The Rifleman
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The Adventure Begins
Written Donna Hume

Lucas and Mark were on their way, their adventure had begun. Most people in town believed Lucas was crazy; not knowing where he intended to go, not going with a wagon train, just he and Mark on their own. Lucas was aware of the dangers but he was confident in himself and his son, the two of them together with the Lord, could accomplish anything; that was what he believed when he started the journey, at midday he started to question himself.

Mark kept talking and asking questions; there was never a quiet moment, no time to think or meditate on what or where they might go or do. Lucas found himself wishing for nightfall, not because he was tired but because that would mean Mark would be going to sleep, and that would mean Mark would be quiet. Then he remembered his Mothers words, “He is a smart boy, give him a chance.” The only way Mark would learn was to ask questions, even if the answers seemed absolutely obvious to Lucas. He chuckled to himself and Mark looked up at him, “What’s so funny Pa? I didn’t say anything funny.” Lucas turned to the small boy seated next to him, “Hm, Oh, nothing Mark. I was just thinking of something, that’s all.” “Well, if it made you laugh, maybe it’ll make me laugh too.” Lucas chuckled again and shook his head. Mark had to squint when he looked up at his father because the sun was behind him, “Pa? Are you going to tell me what’s so funny?” “It’s just all your questions, son. Your Gramma had told me to remember that you were a bright boy, now I know why.” Mark just looked up at him, his face a question mark but he said nothing; not for at least three seconds before he had another question. Lucas just seemed to slump into the seat as the interrogations continued; he had to remember where he put those school books, maybe he could survive if Mark had something to read, just maybe.

As dusk was approaching, Lucas had Mark on the lookout for a decent campsite. Mark was pointing at any spot he thought they might be able to squeeze the wagon into. Lucas was getting tired and Mark was not helping, finally; “Pa, there seems to be a good one right over there by that stand of Oak trees. It even looks like there is a lake down there,” Mark shouted. “I’m right here Mark, you don’t need to shout,” Lucas said as he was rubbing his ear. “I’m sorry Pa, I just want to get down off of this seat for a while is all; and it really does look like a good spot,” Mark stated more calmly. Lucas smiled down at his son, “I know what you mean about getting down off of this seat, let’s go see just how good it is and if we can use it?” After driving the wagon the short distance to the stand of trees, Lucas jumped down from the wagon and lifted Mark down; they both stretched before doing anything else. Lucas grabbed his rifle as he looked around, checking to see if the site belonged to anyone before they began to set up camp. Finding no sign of ownership, he and Mark began to unload supplies to make camp for the night.

As Lucas unhitched the horses and tied them to a tether line, Mark started getting things ready for supper. It was a good thing they liked beans because that and cornbread was all they would be eating for supper for most of their adventure. Mark also milked the one cow they had brought with them to start their new ranch. The milk would be a nice novelty on this journey and Mark intended to take advantage of it as long as he could. No telling when the cow would dry up. With the sky looking clear, there was no need to set up a tarp to keep them dry. Mark went down to the lake to bring water up for Lucas to make coffee, and decided he would just have milk. After supper, Lucas searched for those books he wanted for Mark and located the Bible for himself, this expedition was going to demand some great trials and tribulations of Lucas and he needed the only source that could provide him with the answers. While Lucas was finding the books, Mark was cleaning up the dishes and getting his sleeping roll ready. When Lucas returned to the campfire, Mark asked, “Pa, do you know where we are headed?” “Right now, son, we are headed north, toward Nebraska. I don’t know what we will find there, but if we don’t find anything we like; well, then we’ll move on to something else. We won’t stop until we find what we like. How does that sound to you?” he looked down at his son. “That sounds fine Pa, that sounds just fine,” came the sleepy sounds from the small boy. Lucas continued looking at him, he looked so small and fragile in this big open countryside; so like his mother. Had he done the right thing by selling the ranch and moving on? In his heart he knew that he had made the right decision for both of them, he just had to let his head catch up to his heart. He read some by the firelight but then he had to close the Bible along with his eyes. He held it near his heart as he drifted off to sleep, surprisingly, it was the best nights’ sleep he had since Margaret's death.

Morning came all too soon but it was a pleasant surprise for Lucas. “Wake up Pa. I already made coffee and I caught some fish down in the lake; maybe you could cook them up for breakfast?” Mark asked. Lucas was trying to wake himself from his dead sleep, “Sure Mark, if I can wake up.” “I brought up some water for you to wash up and shave too, Pa.” “Mark, what’s your hurry?” Lucas questioned. “Those fish, Pa. They look awfully good. Who knows when we’re going to have the chance to get anything like them again?” Lucas laughed, “So you are thinking of your stomach then?” “When you look at these fish, Pa, you will be too,” Mark stated undeniably. Lucas sat up and looked at the fish Mark was holding in front of his face. Pushing them out of his face, “Those must be 5 pounds each. What did you use as bait?” “I told you Pa, you would be thinking of your stomach too when you saw them. I just used some leftover beans that I tied with some of that sack cloth. They came at it like it was Christmas. C’mon Pa, let’s cook it up.” Lucas laughed, “Yes sir, I guess when one partner provides the food, the other one had better cook it up. Never knew of a fish coming after beans before. Do we have any of that cornbread left from last night?” Mark jumped up from where he was kneeling, “We sure do, I’ll go get it. The fry pan is already next to the fire,” and off went the boy to get the cornbread.

After breakfast, they packed up all the cookware and bedrolls. Made sure the fire was extinguished and packed up all the leftover food so they could eat it for dinner on their journey, without having to stop. While Mark was checking for anything they may have forgotten, Lucas hitched up the horses, and made sure the fire was out completely; the two partners climbed up onto the wagon and started on their second day of their great adventure.

Day 2

Day one had been uneventful and Lucas hoped all their days would be the same but he knew that would not be the case, yet that did not keep him from hoping. Mark, on the other hand, was looking for anything to happen; after all, this was supposed to be a great adventure. Lucas drove the team, his rifle always across his lap; ready for anything and hoping for noting. For the first hour or so, Mark was quiet, he seemed quite happy just enjoying the scenery. Then his curiosity got the better of him and he had to ask, “Pa, how did all these trails get here?” Lucas did not plan to play this game again today, “How do you think they got here?” he asked. “I don’t know. If I knew, I wouldn’t be asking you,” Mark stated rather innocently. Lucas tried not to lose his temper and it was difficult until he looked at Mark who was staring up at him with such a trusting face, “Mark, try to think about how many people have come out west and how they got here. Does that give you any idea as to how these trails may have gotten here?” Again, Mark put his small fist under his chin, his face wrinkled in thought, “Well, maybe a lot of them used this trail in the wagon trains, do you think that could be a reason?” Lucas was amazed at how, when faced with a challenge, his young son could deduce answers with such logic. He must have inherited his intellectual abilities from his mother; he wondered what his other child would have been like, but that was something better left in the past, back with the ranch. “Pa, do you think that could be a reason?” Mark asked again. The question snapped Lucas back to the present, “Yes, Mark, I do think that is how the trail got here.” “Well, if you thought that was the reason, why didn’t you just say so?” Mark asked again. Lucas tried to hide his frustration but it still came out in his voice, “Because, Mark, sometimes you should think things out for yourself.” Mark looked up at his father, tears welling in his eyes but not quite falling down his face, “Gee Pa, I didn’t mean to make you angry. I was just asking a question. Is it alright if I just go back inside the wagon? Then I won’t be bothering you any.” Lucas felt terrible. How could he be so heartless? “Mark, wait a minute. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I guess I’m just wondering if I did the right thing, leaving Enid and all.” Mark looked up into the pale blue eyes of his father, “Pa, we talked it over, remember? We decided to let go of the past and find a whole new future, just the two of us. Of course we’re doing the right thing. You’re just worried because I’m so young and you think something will happen to us; but I trust you Pa, you won’t ever let anything happen to me.” Lucas had to stare into the face of his young son, “You have more faith in me than I do.” “Well, then you should learn to trust your partner more,” Mark stated with such confidence that Lucas was taken aback by his certainty. “Mark, you’re right, I do have much to learn from you and I do need to learn to trust in you. You may have to remind me from time to time, do you think you can be patient with me?” Lucas was looking at Mark, with a very intent look on his face; he wanted to make sure that Mark understood that he was serious. “Shucks, Pa, you know that I’ll always forgive you no matter what you do. Don’t worry either; I’ll remind you about trusting in me.”

The rest of the day was not too bad. Mark was asking questions but they were more about the countryside and what kind livestock it could sustain. Would they be raising cattle or perhaps horses? They would need to have some crops, for their own needs and those of the ranch; would they possibly do a little more for extra money? What about chickens? Hogs? “Mark, slow down. We haven’t even found a place yet and you are trying to decide our entire future.” “Well, if we don’t have some plans for when we get there, what are we going to do? Don’t we have to have some kind of idea to start?” Mark asked. Again Lucas thought about the logical strategy of his young son, “Mark, to tell you the truth, I didn’t give it much thought. We have a long way before we find someplace and I figured we had some time to make our plans.” “Well sure Pa, that’s what we’re doing now; making plans.” Lucas chuckled, “I guess we are son, I guess we are.” They talked about where they might settle and depending on their location decided on cattle or horses. The crops would depend on the time of year they settled. Chickens were good any time of year and they were a very good idea. A chicken coop was easy to build if they wanted to sell eggs, and was an easy way to keep the chickens safe if they did not have a readymade barn. These were topics that Mark enjoyed discussing and showed a very mature nature while tackling the subject matter. Lucas was impressed with his partner and was very satisfied with the plans they formulated that afternoon.

Dusk started settling upon them once again and this time Mark knew what he was seeking in a campsite when he pointed to the perfect choice. Lucas pulled up the wagon and reined in the horses. While he was unhitching the horses, Mark set up the tether line and tied the cow to it. Lucas finished with the horses while Mark gathered the camp gear for supper. As Lucas started to cook the beans and ready the preparation for the cornbread, Mark milked the cow. Coffee was made with the water from the water barrel which meant that Lucas was going to drink leftover coffee for breakfast; he could not take the chance of not finding more water. Mark brought the fresh milk over and Lucas finished mixing the cornbread and put it into the campfire to cook. Mark found a place for his bed roll and asked his father where he wanted his. “I’ll find a spot later, son; I just want to relax right now. I think I’ll just stretch my legs for a bit, do you want to walk with me?” He didn’t have to ask Mark twice, “Sure, Pa. Where are we going?” “No place special, son. Just want to be off of my backside for a while, that’s all.” He and Mark strolled about until Lucas thought the cornbread would be done and they returned to the campsite. After supper, Lucas read to Mark from the Bible until Mark could no longer keep his eyes open. Lucas tucked him into his bedroll and then read quietly to himself. Again, he laid the Bible close to his heart before he laid down his head to sleep.

Day 3

Lucas woke to the frantic voice of a young boy. “Pa, Pa, wake up. The horses are gone. Pa, wake up.” Lucas jumped up out of his bedroll and saw the fear on Marks face. He looked around, the horses were indeed gone. “What happened?” “I don’t know, Pa. I woke up and the cow was here but the horses were gone. Pa, I’m sorry, the tether line, it didn’t hold, I’m sorry Pa, I’m so sorry.” Lucas didn’t take the time to tell Mark it was okay, he had to find the horses. Mark stayed with the wagon, believing he had disappointed his father, knowing he had jeopardized their future.

Mark didn’t know what to do while waiting for his father; he gathered up the bedrolls and put them into the wagon. He made sure the Bible was placed under the wagon seat, right where his father would be able to find it. He started up the fire and placed the coffee pot on it so Lucas would have hot coffee when he returned with the horses, if he returned; he had to return.

The Adventure Begins.....
Lucas Managed to Stay Awake

These stories are based on the TV series The Rifleman
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