The Writer's Corner
And Wedding Bells Will Chime — Chapter Twenty
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy
“The sun rose to form another typically hot northern New Mexico
summer day. Saturday morning chores could not be ignored after a
long Friday night’s celebration. Will slept in the lodge in
keeping with the custom of not seeing the bride before the
wedding. Lucas was right by his side, many who attended the
party were still asleep in their bunks. Lucas rolled over first
and saw the bright sun already higher than his normal time of
waking. He nudged Will and then Mark.
“Come on you two. This may be a special day, but the animals
don’t know that. We have chores like any other day.”
“Ah Lucas….. Just once I wish you would go easy on the chores!”
Will grumbled as he struggled to get the cobwebs out of his
“No better way to shake off a night of drinkin’ than to sweat it
out. And you, young man, just because you got an easy twenty
bucks off of Masterson doesn’t make you privileged, this is your
ranch and when you’re here they’re your chores too!
“I’ve been doing my chores Pa, I’m ready. Mark was used to
waking early. He had the energy required to do his normal share.
Not being a drinker had its advantages.
“Come on Will, the sooner we get it done, the sooner you can get
married!” Lucas slapped him on the shoulder then helped him to
sit up. “You do have a hangover, we better get some coffee into
“Sorry Lucas, I guess I did me a little more drinking than
usual. I’ll be alright in a few minutes. Let me take care of the
chicken coup first and I’ll snap out of it.” Will stood up and
“You’re coming with me, coffee is the first order of business.
The chickens can wait.” Lucas knew it was more important to get
the groom ready.
“I’ll get the coup Pa! You take care of Will.”
“Thanks Son. Do what you can, I was just rousting you guys. The
hands will be up shortly and we’ll get it done soon enough.”
Lucas helped the stumbling groom into the lodge kitchen and
prepared an extra rich pot of coffee.
The ladies gathered at the Bard ranch house to get Ann ready and
take her to the church well ahead of time. The ceremony was to
take place at one o’clock. The final dress fitting was best
performed at the church. Ann wanted her friends to take part in
it. The garment had been fussed over for weeks and was ready
days ago. But Ma Bard had other ideas!
“Mom! I like it the way it is. We can stitch a little more lace
onto it at the church if we must!” Ann didn’t conform well to
“No daughter of mine is going to wear a wedding dress unless I
approve of it! Now put it back on for a minute and just let me
add one more piece near the neckline.”
“Alright, you go ahead, but this is it. We have to go soon.
Besides, I’ve been sewing most all of my life, and Emma knows
costuming very well. I wanted a plain neckline.
“A little touch of class isn’t going to hurt, now sit still.”
Emma and Aubrey stood back and let Mom do her thing not wanting
to stir the pot any further. “Where on earth did you get this
material daughter? This is nothing like what I can get back
“I had Sarah help me pick it out while we were in Dallas. I
think it’s wonderful. I was almost ready to let the shop make
the dress for me, but I wanted it to be something we all could
have a hand in making.”
“I can see where it has been designed by committee. But it will
look nice, I’ll give you that. Just a few more stitches and we
can be on our way.” Ann did her best to keep from being angry
with her mother’s fussing.
Sarah and Turley were waiting with a carriage right outside.
Finally, the ladies emerged from the house with boxes full of
gowns and hats. It was after ten o’clock in the morning and it
was already over ninety degrees. Turley guided the horses with
ease so as not to upset the load!
The men worked hard to finish the chores, then got busy grooming
and getting dressed in their suits or best duds. Many of the
ranch hands had little need to own a suit proper and wore more
casual clothing. Sam came around and passed out a tie to any man
that didn’t have one. Most of them were black and would match
whatever good shirt they happened to have. Will had a black
tuxedo made in town, one that befit a man in charge. He took it
to the Church in a box. Lucas wore the suit he had made in New
York and Bat did the same. William had the derby that once
belonged to Bat cleaned and looking new. Lucas wore his new
Stetson and Mark wore his from Christmas. At eleven thirty a
handsome bunch of men rode horseback the four miles or so to the
North Fork Church. They went slow being careful not to kick up
much dust. It looked like an army had descended on the town as
people began to show up around noontime. The sun was blazing and
shade was scarce. Some chose to wait a spell over at the saloon,
but there was no liquor served. Sweeney was dressed up and only
let them in for a glass of water and a cool place to wait. Micah
made his usual rounds and then hung out with Bat and Lucas. Will
was off by this time getting into his Tux. He still felt a tinge
of the hangover, but he wasn’t nervous. The real anticipation
was with those waiting and trying to stay cool in close to one
hundred degree heat.
At twelve thirty the bell rang and the pianist began to play
hymns. The soft music wafted along putting everyone into a
joyful mood. Shortly before the ceremony, the pump organ began
to play along. Guests started to gather in order to get the best
seats. Before long it was standing room only, and there was less
than ten minutes until the one o’clock hour. The front rows were
partially empty and awaiting their occupants. The procession was
almost due to come down the aisle. Lucas, Mark, and Will were
waiting with 3 Groomsmen, Sam was alone opposite them. Will and
Mark walked forward first to take their place in front of
Reverend Jamison. Lucas peeled off and took his seat next to
Aubrey up front. It was now getting very close to time and still
no Ann or Maid of Honor. Suddenly the door to the back room
opened and Momma Bard made a dash to her seat up front. Behind
her came the Maid of Honor, Ann’s friend, Julie. Then Ann came
forth in her stunning wedding dress with three bride’s maids
carrying the train behind her. There was more lace than Ann
wanted not only on her neckline, but mother had to have it up
and down and all around. Nonetheless, it was wonderful and Ann’s
beauty was gorgeously framed within. She stood alongside her
father and gave him a huge smile. The Groomsmen joined each of
the Bride’s Maids as they came into line.
With a nod from Sam, the organ player got the signal and the
Wedding March began. Sam led with Ann on his arm as they timed
their steps with the music. Momma Bard stood waiting in the
front row. Mark was very nervous fidgeting with the ring and
almost dropped it. He wised up and put it on his little finger.
It seemed like forever until Sam brought the procession to a
stop before Reverend Jamison.
There were many standing outside having to make due with only
hearing what was happening. One man looking in from the back
door gave details to the unfortunates unable to see.
Once Ann was brought forth Reverend Jamison offered an opening
“Our Heavenly Father, Bless all who attend here to take part and
witness to the marriage we are about to perform. Thank you for
this beautiful day and for granting us the time to be part in
your creation.” It was short and sweet as he knew it was hot.
“Who gives this woman to be wed to this man?” His voice was
strong and firm.
“I do!” Sam announced as he let go so Ann could take Will’s arm.
Sam faded backwards and joined his wife in the front row. He
looked across to the other side to give Lucas a quick thumbs up.
“Before we have the ceremony, we have a special presentation.
You may all be seated.” The congregation sat leaving only the
procession standing in front. “I would like to ask Emma Walters
to come forth.
Emma came to the podium in a choir robe to sing. Her voice was
sweet and perfect as she gave the most amazing rendition of
“Love Lifted Me”. When she finished the room remained silently
mesmerized. Emma then began her opening remarks.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, before we join these two wonderful
friends of ours, I want to say a few words to express what I
think we all feel for them on this most meaningful day. William
and Ann, you represent everything that we live for in this
world. Your love bonds the warmth and commitment that holds
promise for a better tomorrow. We know and pray that you will
work hard to fulfill that which you devote to each other on this
glorious occasion. In turn, we promise to support you with our
love and devotion in all things. It takes an entire community
woven together to survive in this world. And together we form
the finest fabric. No one thread can do all of the work, but
when brought into formation the strength in unison overcomes
all. It is with this thought that we are here today to witness
your marriage, not just to each other, but into all of our
Emma paused for a moment then sang once again. Will asked her to
perform his favorite hymn, Rock of Ages.
Emma returned to her place next to Bat in the front row with
Lucas and Aubrey. Reverend Jamison came back to the podium and
took up his Bible. He moved to stand in front of the procession
and made ready to begin the vows.
“Dearly beloved, we gather here today to join these two, William
Fulton and Ann Bard into the bond of Holy Matrimony. If there is
anyone here that can give reason that they should not be joined
in sacred union, let them speak now or forever hold their
peace.” The room stood silent without so much as a cough. “Very
well. I want for both of you to understand the serious nature of
the sacred promise that you make to each other before God and
these witnesses on this day. We join you to be one together in
all things, to stand strong by each other in sickness and
health, whether rich or poor, happy or sad. Life and its
struggles are a test of your faith and you are to seek strength
in each other never to find doubt in your pursuits. Your union
is blessed by God and you are to obey his commandments and
follow his word for all the days of your lives. Let us pray.”
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy
kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we
forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory forever. Amen.”
“Heavenly Father, we ask your blessing today in the holy union
of your children, William Fulton and Ann Bard. They come before
you humble and willing to receive your word. May their lives be
long and fruitful. Keep them safe and deliver them from fear for
all the days of their lives. Thank you for the gift of love and
for the miracle of life with which to celebrate it. We present
unto you this faithful man and woman to become one in your eyes
and among those that witness this day. Amen.”
“Do you, William Fulton, promise to have and to hold, to protect
and to honor, and to hold sacred for the rest of your life this
woman, Ann Bard?
Will looked longingly into Ann’s eyes but didn’t hesitate. “I
“And do you, Ann Bard, promise to have and to hold, to protect
and to honor, and to hold sacred for the rest of your life this
man, William Fulton?”
Ann still held her gaze into Will’s eyes. “Forever I do!”
Reverend Jamison motioned to Mark and Julie and they both
stepped forward to hand him the rings. “With these rings we
symbolize the seamless union of two souls. Upon their fingers
they shall humbly radiate the love that holds them in Holy
Matrimony.” The Reverend held the rings up for the congregation
to see. “Let us pray.”
“Our Heavenly Father, bless these rings with which we are about
to symbolize the marriage of William Fulton and Ann Bard. May
they represent to everyone the devotion and love that makes them
one, an endless circle of commitment, a covenant between them
and with you. Amen.”
“Our couple has chosen to recite their vows as they place their
rings. William Fulton, this ring is your binding symbol of love
for Ann.” William received the ring and smiled as he held it
“Ann Bard, with this ring I express to you my unending devotion,
my soul is now complete. No longer do I think on my own, no more
to roam. I am humble and thankful to be your husband and I
receive you as my wife for eternity. Your heart is my home. I am
faithful to you, forsaking all others.” Ann held out her hand
for Will to place the ring. The warm sunlight lit upon it as it
streamed through a window from the side.
“Ann Bard, this ring is your binding symbol of love for William.
Ann eagerly took the ring and gazed upon it with delight, she
held it up to Will.
“William Fulton, with this ring I express to you my eternal
devotion. No longer do I think alone. You are my guiding light
as we travel together through eternity. I am humble and thankful
to be your wife. I receive you as my husband and soul mate,
forsaking all others to be by you side. Our souls are now one.”
Will held out his hand for Ann to place the ring. They then held
both hands together and remained silent for a moment, taking in
the vision that they now put forth in their new life.
“What God has now united in Holy Matrimony let no man put
asunder. With the power invested in me by the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost, I now pronounce you Man and Wife!” You may
now kiss the Bride!”
Mister Fulton took Misses Fulton into his steady arms, he peeled
back the veil, and they kissed with more passion than ever
before. Ann’s Mother could be heard crying first, it didn’t take
long before others joined in. A camera sparked a flash before
the kiss ended. Reverend Jamison said the last words before the
congregation would erupt.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! I give unto you to cherish forever,
Mister and Misses William Fulton!” They turned to face a church
full of cheering friends and family. Hats were still in mid air
and many were hugging and bowing towards them. Will’s eyes fixed
on Lucas, who was clapping and looking with affirmation right
back at him. Aubrey grabbed his arm and they hugged. The music
started and most regained their composure enough to watch the
procession start out towards the front doors. A long line
twisted way into the street. Rice pelted the newlyweds as they
ran the gauntlet of well wishers and took their place to greet
people as they exited the church. Sam and Vanessa came out arm
in arm with huge smiles on their faces. They held tight and
stood by Ann’s side with Julie. Lucas, Aubrey, and Mark stood
next to Will. Dillon, Ruth, and the kids, Bat and Emma, Sarah
and Turley, Micah, and Walt Donaldson all stood nearby as well.
It took a long time to shake everyone’s hand, hug, kiss, and
exchange greetings. A number of Mark’s friends stopped to ask
how he was doing. He didn’t quite realize how much hugging and
kissing he was in for!
Many asked Lucas and Aubrey when they planned to wed. All they
could do was ask for a little patience. Bat and Emma were very
popular guests. North Fork would soon be enjoying their talents.
Emma was asked to perform and Bat said he would be happy to have
a gun show with Lucas. Many happy days were in store for North
Fork’s shinning stars.
It took a long time to satisfy all that came past for a
greeting. Reverend Jamison finally made the announcement that
everyone should make their way to the McCain ranch for the
reception. The photographer took even more time as he had a
number of requests for pictures to satisfy. Finally, a brand new
four horse wagon was brought up front from the livery. Nils, the
blacksmith, joined with Bat, Lucas, Walt, and many others to buy
them this most useful gift. Four of Sam’s best quarter horses
were in the lead. Will picked Ann off of her feet and carried
her to the wagon. Once on board, Will stood up and gave one last
tip of his derby.
“Thank you everyone for this wonderful occasion. I want all of
you to join us for the greatest party of all time! Follow me!”
The wagon left quickly as the tin cans tied behind rattled the
news. North Fork’s newest couple was on their way home!
Wagons lined the road behind the newlyweds. It was not easy to
find a place for all of them to park. It was a lot of work just
to look after the many horses. A corral was available for those
staying a long time. The lodge could not hold everyone in
attendance but the main tables in front served as a receiving
line for guests to pass by and pay their respects. Guests of
honor were seated inside, but most sat outside on benches and
tables. It was a very large party and many brought dishes to
share. North Fork had not seen such a large gathering for a very
long time. Once the formalities were complete, the steaks hit
the grill. Walt supervised and a crew of men took turns cooking
and passing out the meat.
The meal was well underway when William found it proper to get
up and speak with Sarah, only a few chairs away.
“I want you to know how much I appreciate your being here.” Will
kissed her on the cheek and took her hands into his.”
“I wouldn’t miss the chance at having one of these porterhouse
grilled by the man who supplies them!” They both had a good
“You have done so much as have many here. I want there to be
more time for us to be together. I know there’s much to talk
“Yes my dear, but your friends and family need you right now. I
can stay a long time. Things are looking good in Dallas, and I
love it here. I find a comfort that words fail to describe. I am
so happy for you William. After so many years of wondering about
you my heart feels complete to know that so much good has come
your way. And I understand how you must feel to have such a
loving family here. Still, I look forward to some happy days on
our farm. It’s there for you now and always.”
“And I am relieved to know that there will be no more trouble,
thanks to those friends of ours! I’m going to come back soon. I
want to arrange for Hank to be with my parents. And I would love
to see about a new house for the farm. I know it all takes time
and that the law may still have something to say, but I know we
are richly blessed to have such great things to look forward
“Yes we are. And I want for you to feel at home anytime. I’ll
have the plans for your family’s house looked into and we can go
over them when you get there. The cotton business is doing
great. We have plenty of resources to make improvements. And I
want you to know that anytime you have a need for these ranches
just let me know. This is such an inspiring place. I don’t want
you to stress about the farm. It is yours to enjoy whenever you
wish. I have kept everyone involved with running it and we can
decide on details as time permits.”
“Thank you Sarah. I know Ann will love us having a home in
Dallas. You know, life takes us in unexpected directions. At
first I was running away when I came here and now it’s my home.
When I first met Ann, I was unable to tell her why I couldn’t
stay and it hurt bad. It was love at first sight for both of us.
Then it took so long for us to be together once everyone found
out about me. She waited all of that time, over eight long
years!” Tears came to Will’s eyes. “God Bless that woman!”
Before another word could be spoken a clinging from an empty
wine glass called everyone to attention. Mark stood with a spoon
in his hand. He gave everyone a few moments to come to
attention. Glasses of champagne were being passed out and when
it was time Mark raised his voice to give a toast.
“It is my sincere honor to be Will’s Best Man. I want to raise a
toast to the man that saved my life when I was very young. He
has returned to North Fork to become part of our very large
family. Most of us came here from somewhere else at one time or
another searching for a new home. This gives us a special
ability to accept newcomers into our community. I welcome you
William Fulton, may your life among us be prosperous and ever
loving. May your roots sink deep and your branches grow long.
May the fruit that you bring forth enrich our lives. And may our
friendship in return enrich yours!”
The glasses clanged and cheers arose. Will and Ann’s arms
intertwined to sip the champagne. Lucas looked in amazement at
his son whose words were so well chosen. William looked over his
family in awe. He looked at Ann and almost burst into tears.
“Thank you everyone! And thank you most of all Mark, my friend
and brother. Very long ago I came to North Fork in a very bad
way. My brother, Hank, and I had just robbed a bank and were on
the run from a posse. We came upon this young man clinging to a
cliff side and not far from falling. If not for my decision to
stop and rescue him, we would have rode on and neither of us
would be here today. It was a miracle indeed. It has led to many
more miracles. I promise that I will consider each and every day
among you a miracle. You are all precious to me. To those of you
who have taken me in and shown me the love that I was so
hopelessly missing, I say God Bless you. You are the good people
who make this world a righteous place. You know to do the right
thing by nature, never doubting, never having to think about it,
you just do it. I am here today as a result and can never do
enough to express my gratitude. And to my wife, I say God Bless
you for waiting for me. For being devoted for so long, for being
giving in every way. Your patience has brought us here and given
us a new life together. I promise to cherish you for all
“Ann stood up and embraced her husband. The cheers went up for a
long time. The people outside were very loud. Next, it was
Julie’s turn to offer a toast.
“To my best friend Ann Fulton, you are as a sister to me.
Growing up with you is a great joy and I cherish every moment.
All of North Fork has been blessed by your loving ways an
unending generosity. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
May your new life as Misses Ann Fulton be as richly blessed as
our lives are to this day!” Another round of cheers and clanging
glasses gave Ann a moment to regain her composure.
“Julie, as always, you make my day. I am indeed fortunate to
have you to be part of me. Thank you for the many blessings you
are in my life. You are my protector in times of trouble and my
partner in all things. I know we have so much more to look
forward to. Likewise, I have waited for so long to become wife
to this wonderful man. I want him to know that he is worth the
wait. It was love at first sight. I took it on faith that he was
for real. And now we are one! Miracles do happen and faith can
heal all. To my husband I say, God Bless you William Fulton, I
love you! God Bless all of you for supporting us. We shall be
one with North Fork for the rest of our days!
Before long, the band assembled in the barn and the dance was
on. Will and Ann led as everyone gathered to watch them waltz as
man and wife for the first time. A cake was ready as they ended
the first dance in position to slice it. There were other cakes
provided as one could never go around. Will and Ann held each
other’s piece of cake to take a first bite. Suddenly, Ann went
first and smashed the remainder in Will’s face which brought on
the same from him. They quickly realized it was getting on their
wedding attire and backed off before it got too messy. A loud
round of applause and cheering went up and the band began to
play. A towel was given to each of them to clean up. Julie came
up to Mark and they took the lead in beginning the next waltz.
Lucas grabbed Aubrey as Sam and Vanessa followed suit. Before
long, Bat and Emma and Dillon and Ruth took to the floor. Ann
nudged Will towards Sarah and they paired to take the center of
the dance once Mark and Julie moved to the side. Ann took a
moment and had somebody help remove part of the wedding dress
decoration so she could move about easier and made sure there
was no more cake to make a mess. Once she was ready, each man
took a turn at dancing with the Bride. Sam went first, taking
his daughter to the center of the group. He kissed her and
whispered in her ear.
“Well my daughter, you’ve gone and done it now!”
“I certainly have! Thank you Daddy, I love you!”
“And I love you Ann. You’ve make me very happy. You’re the
“Happily ever after, that’s how it’s going to be.” Ann hugged
Sam tight and they drifted along until Lucas bumped into them.
“May I have the honor?”
“Sam let Ann step away holding onto one hand. “Why certainly
“Why thank you Mister Bard. Lucas bowed and took Ann by the
other hand and they made their way to the middle of the floor.
“Congratulations Ann, I guess I don’t need to say it…..”
“I know, kinda makes life worth livin’ don’t it!”
“Now where have you heard that before?”
“A certain cowboy I know keeps telling me that. I think he
learned it from you!”
“Got that right. So what comes next?”
“That is up to you Lucas McCain! I think you are next!” Ann
laughed and stepped up the pace. “In fact, we have to speed
things up a little.”
“Lucas smiled and looked over to Aubrey. She winked and smiled
back. She knew what was being said. About this time Bat stepped
up and made his request. Lucas passed the Bride to the Master
and strolled back to join Aubrey.
“So we’re going to be next, are we?”
“So you can read lips? Amazing!”
“I can read eyes too! I think just about everyone here is
talking about it.”
“Does that bother you my dear?” Lucas took her hands into his
and looked into her eyes.
“Not in the least. In fact, I want it to be so. I just hope you
are ready for an even bigger party!”
“I think we can arrange for that. And one at your place too!”
Lucas waved over at Sam and Vanessa. They joined them on the
side as others took to the dance floor. “Say Sam, do you think
we have enough beef for another wedding?”
“You’ll be doing the butchering friend!”
“I can do that. You have one beautiful daughter partner!”
“Thank you Lucas. And your adopted son is quite a handsome
“That he is. He’ll make a great rancher some day.”
“Say Lucas, you know what? We can have us a real big time one
day soon. When you and Aubrey are ready to tie the knot, Vanessa
and I want to renew our vows also!”
“Now that’s a right good plan Partner! You’ll be doing the
promising and I’ll do the butchering.” Everyone laughed as Sarah
“So, I understand we might have another wedding soon. Should I
stay in town?”
“You’re welcome to stay here as long as you please! Steaks are
on me! Lucas hugged her and they all laughed. “We do have
everyone here, but we can’t be too quick about it, can we…..?”
Lucas looked over at Aubrey and she shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, it could be soon. But let’s finish this party first!”
Sam had a special gift to present to Will. The many gifts
waiting to be opened were waiting in the lodge, but this one was
too big. Sam asked the band to pause and whistled real loud to
get everyone’s attention.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to call my daughter and son
in law up front for a very special presentation.” Sam waved at
them to hurry them up. I know we have a whole bunch of gifts to
open and much more fun before the evening is over, but I want to
tell you about a very special story. When William was having his
problems, we took it upon ourselves to take care of his
cherished horse, Spirit. Ann was able to surprise him with this
upon his return some eight years later. For some time now we
have been looking for just the right mare to breed with Spirit
and by golly we found her!” Sam motioned for the horse to be
brought forward. “William, you make me very proud this day. I
look forward to one big happy family as you guys grow together.
So I thought I would give you a head start!” William fell back
into Ann’s arms as a stunning horse was brought out from a stall
in the barn. “This is a rare American Saddlebred chestnut mare.
She hails from Kentucky and a very distinguished line. I don’t
have to tell you how special she is, her father was a very
famous show horse. So we now have the makings of a new line of
breeding for our ranch. Spirit’s legacy can now live on.”
William was stunned. He walked up to the horse and stroked her
gently. Ann looked over her qualities in amazement. Lucas and
others gathered around in a large circle giving her room to feel
comfortable. Not the slightest jitter did she exhibit. She was
used to being looked at.
“I don’t know what to say! This is just the best…… Dad!” Sam and
“What shall we name her dear?” Ann asked to break up the hug.
“I have actually thought of a name if we ever found Spirit a
mate. I want to name her Faith. Spirit is a special name for
what he meant to our family when we first came to us. We have
Sarah to thank for that wonderful occasion! And now Faith means
a lot to us as that is what this family represents. Thank you
Sam! Your faith in me has been my saving grace. This means so
much to me and to all of us. I can’t wait to see Spirit and
Next Vanessa stepped forward to announce the final formality for
“I would now like to ask all of the single women to gather on
the dance floor for the tossing of the bouquet. Ann is going to
stand over here and good luck to all of you!”
Ann gave them a few minutes so anyone outside could join in.
When it came time everyone counted down and then over her
shoulder it flew. A mad scramble ensued and it landed in the
hands of Becky Sue McCarthy, one of Ann’s long time schoolmates.
The girls surrounded her and they all jumped for joy.
“And now for William’s turn! I want all of the single men to
gather now.” Sam exclaimed. Ann reached down and took a garter
from her leg. William took it from her let them count down, then
shot it into the air. Mark tried to stay in the back of the area
and avoid being the one to catch it, but it came right for him.
He sidestepped to avoid the rush in his direction but it still
managed to land close to him. It was finally grabbed by one of
the men from town, Henry Welson. Mark was relieved knowing that
he could not possibly be the next one to wed. He knew it was
going to be his Pa!
The sun went down and the dancing went on. The rest of the gifts
were opened inside the lodge and the pool table became a popular
destination. As the night wore on, Bat ran a very spirited poker
game. When the crowd dwindled late into the night, it became
mostly a close friend and family affair, the whiskey bottles
came out and Sam started off a long round of toasts. This went
around many times and so did the whiskey. Finally Bat had one
last thing to say.
“To the finest group of family men that has ever walked this
earth. It is my privilege to become a member. William Fulton,
you are now a son to many fathers. If I never have a son of my
own, I will go to my grave knowing that I imparted to you all
that I could give to a son. And all that I could give to a
brother! May you walk far with your cane, wear your derby in
grand fashion, and handle your Colt with the best! And may you
never have to use it.”
North Fork grew up a great deal this day. William and Ann Fulton
took their rightful place in the fabric of the community. The
ranch partnership was set for success and would become a leader
in the prime beef and horse breeding industries. There was still
much for Will to accomplish in Dallas and at home. Thanks to the
efforts of many, Vernon Carlson and Quentin Renfro were finished
and spending the rest of their lives in prison. It would take
years to sort out the entire mess left behind, and John
Templeton was the best man to oversee the process. It would have
been too easy to hang Vernon, he and Quentin were more valuable
for questioning The cotton farm was now in good hands and would
eventually become a jointly held corporation consisting of
Sarah’s children and William’s entire family of partners.
Lucas and Bat would go on to perform their gun show in a number
of cities around the country. North Fork was the next venue.
Their friendship grew and they traveled together with Aubrey and
Emma for many miles.
Mark had a very full plate with his education and work in the
field of surveying. His aunt and uncle were very thankful to be
able to share his presence. He always found it hard to be away
from the ranch, but this gave him more ambition to do well at
school so he could return.
William Fulton’s decision to pay for his mistakes and to have
faith in his friends brought him back from the depths of despair
a thousand fold. His revival gave birth to a trail of miracles
that would never cease. Forgiveness was surely a powerful
expression throughout his life.
It was initially hard for Lucas to let go of Mark as he went off
to school. But he came back in just one year impressively grown
up. The decision to bring Will into the family was easy to
conceive but had many trials as it came to fruition. The
experience changed Lucas in many ways as he traveled and became
friends with Bat Masterson. He stepped out of North Fork taking
many risks and returned triumphant for both his sake and Will’s.
And what of Lucas and Aubrey? Do they get married? Does Lucas
find new adventure or does he settle on his ranch to watch Mark
and Will run the place? Only time and another tale for the
Rifleman will tell.
Rifleman's Serenade ―
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch