The Rifleman
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The Rifleman's Serenade
Chapter 11 - Wedding Day
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

The memory of Margaret was prominent on the minds of Aubrey and Lucas when they awoke Sunday morning. Lucas had dreams of her like never before. He wasn’t expecting this when he went to sleep. He was so tired after such a long party and so many conversations. Perhaps it was seeing Johnny Gibbs that triggered his thoughts. Whatever the case, he felt good about what was going to happen. He was confident that Margaret wanted him to find another. The dreams were of a gentle nature, about times at home when he was able to be with her without leaving often to find work. Those first years with Mark were not always easy, but he managed. Lucas kinda knew that Hayden is what triggered those memories. He was determined not to let it influence this fine day.

Aubrey had little reservation about the pending troubles. She was a strong woman and wouldn’t be entering into this marriage without firm conviction. Claire gave her a great pep talk last night, she felt that Aubrey and Margaret were like two peas in a pod. Her ability to draw comparisons without sounding condescending gave Aubrey an affirmation she could understand, but was not in need of. Lucas always told her about these things as it was. The fact that others confirmed Margaret’s attributes only served to make her stronger.

Lucas was up very early. He went out to see that Razor was ready for the ride into town and that Mark was up and doing the same for Blue Boy. No more chores though. A few men were set to feed the needs of the ranch and everyone that wanted to was free to attend the wedding. It was not a big deal as everyone was coming back to the ranch for the reception anyhow. Whatever needed attention could be taken care of later. Lucas remembered how hard it was to find room for everyone to park their wagons and find space for the horses for the Fulton reception. Today was going to be even worse. He talked to as many as he could to encourage them to share a ride. The path between the ranch and town was well worn and the ruts were getting deep in places. Most of the fifteen miles saw heavy use from residents nearby, but the recent parties and guests had put an additional load on the weary road. Usually it took the rainy season to melt the ruts down a bit. Lucas was concerned that some would have problems with their wagons along the way. He asked one of the men if they could place a few shovels on their wagon along with some tools in case this happened, maybe a few bad spots could be fixed as well.

Mark and Lucas had a quick breakfast with Dillon and Ruth in the ranch house. They had their dress clothes packaged and were ready to head for town before anyone else. They had to be ready early and seated for church services up front. Aubrey and Ann were up to the same thing at the Bard House and knew to leave at a slightly different time. Before long there was a line of horses and wagons on the way into town. Service was to start at ten o’clock and the wedding was to be at Noon. If the day of the Fulton wedding was hot, today was going to be even worse. There was a tent city of sorts in the church yard and in a few lots just outside of town. There simply had to be a place where people could stay out of the sun during the event. Things were getting busy around the church by nine as the town folk knew it would be hard to find a seat. Services were open to all who could get in, but the wedding had to be by invitation seating only. The church was not that big. Many would have to be satisfied with a description as they stood outside. Lucas and Mark arrived before the others and prepared in a dressing room. Lucas did a last minute scissors job on Mark’s hair for old time sake. Mark jokingly asked his Pa a very familiar question.

“Tell me again Pa, what will your next wife be like?”

“I could have expected as much from you boy!” Lucas boxed Mark’s ears and laughed. “Well let me see, if I recall, once I told you that she would have to have hair as crimson as the setting sun and chestnut brown eyes. She would have to ride a horse as good as any man, sew, cook, scrub, and yet have soft hands. And now I can add one other requirement, she must shoot a rifle like Annie Oakley!” Lucas chuckled.

“I think ya came pretty close this time, and all on your own to boot!”

“That I did. Her hair is brunette and her eyes are blue though. I don’t think I’ll make her scrub either. But she sure can cook!”

“Funny, you never said anything about chopping firewood. I guess you always had me figured for that!” Mark jerked his head away before Lucas could go for his ears again.

“You smart little punk!” Lucas grabbed by the waist instead and the two broke up laughing. “Now get into your suit and brush your hat one more time.

“I know this will be what we’ve hoped for in every way Pa. Aubrey may not be everything you dreamed about over all the years but she is so much more in her own ways. Love has a way of sneakin’ up on ya, don’t it?”

“It sure does Mark. You be careful to watch out yourself. It won’t be long.”

“I’m not dreaming of it so much yet, but you’ll be the first to know if I get the fever.”

“I noticed how you avoided the garter at Will’s wedding. I might be a better shot!”

“I’ll have to keep moving this time. You’re always out to get me!”

“You take your time son. Don’t rush into family life, get that education well under way. Promise me you’ll find a good woman and settle down when it feels right.”

“I’ll do my best Pa. Oh, I can’t wait to get on with this day! Promise me you’ll be happy. Take your time and make Aubrey happy too!”

“I promise with all of my heart son. I’ll have many watching over me to make sure it happens. I’m looking forward to some easy time once this weekend’s over. I know we have some challenges ahead, but it’ll work out. You’re to be very careful once you get home. I’ll have a little talk with Ruth and Dillon just to be safe.”

“I think we’ll be alright. I’ll stay to my work and won’t go looking for adventure until we know things are safe. I’ll be close to where these men are though. Best to keep my name quiet and only travel when I have to.”

“Good thinking son. And if there is any hint of trouble, you let me know. I’ll be right there!” Lucas checked over Mark’s hair one last time.

“I will. I’ll even stay here longer until school is ready to start if you want me too.”

“We can talk about that later with your aunt and uncle. Right now, we better start for the sanctuary and secure our front seats.

Aubrey stayed back where Lucas could not see her during the service. It was hot and Reverend Jamison did his best to move things along. The congregation was led by the choir in singing some uplifting hymns, ones that would set the mood for what was to come. Lucas looked out over the people and felt nervous just a bit. He did his best not to let the anticipation get the better of him. Still he felt that tingle down his spine as he contemplated the hours to come. He sang loud as they belted out “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Emma and Ann came forward from the choir to perform a special rendition of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”. This was a rather new hymn that Emma found out about while reading one of her theatrical journals. Their voices rang together so sweetly that is was hard for even Lucas to keep a dry eye. Jamison came to the pulpit next to deliver his sermon. He took a moment to survey the faces and gave a nod towards Lucas.

“On this great and Holy day, I want to say something both meaningful and brief. It would be wrong of me to lecture long on such a hot day and I know that we are looking forward to the coming ceremony. Today we are going to witness a rebirth, a joining of two long suffering souls. From what started out with great loss we can now regain union. From what was once loneliness there can now be delight. Such is the power of our Lord and Savior. He not only will preserve our souls for all eternity, he shall also show us the light in the brief time we have upon his earth. We all know the story of Job and the great faith it requires to endure the tests put upon us. Today we are going to witness the passing of the test and the restoration of the glory. I will refer you to Psalms forty, verse one:”

1: I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

“A soul can pray for an answer but they must wait patiently for the reply. We may have a preconceived notion of what we desire that answer to be, however, in his wisdom God shall give his chosen direction, not ours. Verse two goes on to say:”

2: He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

“You may not know it at the moment and perhaps you will, but you are to be delivered from your torment and set upon a firm foundation from which to go on. Finally, verse three:”

3. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

“This is the beauty of knowing and understanding the answer. Your heart will feel uplifted from your plight and praising God is to be the result. We delight in the doing of his will. Blessed is he who knows the truth, sees the light, and finds the way. Even more blessed is the teaching of others. Many shall see, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. If you do anything else on this wonderful day, take a lesson from what you witness. The fear is there to make sure you know the consequences of not learning. Trust in God’s way and the blessings shall come. I frequently preach about forgiveness and it is surely Christ’s way. Vengeance also belongs to our Lord. We are to be carriers of a message and teachers of his Gospel. Allow the Lord what is his in return. Now we can rest easy in the knowledge of what is to come. Thank all of you for being here and to those outside I bid to thee that it is the room in our hearts that must be sufficient more so than the space we have in our humble church.”

The Reverend led the congregation in prayer and returned the floor to the choir. He sat down to the side of the podium and bowed his head before joining in the song. Lucas was deeply touched by the sermon. His respect for Jamison continued to grow. Throughout his lessons in life the power of forgiveness was the recurring theme. In the face of his current troubles he knew he must trust what was being set before him. The nerves began to settle and he came to the realization that everything was happening for a reason and that he must keep faith.

The service lasted a little over an hour. Jamison touched the right nerves and set the table for Micah to perform the greatest duty of his life. If ever two souls had lifted each other over the years, it was Micah and Lucas. The congregation was glad to have a break and get outside where the air was at least moving slightly. Lemonade and other refreshments were ready at tables outside. Ushers began seating the invitees a half hour before noon. Many chose to wait until the time drew near. Aubrey and Lou were aided into their gowns by Ann, Emma, and Vanessa. They kept cool by fanning the air over several buckets of ice. This made the room bearable at least. The same thing was going on in the groom’s quarters. Sam, Lucas, Micah, and Mark sipped cold water, remaining silent for the most part.

The conversation went strong outside as the time drew near. Friends were reuniting from all over the southwest. Many from North Fork’s past had returned for just this occasion. They were going to make for a very long procession of greetings after the ceremony. An usher made the announcement that it was almost time to get started. The piano and organ were playing as the sanctuary began to fill in. Last minute preparations were underway as the gowns were fretted over. Finally the back door to the men’s dressing room opened and Lucas led his entourage to the front of the podium. First beside him was the Best Man, Sam Bard, with the ring around his pinky, followed by Micah, Mark, and Dillon. Reverend Jamison stood at the podium waiting for the Bride to emerge. Suddenly Lucas realized that Bat was no where to be seen. Emma was quietly sitting in her choir robe by herself a few rows back. When the Bride’s procession started to come out of the room and the Wedding March began, Aubrey was clinging to the arm of Bartholomew Masterson! He was dressed in the finest black tux and shinning derby. Lou took her place alongside Aubrey as they arrived in front of the podium. Others followed to form the rest of the procession. The Reverend had but to give a brief greeting and prayer before Micah was to be on the spot for real!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to this long awaited and most joyous occasion. Today we are to witness the union of two loving souls, North Fork’s favorite son, Lucas McCain, and the beautiful and cherished Aubrey Canton of Santa Fe. Before us stands in all humility these two most precious of God’s children ready to begin life anew. Please join me in prayer as we enter into this ceremony with reverence.”

“Heavenly Father, we ask of you this day for the guidance we require to see that Lucas and Aubrey are set upon their path together in peace and harmony. May their days be long and fruitful in the obedience of your word. We give thanks this day for the opportunity to conduct this most honorable of unions. In your eyes we bring before you a man and woman who have captured our hearts as well as our unending loyalty. We thank you for all that they have meant to us and for all they will become. Give them the strength and blessings they will need to fulfill your will. May they have the happiness they seek as they rejoice in your most holy of commitments. We ask these things in Christ’s name, Amen.”

Silence followed a group Amen as the Reverend allowed a moment for the congregation to relax. Before we conduct the ceremony, we are blessed to have with us a very special sister from our choir. Emma Walters is going to perform for us a most beautiful song. Emma….”

“Thank you reverend. It has been our extreme pleasure to enjoy a wonderful time in North Fork. You all have made us feel as family. Bat and I will never forget the hospitality and love we have received. I am grateful for the opportunity to return a small portion of that love now in a song I wrote for just this occasion. It’s titled. “Love is a Life Long Challenge”. Piano, if you please.

We come into this world because of Love, two in rapture do conceive.

We grow up from childhood taught to Love, it’s what we come to believe.

In times of trouble there is but one cure, honest and secure.

We cling to the promise of our Love, hearts beating true and pure.

Love is a life long challenge, it’s the strength in all we do.

Love is a life long challenge, and I send all of mine to you.

We come together before the Lord, our souls to join as one.

We begin a new life’s journey, with God’s will it shall be done.

Along our road of Love we’ll dream, for a destination we shall yearn.

We’ll follow the path with unending faith, a lesson for us to learn.

Love is a life long challenge, our focus throughout the years.

Love is a life long challenge, may our hearts never need to fear.

Until our final days my dear, I promise to be true.

Until our final gaze be near, to the perfection I see in you.

Oh give me the time and the patience, to see all that we become.

Oh show me the wondrous reward, when on earth we shall be done.

Love is a life long challenge, in God’s plan there’s a battle to be won.

Love is a life long challenge, ‘til we come home to his glorious Kingdom!”

“Thank you Sister Emma! That was so joyful. I will now surrender the podium to the master of this ceremony, our good Marshal, Micah Torrance!”

Micah turned from the line in front and made his way slowly to the elevated Podium.

He gazed over the people and then down to Lucas and Aubrey. He wanted to smile but he maintained a dignified look as he performed his duty.

“First of all, I want to thank God for the opportunity to be here and to provide to my best friends something they have so graciously asked from me. They told me that I am the one most qualified to be standing in this spot. I won’t argue that assessment. I would ask the same from Lucas if given a chance! Thank you Reverend Jamison for being understanding of this request and for your prayer to commence our wedding. To begin with, I will ask who gives this woman, Aubrey Canton, to be wed?”

“I do Your Honor!” Bat quickly replied. “I give to you an angel to be cherished.” Bat removed his derby and stepped back to have a seat in the front row of the Bride’s side of the room. Not many knew ahead of time that Bat was going to perform this duty and it was getting a great deal of attention from everyone. Lou took her place next to Aubrey.

“And to the Groom I will ask if he will step forward and join hands with the Bride.”

Lucas moved into place as Sam joined him. Micah nodded and the rest of the procession took their seats.

“Before us here today are Lucas McCain and Aubrey Canton. We are to join them in Holy Matrimony in the house of God. I am but a humble servant of the law and am not here to be fancy. I will speak my mind though. Lucas is my best friend. I’ve said it often over the last week or so, but more important we have proven our friendship every day for almost ten years. There is no finer man among us and I am grateful to him for this opportunity to proclaim it. In my brief time getting to know Aubrey I know that Lucas and her have made a wise decision to wed. But wisdom is not the only thing one must have in this most important part of life. There must be love. Some of us present witnessed the very moment these two met. Lucas has described it as love at first sight many times. Rest assured that I know this to be true. We have also learned this to be a long standing and eternal love as she has come to be with us. Thank God for this union. Thank him for guiding these two ships at sea through the fog of loneliness to embark on a most rare of journeys. Love is not ours to cure loneliness, it is God’s gift to lift us from it. It can always come back if we let it. For all of your life from here on, it will be your challenge to rise above the faults of this earthly existence and to endure whatever attempts to get in your way. I can assure you that your friends and family will be here to aid you in that quest. But I know that both of you are strong in your conviction for each other. It is more likely that the rest of us will be supported by your love. But our two way street has a well worn path my friends. And now we shall begin the joining of two hearts into one.”

Micah drew a deep breath and leaned his weight against the podium for a moment. His hip was aching and Lucas knew that this was not an easy thing for him. Lucas looked back at Mark and nodded towards the chairs. Mark got up and brought one of the chairs to Micah so he could lean on it.

“Now this is the kind of support I was talking about!” A brief moment of laughter ensued as Micah regained his composure. “I’m not going to ask the traditional questions for there is no doubt. Not one of us present would have a reason to protest this union. We have asked God to bless these two with everything he’s got under the sun. We all know what must be done. Lucas McCain, do you have in your possession a ring?”

“Yes Sir,” Sam fidgeted for a moment and then delivered the band.

“Do you promise to love honor and cherish, to hold in your heart above all others Aubrey, this angel that God has revealed unto you?”

“I do!” The smile that came over the face of Lucas McCain shined like the beating sun as he placed the ring on her finger. “I promise to live the rest of my life alongside and not in front. I promise our path together will be as one.”

“And do you, Aubrey Canton, have a ring in your possession?”

“Yes sir, I do.” Aubrey felt the warmth of Lou’s hand as the band came into her grasp.

“Do you promise to love, honor, and cherish, to hold in your heart above all others Lucas, this angel that God has revealed unto you?”

“I do!” Aubrey looked longingly into the eyes of The Rifleman. I promise to live the rest of my life by you, never to look back or to the side. I know our path will be paved with love and the rest of our lives we shall fit like gloves.” They remained in a gaze until Micah continued.

“I now pronounce you man and wife, Lucas McCain, you may kiss the Bride!” While in their embrace, everyone joined in a cheer and the hats began to fly. Tears had been falling all along but the floodgates opened as the rejoicing began. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you Lucas and Aubrey McCain. What God has joined together, may we forever honor, keep them well. This family has become complete!

The piano and organ came to life as the procession began to move along bringing an even louder roar as the newlyweds emerged from the church. Rice and flowers rained as they slowly came down the steps. The emotions ran high as the well wishers came along to shake hands and hug the bride. It wasn’t long before a group of men could be seen carrying an elderly man down the steps in a wheelchair. Judge Hanavan was able to attend and insisted on taking the same path as everyone else.

“Lucas! This is a most wonderful day! You’ve grown right up as tall as any tree.”

“Why thank you Judge. I’m very happy to see that you could come. I trust the way into town wasn’t too rough for you.”

“Not at all. I know I haven’t been making it into North Fork so often these days, but my heart is always in my favorite town. I’ll never forget that first day you came here or the way you set things straight. Imagine if Big Jim Lewis had survived to run this town longer.”

“I don’t think he would have lasted in any event. Then again, it could have been me that got killed that day!”

“Never! You were always meant to be. No matter where you go Lucas, God will watch over you. Just look at all of these blessings he has bestowed upon you.”

“You’re so very right sir. And thank you for having faith in me as well. Every day I look over the ranch and remember what you did for us. Thank you Judge. ”

“You’re very welcome Lucas. I wish it could have been more. I wish you could have gotten along better with that Oat Jackford too. I should have warned you about him.”

“That’s alright, you had no way of knowing what was going on there. It was a rough start though. But once he found out that I meant business he came around. We have a nicer house because of it too. I want you to meet my wife, Aubrey McCain.”

“That has such a pretty ring to it. God Bless you my dear. You hornroped quite a steer in this one cowgirl!” Hanavan leaned forward and Aubrey hugged him.

“It’s great to meet you Judge. Lucas has told me a great deal. Please do be sure to chat with us more later on.”

“We have so much to catch up on Lucas. I shouldn’t take any more of your time now though. We have us a real fine town and some extraordinary people. It couldn’t get any better. I’ll see you at the reception.”

“I’m glad you have the energy to get out there Judge. We’ll talk some more! It means a great deal for you to be here.” The Judge and his men moved on to talk to more of his friends.

“More and more the friends and family filed by. Aubrey held a bouquet of marigolds as a symbol of Margaret’s memory. It took a great deal of time for everyone to get there turn at shaking hands and hugging the couple. The many family members formed a line after Lucas and Aubrey to further allow the guests a chance to meet everyone. Now that most people were out of the church and into the sun, it became necessary to move things along so the pictures could be taken and then the newlyweds could be sent on their way to lead the procession on to the ranch. The crowd formed a huge half circle as Lucas and Aubrey posed for the photographers. They tried to work fast, insisting on taking two of the crucial shots. Lucas had one picture taken with his top hat on and one without. He didn’t want to be remembered for the thing, but he thought at least one should be fine. The next order of affairs was to assemble the wedding procession group and then a group photo of the family. The last picture was with everyone that wanted to join in. For that the camera had to be moved back and still not everyone could fit in the field of view. The best thing to do was to form two groups and do it twice. Close friends remained for both photos. That way everybody could be seen with men such as Bat Masterson and Simon Battle! By this time it was getting close to an hour that everyone had been standing out in the sun. Sam Bard got up on the steps of the church and called for attention.

“You are all invited to our ranch to take part in the celebration. The reception will be at our lodge on the McCain property. Simply follow the crowd if you are not sure how to get there. We will have some men stay behind with a wagon to make sure everyone is taken care of. And now, I would like to present our Honored Newlyweds with a special gift.” Sam relaxed for a minute as a stunning four passenger carriage was brought forth drawn by two black horses. The wheels and suspension were sturdy to accommodate the rough roads of the area. The retractable canopy was made from heavy sealed canvas and the seating was custom upholstered in leather. Nils worked with Sam to order this piece of art from St. Louis and to get it outfitted properly. The horses were of the finest quarter horse stock from the Bard Ranch. Sam and Vanessa took the front seats and escorted Lucas and Aubrey to take the lead in route to the ranch. A trailer of cans and various noise making objects were tied to the back axel just before they took off. After a short distance they stopped and removed the obnoxious device. The fifteen miles of road seemed so much easier on the bones in this well made carriage. After years of riding in a stiff buckboard Lucas was pleasantly relieved of his pain. Mark came along close behind on Blue Boy and leading Razor. They knew every rut and bump well.

“I’m not going to ever get used to this smooth of a ride Aubrey, but I promise you that I will try. I think that buckboard is going to get a bit lonesome before too long!” Lucas smiled and kissed his bride. They held hands very firm and rarely broke their gaze into each other’s eyes.

“I’ll tell you one thing Lucas, Micah will be glad when you give him rides from now on.” Sam chuckled as he reached over and took Vanessa’s hand.

“That depends on how often I let them use it!” Aubrey elbowed Lucas. “I’ll have plenty of shopping to do and you know I’ll need the room for packages.”

“We’ll have us a fleet of carriages before long, and a better road to go along. I’m going to start a crew for road repair once we get over all of this party stuff. I’m not sure how much more of this we can take.” Lucas sat back with his arm around Aubrey. “Are you ready to watch some grass grow my dear?”

“Right along with the herds and the horses my husband.” Aubrey nestled deeper into the grasp and the leather seat. “Ah, this is the life. Almost reminds me of Dallas.”

“I reckon we’ll get back there one day. But we have quite a few miles to travel up and down this road first.”

“I feel so much at home here Lucas. We are one with our world my love.”

“I’m just happy to be one with you!” Lucas heaved a sigh and turned for another kiss.

Sam and Vanessa knew what was going on behind them. Soon they would be in similar bliss.

The Rifleman's Serenade — Reception

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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