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New Beginnings: Daily challenges of Lucas, Mark, and now Emma.
What new dilemmas will befall this family?
By Matthew Robles/TheBrother

The morning sun glisten on the newly turned leaves just outside of the ranch. Golden brown to auburn red, the spectrum of colors invited one into the new season of fall.  

It was chilly outside - a testament of the change in season, somewhat hinting at the change in the lives of the McCain's at the ranch.

Cold mornings are always the hardest to wake up in. Lucas reached over for his coffee, braced for the inevitable mini-battle he would face with his new daughter.

New daughter? It was still strange to think of it like that. Even after two months of Emma being here, setting her up in her own room and taking her faithfully to school each morning. I have a daughter, Lucas thought and wrestled.

Still, he called Mark - who while not the best at waking up in the morning, accepted his lot eventually. Emma on the other hand - that girl had yet to fully embrace morning chores and timely arrival to school.

It was Mark who was challenged with the task of waking up his sister.

“Emma, wake up.” He said in slight annoyance. “You do this every morning and you’ve been here for a few months already.”

He walked over and started to nudge her shoulder. Emma responded by turning away from him. His further nudging only provoked her to push him away blindly.

“Wake up, Emma”

By this time, Lucas had  walked over.

“Emma, wake up.” He said as he moved over to the unwilling child.

Emma was more responsive to her father then her brother. She rose from the bed and began to get dressed. It was the early hours of the morning that was the worst for Emma. She loved the dresses she had to wear to school but the early morning only tempted her to dislike them. There was too much effort in putting one on then she cared to invest while in such a sleepy state.

The routine of chores and morning meal were followed through quickly. Lucas readied Blue boy for Mark. He had been using the buckboard to take Mark and Emma to school, but Mark had constantly objected since he had desire to take his own horse as he had been before Emma arrived. Lucas then changed this procedure since it allowed him more time to work on the ranch and allowed Mark to take Emma on Blue boy.

Mark saddle the horse and Lucas assisted Emma on. Emma was placed in front of Mark to allow him to cradle her as they rode. By this time Emma had fully awoken from her morning daze. She enjoyed horse riding and eagerly desired to ride her own horse someday. The horse ride took sometime as Mark and Emma trotted slowly towards school. Neither spoke as they enjoyed the morning sun on their skin. The school bell had started to ring as they arrived at the school house. Emma and Mark made their way into the classroom. There had been a buzz of gossip amidst the news that Emma was now Mark’s sister.

It had been rough for Emma to get used to the school environment involving both the social dynamics and the educational challenges. At the saloon where she grew up there were no expectations for her to go to school or to excel in any subjects other then survival. Her new father, however, put a lot of stalk into this and that was something she had to get used to.

The teacher was giving a lesson on the use of adverbs in grammatically correct sentences which was causing her to fall asleep. Instead she stared out the window of the small one room classroom and thought about what life was like before with Ma.

Ma was pretty, she had kind eyes which everyone commented on, but she always seemed tired. She was good to me, as good as I suppose she could be. Everyone else sort of ignored my presence. The big boss tolerated me. Ma used to fight with him for me to stay, but when she got sick she couldn’t anymore. I had to fight for her, but she died anyway.

Ms. Adams noticed Emma’s drifting attention and ask her “Emma, how you would correct this sentence - The boy walked quick?” Emma responded with a dumbfounded stare and responded “Nothing? Can’t boys walk quick?”

She turned to Mark at this remark. “Mark can you make sure your sister stays behind after school. I would like a word with her.”

School dragged by as Emma was concerned for her fate after school. By the time it ended her anxiety was built up but was slightly dispelled when her teacher lightly reprimanded her about daydreaming during class. She accompanied her rebuke with a note to her father.

The two children had been delayed after school so when they finally departed there was a collection of students gathered at a distance from the schoolhouse. Mark had known very well what his classmates were doing in such a meeting. They were telling scary ghost stories to one another.

Mark, being both attracted and afraid of the stories gravitated towards the group. Emma followed him as he settled on the ground listening. She had no desire to go home knowing what awaits her in the note written to her father.

“...and that's when he felt a cold, bloody hand reaching over his shoulder.” The crowd squealed in excitement.

One of the older girls, Jessie, who was around eleven interjected “This is kid’s stuff, I’ve got a real story to tell...”

“50 years ago, just after the end of the Civil War, three Yankee soldiers made their way West. They had lost everything in the war so they travelled to start a new life. The town they settled in was called North Fork. At that time, it was a brand new town.

People had settled there from all over, all seeking to make a new start in a world utterly changed by the face of war. The soldiers soon began to make new lives of their own and all seemed alright for a time.

Ten years after arriving in North Fork strange things began occurring to the soldiers. Their encampment in the town had often shown signs of being disturbed but nothing was ever taken. Often during nights, one soldier would find himself in the middle of the forest sleeping yards away from where he fell asleep.

These disturbances only began to get worse every night. Children would disappear only to reappear with strange markings on their arms and legs, as if they had been marked by something.

Noises were heard in the night, the people of the town were frightened. The soldiers knowing that all these occurrences had happened around them sought to save the town from their own curses. So they  left for the cave nearby the town and shut themselves in.

No one knows for sure what happened inside that cave. What is known is those soldiers left the town and went into the cave, all the strange things stopped. Some say even today that you can hear the wailing of the soldiers being tormented but nobody knows by who or what and that sometimes the bodies of these soldiers reanimate and make their way out of the cave to--”

Jessie turned her glance at little Emma whom seemed to be already afraid.

“-- seek out little girls whom they steal away to the cave.”

The crowd started a nervous chuckle. The story had given even the bravest of the group some chills but none of them wanted to admit their fear. Emma grabbed Mark’s hand and requested to leave after the story. Knowing the time that had past, Mark conceded and the two ventured home.

On the way home, Mark tells his sister sternly “Emma, you can’t tell Pa.”

She said nothing for sometime. It was evident she was pondering over something. She spoke when Mark began to repeat himself  “Well actually, I’ve been thinking, I’ll stay quiet if you don’t show Pa the letter.” Mark paused and reviewed his options. He was in trouble any other way.  So he let his silence indicate his consent.

As they pulled into the ranch Lucas greeted them “Hey Kids, how was school?”

Lucas was working on a rail post that had become unstable.

“Fine” Mark said as he runs towards the barn to unsaddle Blue Boy.

“Ok” replies Emma out of the side of her mouth as she ran towards the house away from any further questions.

“Ok...” Lucas, knowing something was amiss which involved both of his children calmly followed his son into the barn.

“Mark, for the second time, did everything go well at school today?”

Avoiding the eyes of his father, Mark replies “Yeah, Pa, everything went fine.”

“I can sense something is different from what you’re telling me.” He said with concern. “I am going to let you rethink your answer and then I’ll ask you again after supper.”

He departed to let Mark finish some chores before dinner. Emma had begun setting the table for dinner when Lucas entered the house. He addressed Emma with the same concern he had with Mark.

“I know something is going on that your not telling me, Emma.” Lucas said to his daughter.

“Nothing Pa.” She insisted as she doled out plates on the table.

“After supper I am going to have a talk with you and Mark.” He stated as he began getting  the food he had prepared.

After completing the routine tasks the family sat together, prayed, and ate. This supper was quieter then usual. Both children knew what they had to face after the supper was over so both of them seemed to eat slower then usual as well.

When the meal was completed, Mark, as usual, was sent to wash the dishes while
Emma was assigned the task to dry them. Lucas in the meantime had sat upon his chair, the recent events with his children had reminded him of some scripture. He opened his bible to the book of Genesis.
Genesis 20
And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, "Behold, thou art but a dead man, because of the woman whom thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife." But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, "Lord, wilt Thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, `She is my sister'? And she, even she herself said, `He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this."
And God said unto him in a dream, "Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart, for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me. Therefore I suffered thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live. And if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou and all that are thine." Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said unto him, "What hast thou done unto us? And how have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done." And Abimelech said unto Abraham, "What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?" And Abraham said, "Because I thought surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will slay me for my wife's sake. And yet indeed she is my sister: she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.
And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, `This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me: at every place whither we shall come, say of me, "He is my brother."'" And Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and menservants and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored to him Sarah his wife. And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before thee. Dwell where it pleaseth thee." And unto Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes unto all who are with thee and with all other." Thus she was reproved.
So Abraham prayed unto God. And God healed Abimelech, and his wife and his maid servants; and they bore children, for the LORD had closed up fast all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
Lucas sat and pondered about the words he had read. Abraham did not lie. Sarah was indeed his half-sister and thus his sister. But he had failed to tell the needed truth. Was Mark failing to tell the whole truth? It seemed so.

He had finished by the time the children completed the task of washing the dishes. They sat at the table again to start what homework they had. Lucas walked over to the table where the children worked.

“Mark, Emma, what happened in school today?” He said with a firm tone.

Mark glanced over to Emma. He was feeling the need to speak out to tell him the truth. One way or another his father was going to find out. It was always the way it happened. At least if he was upfront about it then he might get off with less of a punishment.

Emma on the other hand was stoned faced. She apparently had nothing to say to her father. Mark spoke up when it was clear she would not speak.

“Today in school, me and Emma over heard a ghost story one of our classmates told us. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to get into trouble with you. But...also Emma got a note from a teacher as well.”

He scrambled out a note from his pocket.

“How come you didn’t show me this before?” His father asked as he took the note from Mark.  

“Well, Emma said she would tell you what she heard if I did and I didn’t want to get into trouble.”

Lucas was taken aback. Emma blackmailed Mark? She was a little girl. How would she know these kinds of tricks?

Emma spoke up: “Mark, you have a big mouth.” she said with a frustrated tone.

Lucas was caught in an inroad. Before it was just Mark that was in trouble, but now both Emma and Mark are in trouble. On top of that Emma’s action surely superseded that of Mark’s. How was he to approach this dilemma?

“Mark, you know that I expect more from you since you are the older one. You did the right thing in admitting the truth, but you should not have put yourself in that situation when you know how I feel about you listening to ghost stories. You’re excused now. I need to speak to your sister.”

Mark stepped away slowly. This was the first time he had ever walked away from his father when he was in trouble without getting a punishment. Life with Emma was starting to look a lot brighter.

When he reached his room he could hear his father speaking with his sister but he could not make out what was being said. He heard his sister’s little voice more often then he expected. Whenever he faced his Father he spoke little for that produced the least amount of punishment, but it definitely seemed Emma was not taking that route.

Mark tried to listen to what was being said but the voices were mumbled by the wooden door. He began to get ready for bed after a couple minutes had passed. While he was at this task he heard stomping towards the front of the house. Was his Pa and Emma going outside? Their conversation was taking longer then was usual when it was just Pa and him.

The front door opened and closed shortly after. Mark walked over to the window across from the bed to see where the two were parading. From the looks of it, Pa was taking Emma to the barn. Mark knew what that meant. God help Emma.

--------------

A few days had passed after that night. Emma was still on rough terms with her Pa but the relationship was slowly improving for the better. Lucas was no longer the most stubborn person in the house now.

The night had been calm and so the children fell asleep easily. Lucas was not up for much longer despite reading scripture before sleep. The weather put the house at a nice temperature, enough so that the occupants slept quietly during the night. That did not prevent any outside interference.

Emma awoke after hearing a movement beside her window. Her eyes had not yet began focusing when she looked at the window and saw a shadowy figure lurking outside the window. Her own movement cause the figure to disappear in the night. Having remembered the story about little girls being taken, she quickly ran over to Mark and Pa’s room. With fear in her voice, she called to Mark and shook him when she reached him.

Pa awoke from the commotion Emma was making. He knew quickly enough that Emma was afraid. Mark, had a couple of these nights when he was young. Bad dreams often plagued the young, especially after hearing scary ghost stories.

“Emma, you’ve just had a bad dream.” Lucas said as Emma was being comforted by Mark.

“I saw something out my window” Emma said as she held Mark tight.

“No, I’m sure it was just a coon or coyote” Mark said trying to comfort her.

Lucas spoke up in attempt to quell her fears and finally get to sleep again.

“Alright Emma, I’ll go take a look outside your window. Mark take her back to her room and see if every thing's alright there.”

When Mark and Emma had exited, Pa put on some jeans and walked outside the house bare chested. He rounded the corner of the house expecting to see nothing. His expectations were fulfilled but as he was making his way back to the front door, he saw something odd in the corner of his eye. He turned back around for further inspection. It appeared as though there indeed was someone outside of Emma’s bedroom window. He knew that none of his daily work ever made him pass by the window as closely as some of these footprints were. Possibly Mark had come closer in the past few days. Whatever the case, there was no one here this night.

Lucas went back in and put Mark and Emma back to sleep despite the youngest child’s protests. This was the reason he did not want Mark or Emma listening to silly children ghost stories only meant to harass these poor children's consciences.

That morning ran as routine as normal. Mark and Emma went to school, while Lucas went into town to see Micah. He wanted to speak with him about leaving town to sell some cattle in Santa Fe. He had some trouble finding Micah that morning, so he proceeded to Hattie’s store to speak to her about watching Mark and Emma for his trip. He was speaking with Hattie about these plans when he started hearing a barrage of bullets ringing out of the saloon. Having his rifle with him as he always did, he pushed his way past the doors of the general store.

When the saloon came in vision, he notice Micah fumbling his way out the swinging doors of the saloon as bullets whizzed past him. Lucas slung up his rifle and started laying out cover fire for his friend. Noticing the help, Micah ran across the street  while ducking his head and dodging incoming fire. Micah made his way behind a post and and finally took aim with the shotgun he had been carrying, but had not yet used .

The covering fire had caught these villains off guard, but they quickly recovered and began shooting back at Lucas. Noticing the scant cover they had, both Lucas and Micah retreated into he general store.

“Hattie, get your patrons and you to the back of the store now!” Lucas yelled.

Hattie and a few customers scrambled towards the back of the store as Lucas began reloading his Winchester rifle. He crouched down against the wall of the store as splinters sprayed against his clothing. He glanced a look over  at Micah. His friend knew the question he asked with his look.

“Two boys came looking for trouble last night in the saloon. They drank up a tab and refused to pay. So here we are now.” Micah stated as he loaded his own gun.

A few more bullets hit the general store but soon the scene settled with only the sound of wind blowing past. Lucas and Micah could hear one of the guys calling out to them in a loud voice.

“Looks like our little chat went awry. Why don’t we try again. See here, I’ma throw out my gun.”

Micah and Lucas saw a handgun fly out of the doorway of the saloon and tumble into the dirt road outside. The owner of the gun walked out with his hands partially raised.

Micah stood up, lowered his weapon and began walking out of the store to speak to the man. He whispered to Lucas before he had stepped out.

“I don’t trust these two. Exit the store from the side and spot me.”

Micah walked out as though he were taking a morning stroll. He stopped at the ends of the steps leading up to the general store. The gunman spoke up first.

“Listen now, it seems both of us were a bit confused. We were under the assumption drinks after the first bottle were free.” A smirk grew on the man’s face. He continued. “Looks like we were wrong and now we’re ready to pay.”

“You didn’t have to make it this difficult.” Micah responded as he look the man over trying to read his true intentions.  

The gunman eyed around him and looked at the general store’s front door.

“Where’s your friend?” He asked.

By this time, Lucas had made it around to the side of the building. He leaned against the corner of the building as he took a look at the saloon. He saw some movement in an up-stair window.

“Oh, something caught his fancy in the store and he’s interested in buying. Where is your friend?”

Lucas raised his weapon with the iron sights on the window. As he did this, the barrel of a rifle began poking slowly out behind a cloth drape. It’s aim was at Micah on the street down below.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter. Here let me get you the money.”

He began reaching towards his back pocket when a bullet rang out. The man in the street pulled a hidden hand gun from behind his back and crouched at his spot. Micah was quick at the draw and shot and hit the man before he had time to take aim. Micah took a look at the place he heard a man cry out. Sticking out of the window of the saloon was a man draped over dead.  

Micah would be busy for the next few hours settling the affairs with the owner of the saloon and taking the bodies of these dead men to the blacksmith who doubled as an undertaker. After that he would have to write a report. Lucas would have to delay is conversation with Micah for some time. So he excused himself, he wanted to finish some work on the fence of the North Pasture.

----------

A man dressed in a fine coated descended off the last step of the stage coach. It was clear from the stern look of his face he had business in this town. After paying a few coachmen to transport his effects to the Hotel  Madera, he strolled on towards the sheriffs office.

By this time Micah had finished working on the ordeal the morning produced and had only begun to work on other matters he set aside. A man of status stepped in his office as he picked up a new sheet.

“I’m assuming you’re the sheriff in this town?” The man said with a disappointed tone.

“Yes, I am Sheriff Micah Torrance. Do you need something?” Micah said. If he was a man with means it was apparent that he could afford to be rude.

“Yes actually, now that you ask. I am looking for a child named Emma.” He stated.

Micah paused. “What is your reason for asking?”

Showing his apparent annoyance he replied:

“I have received correspondence that an orphan girl named Emma was sent here to get adopted and now I am here after hearing of her mother’s death to claim her.”

“Claim her? I’m sorry, but it seems she has already been adopted.”

“I feared as much.” He pulled out a court document from within his coat. He presented it to Micah.

If the document was in fact true, than it seems that he is the true father of Emma.

The Undeniable Truth

These stories are based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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