
tribe?!” Lucas stormed towards the marshal; the anger returned
to the rancher.
“Lucas, it’s not that easy. LucasBoy, I know Mark was your…”
“IS! Don’t ever speak of my son in the past tense. Don’t you
EVER!!! I listened to you and to Buckhart, let the Army bring my
Had Lucas been a snake, the venom with which he spoke would have
immediately paralyzed and killed a man.
“They’ll find the tribe, just give them time.”
“TIME?! Mark’s out there, thinking I’m dead!”
“Why would the boy think such?” a confused Micah inquired as he
stepped down from his horse.
“He was there when Artek stabbed me.” There was no emotion
contained in Lucas’ words.
“Lucas, I know you haven’t regained all your strength, from that
knock on the head and being stabbed, and … but there’s got to be
more to why you’ve not gone after him… It’s more than us just
asking you not too…”
“Artek said he’d kill the boy if I came after him. It didn’t
matter when or how… Micah, Mark’s life…” Lucas paused as he
looked to his hands, guilt over the bloodstains that were
invisible to everyone but him, “If I weren’t the Rifleman, if I
weren’t… They wouldn’t have come after him. Micah, he has to
Lucas allowed his frailty to show, he collapsed to his knees and
grabbed at his side.
Micah was beside his friend as quickly as he could, he pulled
Lucas’ arm across his shoulder and wrapped his arm around Lucas’
waist and when he placed his hand to Lucas’ side, he felt the
blood… He hadn’t seen it because of the dark shirts the rancher
had taken to wear of late. Most people had presumed it was due
to mourning the loss of his son.
“Lucas, you’re not healed. Does Doc know you’re still bleeding?”
Lucas shook his head, “It won’t heal.”
At that moment, Micah realized the sweat drenching Lucas wasn’t
due to exertion it was a fever.
The boy, slighter than others his age learned it would not be
easy making new friends; due to his skin being a different color
and he also did not know their language. Most of the other
children stood indifferent to the boy, their parents had
informed them not to taunt the boy but that did not stop their
talks, he’d never know what they were saying.
Knowing that Chaqua and Artek spoke English, Shoqua was hurt
when they would only speak Apache to him. Quayla would spend the
evenings after supper instructing Shoqua in the dialect of the
Apache, it wasn’t just words, but gestures that comprised their
language. Shoqua took comfort in the woman’s patience as he
remembered the patience of his previous teacher, Miss Adams.
Quayla was impressed with how her adopted son took to learning
as Shoqua applied himself to the lessons. Other braves saw
something in the courage of the boy and began to think of him as
no longer an outsider and began to teach him of the land.
As the seasons changed, and as Chaqua had promised, his son’s
skin turned from white to deep brown, from working and hunting
under the summer skies. Chaqua was pleased with the natural ease
his son showed when racing his pony with others of his age, and
when he won, he was quiet in his celebration allowing his
friends to be loud and rowdy.
Without complaint, Shoqua knew where Chaqua expected him to be
when they hunted the great buffalo. In his eyes he wanted to
ride with the braves, but an eleven year old was still
considered a child and had to stay with the women, and so he
stayed, unwilling to upset the man within whose teepee he was
provided shelter and nourishment.
Of an evening, Quayla would tuck him under the furs and bid him
pleasant dreams; and as he eyes would close, Shoqua secreted the
memory of being tucked into bed by another and the gentle kiss
the man placed upon his forehead, how the man would hesitate at
the door to the bedroom they shared and look back upon him and
Chaqua and Quayla stood in front of their teepee and watched as
Shoqua and his friends mounted their ponies in ready to hunt
small game for their families. Chaqua stepped to his son and
placed his hand upon the boy’s forearm.
In the language of the Apache he said, “Be strong and brave, may
the hunting gods grant you a successful hunt.”
“Do not worry father, we shall be triumphant!” Shoqua answered
as he raised his bow above his head and gave a warrior’s cry,
causing heads in camp to turn as the boy led the pack of others
his age as the sun rose to the east.
Thinking to himself, Chaqua was pleased with how the boy was
born a natural leader and in the four years he had been with
them, the boy was becoming everything the chief had hoped he
Shoqua led his band of fourteen-year old braves to where the
land turned to become the mountains, he knew rabbits would be
plentiful in the area, hiding in rocky burrows and scampering
through the green vegetation.
By late afternoon, every pony had at least one if not two
rabbits hanging in proof of their hunting prowess. The boys
watched as the sun began its lazy decent in the western sky and
decided to head home, but one boy was not happy with the
decision, Artek’s son; he was angry that Shoqua and successfully
brought down three rabbits during their day.
Artron raced his pony past Shoqua and dismounted before the
horse stopped in front of the group of boulders before them,
with bow and arrow at the ready, the boy made his way up the
boulders in hopes of finding a rabbit from above.
Shoqua followed and called the boy to come down from his perch,
announcing if they did not leave for the camp, they would bear
the wraths of the fathers for arriving home after dark. Artron
argued that he knew what he was doing and their was no way he
was leaving until he equaled the number of rabbits that hung
from Shoqua’s pony.
In the language of the Apache, Shoqua called, “This is not a
competition to see who can gather more, if you are so desperate
to have three, take mine.”
The boys who followed Shoqua could not believe the generous
gesture, knowing they would not have made the same offer.
Shoqua climbed the boulders, with the intent of forcing Artron
to come down and return to camp with them. As he surmounted one
last boulder, he found a small path filled with underbrush that
led to where his friend stood but before he stood within fifty
feet of his friend, he heard the grunts, the shrill scream, and
something crashing through the brambles.
“ARTRON!” Shoqua screamed.
Artron turned and saw the massive wild boar bearing down upon
him, his eyes drawn to the long tusks protruding from the
Shoqua saw his friend unable to move and ran towards him,
thrusting him over the boulder. The tusks ripped into Shoqua’s
right leg as the boar charged past him. It took time for the
boar to slow and turn for a second pass at the young brave. With
tears in his eyes, Shoqua pulled an arrow from his quiver and
strung it taunt in his bow. He waited, and waited, the beast
began its charge. Ignoring the pleas from his friends below,
Shoqua waited and finally released the arrow, striking the boar
at just the right angle that it pierced through its chest and
straight to its heart. The animal came to a rest within ten feet
Slowly, Shoqua rested back against the boulder and tried his
best to still the thundering beat of the heart within his chest.
By the time he looked up, his friends were surrounding and
prodding to make sure the beast was dead, the boys sent up a
massive whoop as they realized the meaning of what had happened.
Shoqua stood straight and climbed down to where Artron stood
with hatred in his eyes, begrudging the beast should have been
In the language of the Apache, Shoqua asked, “Are you hurt?”
With steely eyes of hatred the boy pushed away the hand of
friendship and got up on his own.
When Shoqua returned to where they had left their ponies, he was
surprised to see the other boys had dragged the boar down from
the boulders and were discussing how to transport it home.
Shoqua removed the blanket from the back of his pony and with
help, positioned the boar on top of it, together the young
braves lifted the beast to the back of his pony. Taking strips
of rawhide they had brought with them, the boys tied them end to
end and made a rope to secure the beast.
Before the boy mounted his pony, he remembered the injury he had
received, a small price to pay for saving the life of his
friend. As camp came into sight, the red, orange and purple hues
painted the sky and his friends raced to their teepees to show
their catches and to brag of the boar. Shoqua would have smiled
as his friends raced home, but the incessant throbbing of his
leg would not stop.
Artron did not race home with the others, but continued to ride
in silence next to Shoqua. As they rode, he realized his actions
had caused the injury to his friend and his guilt kept him from
racing into their camp with his other friends.
“Your leg still weeps,” the Artron offered.
“I don’t feel so good,” Shoqua spoke as he slumped forward and
almost fell to the ground.
Artron’s hand was there to steady his friend, forgotten was the
animosity from earlier, now only worry remained. Worry for his
friend… Worry for how Chaqua would react.
Artek stood in front of his teepee as his son rode by and
continued to the teepee of their chief, Chaqua. Shoqua into the
worried arms of his father.
“Chaqua, I am ashamed. Shoqua saved my life and for that, I
turned my back on him. He killed the beast that lies behind him,
but not before it struck a blow to his leg. He killed the beast
to save my life when I… I froze in fear. I was angry he had
hunted more rabbits than I. I should have helped my friend
before we returned to camp. He is a true friend; he did not turn
his back on me, when I turned my back on him. Forgive me…”
Chaqua motioned for Quayla to take the boy from his arms, and
turned to find Artron running towards the tent of their medicine
As the sun rose the following morning, Shoqua moaned and
thrashed in his furs as the fever waged a battle inside his
young body. The morning would be a harbinger of what would come
for the next four days.
Four days had passed with Artron sitting in front of the teepee,
four days the boy refused food or water, telling others, “If
Shoqua cannot eat or drink, then I cannot.”
Quayla sat beside her son, wiping cooling cloths over his
forehead and across his fevered boy, all the while listening
while he whimpered, “Pa.”
The morning of the fifth day, when the parents were certain
their son could not continue, they accepted the words of their
medicine man and returned to their teepee; grieved to know they
were soon to lose a second son.
As the sun entered through the flap Chaqua lifted, two small
slits glowed as they reflected the morning sun. The parents
watched the fur move as a hand made its way out from under and
reached towards them.
“It is good to see you have returned,” Chaqua spoke as a smile
pressed itself on his lips. “No longer are you a boy, but a
Two days later, a weakened Shoqua walked from his teepee with
Artron by his side.
While tracking the great herds of buffalo, the camp continually
moved, only the last time, they moved farther North, into the
mountains. They continued to live their lives as dictated by the
seasons, traveling as nomads, and keeping far from any white man
As the years passed, Shoqua had grown into a strong brave,
continuing to prove himself a strong warrior. The braided rope
around his wrist was given to him by his father upon his
successful killing of a wild boar. As the wide braid prevented
the sun from reaching his skin, the skin began to change color,
ultimately returning to white. The braided rope acknowledged
that Shoqua was soon to be one of the warriors, but to Shoqua,
the braid came to stand as reminder to him of something else,
the truth of who he was, the truth he remembered during his
fever, the truth of the real father he had lost, the truth he
was really white. Shoqua kept his feelings to himself, not
knowing how the others would react to his memories.
A harsh, late March snowstorm brought disease and much death to
those in Chaqua’s camp and his refusal to move the tribe sat
sour with his younger brother, who convened his own counsel.
“Our people die while we sit here, good hunting grounds are but
three days ride. Chaqua’s too afraid to travel for fear of
leaving trail, all because he fears the white man will find us.
I say kill the reason we are here! Kill the white man’s child
that has brought this starvation and death upon us. If he
continues to protect the child, he too shall be reunited with
Artek’s words rallied the other braves into action, they were
determined to do what was necessary to save their families.
Chaqua heard the braves of the tribe approaching and stepped
from his teepee, “What is the meaning of this?”
“We come for Shoqua, if he is truly your son, let him defend
himself as all braves have. He is of age for ritual.”
“I and I alone determine who walks through ritual.”
“Then you fear your son is weak. He is not your son!” Artek
proclaimed. “Your son died four years ago. He is white! He is
Shoqua returned to camp from standing watch upon hearing the
arguing voices; trepidation caused his heart to skip a beat as
he realized who was arguing.
Quayla slipped from the teepee and ran to where she knew her son
stood watch, “Shoqua, you must go!”
“It is as I have long feared, Artek is here to kill my husband
and my son…” The woman cupped her hands to the face of her son.
“Please you must live, go down the mountains towards the rising
sun, go to the post of the white men, tell them your true name.
I know you remember, you are too strong to have forgotten the
As she finished speaking, she pulled back the braided rope from
Shoqua’s wrist and revealed that she remembered the truth.
Quayla forced into the hands of her adopted son a water skin and
pushed him away.
“Please my son, you must live.”
When he saw his mother turn to return to camp, Shoqua ran to
where his appaloosa grazed, he looked back upon hearing Quayla’s
scream pierce the night. As the braves started yelling, Shoqua
swung up to the back of his pony and kicked it forward into a
The young man spared his pony from breaking a leg by returning
him to a walk when he was well out of sight of the camp.
Days and weeks passed as the young Indian made his way down from
the mountain and to the flat lands, where it stretched far
beyond one’s vision. He hunted at dawn and of an evening,
traveling by the light of the moon and resting during the day.
He was thankful for the grassland, as he grazed his horse and
chewed the grasses himself when he could find no game to hunt.
The slender young man became thinner with his ribs showing the
hollowness of his belly as game became scarce.
Forgetting how many times the sun had traveled the sky, the
young Indian succumbed to the slumber from which he didn’t wish
to wake. Though he had found shade, as the sun traversed the
sky, he ultimately slept under the full fury of the afternoon
“Major, there seems to be a stand of trees over there, and
possibly that means water,” the Sergeant stated as he twisted in
“Among the Apache, there is known to be land, what you would
call an Oasis,” U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart stated as he removed
his hat and wiped the sweat from his brow.
“You got kinfolk out this way,” the Sergeant asked.
“No, though I am Apache, I am one. I have no tribe other than
the white man’s law.”
The Cavalry unit neared and spotted a horse curled up and lying
on the ground, curious as to who the horse belonged to as they
recognized the rope bridle the animal wore.
Raising his arm slowly, the Major motioned for his men to
dismount and approach the oasis with caution.
“Why it ain’t nothing but a boy,” the sergeant stated as he
knelt beside the sleeping figure. “Cain’t be fourteen, fifteen
years old. Ain’t nottun but skin and bones.”
“Corpsman,” called the Major. “See if the boy is alive.”
The corpsman ran and knelt next to his sergeant, pulled a
stethoscope out of the satchel he carried. Placing it to the
boy’s chest, he quietly listened.
“He’s alive sir, but barely.”
“What’s wrong with him,” asked the Major.
“From his appearance, I’d say he’s suffering from exhaustion,
and lack of proper nourishment. The sergeant is right, he’s got
no fat reserve to sustain him.”
“Why would an Indian brave be out this far, all alone?” the
Major worriedly asked Buckhart, “Could this be a trap?”
“A trap to what? The land stretches for miles with no place to
hide,” Buckhart responded.
Buckhart and the Major turned to watch the sergeant and the
corpsman tend to the young man, as another soldier encouraged
the horse to rise to its feet.
“Men, we’ll set up camp here for the night. Erect a shade lean
too for the boy and tend to the horses.”
The sergeant returned to stand next to the Major and the
marshal, and commented, “Sompen’ ain’t exactly right about that
“What do you mean?” the Major asked.
“Ask Buckhart, he would know, he’s one of ‘em. I mean he’s
wearing the clothing and the feathers, but he don’t just look
what an Indian looks like.”
Buckhart walked over to investigate the comments made by the
sergeant. As he knelt beside the boy he looked intently upon
him, noticing how the skin sunk between his ribs, how the skin
appeared to stretch across the boys face, but there it was… The
face, not the nose one would expect to find upon an Indian, but
maybe he was a half-breed. To most, the term half-breed was a
term of disrespect, something vulgar to call someone, but to
Buckhart, it spoke the truth, a boy torn between two nations,
one white and one red.
But still, there was something else about this boys features,
“Major, how long before you need to return to Fort Stanton?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I think we need to further investigate this boy, if we cannot
stay here, we need to take him with us.”
“Are you out of your mind?” asked the corpsman. “It’s bad enough
I’m tending to him, but you want this heathen to travel with
“Enough!” the Major ordered. “Buckhart, what are you getting
“He is not Indian, nor do I believe he is a half-breed.”
“You’re thinking he’s a captive?” asked the sergeant.
“I am not sure, if he is, I cannot understand that.” Buckhart
pointed to the chest plate the boy wore.
“What’s that mean?”
“The beads on his chest plate indicate he is of importance, a
“If he is, then why’d they leave him out here?” asked the Major.
“Major, I do not think he was left out here.” Allowing old
memories to refresh themselves, Buckhart stated, “If he is who I
think he is, we must ride for North Fork.”
The raven haired woman returned to town from visiting a friend
and drove the buggy past the cemetery, she halted the horse upon
seeing someone walking among the tombstones, stopping and
looking at each one, before continuing to the next. Horrified,
the woman urged her horse onward when she recognized the
“Milly, what brings you to my fair office?” Micah asked as he
poured himself a cup of coffee.
“Micah, I was returning from the Porter’s…”
“How are they? How’s their little boy?”
“Getting better, I think... Micah, that’s not why I’m here.”
“Micah, there’s an Indian at the cemetery.” Her eyes pleaded her
“He was looking at each grave marker. Micah, today is the first
Saturday of the month and Lucas always comes to town… you have
to get that Indian away from town. You know how Lucas is, any
time he sees an Indian.” Her voice tinged with regret. In the
two years she had resided in North Fork she knew the heartache
and hatred Lucas felt.
“I know Milly…”
Micah reached for his scattergun as he escorted Milly from his
office. With an air of urgency, he half walked/half ran to the
cemetery, only to find no one there. Looking to the path, Micah
knew Milly was right, there on the ground in front of him were
the unmistakable imprint of moccasin footprints.
“Well, at least he’s gone before Lucas rode by,” Micah commented
as he returned to town.
The clock on the wall in the Marshal’s Office struck noon as he
looked out the window to see Lucas McCain reining his horse in,
he stopped in front of the General Store and stepped from the
saddle. Without acknowledging the people hurrying to get out of
his sight, he pulled his saddlebags down from behind his saddle,
stepped to the boardwalk, and carried them inside. The other
patrons quickly paid for their orders and left; the brooding man
cast a pall over the pleasantries the town’s folks exchanged.
Lucas exited the General Store fifteen minutes after he arrived,
slipping his filled saddlebags behind his saddle and the bags
tied with string over his saddle horn, he swung up into the
saddle. Without a word, he turned his horse to leave.
Milly stepped to the boardwalk to wish Lucas goodbye, knowing
the man would never return the greeting. As she turned to enter
her store, she stopped and looked away from the direction the
tall rancher rode, in hearing a commotion coming down the main
street. A crowd of men were struggling, some yelling “Get a
Rope!”, others yelling “Murdering Injun!”.
Micah stepped to the street and fired his scattergun into the
air, causing the crowd to stop.
“What’s the meaning of this?!” Micah demanded.
“We found this Injun sneaking around town,” someone yelled.
“We stopped him from scalping and murdering someone!” someone
“Bring him here!” ordered Micah.
“We’re gonna serve justice!” someone in the crowd yelled.
“We’re gonna string up this good for nothing Injun!”
“You’ll do no such thing!!” Micah yelled, as he again fired his
scattergun into the air. As he opened the breech of his gun, he
pulled out the two expended shells and inserted two new ones.
Hearing the word ‘Injun” Lucas turned Razor and approached the
crowd; from his vantage point, he saw the Indian in the middle
of the crowd struggling against those who held him. Anger and
hatred blinded Lucas as he stepped from his horse, pulling his
rifle from his scabbard and gripping it tightly, he seethed
hatred. One by one people of the mob stepped aside, knowing
today would be the day they would help Lucas avenge his son.
“What’s the meaning of this?!!!” demanded the Major, upon
leading a column of soldiers into North Fork.
“We’re gonna hang a stinkin’ Injun!” someone yelled.
“In the name of all that’s holy, you will stand aside!” the
“Ain’t nothing holy about this heathen!”
The major turned and ordered his squad to disperse the crowd.
Slowly the people of North Fork stepped aside, but not before
someone threw a rock, striking the Indian in the temple,
dropping him to a crumpled heap on the dirt road.
“We have a right to protect our own,” snarled Lucas standing
alone, defiant against the Major.
“Yes, you do have that right, however, this person was granted
our protection. My protection!”
“Person? You hear that,” someone yelled from the boardwalk.
“They called that filthy Injun a person. They’re animals! Ain’t
no redskin gonna live to step foot out this town once they step
“ENOUGH!!! I hereby declare this town under Martial Law! Anyone
who does not comply with my orders, either direct or by one of
my officers, will be jailed until such time as I see fit to
Two soldiers approached the Indian, lying in the middle of the
street, each one grabbing an arm, and placing it over their
shoulders; they lifted the Indian from the ground, and carried
him back to where the Major stood. Quiet enough for only his
command to hear, he ordered and pointed the way to the doctor’s
office they had passed on their way into town.
Lucas stood and watched the soldiers carry the Indian, toes
dragging, into Doc’s. He quietly made his way to the livery and
climbed the ladder into the hayloft, where he waited.
Doc Burrage stepped from the back room upon hearing the bell
over his door ring.
“How may I help the Army…” his words died on his lips as two
soldiers carried the unconscious Indian inside. “I don’t help
“Under my orders, you will treat this young man or you will face
contempt of Martial Law and be jailed.”
“Then jail me, I can’t treat him if I’m in jail.”
“Doctor, this young man is in my custody, and you will treat
him. All is not what you see.”
“An Indian is an Indian. Not one Indian is allowed in this town;
the Marshal sees they’re all run out as soon as we find out
“You would allow this young man to die, even having sworn your
Hippocratic Oath? To do no harm?”
“I can’t do any harm if I don’t touch him. My oath didn’t say
anything about Indians. And if you knew this town and what
happened four years ago, you wouldn’t have brought that Indian
“There is the fact that you would harm him by an error of
omission. And, we didn’t bring an Indian here. From what we’ve
ascertained, this young man you’re refusing to treat is, a white
“Looks like an Indian.” Doc Burrage commented.
“Looks can be deceiving… Do you not remember my first visit to
North Fork?” asked a man wearing a U.S. Marshal’s badge who
entered behind the soldiers. As he removed his hat, his long
black hair cascaded down his back.
“You’re different, Buckhart,” Doc Burrage answered.
“Because I went to Harvard? Am I not an Indian?”
“You’re not the one who took Mark from Lucas.”
“No, but I was the one who brought Lucas back home, without his
son. I was the one who promised Lucas I would see his son home
safely. Those who lost track of Chaqua’s tribe, were under my
orders… So in a way, I was the one who allowed Mark to be
Doc’s attention saw drawn towards the young man lying on the
examination table as he began to moan.
“You say under all this filth is a white man?” Doc asked.
“I say under all the filth is Mark McCain,” answered Buckhart.
Doc reached for the Indian’s right arm, and spat upon the
forearm, rubbing away the dirt to see the tell-tale birthmark.
“How?” Doc asked, unbelieving.
“Chaqua moved his tribe in order to keep the boy hidden. Last
winter was harsh on them, a number of them dying from disease
and starvation,” Sam answered. “We found him in the dessert,
half starved, half dead.”
The major continued the story, “When he regained his senses, the
young man struggled to remember how to speak English, and with
Buckhart’s help, he eventually told us of the ensuing argument
and how the wife of Chaqua sent him away. How he traveled alone
for several months, keeping from any white settlements, until we
encountered him a week ago. We wired the Marshal Service and
received orders to return him to North Fork. We made camp last
night outside of town, evidently he slipped away during the
night,” the major took a moment to remember he still needed to
reprimand the soldier who was supposed to be on guard. “He said
though he lived as one of them, he always remembered who he was,
he wore the rope around his wrist to remind him.”
The doctor needed more confirmation; he cut through the braided
rope around the boy’s wrist and saw the white skin.
“Mark?!” Doc Burrage gasped in recognition of the truth lying
before him. Laying the palm of his hand upon his patient’s
forehead, he stated. “He’s running a slight fever.”
“Infection?” asked the major.
“More so his body trying to survive as malnourished as he is,”
Doc answered. “Give me time to treat his injuries then we can
discuss getting him fed once he’s awake. You’ll probably want to
talk to Micah.”
Nodding, Sam Buckhart and the major left the doctor’s office.
Gathering his wits, the doctor set about tending to the
laceration and swelling where the rock had struck the boy. He
continued to examine the boy and was appalled at how emaciated
he appeared. He cut the rawhide string that tied the chest plate
around the back of the boy’s throat and around his waist. Next,
he pulled the rawhide pants from the boy and noticed the long,
ugly scar along the right leg. Shaking his head, Doc Burrage
wondered about everything that had happened to the boy since he
had been taken.
Micah welcomed Sam Buckhart and the major into his office, where
he sat down heavy into his chair upon hearing the news that
Indian at the clinic was Mark McCain.
“Are you sure?” Micah hesitantly asked.
“As sure as we can be; it will be up to the boy and to Lucas to
confirm. Micah, will you ride with me to Lucas’, to inform him?”
“He was in town earlier this afternoon; he hasn’t left because
Razor is still tied in front of the saloon.”
“Then why hasn’t the boy’s father made his presence known?”
asked the Major.
“You met him earlier; he’s the one who stood up against you
about… He wouldn’t?!” Micah breathed, as a horrible thought
entered his mind. He stood to his feet and ran from the office,
down the boardwalk to the clinic.
The Major and the Marshal looked to each other before deciding
Micah tried turning the doorknob, only to find it locked,
“LUCAS!” he yelled as he pounded on the door.
As Sam and the Major caught up with Micah he said, “Lucas
doesn’t know… He’ll kill him!”
As he approached the Indian lying on the table, Toomey’s words
from so long ago echoed through Lucas’ mind, “The boy’s lost to
you. He’s dead.” As his hatred shown brighter in his eyes, he
heard his own words repeated, “You took my boy!” and wrapped his
hands tighter around the Indian’s neck, “You took my boy!”
The Indian before Lucas woke at finding strong hands around his
neck, he tried to claw and scratch the man, he pulled his legs
up and tried to push the man off him. His lungs burned with fire
as he struggled to breathe, his vision and what little strength
he had faded as the strong hands wrapped tighter and never
relinquished their hold...never relinquishing the hatred.
Lucas heard but ignored the door behind him crashing open and
felt arms pulling him away from killing his hatred. He struggled
against those who fought to restrain him, yelling, “I’ll see him
dead! They took my son! They killed Mark!”
“Lucas he is Mark!” Micah yelled, tears blinding filling his
eyes and he fought to pull Lucas’ hands away.
“He killed Mark!!” Lucas yelled in a blind rage squeezing his
hands ever tighter around the Indian’s throat.
“Knock him out!” Micah ordered.
Sam drew his gun from his holster, striking Lucas over the back
of the head, before he slowly returned the weapon to his hip.
Micah stared at his friend as he crumpled to the floor and
looked to the young man lying dead on the table.
Lucas regained consciousness and heard himself whisper, “Chaqua
“No Lucas,” regretfully Sam answered, “You killed Mark.”
Lucas woke in a cold sweat, and swung his legs over the side of
his bed, as he looked upon the still body of his teenage son,
peacefully sleeping in his bed on the other side of the room, he
realized it was only a dream. Lucas closed his eyes as he
exhaled, thankful the original ordeal was over but wondered, how
long would the nightmare continue to haunt his dreams?
Lucas opened his eyes at hearing, “Pa?” and seeing his son lift
himself up upon his elbow.
“Pa? The nightmare?”
“Go back to sleep Mark.”
“No, not this time.”
Lucas was about to admonish his son, but stopped upon seeing the
look in his son’s eyes as the boy continued.
“Pa, I remember what today is. Pa, I’m almost fifteen years old.
Won’t you tell me about your nightmare?”
“Son, it’s my guilt to bear.”
“As it is mine, I was the one who didn’t fight harder against
Chaqua taking me. I wasn’t brave enough to figure out a way to
escape when they didn’t tie me up. I wasn’t strong enough to
quickly cut through the ropes that bound Sam… I…”
“Mark…” Lucas hesitated and thought, ‘Maybe this is why the
dream keeps coming. I’ve never told anyone.’
Lucas waited for his son to sit down before he sat down next to
him on the porch of their home. Casting his eyes over the
landscape bathed in the soft moonlight, Lucas inhaled deeply and
“Son, I want you to know, you have nothing to be guilty about.
You were only a ten year-old boy when Chaqua and Artek took you
“Mark, let me finish. After I… As we rode home, do you remember
falling asleep in my arms?”
“No, sir, I don’t.”
“Well, you did, and Sam told me after he was taken Chaqua’s
captive, how brave you were trying to be as they took you
farther and farther from me. He told me how you struggled to cut
the ropes that bound him. Mark, I wouldn’t expect any ten
year-old boy to be able to cut through those ropes any quicker
than you were able too.”
“Yes, sir...” Mark answered, lowering his eyes, still feeling
“Mark, you have to understand, you were only a child up against
grown warriors, you did as you should have in not fighting
“I don’t feel so sure about that, you’re still having
“Mark, I was the one who killed Chaqua, I could have subdued him
and brought him back to stand trial, but my hatred and fears
wouldn’t let me…”
Lucas proceeded to tell his son of his nightmare. Mark listened
as Lucas told him the details; and how since he bore the deadly
guilt of having killed Chaqua, his fears twisted his dreams into
something far worse… “My guilt turned my fears of losing you,
into a nightmare that ultimately caused your death… by my
“But… it was a dream.”
“I’m thankful it was only a dream,” whispered Lucas.
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch