The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

The Rifleman's Serenade
Chapter 1 - Proposals
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

 North Fork was a very happy place as a result of Will and Ann’s grand wedding. The town had not seen a celebration of that proportion in many years. Sure, there had been festivals and rancher conventions, but the well known families of Bard and McCain brought together a special group of people. Many close friendships were formed and renewed in the process. Everyone got the chance to see what the new partnership was going to bring to the town. Sarah Cockrell became inspired on her visit. There was much to discuss in regard as to how the income from the cotton farm could benefit the ranch. She stayed on for quite some time as she had not been away from Dallas in ages. There seemed to be no limit as to how bright the sun was going to shine on North Fork.

As the summer progressed on the Bard–McCain Ranch, the many residents settled in to the new situation. Will and Ann had a honeymoon and a trip to Dallas to plan. Ann had a riding competition schedule to keep up with as well and this required the combining of all three purposes. The honeymoon was going to involve attending the competitions along the way, then once in Dallas, the sky would be the limit.

There were some changes to get used to because Vanessa and Sam decided to rejoin. This meant that the main house was to remain the mother hen’s nest. Will and Ann had a room, but it was not as cozy as they first thought it could be. Lucas, Mark, and Aubrey took up much of the Log Cabin space, leaving rooms for Bat and Emma as well as Sarah and Turley. The McCain ranch house worked well as a guest home for Ruth’s family, but the new ranch format and larger herd operation made it a noisy place. In the future, things would ease up, but for the moment it was a crowded affair.

Bat was enjoying the ranch work and lack of travel. Emma loved the open air and privacy that she rarely had a chance to enjoy. She went to church with Ann and loved singing in the choir. Aubrey joined them some of the time, but Lucas kept her plenty busy around the ranch and she was right at home with it. So much so that she was already making plans for their wedding.

Mark and Aubrey liked each other very much. Aubrey knew what a young man needed in a mother and was very willing to provide it. They talked often and had a great deal to relate to with ranching. One late morning sitting on the porch of the new log house, they had some time alone to talk things over.

“Aubrey, do you think you can be happy here with my Pa?”

“Your Pa and I have had plenty of time to consider that. I come from almost the same kind of home, I know cattle, and I know how to raise a young man!” Aubrey ran her hand through Mark’s hair and looked him in the eyes. “I know you have wanted your father to find another woman for so long. I want you to know that we are very strong in our friendship. Both of us have lost our true love. Neither of us can replace that for the other. Because we can understand that, we will respect those feelings and learn to love each other in new ways. I know I can be happy here. I’ve already been happy in much the same way. Does that make sense to you Mark?”

“It sure does. I’ve been worrying about him for a very long time. But now that I see you two together, it seems to leave me. It’s good that you can live in this log home too. Everything is starting anew.”

“That’s true for all of us. Are you happy in Oklahoma? How much longer do you need to be there?”

“At least one more year. It’s a two year program to prepare us for college at a bigger, more advanced university placement. I’ll be old enough by then. Pa says sometimes a man needs to expose himself to the world before making big decisions. I think I’m seeing plenty so far.”

“That’s good. You’ll be glad you took this time to find some direction. And I think your Pa has done pretty much the same thing. He has certainly seen a great deal away from home of late. Just think how different it was for him to be in New York!”

“I didn’t ever think he’d be going there! That sure is one wild story. I hope I can see New York someday. Pa wants me to go fishing with him.” Mark mimicked handling a fishing rod.

“You’ll get there soon enough. I just want you to know that I’m not out to change your father and he isn’t trying to change me. That is very important for a marriage to work. I wasn’t sure that I would ever find a man like that. We were drawn together by forces beyond our control as if God was blessing us with each other.”

“I love you too Aubrey, you’re welcome in my life and I’m happy for you and Pa. Do you know when you want to marry?”

“We think it should be in maybe another month. We want to have some time to let all of this settle in and give you a chance to know me better. And I want to be sure that I know you. It is only fair for all of us to not be in a hurry.”

“Oh, I’m not the one that should be in a hurry! I guess I kinda understand. Pa always has been one to take his time to be sure a feeling is right. Heck, you should’ve seen what I had to go through just to get him to find me a horse!” Mark laughed and Aubrey smiled.

“Well, I hope you know he has checked me out real good before deciding to buy!” Aubrey ran her hand through Mark’s hair much harder this time. But I won’t run hard or plow for any man!”

“Ah, you know I wouldn’t never think of you like a horse! I think you are a real fine lady. Maybe I should start calling you Mom!”

“Would you like that? I know I would.”

“As long as it doesn’t make you or Pa feel funny. I’m right proud to have you as my Mom!”

“Well, I’ve been used to that name for a very long time. Back home, my boy, Daniel, is grown up and has his own family. So not only does he still call me Mom, so do his children.”

“I know it won’t be soon, but I’d sure like to meet them one day!” Mark tugged on his boots and checked his belt in preparation to ride out to see what everybody was up to at their growing ranch.

“I’m thinking to ask them to come here for the wedding of course. Will that be soon enough?”

“You bet! Gee, we’re hardly back to calm after Will and Ann’s big party and here we are planning another. And I got my cousins here to keep busy too. Uncle Dillon is really enjoying being with Pa. After so many years of just me and Pa at work, it sure is a crowded place now. Pa and Sam had a great idea to join our ranches. Now I won’t worry about him so much while I’m away!”

“That makes me feel good, son! We want you to be able to concentrate on your studies and to grow up free from worry. I think we can be a very happy family. Now you best get over there and make yourself useful!” Aubrey grabbed Mark by the shoulders and gave him a big kiss on his cheek.

“Thanks Mom! I’m really glad we had this talk.” Mark jumped up on Blue Boy and started out. “Bye ya Mom!”

“I’ll ride over in a few hours and we can have dinner at the lodge! Bye ya Mark!”

At the McCain Ranch, Lucas, Will, Dillon, and Bat were making ready to work on the far fence line and then wind up at the target range for some much needed practice. Word was spreading in town that a gun show was going to be happening very soon. Lucas was getting requests for a date every time he showed himself. Bat ordered the shot glasses and playing cards, he put in requests for the saloons to save any bottles and damaged glasses, and he made sure that Winchester would be shipping them some ammunition. The next order of business was to have Nils forge some copper coin slugs. This show was not so much to make money as it was to entertain the home town. North Fork did have a target range though and the interest was growing.

Mark came along with Kyle and Andrew just in time to join them. The fence work would go fast with seven men and that meant more time to shoot. As much as it was tempting for Lucas to have the ranch hands do this work, he felt it was important to take part and show them that he didn’t intend to be content with supervision, it just wasn’t in his bones. He let Sam do most of that, it gave him more time to be with Vanessa. As Lucas suspected, there was a long section of fence that was about to give way. A few sections had breached. Some of the cattle liked to test their luck at breaking through. He never understood what made the grass on the other side taste better. There were over twenty posts that needed to be replaced but that was not what they were set up to do for today. They spent about three hours mending the worst posts and replacing some badly rusted wire. Lucas and Bat rode in the buckboard while Will gave Spirit a workout. Blue Boy knew this chore well. While they worked he would graze nearby, but didn’t stay very close to Spirit. Once the tugging and twisting was over with, the fence was secure in the worst places and notes were made for future extensive repairs. Mark and Will rounded up a few strays on the wrong side of the fence and figured any others would be found later on during a roundup. They looked among the cattle in the pasture and did not find any of the neighbor’s brand.

Finally, time came to visit the target range. Lucas brought some extra wood for repairs and to make new target supports. What was still there had become very splintered from a lot of use. He wanted to make the range similar to how they would set up for a show. Everyone took part in making the rails to set targets on at different distances. A special rack was made to hold framed boards with coins or other objects as was devised for the Wild West show. They realized that not every town would have a suitable place for the wide open target shooting they were used to. North Fork would be an easy place to let it all hang out though, target shooting was a popular form of entertainment. Once the chores were complete the fun began. Everybody grabbed a rifle from the buckboard or their horse while Mark, Kyle, and Andrew placed the targets. Lucas went first killing the tin cans with ease. His new Winchester felt just about as good as his old one. The cans were soon back up and Bat took a turn at a quick draw. All six cans went flying and clanked to the ground. Next came the card holders, some were placed at the farther rails. Everyone got a chance at this once the masters were allowed the first shots. The smell of gunpowder was getting thick and the horses wanted to get away. Lucas called a halt to the shooting and they moved the horses to a better spot. The men gave their weapons a chance to cool down and the boys took their shots at the cards.

“I’m real happy with the new rifles you guys. The old one can keep its place over the mantle I guess.” Lucas whipped his rifle around one time, holding it up to admire its workmanship.

“Winchester has sure been generous with us. We go through a lot of ammunition, not to mention the rifles.” Bat sighted down the bore of his pistol noting how dirty it had become.

“I guess I haven’t put much thought towards just how good you two are. My shooting is usually for more practical reasons, but I do take the boys out for some practice every so often.” Dillon commented.

“Mark has had his experiences with guns, but he isn’t always keen on them. I made him wait a long time before having his own rifle, but I think it’s important to know how to hunt and be able to defend yourself. Probably the hardest thing I ever had to do was shoot an injured horse. Just plain sad it is.”

“Even harder than shooting a man Lucas?” Dillon kicked at the stones on the ground.

“I think so. If I have to shoot a man, it’s because he’s trying to kill me or another. There is little sympathy in me for that. But a horse has no say in the matter or as to how he got hurt. I’ve had horses shot out from under me in battle. That was tough also. It’s very important to respect animals. I can’t stand to see someone mistreat any creature, but especially one that is dependant on man. The Bible tells us to be shepherds and I think that means for all.”

“I agree Lucas, we try to think that way about each other and we all know that you fit the bill.” Will smiled.

“Thanks Will, I do my best. We have much to shepherd and more to come. Just look at those boys having fun. I hope we can find time for a hunt.”

“We should have enough rifles and ammo. Why don’t we plan something for next week? Bat knew time would get away from them if they didn’t do it soon.

“It should be at least two days and maybe a third if we don’t run across much. Deer can be hard to spot in the summer months, but we have had some luck up in the hills.”

“Lucas, I think we can work a tactic I use back home to flush deer out.” Dillon had to hunt in flat plains much of the time.

“I don’t know why not. Mark and I hunted alone many times, but now that we have enough along, we can split up and see how your idea works in these hills. We’ll be in for some hiking in the heat I suppose.”

“I know it will be slow going for us old folks, but we got three youngin’s that can drive them towards us slow pokes.” Dillon laughed.

“I’m just looking forward to the rest over a campfire afterwards, especially if we have some venison to roast. It’s been too long since any of us have enjoyed that!” Lucas looked over to watch the boys shooting at some long distance targets. “I think these fellas are hoping that we’ll do the flushing!”

As the sun sank low in the sky, Aubrey and Ann came riding along to find the men finishing a last minute clean up before departing. Ann was hopeful of taking a few shots while the guys ate the sandwiches she brought.

“You boys don’t mind if I get a turn do you?”

“Why no ma’am! You just step on over here and we’ll set up some targets for ya.” Bat replied. Lucas helped Aubrey down while Will did the same for Ann.

“I have this special rifle, once used to save a certain Cowboy’s life. I figure I better keep my eye keen should the need ever arise again!” Will escorted Ann to the firing line.

“Lucas, may I use your rifle?” Aubrey inquired.

“Certainly, anytime your heart desires.” Lucas loaded the rifle and bowed as he handed it to her.

“It’s been some time since I’ve had any practice, but I think I can do alright.” Aubrey gave the rifle a careful whirl. Lucas was pleased with her coordination. Mark placed some cans and cards upon the fifty foot rail and ran back to watch.

“Alright ladies, the range is secure, fire when ready!” Bat held his hat up and gave them a bow.

Both women let loose a torrent of lead. Ann proved her ability was still sound. Lucas smiled as Aubrey handled the rifle well. She hit her share of the targets and motioned to Mark to set up some more. Lucas brought them more bullets while the rest of the men sat eating sandwiches. Of course, Will, Bat, and Lucas were well aware of the lady’s skills, but Dillon and the boys had no idea. Mark returned and it happened all over again. Aubrey ended the display by rapid firing a few shots from her hip then whirling the rifle around as she handed it back to Lucas.

“You didn’t think I was sewing all that time in the hotel rooms did ya?”

“Well no, I figured you could shoot, you own a ranch!” Lucas hugged Aubrey and joined the rest for a sandwich. “That was great! I didn’t know you could spin the rifle around so well!”

“I took one of your rifles home to Daniel and I had time to practice while you were off fooling around in New York!”

“I guess you did!” Lucas looked over at Mark and noticed how fixed his eyes were upon Aubrey. “What do you think boy? Isn’t she wonderful?”

“You bet Pa! She’s my Mom!”

“That settles it, Aubrey Canton, will you marry me?” Lucas dropped down on one knee and took her hand.

“You’ll have to have a ring to get an answer to that question cowboy!” Aubrey laughed. “Of course I will!”

“We’ll have to seal that with a kiss!” Lucas picked himself up and Aubrey stood to join him in an embrace.

After a brief moment Will spoke up. “Say , we could use a couple more good shots for our deer hunt next week, you ladies up for a campout?”

“Is that going to be our honeymoon William?” Ann replied

“I better ask. Do you have the time? Your next event doesn’t come until the week after if I recall.”

“I think I can go. Flash could use a break from training and venison sounds real good. You’ll enjoy us women folk along to do some of the cookin’ anyhow!”

“Great! We’re all camping then. Lucas knows just where to go!”

“I do? Somebody better tell the deer to make themselves available!”

“Pa knows how to cook venison real good, don’t ya!”

“As good as any I expect. I think most of us here know something about it.”

“And I have a preference for the art myself you know!” Bat added.

Lucas looked over the group. “I reckon we all know what we’re doing. These young men have the skills and us old fogies have the knowledge. We have a perfect crew. Now all we have to ask is for the hills to provide the game. This will be the perfect thing for us to do before we get busy and the summer gets away from us.”

“I love it when a plan comes together at just the right time. You really do have quite the life here Lucas!” Bat rapped his cane on the ground once more.

“That settles it! Let’s get home and start getting ready. I think they are expecting us to get back for supper. It’s going to get dark soon. We have a little clean up to do first.” Lucas stood up and hustled the boys along to do the bulk of the work. The wagon was soon loaded and everyone was under way for the lodge.

The Rifleman's Serenade — The Hunt

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

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