The Writer's Corner
The Rifleman's Serenade
Chapter 1 -
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy
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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“And I have a preference for the art myself you know!” Bat
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
“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
The Rifleman's Serenade — The Hunt
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch