The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

The Rifleman's Serenade
Chapter 10 - Bachelor Party
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

By early afternoon Lucas had thought about the matter long enough. Bat made sense with his suggestion of delaying the Denver trip. There was no choice and Lucas wanted to be able to respond if Simon and Johnny needed his involvement. Fitch was another matter that concerned him. It didn’t appeal to him to have Fitch along on his Honeymoon one bit. He didn’t want to let it get too late before talking with Mark and Danny. He first found Mark near the barn grooming Blue Boy. He gave him a brief explanation of the situation and said they should get Danny before going into the details. They rode over to the Bard ranch at the risk of Lucas seeing Aubrey and found Danny in the stables.

“Danny, we rode over to have a chat with you. Something has come up and I want to be sure that I’m up front with you about it. Why don’t you get yourself a horse and take a ride with Mark and I?” Lucas smiled and gave him a nod.

“Sure Lucas. What’s up?”

“It’s something I need to keep private right now, let’s get out on the trail a bit where we can talk.” Danny tossed a saddle on one of stabled horses while Lucas went back to join Mark out front.

Once they got beyond the corrals to a nearby pasture they dismounted and sat together while the horses grazed.

“Danny, Mark, I have to tell you something that is very important. It reaches far back into my past. Mark knows some about this, but I never told him the entire story or anyone else for that matter. Mark will recall when Simon Battle and his daughter Vicki came to North Fork. It was maybe ten years ago now. I was very mad and shocked to see Simon then and would not believe that he was a Doctor. He had been a vicious gunfighter and cattle rustler in Oklahoma. He worked for a man named Ralph Hayden. Hayden was a very bad man. I didn’t know this at first and started working for him as a drover. In the course of this I figured out that Simon and his boys were rustling cattle and killing people along the trail. The herds would grow and we got into a number of gun battles. I protested and got into trouble with these men, eventually I tried to quit. Knowing what I did, they weren’t agreeable and wanted me dead. My reputation with the rifle gave them every excuse to goad me into a fight and that is when Simon and I shot it out. I thought I had killed him, but he survived and went on to later become the doctor we know him as today. I won’t go into all of that right here. Hayden was very mad and still wanted me dead. We had a shoot out in an Enid saloon and this crippled his hip, put him in a wheelchair for life. I had to testify against some of his men as details emerged afterwards. He harassed Mark and I in Enid for about 4 years on and off. Some of his men came looking for me in North Fork over the years. He even sent an assassin after me a few years ago. Mark was there and can tell you how he could have killed me. It’s a miracle that I’m here today.” Lucas stopped to take a break and let this part sink in.

“Pa, I know most of this, but I didn’t understand being so young. I always thought we left home because Mom passed. Now a number of things are starting to make sense.” Mark had a troubled look on his face.

“I was involved in some awful dealings before you were born and while you were young. It was my hope that I could put it all behind me. I know we’ve had many bad things happen to us over the years because of it. I never wanted anyone to know all of this.”

“I understand Pa. Mario was really out to get you because of many others who worked with you then. I know he was hired by a man named Hayden because you mentioned it at the time. That sure is a tough thing. I understand why you didn’t tell me everything.”

“Sometimes I wish that I had. I always wanted for you to have a better life, know that was the reason Mark.” Lucas reached over and put his hand on Mark’s shoulder. “It made me quick to temper at times son. I’m so sorry that I reacted that way with you. The danger had me reacting to shelter you. Men came looking for me many times since we came to North Fork. They did in Enid also.”

“Lucas, why are you telling us about this now?” Danny asked.

“I’m going to get to that. The assassin, Mario, was the last guy that Hayden had hired to kill me. It didn’t work and some years have gone by. I was hoping that it was over. Well, I’m wrong again. After all of this time, and maybe because of recent fame, it seems Hayden is about to try it again. My friend Johnny Morgan came here to warn me about this. It has caused me to make a few changes to our plans. First of all, I want you to go talk to your Mother about this and let her decide if she wants to talk to me about it before the wedding. Custom is that it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other on the day before the wedding. But this is too important for that. I want you to tell her that I expect to delay our plans to travel to Denver with the Masterson’s. We will stay back here at the ranch and wait for things to resolve. Another part of this plan is that Simon and Johnny Morgan are going back to Oklahoma to deal with Hayden. If they’re successful then there should be no more trouble and we can travel on to Denver later.”

Danny got a disturbed look on his face as he gazed into the eyes of Lucas McCain. “You told me things would be OK, that my mother would be safe with you! I’m not so trusting anymore Lucas! Do you hear me?”

Lucas grabbed Danny by both shoulders and held him firm. “This is not easy for me son. I had to do this knowing it would make you mad. I can’t change that. It’s a hell of a thing for me to ask of you. We can take more time to discuss this, but I want your word that you will keep all of this to yourself and act like a man. It hasn’t been easy since Morgan came to me with this information. Simon has graciously offered to do this. It was part his fault that all of this came to be. I don’t like letting somebody else stand up for me, but I have no choice. I have no choice but to come to you now. I could have tried to keep it a secret in hopes that nothing happens, but I would rather be truthful with you. So please give me a chance Danny. It’s too important for all of us.” Lucas released his hold on Danny and did his best to catch his breath.

Danny sat back in shock and let things soak in his mind for a spell. Mark was silent and reserved, wondering what was next.

After a few minutes Danny was ready to reply. “I respect you Lucas. I know this is not easy for you. I expect that same respect in return. Tell me now, are there any more ghosts that are coming back to haunt you after this one?”

“I can’t do that. All I can tell you is it’s the one thing I have been keeping inside me for over twenty years. I can’t keep telling you things will be alright after this. It isn’t possible. What is possible is that I will be honest when the times come. I thought this business with the gun shows with Bat could give me a chance to show everyone that I’m for real and that anyone still out there wanting to gun for me should think twice knowing that I’m a lawman and in the company of the best shooters in the world. But we know better. It only breeds competition and encourages the ghosts. So Hayden is an old man maybe about to die. His one goal in life has been to get revenge with me. I have to put this matter away once and for all. After that, I intend to wind the gun shows down and settle on this ranch with your mother. That is, if she will still have me, if you will still have me. Life isn’t fair, I can’t promise safety at all times.”

“OK, I can deal with that. I know Mark has had to all of his life. Mom is a tough gal, she can take it too. She’s already seen what you’re about. I’ll go to her and bring her back here if need be. I just want you to never hold back, Dad. If you got more stories to tell, then you better get busy and let us know. We deserve to know. So we can look over our shoulders just like you!”

“I’m learning Danny. That’s all I can say right now. Thank you for trying to understand. I want this wedding tomorrow to be the greatest day for all of us. I’m giving it my best attempt in light of the circumstances. Aubrey is so important to me that I’m willing to let it all hang out right now. I won’t go into our new life without being up front.”

“Alright then. I’ll be back in a few minutes. Mom is in the house with Ann and Vanessa. I won’t say a word to them, just Mom.”

“Thank you, Son.” Lucas shook his hand as Danny got up and took off. Mark and his Pa sat in silence for a few minutes. It was not as shocking for Mark to see his father in this way. He always knew there were things better left unsaid from his childhood. It wasn’t ever easy for Lucas to explain his past to his son or anyone else.

“Pa, I want you to know that I understand. From an early age you’ve had to protect me. I’ve seen you risk your life so many times that I started to take it for granted that you would always win. My being here means you won.”

“Thank you Mark, I’m very proud of you. I’m also ashamed for having to protect you so much. It was never fair. So many times I’ve had to reckon with the fact that things could have gone the other way. You might have been an orphan at any time. It was my hot head and quickness to fight that got us into trouble so often. I’ve spent our entire lives together trying to learn and do the right things over this.”

“I know that Pa. I had to reckon on my own enough times. I was always afraid that I might lose you. Life wasn’t fair then and it sure ain’t fair now!” Mark leaned over and hugged Lucas. “If there’s forgivin’ to be done, then I’ve always forgivin’ ya Pa.”

“Even for not telling you everything about back home and this trouble now?”

“Even that. I want you to find love and happiness, not torment Pa. Do what you must for Aubrey and I will be just fine.”

“I know you will son. Keep in mind the bravery and quick thinking you showed when Mario had the drop on me. Remember how you tossed me that rifle as he hesitated?”

“How can I forget? We make a good team, don’t we Pa?”

“We sure do. Thanks for standing by me Son. Things will work out, I know they will. God is looking out for all of us, it’s meant to be. That’s what faith is for.”

“We’re always learning, kinda makes life worth living….. so to speak!”

“You always know what to say, don’t you!” Lucas rubbed Mark’s hair to a frazzle and grabbed him for another hug. By this time, Danny and Aubrey came riding double back to the pasture. Aubrey jumped down and ran to Lucas while Danny and Mark walked off a few yards to give them time to talk.

“We have a couple of fine young men by our sides Aubrey. I hope you can forgive me for what I must tell you.” Lucas took her right hand.

“Lucas McCain, you know me by now. I can’t let this stop what we’re doing! My God, is there an end to the madness though?”

“I have never felt an end was near, only brief times of peace. Did Danny explain what’s going on?”

“Kind of. He’s rather upset as you must know. He’s always been concerned for me, he’s a good son.”

“I knew that the moment I met him. He’s my son now too. You once asked me if we were ever going to be able to settle down and watch the grass grow. Well this is forcing our hand. Bat and I decided to postpone the Denver trip until I can resolve this problem from my past. Up until last night when I spoke with Johnny Morgan, I had no idea this ghost was coming back to haunt me. Please believe me. I had forgotten about Ralph Hayden after so much else going on these last few years. He’s a foolish old man and Simon should be of great help putting an end to all of this.”

“You can tell me all about it after tomorrow. I knew this love was going to be dangerous when I fell into it. You’re too much of a man and no number of ghosts from your past are going to scare me away. Danny will just have to get used to the fact that you stood up for yourself back then and that means you are still going to do it now.”

“You have no idea how much your saying that brings me relief. I’ve been worried sick ever since last night. We have a big day ahead tomorrow. Do you think we can get through it without letting this spoil things?”

“I promise Lucas. I’m tired of waiting and I won’t let anything stop us.”

“You don’t think our seeing each other right now is bad luck then?”

“Not in the least. I don’t hold to silly superstitions. But we won’t tell anyone about this either. Let the customs prevail for all who care. Ann and Vanessa think I’m just out with Dan.”

“I feel so much better. And I’m glad we can have more time alone after the wedding. Bat told me that Emma can use some time when they get to Denver for her theater production. Maybe everything will work out for the best.”

“I know it will Lucas. Do your best to free yourself of this mess and promise me you will show all the guys a good time tonight.”

“I will. And I hope you can do the same for the girls. I’m so sorry Aubrey, I never intended for any of this to happen. Part of me wanted to not say a word and let things take their course, but I knew that would be a mistake. I hope this can put all of us at ease for now.”

“It will. I’ll talk more with Danny and then send him back to you and Mark. I trust you Lucas McCain, enough to marry you.” They hugged and had a brief kiss. “Not too much now big boy, or we will bring on that bad luck!”

Lucas let her go and almost fell to his knees out of mental exhaustion. He watched with Mark by his side as Aubrey and Danny had a heart to heart talk. They got on the horse and rode back to the Bard house.

“Well, guess the cat’s out of the bag now, huh Pa?”

“And let’s hope he has used up all but one of his nine lives, Son!”

Father and son sat quiet for a spell until Danny came back with some cookies given to him by his mom. They had further discussion about what was going to happen and Lucas gave them more details about his past history with Simon Battle and Ralph Hayden. He found himself remembering things that had left him for many years. What it was like before his mother and father died, how he lived with the Indians in the nations for long periods of time, and how he first got into the cattle ranching way of life after the war. Danny commented that it was similar for his father after the Civil War. It took a long time for the emotional wounds to heal after such a horrible event. No one knew how or if it would ever come to an end in the day. Many fought on after the war actually ended. If it weren’t for the men who spread out to ranch in the Midwest, there may not have been enough left to reform what they now enjoyed as society. This was a great opportunity for the three men to bond. They took their time eating the cookies and drinking from canteens. Then they rode off to find another place to relax by a stream. Lucas and Mark got out lines from their saddle bags and they took turns catching fish. That was a great way to have something different for dinner. Lucas wondered on the way back if they would have ever taken an opportunity to join like this had the problem not come along. Maybe Hayden was doing him a favor by forcing him to tell his entire story and face his past completely once and for all.

The late afternoon brought on an early start to the party. Lucas and his sons showed up with nine fish. Sam was getting the barbeque pit ready and the pool table was already in use. Sam cooked the fish first and they had their meal before things got busy.

“What made ya go fishin’ Lucas? Sam had to ask as they sat to eat.

“The three of us went for a little ride to the creek as an opportunity to spend a few hours together. We may not get another chance like this for a long time.”

“I see. That was a good idea. I’ve been looking at beef for so long now, this fish is great! Thanks you guys!”

“Your welcome Mister Bard.” Dan replied.

“You call me Sam, we’re all family around here!”

“Yes sir! Sam.” Dan chuckled. “Makes me feel like a boy all over again. I love this place. I hope I can spend more time with you men in the future.”

“Any time Dan. William and you are close to the same age. I hope you two can get along.”

“I’ll be sure to get to know him better before we go home. He’s either been busy or away so far.”

“Yes, it’s a busy time for all of us I’m afraid. They just got back from an equestrian event not far from Santa Fe. Ann took first place as a matter of fact. Flash is one heck of a stallion. We raise the best here, I don’t mind bragging!” Sam smiled and took a big bite.

“I’m really anxious to see Ann perform some day. Flash is a magnificent animal.”

“He wins often and his stud fees are going to be high. We have hopes to raise Saddlebreds one day also. Horses can be a wonderful business as well as the pleasure they bring.”

“Horses are one thing I hope to expand on soon. We have mostly quarter horses right now. I love your stock there too Sam. Maybe we can do some breeding.”

“I’d be proud to work with you Dan, with cattle as well. We have a great deal of breeding going on as it is. We have some prize bulls and are trading around often. We’re not that far apart. Next time you come this way, bring a few of your mares and we’ll give it a try.”

“I’ll be sure to do that. I also have some extra capacity on our range if you have to find room for your overflow. That might help us breed up with some of your stock.”

“That can be arranged down the road. We are in the process of populating the range on the McCain property right now. I was running out of room when we got started. I’ll see about sending you some stock one way or another.”

“I’m looking forward to it Sam. And thanks for all that I’m learning while I’m here. I’ll start trying to fit in with some chores after the wedding. I might stay on for a brief time.”

“I see, you’re starting to like it around here. Sam got up and brought his special decanter from the bar and poured a round of drinks. Mark asked if he could just have a beer. They made ready and Sam proposed a toast. “To many happy years of fruitful ranching!”

Mark and Lucas looked to each other and nodded with a smile. With the fish gone and a first drink under their belts, the party was now underway. Bat, Simon, and Johnny came into the lodge together. They had been swapping stories for quite some time. Dan and Mark went to get in on the pool to give the table over to the serious card players. Sam got up after a few minutes of chat to get his grill fired up. This gave Lucas a few minutes to discuss matters with his three comrades.

“I talked to the boys, Aubrey, and you men so far. I may tell a few others for safety before long, but I think we can keep it to just us until after the wedding.”

Bat sat his derby and cane on the table and brushed his hair back. “We talked at length today Lucas. I think there’s a good chance of this working. Emma doesn’t have a problem with the delay in Denver. I didn’t tell her what is going on though, just that you two want a little more time before going our way.”

“Thanks Bat. I know you must be anxious to move along by now.”

“I love it here. I’d be happy to never leave if I weren’t so used to being on the road. But I’m not in a hurry. Emma has a time set for her show though. We need to leave in a week or two at the most.”

“I understand Bat. Everyone has been here a long time now. I expect Sarah and Turley want to go home in the worst way. I know my sister and her family will have a great deal of work on their ranch when they get home. Mark has school. But this has been the best of summers. Like one huge vacation and family reunion. Simon, Johnny, you guys stay on as long as you like, but I know you will want to leave soon enough. I want us to have more time to talk before that though. I don’t want to do it until after the wedding. Let’s have us a grand time tonight and I’m looking forward to tomorrow in a big way!”

“Here, here Lucas! This is your night to shine! Bring on the cards Masterson, I want to teach you a lesson!” Simon smiled large and took off his gloves.

“And don’t discount this lawyer Battle! Bat has his work cut out for him this time!

It didn’t take much time for Will, Micah, Dillon, and the rest of the men to show up. Before long three card games were under way and people from town were starting to crowd the room. There was plenty of whiskey and beer, coffee too. Sam had the grill working hard. He filled a few plates to be sent over to the girls at the Bard house. They had a sizeable gathering of their own. This was just a warm up for the reception on Sunday.

Old friends started to show up and take their turns talking to Lucas. Doc Burrage came early to enjoy a few drinks. He sat in the poker game for yet another chance at Masterson.

“Well Lucas, after all of the things we’ve survived over the years, here we are in the company of killer card sharps! You’d think we’d learn.”

“I’ve been shot up, broken up, dehydrated, you name it Doc. I know it’s been a while though. I hope you’re getting paid enough by others to finance a game like this!” Lucas laughed and rubbed an old wound.

“I do alright. I can always birth a few more cowboys and trade for some beef and coffee.”

“Gotta love our Doc Burrage boys! He’s put up with us poor ranchers all of these years and we’ve kept him fed!”

“Well. Feed me now Lucas! Feed me now!” The doc picked up his 5 cards and tossed back 3. “I can tell this is going to be a meager meal.”

After an hour or so of cards Lucas got up to blend with the visitors and get some fresh air outside. Mark was singing and playing a guitar along with a few of the others who liked to make music. There was a fiddle and harmonica joining in. The sauna was in use and a small group was waiting for a turn. He ran into quite a few of his friends, some of which he had not talked to in years. Most of them he had been involved in some sort of trouble with or had something to do with helping them out of a scrape along the way. Suddenly he heard a familiar voice from behind. It was one Snipe brother talking to another.

“I told ya he was gonna get married.”

“No, I told you!”

“Well Rebecca said he was never going to do it if he didn’t hanker after Rhoda.”

“Becca sure did it though, has three kids too.”

“Do ya think we should give Lucas another run for his money before he gets hitched?”

“Do you think he’ll mind?”

By this time Lucas turned around to see two smiling brothers and put out his right hand. “You two! Been a while, glad you could come. I’m still grateful for what ya did for me guys. Ya not only knocked some sense into my head, you saved my life.”

“That kid of yours did his best for ya when he saw our sis. Has a good eye that one!” Joshua chuckled and shook Lucas’ hand first.

“That he does gentlemen. But he didn’t spy Aubrey. We saw each other from afar.”

“Rebecca told us to tell you that she did like you. You just met at a bad time it seems.”

“We could have been brothers. I was starting to like her too. Before that, I told Mark what I thought my new wife would be like. Then he saw your sister. Fate was trying to bring us together on that day. She’s quite a gal. I hope she’s very happy now.”

“Oh she’s doing real fine Lucas. Two boys and one girl so far! She has her hands full or she’d be here with us.” Peter gave his unusual snicker and shared looks with Josh.

“And your ranch is doing well I hope?” Lucas took out 3 Cheroots and they lit up.

“We’re working hard as ever and gettin’ older. We keep well fed as you can see.” Peter patted his sizeable gut.

“You boys must be doing good. I’ve seen ya in town getting supplies and leaving with a full wagon. We have a great life in North Fork, do we not?”

“We sure do Lucas. And thanks to you a whole lot less outlaws.” Josh looked to Peter for affirmation.

“I aim to please my friends. Just as sure as you did when Roy Thursday’s bunch came around. Ya know, I’m still regretting why those men knew me. Thanks for watching my back boys. I’m beholding to so many now.”

“Thank our Rebecca.” Josh replied. She overheard them talking to alert us if you recall.”

“That’s right. See how things happen for a reason? She saved my life and it was fate that threw us together.”

“Well. We’re right proud to be here with ya now Lucas. No more fighting for us!” Peter jabbed at Josh and laughed hard.

“That sure was a time. Seems I was always getting into some kind of trouble.”

“And I ain’t never ran into a harder hittin’ man in my life!” Peter rubbed his jaw recalling some of those blows.

“Same here friend. You’re one big man. My hands ached for a long time after that fight.” Lucas drew long on his cigar and the three men had a good laugh. “Let’s go drink a toast to your sister. We’ve got some good whiskey in the lodge.”

“Do ya think we should have a cow instead?” Josh asked.

“This is a party guys, but use your best judgment. We got milk, plenty of it in fact.”

“Ah, we like whiskey alright if’n you’re willin’ to pour it!” Josh grinned and Peter kept on with his laughing.

“I guess we can take your wild side this time. Promise me no trouble, you’re in the company of some very tough men.” Lucas chuckled this time.

“Oh we’ve outgrown most of our wild ways. Micah saw us earlier and gave us a talkin’ to.”

“Good old Micah. Always looking out for me, he is.” Lucas led them into the lodge and to the bar. “To many a friendly meeting brothers!” The whiskey went down smooth. Lucas was glad to see his neighbors in good cheer having come from 40 miles away. “Have you boys seen our hot bath?”

“No, that sounds right soothing. Where do you have one of those?” Peter seemed very interested.

“Come with me, we’ll bring this bottle and have us a soak.” I’ll tell ya a story about those men we shot all those years ago.”

“We always wondered about that Lucas. One of them came back from Kansas with Rebecca as we know. Those other two must have ridden in. Why was they lookin’ for ya?” Josh asked.

“It’s a long story and one that isn’t really over to this day. I’ll get into it with ya at the hot bath, let’s go.” Lucas led the brothers outside and they undressed to their skivvies and let the warmth rest their bones. “Alright guys, now that we’re alone, I want you to promise me not to tell this to anyone. I still need time to finish this trouble. Now Roy Thursday was a very bad guy. I had to testify against him in a murder trial back in Oklahoma. How he got out of prison to come after me I still don’t know. The men that were with him that day were in his gang. One of them, Earl Battle, was the one on the stagecoach with your sister. They drove cattle for a man we all worked for at the time. Earl’s oldest brother is here right now and I’m good friends with him. He knows about all of this and we have come to an understanding. But this man back in Oklahoma is still trouble. Does all of this make sense?”

“I see what you’ve been up against Lucas. Glad we could help ya when you needed us most.” Josh sipped back another shot. “Here’s to ya.”

“Thanks Josh. I’m happy and very appreciative of how you boys think. Most wouldn’t have done what you did right after the fight we had. I got to admire your spirit.”

“We got into trouble quick back in those days. But we don’t carry no grudges for the most part. We got what we deserved! And so did those outlaws. Your secret is safe with us. No more curiosity now. Is this bath ever a great thing, huh Peter?”

“Sure is brother. My jaw bone is even feeling better!” Everyone laughed in the moonlight.

Lucas felt relieved to give them the brief version of the story. Thinking back, he recalled the trial and how Roy threatened him in open court. Lucas witnessed a number of killings over the time he worked for Hayden. He also took part in some of the bigger gun battles thinking they were defending themselves from rustlers. Hayden seemed like a good employer at the start. Once he got the idea, working with Simon Battle, that the rustling was being done by them he made it a point to get out fast. Roy started working with Simon and then took on running a different crew. Lucas watched Roy gun down a number of people along with Simon and others. Roy, Simon, and various gang members made extra along the way robbing banks and stage coaches becoming well known as an outlaw gang in the process. Both he and Simon had big reputations and low slung colts on their hips. It was a dangerous and lawless time.

After Simon was thought dead, Hayden did his best to get back at Lucas by having him charged with his murder and then the hip injury. Johnny Morgan was able to fight these charges and win the cases. In the course of this investigation murder charges were pinned on Roy Thursday. Lucas testified against him and his conviction all but shut Hayden’s operation down. Hayden was able to avoid direct charges but it took him a long time to recover and resume building his fortune. He eventually became very wealthy and moved to a mansion near Oklahoma City. He diversified into railroad and other concerns but never lost his desire to kill Lucas.

Lucas never knew of Simon’s brother, Earl, until that fateful day he came to North Fork. At that point Lucas still thought that Simon was dead. He didn’t make the connection that this was his brother until after the shoot out. Roy was the one wanting revenge at the time, but it seemed that Earl was doing most of the taunting. Lucas wound up killing Earl right off as the gunfight occurred and he never found out first hand what was going on. Afterwards though he was able to conclude that Earl must have been Simon’s brother. He confirmed that with Simon only recently when they visited in Yuma. Simon had not seen or heard about his brother since the Oklahoma days and was thankful to Lucas for his telling of the truth. Simon said that it was best that he let everyone think he was dead once he had been shot in Oklahoma. This allowed him to hide out and let things settle so he could study medicine in peace. So it made sense that Earl was equally desiring of revenge over the death of Simon. Earl went on to be a drifter and criminal until Roy managed to get out of prison to gather and come after Lucas. For all of these years Lucas had held the painful truth inside. Simon had long been the only one he could confide in. Micah was often curious why, so many times, men came to town looking for Lucas, but he was usually satisfied with simple explanations about the war or Oklahoma days. Time was going to come though when Micah would deserve to hear the entire story. After all, he had risked his hide on many occasions as a result. Both men had done their share of looking after each other though. There were no debts to be repaid.

The party went late into the night. It was warm and the hot bath saw lots of use as the temperature was way too high during the day. Sam grilled plenty of meat and the ladies sent over some veggies and baked dishes along with fresh bread. More friends and family arrived and kept Lucas very busy. One very happy reunion came in the form of Margaret’s brother, Johnny Gibbs. Mark saw him first and they had a great time talking over olden days. Johnny had done some time for the robbery he committed and was now working part time as a trainer for a rodeo traveling show. His hip was still a problem and it was all he could do to ride from town once he got off the train. It was a lucky thing he received the invitation because he was on the road most of the time. It so happened that a girl from the home office was able to wire him in time and the rodeo was not so far away.

Meanwhile, at the Bard House, the ladies were having a great time of their own. Sometimes cowgirls play cards and drink too! They kept busy with cooking more so, however. The reception was set to be so big and they knew they best cook as much as they could while they had the time. That is where the cookies came from earlier for Lucas and the boys. Claire Carney had an opportunity to talk about her long time friend, Margaret Gibbs McCain. It was a fitting conversation that began between her and Aubrey in private and then led to a more open discussion later.

Claire described their childhood days and life in Enid prior to meeting Lucas. It had some sad aspects concerning her father’s drinking, but they also had a good farm life. She had to look out for her little brother, Johnny, a great deal as he was a real handful of trouble at times. Margaret was a very beautiful woman and had others interested before Lucas came along. A man named Lariat Jones was one of them. He was good friends with Lucas, and it was a hard thing for her to reckon with, but she chose Lucas. She knew that Lariat was more likely going to be a free spirit and she wanted a man that had promise of a stable home life. Life has a way of casting one into ironic twists though. As much as Lucas wanted to provide a stable home, economics frequently dictated that he go off to find work. This led him into working for Hayden, of course. Claire did not know to tell about this however. Instead, she described a great mother and generous soul. She was always the first to lend a hand or care for the sick. That brought a tear to everyone’s eyes as they realized how all of this added up to the tragic end and the beginning of what they all knew about Lucas. He sure did stand up for himself and in the face of more tragedy than most. Aubrey knew she was doing the right thing before this, but the story of Margaret made her feel so good. No matter what the ordeals may be, Lucas was the best man she could ever hope to find!

The Rifleman's Serenade — Wedding Day

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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