The Writer's Corner
Written by Michelle Palmer
She sang to herself as she removed the bread from
the oven. It was hot, but that’s the way he liked it – fresh
from the oven. She reached up on the top shelf and smiled as
she stuffed the peach preserves into the basket along with the
stew and canned vegetables she was going to insist he take.
Then, before exiting the back store room she grabbed a fresh
baked apple pie and placed it gently into the basket at the very
top. The apple pie would be a special treat for him today.
She heard the door open and close so hurried out to
see who it was. Twelve year old Mark McCain was bent over the
candy jar, much like he did that first day he walked into that
store. Hattie smiled as she remembered back to the day Lucas
McCain had ridden into town with his ten year old son. He had
been so timid as she offered him that first piece of candy, and
Mark had been so polite. She had fallen in love with that
little boy right off.
She leaned her head against the door jam and smiled
lovingly. Mark wasn’t the only one she had fallen in love
with. Recently, her affections had turned toward someone else –
someone who seemed to need love as much as she did. Someone who
suffered like she had. “Can I Hattie?”
Hattie suddenly opened her eyes as Mark held the
nickel out for her to take. She smiled as she reached out and
took the nickel from him, a smile was still on her face. “How
are you today, Mark?” Hattie asked and smiled when she heard him
answer the same answer as always – fine. She closed her eyes as
she remembered back to when she was a little girl up north in
Denver. She had lived with her aunt for as long as she could
remember – she and her two sisters. There had no one else.
Being the youngest, she couldn’t remember ever having parents.
Her aunt took care of them alright, but there was never any
“Miss Hattie? Miss Hattie?” Hattie suddenly shook
out of her thoughts again as she realized that Mark was talking
to her. “I said is everything alright?”
Hattie nodded. Then she walked around the counter
and put an arm around Mark’s shoulder. “How’s the Marshal?” she
asked, trying to sound casual.
“Pa said he’s resting now. He has his cats to keep
him company I guess. Pa said the bullet didn’t do too much
damage, but he’d be laid up for awhile.”
Hattie nodded. “Well, that’s fine,” she stated.
“I’m on my way to bring him some food.”
“Oh, he said he’d get something from the hotel.”
“No indeed he won’t!” Hattie declared. “Why, that
man needs a woman’s cooking!” Mark suddenly grinned at her.
“Now, run along and play! Shoo!” She ordered. Then she locked
the door and started down the street.
Someone came walking up to the General Store.
“Hattie, I need some sug-“ they started.
“Later,” Hattie answered curtly.
John Hamilton hurried up then. “Hattie, I need-“
“Tomorrow,” she answered curtly again. All up and
down the street people watched her walk firmly and with her head
held high as she hurried into the hotel and up the stairs. She
walked to room 6 and knocked loudly on the door. She heard a
Opening the door, she found the poor man in bed
moaning. Lucas was with him, but as soon as he saw Hattie he
grinned and jumped up. “I best go find that boy of mine,
Micah.” Lucas smiled at Hattie. “Miss Hattie,” he greeted as
he touched the tip of his hat. Hattie nodded at him, then
firmly closed the door after he walked out.
“How did you know I was here?” Micah growled as he
sat up in bed. “And what are you bringing that blasted stuff
Hattie smiled as she dipped the stew into a bowl.
“Well, I knew Lucas would not allow you to go back to your place
since it required you climbing a bunch of stairs. And I also
knew that Lucas put you up in room number six because he made a
point of telling me so this morning.” Hattie pulled a chair up
to the bed and sat down. “As for the stew, well, you need a
woman’s touch, and besides I feel partly responsible for your
“Why? Because I was trying to stop a thief from
running off with all your store money?” Micah grunted. “Humph,
I was just doing my job.”
Hattie nodded. “And I’m doing mine.” She handed
Micah his soup and he began eating. “You told me the other day
that your father was killed in a shooting.”
Micah suddenly looked up at her and nodded.
“Yes…uh…he was trying to stop their store from being robbed. He
was old and had no business carrying a gun.”
“Hold old was he?” Hattie asked gently.
“Oh, around 60 I’d say.”
“And how old are you?” Hattie asked with a smile.
Micah frowned at her. “Well, I never knew my folks.”
Micah stopped eating and looked at Hattie. “Why?
What happened to them?” She saw the concern shining in his
“Oh, they were traveling back from town. My sister
was taking care of us younger two when the town Marshal came to
get us. He told us that their wagon overturned on the way
home. They both died instantly.” She sighed as she smoothed
out her skirt and stood up. She went over to the basket and got
out the bread. She opened the jar of peach preserves and slowly
spread some over the piece of bread. “They took us to my aunt.
She was a hard woman.” Hattie paused as she thought back “She
took us home and…I’ll never forget that first day. The moment
we walked into the door she said, ‘Now girls, you do exactly as
I tell you and we’ll get along just fine.”
“Sounds like a hard woman,” Micah stated.
Hattie began spreading the preserves on the bread
again. “Yes she was. She didn’t love us, but she raised us to
be ladies.” She brought him the bread and held it out in front
of him. Micah suddenly smiled at her as he took it from her.
“As soon as I finished my schooling I went away. I couldn’t
stand living under that roof anymore. She was hard. So, I came
out west and started a General Store.”
“You…uh…never married?” Micah asked. Hattie
suddenly stared into his eyes. Micah shifted uncomfortably. “I
mean, no man ever…” His words died in his throat.
“No, I never married.” Hattie sighed and walked to
the window. Looking out she remembered back. “My aunt was a
hard woman like you said, Micah. She hated men and always
taught us that men were bad…It took me years to learn
differently. By then it was too late.”
“You think so?” Micah suddenly asked. “You really
Hattie suddenly turned from the window. She stared
at Micah and Micah stared at her. Their eyes suddenly locked
and they stared at each other silently. Hattie finally broke
away. “Well, I better get going. It’s late.” She sat the
apple pie down on the table. “I’ll bring you some breakfast in
the morning.” She said as she hurried toward the door.
“Hattie-“ Micah suddenly said. She slowly turned
around. Her heart was pumping so hard she could hear it. She
suddenly felt short of breath, afraid Micah would reject her
offer. She studied the expression on his face. He studied her,
then his lips turned upward at the corners. “I like my eggs
Hattie smiled. Her hand still rested on the door
knob. She nodded. “I’ll be here at 7:30 sharp, Micah. You be
proper when I get here.”
She closed the door firmly as she left the room.
Pausing outside his door, she suddenly threw a hand to her chest
as her other hand clinched the basket. Her legs were shaky as
she started making her way down the stairs. There was something
about that man…She wasn’t sure what.
As soon as she entered the lobby, Lucas stood up
from the chair he had been sitting in and laid down the paper.
He walked forward and took the basket from her. Then he
motioned for her to go out first. “Mark and I are just about to
have supper at the hotel. Want to join us?” Lucas asked.
Hattie smiled nervously at him. “No, Lucas. I
think I’ll go home and eat some of this soup I have left.”
Lucas put his hand under her elbow as she started to
walk in the street. “Let’s go to Micah’s office and talk.”
Hattie suddenly realized Lucas was wearing the star. “Just for
a few minutes.”
Hattie entered the office and looked around. She
saw Micah all around. The things he hung on his wall – the way
he organized his desk – even the smell…it was all Micah. Lucas
led her to a chair in front of the desk and helped her sit.
Then he hung his hat up and sat down in the chair behind the
desk. He folded his arms on the desk and leaned forward. “So,
what’s new?” he asked.
Hattie narrowed her eyes at him as she tried to
figure out what he was up to. ‘Lucas-“ she started. But she
stopped to study him some more.
A slow grin slowly crossed over his face. “How long?” he asked.
Hattie shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “How long…what?” she
“You and Micah. How long?” he asked.
Hattie’s mouth fell open as she stared at him. “Why, Lucas
McCain! Since when did you meddle in other people’s affairs?”
“Since it was an affair between my two best friends. That’s
“Oh, posh!” she waved him off. “There’s nothing going on.”
Lucas leaned back in Micah’s chair. He pushed his hat back on
his head, folded his hands across his middle, and narrowed his
eyes at her. Suddenly, he cocked his head to one side, his eyes
still narrowed. “I don’t buy that.” Hattie opened her mouth to
say something, but Lucas held up his hand. “Now hear me out
She hadn’t realized how serious Lucas was being until he had
called her ma’am. She closed her mouth and motioned for him to
go on. Lucas scratched under his nose before he started.
“Alright. Now, for the past two weeks, Micah has spent every
extra moment in the General Store looking at stuff that he
doesn’t need. For instance, the other day he insisted I go in
there with him to look at hats when there’s no way he’d get rid
of the hat he has now. When I ask him for a beer in the saloon,
I have to practically drag him. You on the other hand have
locked up early for the first time since I’ve been to North
Fork. You have eaten dinner at the hotel with Micah several
times during the last two weeks, and Mark has seen you two
talking out behind the General Store one night when he was
supposed to be at home doing his homework. He reported to me
that you two looked “interested” in each other as you talked.
“Also, when that robbery in your store occurred, Micah went
running in there half-cocked like he was your knight in shining
armor. When I came in only moments later, you were sitting over
him with a look on your face that needed no words.” Lucas stood
up and walked to the door. He looked out and scanned the street
up and down. Then he slowly turned and raised his eyebrows at
Hattie. “Well?” He crossed his arms protectively and cocked
his head to one side. His eyebrows were raised and he had a
very stern expression on his face.
Hattie had seen that look before. She had seen it when he
confronted Mark about something and expected him to tell if it
was true or not. He was being her protector – sort of like a
son would be, had she ever had the pleasure of having one.
“What do you want me to say, Luke?” she suddenly asked.
“I want to know if you are in love with my best friend.”
Hattie suddenly turned from him. She stared down at the floor,
not sure what to answer him. “Why do you ask?”
Lucas walked over to her and bent down in front of
her. He smiled into her eyes. “Why?” He asked. “Because I’ve
seen how Micah looks at you. I talked to him tonight and he was
just about to admit it when you came in.” Lucas brushed her
hair back – a loving gesture that made her shiver. His eyes
were only inches from hers, and his face held a gentle smile.
“I love you like my own mother, Hattie. I want to protect you.
I want to know you are happy.”
Hattie suddenly grabbed his hand that rested on her head. She
wanted to admit it to herself, but something held her back.
They looked into each other’s eyes for a few moments. Then she
pulled his hand away and stood up. “Oh posh!” she declared.
Then she turned and put her hand on the basket, but Lucas
reached our and grabbed her hand, forcing her to once again look
at him. She swallowed. “I’m too old for such nonsense.”
Lucas smiled at her. “You are in love with him. And you aren’t
too old.” Then he let go of her hand.
She hurried to the door. Then she turned around and smiled at
him. “He’s in love with you too.” Lucas stated
matter-of-factly. “Only, he’s too afraid to admit it.”
Hattie quickly left and hurried down the street.
For the next several days, Hattie made each meal with much love
and devotion and smiled as her heart thumped on the way over to
the hotel. As he ate, she sat with him and they talked. One
day, the conversation turned to Micah’s drinking. He was eating
supper one evening when the conversation came up. Hattie had
always wondered about it, but never asked. “You know,” he said
as he cut into the juicy steak Hattie had brought that night.
“Ordinarily, I would be picking up the bottle and enjoying
myself instead of staying sober.” He heard Hattie suck in her
breath. “I’m…sorry, ma’am.”
Hattie knew he was. She saw regret written all over his face.
“Well,” Hattie smoothed out her skirt. “I supposed I’ve just
never understood why men – and women – take to the bottle.”
“Hm.” Micah stuck another bite in his mouth and chewed. Hattie
suddenly wanted to know – needed to know if things were going to
go any further. For the first time in her life she felt truly
happy. She no longer felt alone.
Hattie suddenly leaned forward and stared into his eyes. “Why,
Micah?” she asked in a loud whisper. Her heart began beating as
he stared at her. She could tell she had touched a nerve, but
she had to know today. Her very being suddenly demanded it.
“Why?” She swallowed hard.
Micah finally sat his plate down and swung his legs over the
bed. Hattie reached out to push him back, but he only grunted
that he was okay. Slowly, he stood up and walked to a small
table in the room. Then he sat down. “I suddenly want to tell
you. I want to tell you everything.” Hattie stayed in her
chair beside the bed, almost afraid to look at him. But he
suddenly called her. “Hattie, come on over here to me.” She
looked up and saw him holding out his hand and waving it toward
himself. She slowly stood up and pulled her chair over to sit
beside him. “I hope you don’t hate me after I tell you.”
Hattie blinked back her fears and pushed her fright back down
her throat. She nodded slowly. Micah sighed as he suddenly
place a hand on top of hers where she had it lying on the
table. “Why, you’re shaking!” he gasped. Hattie only stared at
him. “There’s only one other person in North Fork who knows
why, and even he doesn’t know everything.” Micah patted her
hand. “I was married once before.” Hattie was shocked. Her
head quickly lifted as she stared at him. “I’m widowed now. It
was a hard time. I was a farmer and the crops failed that year
because of a drought. Our best friend took our savings and ran
out on us, leaving us with absolutely nothing. And then…” Micah
stood up and suddenly walked over to the window. “She died.”
Hattie heard the tears in his voice.
She closed her eyes in sadness for him, knowing it still pained
him very much. “What-“ she started, but the question was hard
to ask. “What happened?”
“Fever. I had no horses, so it took too long to go into town
and get help. She died alone with nothing. She had nothing to
“She had you,” Hattie answered. “I’m sure she tried to stay
alive for you!”
Micah ignored her statement as he continued staring out the
window. “I’ve never noticed before…but even in your darkest
hour, people still move on gaily on the street as if nothing’s
the matter. Those children down there are chasing and laughing
with each other as though there’s not a care in the world.”
Hattie only stared at him knowing his sorrow was still very
deep. “I wasn’t a drinking man before that day. Oh, I had an
occasional drink now and then, but after that…”
Micah turned around and walked back to the table. “I wasn’t a
heavy drinker even then though – just enough to dull the pain
when it got too bad.” He started playing with a napkin still
lying on the table from earlier. Hattie could tell he was still
struggling with something. “There’s…something I haven’t even
told my best friend – the real reason for my drinking.”
Hattie suddenly leaned forward in the chair and placed a hand
over his. Micah suddenly looked into her eyes. Their eyes
locked and Hattie again asked him to tell her the reason. Her
eyes were soft…gentle. He saw only love and devotion in them.
There was nothing hard in them. “How could such a beautiful
woman like you care so much for an old codger like me?” Micah
“Because you aren’t an old codger, Micah.” A slow smile spread
across her face. She noticed his hard, sad eyes suddenly turn
into a smile. She laid a hand on his cheek. “Now, tell me.
What other loss did you feel?”
“Oh, it was a loss of innocence, you might say.” Micah took
Hattie’s hand from his cheek. But he didn’t let go – he held it
in his own gruff hand. Her soft touch gave him a renewing
strength and he knew he no longer had to be afraid to tell her.
“After I became Marshal, there was a gunfighter. He was
hard…gruff…He had killed so many men before, including
Marshals. I was still quite young and hadn’t been on the job
for too long. One day, he got drunk and angry. He held a
sixteen year old girl at gunpoint.”
Micah continued staring into her eyes, but Hattie saw his eyes
suddenly turn to fear as he remembered that day so vividly. “He
told us all to lay down our guns and she wouldn’t be hurt. She
was screaming, begging for me to help her. I started towards
him, but he screamed again for us to lay down our guns. We did
as he asked. Then he started toward his horse, pulling her
along with him. When he got there, he shoved her away as he
started to get on his horse.”
Micah suddenly put a hand over his eyes to hide the tears. He
stood up and ran to the window. “I went for my gun and-“ Hattie
saw his shoulders shaking. She came up behind him and gently
laid her hands on his shoulders. Micah leaned against the
window. “He killed the girl.” Micah still didn’t turn, but his
shoulders began shaking as he let the tears flow. “We killed
him. I filled him up with bullets from that six gun of mine,
then I got on my horse and rode out of town. “ He bent his head
down as he sobbed.
Hattie suddenly turned him around and wrapped her arms around
him. “Oh Micah, Micah,” she whispered softly as they hugged and
she allowed him to cry. “You never told anybody.”
Micah finally allowed the tears to subside. He pushed away from
her a bit then looked lovingly into he eyes. “You didn’t run
away?” There was surprise in his eyes.
“Why would I run away?” Hattie suddenly asked. “Because you
made a mistake? We all make mistakes.”
“Yes,” Micah agreed. Their faces were only mere inches apart.
“But there aren’t many of us who make a mistake that costs a
sixteen year old girl her life.” Micah suddenly rubbed the back
of his fingers against her soft cheek. “I never told another
living soul about it, but that’s when I started drinking hard.
That’s when I became a hard man and was drunk most of the time,
but I did my marshalling job, and I did it good. That is, until
the day I went up against Dan Maury.”
Hattie knew about that. That’s when he had hurt his hand. She
suddenly laid her hand on top of that one as it rested on her
shoulder. No other words were said – no other words were
needed. She slowly searched his eyes and watched the grief and
fears leave them once again. Then she watched as his face broke
out into a smile. “I haven’t felt this in years,” he whispered
as his face suddenly grew closer to hers.
“I’ve never felt this way,” Hattie answered as she watched his
lips slightly part. Then he lowered his head towards hers and
closed his eyes. She closed her own as she allowed his lips to
gently touch hers. They kissed – softly and gently. He
suddenly wrapped his arms around her as the kiss intensified.
Then their lips parted and he smiled into her eyes. “I thought
I was dead inside,” Hattie whispered. “I didn’t’ know I could
feel that anymore.”
“Anymore?” Micah raised his eyebrows and stared into her eyes.
“There was a time – but never like this. Never…like…how you
make me feel.” Hattie suddenly whispered.
Micah suddenly smiled as he pushed her away at arms length.
“Will you…” He swallowed hard. “Will you marry me?” Hattie
gasped in shock. Never in all her days did she ever…every
anticipate a love like this. “I’ll still be marshalling.”
“And I’ll still have the store,” Hattie smiled as she laid a
hand on his cheek once again. “But I can be a good wife.”
Micah suddenly smiled and swung her around. Then he groaned as
he felt a pain shoot through his leg. Hattie helped him back
into bed. “Lucas still in town?” he asked. Hattie nodded. “Go
fetch him. I need to talk to him.”
Hattie started to leave, but Micah grabbed her hand and turned
her back around. He had a boyish grin on his face and she bent
down to kiss him. “For the rest of my days, I’ll be feeling
that sweet kiss,” Micah stated. Then he released her so she
Hattie hummed as she opened the store the next morning and began
straightening everything up. She hadn’t been this happy in
years, and no grumpy customers were going to change her happy
mood. She heard the door open and looked up, smiling when she
realized it was Lucas. “Well, Lucas McCain, the deputy
Marshal!” she declared.
Lucas took off his hat and laid it on the counter. He had a
grin on his face as he folded his arms on top of the counter and
bent over it. “Where’s Mark?” she asked.
“School,” Lucas answered. “We’ll be going away for two weeks
tomorrow, Hattie. I’m afraid we can’t put it off any longer.
Mark and I have simply got to get our hunting done before winter
Maybe there was one thing that could dampen her spirits. She
turned to straighten up the goods on the shelf. “Oh, you think
it’s going to be a hard winter?”
“Appears to be looking like that,” Lucas answered. “And my
back’s telling me the same thing.”
Hattie had noticed her achy bones were worse this year than
usual also. She turned around and smiled. “Well, the two weeks
will fly by.” Then casually, she asked the question. “You talk
to Micah last night?”
Lucas lowered his head to hide a big grin on his face, but
Hattie caught it. “Yes I did. He uh…had something rather
important to talk to me about.”
“Oh?” Hattie asked.
“Yes,” Lucas smiled at her. He grabbed her arm and turned her
around. Then he led her out from behind the counter and led her
to a chair in the backroom. “I think we should sit down for a
minute.” He nodded at the chair.
Hattie sat down and folded her hands in her lap nervously. She
couldn’t understand what was so important. Lucas sat down
across from her and took her hands in his. He leaned forward so
she could look into his eyes. “Micah asked me for your hand in
marriage last night.”
Her heart began beating fast. She tried to speak, but words
wouldn’t come out. “Oh?” she suddenly asked.
“Mm Hm,” Lucas nodded and smiled. “He said he wanted to do this
right and proper. He felt that I was the closest thing you had
to family round these parts, so he thought it proper to come to
me. I’m glad he did.”
Hattie smiled. She saw Lucas’s eyes shining with love and
pride. “And what did you tell him?”
Lucas leaned his head over to one side and narrowed his eyes at
her as he studied her face intensely. “Well, I told him that I
think you two should think about it for awhile.”
“What?” Hattie gasped.
Lucas held up his hand. “I’d do the same for my own daughter or
mother if the romance was so new.” Lucas leaned forward again
and squeezed her hands. “Now, since I’m the one to give you
away, you won’t be able to get married for two weeks anyhow, so
I don’t see any rush in your getting married.” Lucas turned his
head to once side just slightly. “Do you?” he asked with
“What did Micah say?” Hattie asked.
“That he didn’t want to wait for two weeks. But I told him that
was my final answer, so he’ll do it out of respect for us. When
we get back from this hunting trip, we’ll talk again. And if
you feel the same way, I’ll gladly give you away to my best
friend. Okay?” Lucas asked with a stern expression and raised
“Alright,” Hattie answered.
Lucas stood up and held out his hand to help her stand up.
“Now, this afternoon I’ll be back in with a list of supplies.
Mark should be coming over after school too.” Lucas walked to
the door and Hattie followed behind him. He turned at the
counter when he picked up his hat. Lovingly, he placed his
hands on her shoulders. “You do…understand why I’m making you
two wait a while.”
Hattie nodded. But she was still a bit disappointed. “Look
Hattie, you two are my best friends, and I just don’t want to
see anything happen to you. Your romance is new. Why don’t you
spend more time talking and getting to know each other
personally. Then when I get back-“
Hattie nodded. “I know you’re right, Lucas.” She bent up and
kissed him on the cheek. “And I appreciate you two respecting me
like this. It makes me feel good to have so much concern.”
She watched as Lucas walked out the door.
She stood on the boardwalk outside her store that afternoon and
cried, unsure of why this parting was so hard for her. As she
watched the McCain family ride away, she suddenly got this
dreadful feeling deep inside her. Micah slowly walked across
the street. He took his finger and wiped her tears away. “Why
are you so sad? They’ll be back.”
Hattie shook her head slowly and slowly turned and walked back
into the store. She went over to the counter and picked up the
saddle gloves Mark had foolishly left behind. Tenderly, she
hugged them to her chest and remembered how just mere moments
ago, Mark was standing in front of her asking for candy. And
now he was gone.
Hattie suddenly felt Micah’s hands on her shoulders. “What’s
wrong?” he asked again, this time quieter.
“I don’t know,” Hattie answered softly. “I just feel like…like
they’re never coming back.” She suddenly wiped her eyes again
then turned around and smiled at Micah. “It’s just a woman
thing, Micah. You hungry?”
Micah nodded as they started for the back room. They talked
pleasantly for the next few hours. Then Micah suddenly stood,
remembering he had a job to do. He kissed her on the cheek then
quickly walked out.
It was that way everyday for the next week. Every waking moment
she and Micah were together, loving each other, smiling, holding
hands. When they walked down the street they saw whispers as
Micah held her hand or put his arm around her shoulders. People
stopped by the store just to see them. Most were pleasantly
pleased while others looked at the couple with a raised eyebrow.
One night as Micah stood to leave, he asked Hattie what she
would tell Lucas when he came back. Hattie smiled into Micah’s
eyes. “I’m telling him that I’m going to marry me a Marshal.”
Hattie laid a hand on his cheek. Micah grinned, then bent down
and kissed her softly on the lips. They parted, but their faces
were so close together they could almost kiss right there
without moving a muscle. “What are you going to tell him?”
Micah smiled and kissed her again. “I’m going to beg him for
your hand in marriage.”
Hattie suddenly put her forehead next to his cheek and Micah
slid his arms around her. “Did I ever tell you how wonderfuly
sweet I think it is that you asked Lucas for my hand in
“Well, I know how much he and that boy care about you,” Micah
stated. “And I know that there isn’t another man in this world
I could trust with good judgment the I can with Lucas McCain.”
Micah lifted his head and put his hand under her cheek. “Though
I must admit I was a little upset when he didn’t say yes right
Hattie smiled again. Then Micah gave her one last kiss. “I’ll
be around sometime tomorrow. I have some business to take care
of in the morning.” With that, he left.
Hattie had never felt so wonderful – or so young – in her whole,
entire life! She couldn’t wait until Lucas returned.
The next day Hattie hummed as she worked on straightening the
store. Eddie Halstead suddenly ran in and told her he had an
urgent telegram for her. “The telegrapher hurried it over to me
right away. He said that it was important and you needed to
read it right away.”
Hattie thanked him then turned and opened the telegram. She
suddenly sank down in the chair as she allowed the words to sink
in. Just when everything was going perfect, everything in her
world was turned upside down and now she had to tell Micah the
sad, sad news.
“Hattie! Is lunch ready?” She heard Micah calling from the
store. She quickly wiped her eyes and hurried out to him. But
she couldn’t hide anything from him. He suddenly grabbed her by
the shoulders. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “What is it?”
Hattie lowered her eyes. She couldn’t look at him as she gave
him the news. “A telegraph came for me from Denver this
morning.” She turned away and grasped a shelf to steady
herself. “My sister’s taken ill I’m afraid.”
“Ill?” Micah asked.
“She’s-She’s all I have, Micah. Our older sister left home a
long time ago and was never heard from again. She’s all I
have.” Hattie began crying.
There was an eerie silence in the air for several minutes as
Micah held her and allowed her to cry into his chest. He
smoothed her hair as she sobbed. Finally, Micah broke the
silence. “When will you leave?” he asked in a broken voice.
Hattie suddenly lifted her head and stared into his eyes. “I
don’t think you understand, Micah. My sister…she’ll need care
for the rest of her life. She could live a month…a year…five
years…nobody knows. I…the move…it will be…” She couldn’t
finish. Nothing on earth could make her say the words out loud.
“I know.” Micah pulled her against him again and they held each
other. “I know.”
“I feel…loss…such a great loss.” Hattie whispered.
But Micah put a hand under her chin and lifted her eyes up to
look into his. “Hattie, no amount of distance between us is
going to take me away from you. I have you here,” he patted his
chest. “You are in my heart. I will wait for your return.”
Tears suddenly slid down Hattie’s cheeks. “I can’t ask you to
wait for me.”
“I’ll write to you. You’ll write to me. Until we can be
together again. And we will. You have to have faith.” She
knew Micah was staying strong for her. She knew he was going to
break down when she was gone. She loved him all the more for
“Oh Micah,” she whispered. “I so want to marry you.”
“You will,” Micah answered with a nod. “I promise you will.”
The next couple of days was a whirlwind as she and Micah worked
on selling the store to her niece, Milly Scott. On the third
day, she and Milly were discussing business when Micah walked
in. He looked tired, and Hattie was sure that Micah hadn’t been
sleeping. “This is Micah,” Hattie introduced them in a broken
voice. Micah touched his hat and nodded to her.
“Hattie, um…can I talk to you?” Hattie nodded and they walked
to the back room. He pulled the stage tickets out of his
pocket. “These will get you to the train station. I want you
to take the train into Denver.”
Hattie looked at the tickets. “These are for this afternoon,
“I know,” Micah answered in a broken voice. “Your sister needs
you. I think it’s best if you leave as soon as possible to get
to your sister.”
Hattie stared at him and saw the loss in Micah’s eyes. She
turned away from him. “All my life, I’ve felt such loss! I
thought I was finally finding something. Now, it seems I’m
loosing it again.”
Micah suddenly gripped Hattie’s shoulders and spun her around.
“Now, you listen to me and you listen to me good!” Hattie saw
anger and fear both in his eyes. “You are not loosing me! I’ll
be right here and I’ll write you! You hear me?”
“Then…why are you…sending me away today?” Hattie suddenly needed
She watched Micah’s eyes suddenly fill up with tears. His lips
began to quiver. “Be-be-“ Micah closed his eyes and tried to
calm himself down. In a broken voice, he spoke the answer.
“Be-cause…If I…If I don’t do it to-today…I…won’t have th-the
courage to…to…” Micah suddenly hurried from her. At the door,
he said, “You have two hours to pack.”
That was the longest two hours of her life. Hattie wiped her
eyes as she said goodbye to her niece and wished her the best of
luck. Milly hugged her tenderly and promised to take good care
of Lucas and Mark and…Micah. Then Hattie hurried to the stage
depot. She watched the stage pull up and her heart sank. This
was it – she was leaving North Fork forever. She stood and
handed the driver her bag.
“Hattie?” She turned suddenly and saw Micah standing there.
She shook her head and ran into his arms. They held each other
and cried. Then he pulled her away just slightly. “I love
you,” he whispered tenderly in her ear.
Hattie smiled as she lifted her head from his shoulder. She
stared into his eyes. “I love you too, Micah.” Then she gently
laid her hand on his cheek. Micah’s lips parted one final time
as he lowered his lips to hers. The kiss was tender and
intensified as they held each other. They were kissing and
crying at the same time.
Micah finally broke the kiss and led her to the stage coach. He
helped her up then closed the door. “I’ll write as soon as I
get to Denver,” Hattie promised. Micah nodded and stepped back.
The coach started driving away, but she didn’t move her head
from Micah. As they drove down the road she watched him until
he disappeared around a corner. Then she let the tears flow
until she was dry. “Micah…My sweet Micah…”
Hattie read Micah’s last letter again. It was the same stuff
they had written to each other for the last three years. They
spoke of love and devotion, but never of loss. Micah constantly
begged her never to feel loss. But she did today. Her heart
felt nothing but loss.
Her sister was now buried for going on three weeks now. Saying
good-bye was tearful and hard, but she had to do it. After
caring for her sister every day for the last three years she
suddenly felt a release, but a loss at the same time.
And she hadn’t heard from Micah in over a month. He had written
to her faithfully every week until then. That was another
reason she had felt loss.
Hattie stood and walked to the window of her sister’s house.
Hattie hadn’t allowed her roots to grow here, because her stay
was only temporary – only until she could return to North Fork.
And now that too was loss.
A week ago, she had finally written to Lucas to ask him about
Micah. She was no longer able to stand the wonderment. She had
And then she did. “A telegram for you Hattie,” her nephew
announced as he walked in the room. Hattie took it and read it
Micah has been badly hurt
You must come now.
Hattie gasped and hugged the telegram to her chest. She closed
her eyes and sent a prayer up to the almighty. “Paul! Oh,
Paul!” she called out. Her nephew hurried into the room.
“Paul, I must get to North Fork right away.”
“But Aunt Hattie, you mustn’t!” he declared. “It’s so far
away. You’ll be leaving so much behind.”
“No!” Hattie stated as she began throwing her clothes into her
suitcase. “I already left too much behind. My heart’s in North
Fork and I must go back.” She heard a sigh escape from her
nephew. She suddenly turned around and laid a hand on his
cheek. “Oh, I do love you and your children and your wife.
Please understand, Paul. I’ve had so much loss in my life, and
loosing him…Micah…would be more then I could bare. Do you
Paul suddenly took her hand and kissed it. “Yes, Aunt Hattie, I
do. I’ll run to the train station and purchase your ticket. It
should get you all the way to North Fork now since they have a
station there.” Paul started out. “I’ll have Sally come help
you pack your things.”
There were more good-byes, but this time there was no loss. She
knew she would hold them each in her heart and would come back
and see them. She blew a kiss as the train started down the
tracks. She was happy to be going home.
It took a long time – she lost track of the hours she spent on
that train. She thought it was three days…maybe four…But when
she pulled into the station, she nervously got off the train and
looked around. She couldn’t believe all the changes that had
come! “Miss Hattie!” she heard a voice behind her and quickly
turned. A young man stood in front of her. He had changed so
much in the three years since she left.
“Mark! Why Mark!” She flew into his arms and he swung her
around. “Mark, you are so big! Why, you ARE a young man!”
They hugged again. “How’s your father?”
“Well, he’s fine,” he answered with a big grin. “You know my
Pa.” Mark carried her bags to the waiting carriage. “Pa’s been
marshalling since the accident, so I’ve been in charge at the
ranch. I have to come to pa for the big decisions, but since
I’m almost done with school, he’s been giving me lost of
responsibility.” Mark helped Hattie over the wheel and into the
seat. “Micah’s in a room at the hotel.”
“Mark, what happened?” Hattie asked.
“He was shot. Doc doesn’t understand why he doesn’t wake up.
He said Micah’s healed from the gunshot. But he just opens his
eyes and that’s it.” Mark shook his head. “We’ve had lots of
prayers in church on Sundays for him. Pa’s tired between
marshaling, the ranch, and worrying about Micah.”
“Why didn’t he write me right away?” Hattie needed to know.
“Well, to tell you the truth, Miss Hattie, no one knew you and
Micah were still…together. Well, fact is I never knew it until
the letter came. You never told us and Micah never said
anything.” Mark shook his head. “If he’s written to you that
faithfully, I know he still loves you.”
They were in front of the hotel now. Lucas hurried out and
hugged her. “Hattie!” He swung her around. “It’s so good to
“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to say goodbye. It all happened
so…suddenly,” Hattie stated. Mark nodded in understanding as
they started inside.
They stepped into the room. Hattie saw Micah’s still form lying
in the bed and she hurried over to him. “Micah,” she whispered
hoarsely. “Micah.” She threw herself on top of him and hugged
him. “Micah, it’s Hattie.”
Mark and Lucas stood at the door watching. Hattie suddenly put
her hands on his cheeks as Micah’s eyes opened. “It’s me,
Micah. Oh, my sweet love, please wake up and talk to us!”
Micah’s eyes moved toward her. His lips slowly moved as he
tried to form her name. Hattie heard a gasp from behind her.
“I thought you said he was in a coma.”
“Well, he was!” Mark declared. “I swear he was!”
She turned back to Micah. “You two leave us alone.” She heard
the door close behind her and knew they were alone. “Micah, I
have felt loss my whole life until you came into it. You have
filled me up with more blessing then I can ever repay. You are
my life. For three years, I’ve clung to your letters. Your
words are what got me through many lonely nights. So if you
think I’m going to stand here and watch you shrivel up and die,
well, you’re badly mistaken.”
She saw Micah’s lips moving. He was trying to talk. She rushed
to the basin and got some water then lifted his head and helped
him take a drink. “I…I…I…love…” Micah whispered.
“I love you too.” Hattie hugged him.
The whole town was in shock when they heard that Micah was
awake. Within days, Micah was sitting up in bed demanding the
doc to let him walk. Lucas had to man-handle him several times
just to keep him still. Hattie never left his side. She was
there to take care of him – to bathe him and love him.
Lucas came in one afternoon and folded his arms across his
chest. “It’s time we had a talk you two!” he announced.
“Talk?” Micah and Hattie asked at the same time.
“Hattie, you’ve been here taking care of Micah around the clock,
sleeping in that armchair over there and people are beginning to
talk. Now, as your best man, I must insist that a wedding
ceremony take place here in this very room tomorrow!” Lucas
looked at both of them. “In fact, the minister will be here at
ten in the morning.”
Hattie turned to look at Micah. Micah raised his eyebrows.
“Lucas Boy,” Micah said with a grin on his face. “That’s the
best idea you’ve had yet!”
Hattie and Micah stared into each other’s eyes. Hattie slowly
lowered her head toward Micah’s and Lucas quickly removed
himself from the room.
After Micah was given a clean bill of health, they moved to a
small house just outside town. Micah went back to his
marshalling job, but Lucas only allowed him to return on one
condition – that he get a full-time deputy. Hattie returned as
part-owner of the General store. She and her niece, Milly
worked side-by-side. And soon, Hattie would be legally related
to Lucas McCain since Milly had announced that she and Lucas
were officially engaged.
One night, Micah and Hattie sat on their front porch. Hattie
laid her head on Micah’s shoulder as the swing softly squeaked
back and forth. Micah kissed the top of Hattie’s head. “Well
dear, are you content?” Micah asked softly.
“Oh yes, Micah. I’m so very happy. I’ve felt loss my whole
life, and I’ve come to a conclusion.” She looked up and smiled
into her husband’s eyes. “All the loss I’ve had in my
life…well, it was all worth it - because it led me to you.”
These stories are based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
The Writer's Corner
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around The McCain Ranch